Surviving NYC On Crutches: A Tale Of Taxis & Delivery Service

A few summers ago, I backpacked Europe alone. Last summer, I ran a half marathon. Most days, I’m an individual who prides herself in her independence and the ability to conquer any challenge. This month, going more than a few steps has become a feat in itself.

Two weeks ago, I was in bed with the flu. I had just finished watching Mad Men and was content to snooze off into a NyQuil and Don Draper induced haze.

Don & NyQuil – The best sleep you’ve ever had with a cold.

 

My last thought before dozing off was: “I should take some vitamin C and zinc before going to bed.” I quickly jumped out of bed, shattered the cup I had just used to take NyQuil, and proceeded to lacerate my tendon on the broken glass.

My apartment looked like a murder scene.

Howling in pain, I ventured to the ER. The doctor informed me that surgery would be necessary and I would be put on crutches for over a month. I started laughing. The outcome was clearly not funny, but my defense mechanism for pain has always been laughter. Flashback to the time I fell down a flight of stairs and sat at the bottom laughing uncontrollably.

Chillin’ in the ER

 

After three morphine filled days in the hospital, I was given a shiny pair of crutches and was then discharged to hobble off into the sunset. After a week of excruciating pain, I finally ventured out of my apartment. Hobble. Hobble. Hobble. I made it one block and promptly returned to my apartment collapsing on the sofa. This was not going to be easy.

The next day, I went two blocks.
The following I went four.
By the end of the week, I could travel a mile.
Next challenge: Taking the subway to work.

Though the last few weeks have been difficult, so many people have helped make this experience a bit more bearable. From strangers opening doors, to friends helping me take out the trash, this experience has truly been humbling and I can’t stress enough my appreciation for all of the kindness displayed. To everyone who helped me – you will never know the extent of my gratitude.

When I first got my crutches I promptly Googled “Getting Around On Crutches In NYC.” I was disappointed by the search results. To remedy this, here are my tips that will hopefully help someone else in a similar position.

A black cast is the perfect accessory for a night on the town.

 

Delivery Is Your New Best Friend

Today, there are so many delivery services that can bring anything right to your door. From smoothies to grocery delivery, I have been able to order anything my heart desired. Two websites that made this possible were Seamless and FreshDirect.

Seamless: Order takeout from any restaurant. Bonus: Free $7 on your first order.

FreshDirect: Grocery delivery right to your doorstep. Bonus: $100 off your first two orders.

Find Out Which Subways Are Handicap Friendly

The NYC MTA website lists the subway stations that are handicap accessible. You can view this information here. 

Taxis Are A Godsend

In the rain, you’ll need a taxi. In New York, rain makes it near impossible to hail a cab in a timely manner. Drenched after a downpour, I quickly learned this. For this reason, download an application like Uber to request a cab. This way, you can sit indoors until a taxi arrives. Bonus: $10 off your first ride.

Though difficult, navigating NYC on crutches is possible! In the same boat? Connect with me on Twitter for more tips – would love to chat.

04

05 2014

How To Move To New York City Without Losing Your Sanity

Whenever I try to summarize life in the big city I think of lyrics from Evita, my first broadway experience.

How To Move To New York City

Eva beware of the city.
It’s hungry and cold, can’t be controlled, it is mad.
Those who are fools are swallowed up whole…

New York City is unlike anywhere I have encountered in my travels. One could easily be “swallowed up whole” just trying to cross the street.

That said, New York is magical. The hustle and bustle of the city makes you feel as if anything is possible. Constant energy radiates throughout the city and opportunity lies around every corner.

Though I have only been in the city a month, I have learned three valuable lessons about establishing oneself in a new location.

Connections Are Key

Coming to New York City, I knew very few people. (Okay fine, I’ll admit it – I was essentially friendless.) Making an entire group new group of friends is not an easy feat. Prior to leaving Seattle, I reached out to friends and colleagues asking if they could connect me to their connections. Already, this has resulted in a dozen coffee meetings and valuable insight on the city. (Thanks everyone – you’re the best!)

