Forge’s Christmas Wish List

Forge’s Christmas Wish List

Are you having trouble deciding what to put on your Christmas wish list? Look no further! We asked the Forge members for all of their Christmas ideas and we have a wide variety of great suggestions!

 

1. Lindsay: “I really want a smoker… I love to cook for my friends and family and feel like you gotta have the right tools for the job! I’ve gotten pretty good on the grill and now wanna try the slow style of a smoker.”

2. Ginny: “TBH, I want new tires so I don’t have to buy them myself!”

3. Courtney: “A Razor scooter that I can ride around Forge!”

4. Bailey: “An Away Luggage suitcase is definitely on my list this year. As my family lives on the West Coast, I tend to travel a bunch throughout the year and this suitcase is beyond easy to travel with, super durable and even has a USB port to charge your phone or iPad!”

 

 

5. Emilie: “AirBnB gift card! I’m a big fan of gifting experiences over “stuff.” My husband and I love travel! Over the past 7 years we’ve explored from Bali to Ecuador & so much in-between. AirBnB gift cards gives us a personalized gift we absolutely will use, but with the luxury of using it on our terms.”

6. Connor: “Nintendo 64 – Our team at forge needs one for ‘productivity breaks.'”

7. Kellyn: “I encourage everyone to give to their passions.  Do you love animals?  There is the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.  Do you want to lend a helping hand to Birmingham’s homeless population?  How about the First Light Shelter.  And what about supporting the amazing work of educators and therapists helping those with developmental challenges?  Give to The Exceptional Foundation.”

8. Glenny: “An Instax share printer. I have been a photo booth devotee for decades and I got my first Instax camera 10 years ago, before the current craze. My photographer husband realized I would love having a photo booth in my purse. Film for the Polaroid-style camera comes in packs of 10. That constraint makes me more thoughtful about how many pictures I take. Now that there’s an Instax printer, however, I am giddy and it’s hard to slow down. The Instax Share app allows you to print any photo on your phone in an Instax format. I have been so pleased to send actual printed pictures to friends and fam. Deciding what to print has made me thoughtful about the pictures that matter most to me. I would love for more people to have that experience.”

 

 

9. Pierce: “I’d like to get a bass guitar for Christmas. I used to play and I’d like to pick it back up.”

10. Russell: “A nice DSLR Camera for those epic food pics!”

11. Rebecca: “Does wanting my LLC count?” <— yes it definitely does!

12. Kelsey: “Allbirds tennis shoes! Some friends say they’re the most comfortable shoes they own.”

 

13. Lauren: “Bluetooth headphones- they would make my life so much easier!”

14. Jami: “One item on my Christmas list is a trip to Disney. It’s actually a gift I am giving AND getting.  Long story short, my husband and I weren’t able to go on our honeymoon due to a massive blizzard. He commented to me earlier this year that he’d never been to Disney and was bummed about it. I’m surprising him with a Disney make-up honeymoon in the spring.”

15. Retha: “The calm blanket! It will help me rest better when I’m at home and need to stop working!”

 

 

 

Nine Reasons Blogs Are Effective

Nine Reasons Blogs Are Effective

The staff at 24 Communications are part of the Forge family and they always have valuable info to share. We’ve snagged a blog post written by Charlotte Donlon from them focusing on the reasons why blogs are effective!

 

 

 

 

According to The Content Marketing Institute’s B2C 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, organizations with an extremely successful or a very successful content marketing approach say blogs are one of the most effective formats for helping them reach their objectives. The only marketing tool more effective for these businesses is email.

 

1. Your Blog Can Be Used for Email Content
Even though email is the most effective marketing strategy, don’t dismiss blogs. Email and blogs go hand in hand because blog content can be used for email content. Including links to your blog in your email newsletters can help drive readers, current customers, and potential customers to your website.

 

2. Your Blog Can Be Used to Share Helpful Information
Your customers have the same question we all have: What’s in it for me? Your blog posts can answer that question for your customers and your potential customers. How do your products or services solve their problems? How do your products or services make their life easier? How do your products or services help them achieve their goals? Blog posts are a great way to communicate these specifics to your audience.

 

3. Your Blog Can Be Used to Highlight Your Products and Services
Do you have a new product or service that you need to introduce to the world? Writing a blog post about your new offering will help spread the word.

 

4. Your Blog Can Be Used to Respond to Objections
You know why a customer might hesitate to purchase your product or service. Why not use your blog to respond to those objections? Your customers and potential customers will see that you are trying to listen to them and trying to understand their point of view which will make them more willing to consider your point of view and more willing to move past their objections.

 

 

 

5. Your Blog Can Help Generate More Leads and Sales
On average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without.