Budget Accordingly

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 9.48.35 AM
Rent in New York is extremely high. Finding an apartment can prove to be a painstaking difficult task. Moving to the city I had a few options:

  • Live in Brooklyn, Queens, or New Jersey to save money on rent and have a longer commute. This option would allow me to be able to live in a nicer apartment and have more disposable income.
  • Live in Manhattan, spend more money on rent, and save time on a commute. This option would allow me to live in a more convenient location, but would give me far less disposable income.

I ultimately decided to move to Manhattan. When I took everything into account, I was able to find an apartment share that was all inclusive. Gym. Laundry. Dishwasher. Prime Location. Over the course of a year, I decided that this would ultimately save me thousands of dollars on a a gym membership, going to the laundry mat, transportation passes and most importantly, my time. Something that I have always believed in, is that more money can always be made, you can never get more time.

Something to be aware of is that in New York, the real estate market looks far different than the rest of the country. Most places require broker fees, first and last months rent, and a deposit. To be safe, I would encourage saving a few months rent prior to making a move to the big city. That said, I was able to find a place without broker fees by utilizing Craigslist to find an great apartment and roommate.

Ask For What You Need
If you ask questions, you will find answers. Mind reading is a skill that many people have not mastered. From jobs to apartments, simply asking your connections “Do you know of anyone that could help me?” can be your golden ticket. In turn, asking your connections what they are looking for can help them reach their own goals.

Thank you to everyone has aided in making this transition as seamless as possible. Moving to a new place can feel intimidating at times, but I am fortunate to have a network of supportive friends and colleagues who have helped me in the process.

In the city in the coming months? I would love to get together.

Let’s connect on Twitter!

 

05

08 2013

I’m Moving To New York!

Next Saturday I’m moving to New York.

Over the last few years, I’ve been living a fairly nomadic lifestyle, figuring out exactly where I want to live for the next few years. I’ve never purchased furniture. I can fit all my belongings in a few suitcases. And I’ve thrown a few things in my mother’s garage. (Thanks Mom!) While I have been on the search for a home, I have been fortunate to have a great job with the folks at Social3i allowing me to test out a few different locations.

Why New York?

Everyone keeps asking me this. I’m not exactly sure. Last year, I visited the city for the first time and immediately thought “This is where I belong.” The fast pace of life. The constant noise. The brilliance. The lights. The movement.

We’ll see how it goes!

*Cue Jay-Z song or Evita song.* I can’t decide which.

So What’s Next?

Making friends

I have very few friends in New York. So let’s test the power of social media here…. I would love it if you could connect me with any cool people you may know in the big city. Email intros to ariannaodell (at) gmail.com or tweets to @arianna are awesome. If you could help me out here I will forever be indebted to you!

Apartment searching

I have already heard the horror stories about looking for a place in New York. Fortunately, with sites like AirBnB I can buy myself a little time by renting month to month until I find a lease. Do you know anyone leasing something?

Though this last week is crazy, I would love to see as many Seattle friends as I can. Let’s make plans?

See you soon New York! Seattle, you’ll always have a piece of my heart.

20

06 2013

Street Fair Marketing Fails – Marketing As A Small Business

Every time I walk through a street fair, I can’t help but think to myself:

“This was someone’s dream.”


Every canopy is a someone’s vision and passion. Whether the vendor is a local bread maker or an oil canvas painter, each stand is a work of art and an entrepreneurial dream. A street fair is not just a fun day out for consumers, but also a great source of revenue and distribution channel for a business.

Street fairs showcase small business at their finest. The first business I ever started was called O’Decadent (Arianna O’Dell, O’Decadent – get it?), a baking company that sold baked goods at farmers markets across Whidbey Island, Washington. This experience not only gave me first hand experience on the logistics of running a business but also gave me a crash course in Marketing 101.

This past weekend, the University District hosted their annual street fair. University Way filled with thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors. From honey to garden art, the market brought together some of Seattle’s finest food and craft vendors.Walking through the street fair on Saturday, I kept screaming to myself: “WHY ARE ALL OF THESE BUSINESSES SO BAD AT MARKETING?!”

It saddened me to think that with a few simple changes, many of the vendors could have increased their sales tenfold. Though a small business can be limited in terms of a marketing budget, there are many simple ways a business can easily improve their presence and efforts during a market.

Give Out Samples Like There Is No Tomorrow

If you sell a food product, you need samples. Chance are your company is a brand that no one has ever heard of. Building trust and brand loyalty is hard. Until you build your customer base, you need to convince people your product is worth trying. Samples are a great way to start a conversation and establish initial trust. Selling handmade lotion? Have a bottle out on the table as a tester. Selling salsa? Why not put out some chips and crack open a bottle*. (*Prior to doing this, be sure to check with local laws to ensure that sampling is being done in a sanitary and legal manner.)

Smile, Smile Again, Then Smile Even More

This one should be a given, but it was amazing how many vendors sat in their booth with a scowl on their face. First impressions are everything. If the vendor appears to be unenthralled about their own product, how can they expect you to be? Personal selling is an art that one must learn in order to survive the harsh streets of a fair or market. This trait does not come easy to some, but can be learned over time through patience and practice.

Lower Your Barrier to Entry

The most successful stands at a street fair are the ones that have an inviting setup.  Some vendors unintentionally setup their booth to deter customers. Like this setup here:

For many, walking into an enclosed setting can be intimidating. This setup makes it difficult to see items from the street and discourages patrons for fear of being trapped in a sales pitch within the tent. First impressions are everything. Having an inviting space where customer feel conformable can make all the difference.

Let Customers Know Who You Are

Every week I go to the weekly farmer’s market. The sad part is, I usually walk away not knowing the name of many of the vendors. I find myself telling people “The bread from this one stand is AMAZING” unable to recall the name. Branding is so important for a small business, but so many fail to have a logo, branded packaging or at the very least a sign with the name of the company.

Capture Email and Demographic Information

Another mistake in street fair marketing is that most businesses fail to gain any insight about their customers. The vendor may remember their customer when (and if) they see them again, but most transactions are done without learning anything about the market. This is a mistake I made early on in my own endeavors. From simply asking questions about your customers to an email sign up sheet, there are many ways to gain insight on your market and capture customer data.

Listen To Your Customers

When I started note taking during the market, I learned more about my customers and what they wanted. Some were looking for lower sugar items, some wanted different flavors. Based on customer feedback, I was able to cater my offerings to a mix of items that would sell out weekly. There are so many stands this weekend that were selling things that no one would ever want. Ever. Not even for free.

Stand Out Even If It Means Putting On A Cat Suit

Between the massive number of booths and the thousands of people who showed up for the event, the constant commotion at the fair made it easy to simply walk by a booth without giving it a second thought. What do businesses need to do the combat this? Have something compelling at the booth. Selling dog clothes? Bring a model pooch that customers can take photos with. Selling Snow Cones? Purchase a huge inflatable snow man to draw attention to your booth. At a street fair, you are competing with noise, crowds, and hundreds of other vendors. Standing out is non-negotiable for success.

Bring Digital Media Into The Mix

Sadly, throughout the whole market I did not see any brands encouraging their customers to connect with them digitally. From Facebook to Pinterest, there are a variety of ways consumer products can connect with their customers post event. In a market place like a street fair, a simple flier could even be used to encourage customers to connect. Looking for a low cost way to tell your customers about your Facebook page? Purchase a stamp with logo and social media handle to put onto packaging and brown paper sacks. At the very least, have a business card available so customers know the name of your company and can find your website.

Make Friends With The Market Manager

Location, location, location. While many markets have a pre-determined layout, the market manager can sometimes make an exception. Being placed in a corner or too close to the end can ultimately make or break your day. Have an extra cookie or loaf of bread left over at the end of the day? Give it to the market manager.

Are you a business that needs some marketing help? Always happy to chat over coffee or pastries.

And on Twitter!

 

19

05 2013

A Journey Through Spain – Sangria, Twitter, & Spanish Markets

The last few months I spent in Spain. I learned a lot and had some incredible experiences.

centro ciudad 5

Read the post here on the Social3i blog.

25

03 2013

Game Changers : Odesk & Alibaba

The world is changing.

The ease of travel. The ease of connectivity.

It’s amazing.

Lately, I’ve been immersing myself in readings of globalization and world trade. In the process, I’ve stumbled across a number of websites and applications that are making this possible. Here are two that I wanted to share :

Odesk.com 

The world’s largest and fastest-growing online workplace, ranked #1 by annual contractor earnings.