 

6. Your Blog Can Help You Connect with Existing and Potential Customers
Many consumers feel more positive about a brand and more connected to a brand after reading custom content, especially if that content tells stories about the company’s brand in ways readers can relate to. Stories about your mission and your goals and ways you give back to your community will resonate with readers, customers, and potential customers.

 

7. Your Blog Can Increase Traffic to Your Website
Let’s talk about compounding. One in ten blog posts are “compounding,” meaning organic search consistently increases traffic over time. Compounding posts are important because one compounding blog post generates as much website traffic as six regular posts combined. Also, compounding blog posts generate 38% of all blog traffic. There’s no way to know which of your blog posts will be compounding posts. But if you aren’t blogging, it’s safe to say you won’t have any at all.

 

8. Your Blog Can Help You Tell Your Story
You have a story to tell. And your customers want to know it. Most consumers—70% of them— prefer learning about a company through custom content like blog posts instead of through paid ads. That’s a great incentive to blog more and give your customers the content what they want.

 

9. Your Blog Can Help Build Trust
Customized content can help build trust with your customers and potential customers. They will see that you know what you’re talking about. They will see that you care enough about your products and services to allocate resources to creating unique content. And if you provide custom content that’s beneficial to them, they will see that you desire to help them. It’s easier to trust someone who is knowledgeable, who cares, and who wants to help you.

 

24 Communications is here to help you develop and implement your content marketing strategy, and can find strategic and creative ways to leverage your content across multiple platforms to expand your brand’s reach.

 

Get in touch to learn more.

 

 

20 Business Books Recommended by Entrepreneurs

20 Business Books Recommended by Entrepreneurs

We all need a pick-me-up every once in a while, whether it comes in the form of a compelling novel, a heartwarming self-help book, or a business book with a little inspiration. We collected some of the best business books according to our Forge members. Check out our list of the best business books below, complete with an opinion of why this book was chosen by each person!
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
    • “Growing up a terrible student, this book gave me hope I could build a business!” – Sam Hill of Big Lead Gen. Inc.
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
    • “One quote I’ve never forgotten from it is, ‘To go from good to great means transcending the curse of competence.’ This has been a core value in my professional life for the past two decades years, and the mission, vision and goals of our company are really built on the foundation of that premise.” – Jennifer Solt of 24 Communications
  • Weird in a World That’s Not by Jennifer Romolini
    • “This book had a huge impact on me as a reminder that you can stay true to yourself and when you’re with a company that wants to change you, you’re in the wrong place.” Rebecca Dobrinski
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    • “I think it’s fascinating to consider why people, and organizations, act the way they act.” – Donnie Garvich of Two Ravens

 

 

 

  • The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
    • “It goes deep into the (at the time new) idea that by being true to your rabid fans, you can generate a stronger business over time. So instead of trying to sell the lowest common denominator product, target exactly who you want with what *they* want. Lots of good crunchy examples too.” – Scott Pierce of Two Ravens
  • Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
    • “This book demonstrates how any organization can streamline growth and accelerate it using technology and nine other core characteristics. Any business hoping to avoid becoming a slow, inefficient company should adopt what Ismail outlines in his research.” – Josh Rhodes of Big Lead Gen Inc.
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    • “It helped me think strategically about making foundations decisions about starting my business.” – Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
    • “Great book on human behavior and how we make decisions. I reread it every other year or so because it’s that good.
      – Perry Still of HNS Partners

 

 

 

  • What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson
    • “It helped me rethink my priorities and long term goals.” – Alex Grodner of Cambria Solutions
  • A Sense of Something Greater: Zen and the Search for Balance in Silicon Valley by Les Kaye and Teresa Bouza
    • “I enjoyed the book because the authors bring together interviews of and short pieces by people who work in the tech industry, offering advice on how to deal with the high stress, burnout, etc. that modern work produces. Even though it’s focused on Silicon Valley, the concepts apply anywhere.” – Kerry Smith of ecoTexual
  • Zero to One by Peter Theil
    • “This book is a must read for entrepreneurs. Peter push’s you to become a contrarian and shares many of his most thought provoking insights.” – Connor Hand of Big Lead Gen Inc.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
    • “Lencioni breaks down the building blocks for an effective team. By writing the team in a fable it is very practical and very easy to apply to your own organization. You can easily read the entire book in a few hours and walk away with a clear understanding of the building blocks that need to be in place to create a team that will function cohesively. Implementing all of the building blocks is a much tougher process, but you finish the book with a framework of where you should be headed.” – Kim Lee of Forge

 

 

 

 