Over the past year, I have found myself using Odesk time and time again. From graphic design, to content production Odesk allows you to source a contractor, and manage your billing with ease. What is interesting about Odesk is that after you post a job, your inbox will immediately be flooded with applicants from all around the world. The workforce is changing. It is now easier than ever to outsource work to other countries. In the years to follow, citizens will not only be fighting to stay competitive in their own country, but also in the global marketplace.

Alibaba.com

Alibaba Group is a family of Internet-based businesses which makes it easy for anyone to buy or sell online anywhere in the world.

Right now I am in Spain. Over the last few months, my inner entreperuner has been constantly yelling “I wish this product was in the US!” And so began my quest to master exporting. Though I haven’t quite managed to figure out the logistics, in the months to come I plan to take exporting for a spin.

Just 10 years ago, websites and applications like this didn’t exist…. The world is changing and we are more connected than ever.

Have you done any global trade before? I would love to chat!

28

02 2013

Why I Hate Tech Start-Ups

Digital Media Marketing Consultant - Seattle
Dear Tech Start-Ups,

Just kidding. I love you. I really do. You’re creating some of the most innovative products, changing lives, and making the world a better place. I admire you.

Truly.

However, I am not a fan of the way you conduct your marketing efforts. Time after time, start-ups ask me for advice on how to get users, how to market their applications, and how to get blogs to write about them.

Great. No problem! I can help you with that.

Whenever I take on a new client, I pose the question, “What is your budget and what are your goals?” 

So many times I am met with something like “We’re a start-up – we have no marketing budget.”Here is something I would love to go shout from a mountaintop:

“Marketing is NOT free!!!!!!!”

This is a quick and easy formula of how much money you need to allocate to your marketing efforts based on your users goals. (This does not take into account PR efforts)

(Cost per new user) (X) + (Cost of Execution) = Marketing Budget

X = Customer/User Goal

Want 1,000,000 users? Great. Now what are you willing to pay for these users?
$0.05
$0.20?
$0.50?
$1?
$5?

For a million users, you’re looking at a necessary marketing budget that ranges from $50,000 – $5,000,000 (PLUS the cost of execution)

“Well, that’s too much – I’ll just use social media!”

There is a huge misconception that technology start-ups just need to use social media to market their product. Even if you’re promoting your product through a grassroots social media campaign, there is still an associated cost – time. This is either your time or the time of someone you have to pay to help you.

If you can not answer these questions, you should not begin your marketing efforts.

  • What is your cost per acquisition per new user or customer? (How much are you willing to pay per new customer?)
  • What is the lifetime value of your customer? (How much money will your customer make you over time? Will you make more profit from this customer than loss in the long run?)
  • What are your marketing goals? (Are you trying to increase engagement with your brand, drive more sales, or something else?)
  • How will you measure results? (By increased sales? By blog comments? By unique visits to your website?)
  • What’s your conversion rate? I can drive all of the users in the world to your website. However, if you can’t convert them, you’re wasting your money and time.

If you have no marketing budget your application or website will FAIL. Marketing is the business function that connects consumers to products. For some reason, a majority of start-ups seem to have missed this class during business school.

Field of Dreams

Whoever said “If you build it, they will come” was not a marketer.

If you build it, develop a marketing budget and marketing strategy, THEN they will come.

10

05 2012

How to Get Millions and Trillions of Views On Your Website

via http://www.psdgraphics.com/file/gold-dollar-sign.jpg

Well maybe “millions and trillions” is a bit of an embellishment, but read on to find out how you can get new users and views for an extremely low cost.

Over the last few months, I’ve been building a travel website called EuropeBoss.com. My long term vision for this website is for it to be the one stop research tool for planning a trip to my favorite place : Europe.

Blah blah…. This post isn’t about my site – you don’t care. You care about driving traffic to your own website! Okay okay, I’m about to tell you about one of the most amazing marketing tools I’ve found recently.

Driving traffic is TOUGH. For a new website with poor SEO, no initial social channels, and little content – how do you get views?

Introducing Rafflecopter!

Not only is Rafflecopter easy, but their customer service is impeccable and their widget can help you get the most ROI for your marketing budget.

Let me walk you through an example. I recently put this widget on my website.
Read the rest of this entry →

09

03 2012