  • A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
    • “It’s my recommended read for every new graduate or person trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Helped me understand work and career beyond the boundaries of academic majors and industry definitions.” Autumn Foster of Quire Consulting
  • How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg
    • “If you are looking for a primer on how misinterpreting data leads to bad decisions, look no further.” – Nathan McMinn of MNMX.io
  • The Third Door by Alex Banayan
    • “Not only is it full of advice form some of the world’s greatest business leaders. But the documentation of what Alex Banayan went through to make the book possible is absolutely amazing at the least. This book is a great example of the kind of relentlessness that is necessary to bring big dreams to reality.” – Stanley Stevenson of Stevenson Designs
  • The Accidental Salesperson by Chris Lytle
    • “It talks about how sales techniques are essential across all industries whether you are in marketing or a dentist.” – Russell Hooks of Happenins In The Ham

 

 

 

  • Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
    • “Social media has made us writers but the majority of us aren’t professional writers. Our words carry our marketing messages. Everybody Writes is a go-to guide for how to communicate well in writing in order to attract and retain customers.” – Donna Gilliland of MOSTraining
  • Management by Peter Drucker
    • “So much is changing in our world, and some things don’t change – focus on leading people, focus on doing the right things and not just doing things right. This book really helps cut through a lot of the noise you find in most business books.” – Austin Senseman of MNMX.io
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
    • “When we were first starting out, my business partner, Krista Baker, and I were energized by The $100 Startup. It reinforced for us the notion that you already have what you need to change course and create what you want; you just have to take action.” – Kelli Eldridge of Race Quest Travel
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
    • “In the South, we are raised to not say anything at all if we don’t have anything nice to say.  Walking on eggshells and talking around the truth restricts the ability to develop your team, and brutal honesty can do the same by making you out to be an asshole.  I like Radical Candor because it clearly illustrates how personally caring for your team earns you the right to challenge them directly.” Trey Noland of Trek EC

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design on how the coworking environment at Forge revitalized her business

Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design on how the coworking environment at Forge revitalized her business

Another feature from Bham Now focuses on Forge member Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design. Read more about how Forge has revitalized her business!

 

 

 

Suzanne Humphries recently made the move back to Birmingham after a few design stints in Atlanta and New York, just to name a few. She and her husband, a successful chef, both grew up in North Alabama and heeded the call of Magic City, where they are now pursuing personal projects.

 

Humphries used this move to set out on her own and create her own Interior Design company, Suzanne Humphries Design. Only a year and a half in, the company has had large success in the Birmingham area and beyond, but Humphries was feeling like she needed a change of pace. She had worked from home (and coffee shops) since setting out on her own, but was feeling like she wanted a place to go where she could get work done.

 

 

 

Forge to the Rescue

 

Humphries actually credits the team here at Bham Now for introducing her to Forge (#humblebrag). When I asked her how she found out about the chic coworking space in the Pizitz building, she said she was scrolling through Instagram one night and one of our posts about Forge caught her eye. She called in for a tour and was a Forge member the next day.

 

Perhaps you remember Humphries from a previous Forge article for which she gave the following testimony:

 

“Working at Forge has reinvigorated my business. I am more motivated, productive, and fulfilled now that I have the balance of self-employment and workplace culture. The best professional decision I have made was to move to Birmingham and start my own company…the second was to develop this company while working at Forge.”

 

Let’s Back Up

 

What Is Suzanne Humphries Design?

 

Humphries has worked for several different design firms since her graduation from grad school with a Master’s in Interior Design. These jobs took her from Washington D.C. to New York to Atlanta, and she finally branched out on her own in Birmingham. These opportunities gave her experience in an array of different design styles. In New York, she worked with Ralph Lauren in commercial design. In Atlanta, she gained experience in residential design through her work with Suzanne Kasler and in hospitality design with Smith Hanes. As you can tell, her portfolio is quite varied and broad. With her experience in the different design styles, Humphries has been able to move confidently throughout them, and has empowered her in her current project: opening a restaurant with her husband, Chef Adam Evans.

 

A New Birmingham Restaurant

 

There is no doubt that the space will be beautiful. Evans, who formerly worked at The Optimist in Atlanta, has plans for the space to serve gulf-caught fresh seafood and other local ingredients. The restaurant, whose name has yet to be revealed, will be in the Lakeview district. Humphries and Evans are hard at work designing and preparing the restaurant space, which is expected to seat 160 people, for an opening.

 

Stay tuned for more information on the restaurant!

 

 

Humphries’ Focus

 

While her focus is currently on hospitality, Humphries enjoys each different style of design and is open to projects of all kinds.

 

 

“I want to build my business to be open and accepting and excited about any type of project that comes my way. I want to be able to pull from my past experiences from the different places that I’ve been and use that skill set to work with whatever client is a good fit.

 

Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator

 

With her degree in Interior Design, Humphries went through a curriculum in which she learned about construction and building, enabling her to understand the architecture component of the spaces she is working with. I had no idea that interior designers had to know all of the structural ins and outs of the building. When I thought of an Interior Designer, I was under the impression that she was choosing paint colors and focusing on the surface level of the home. However, it’s much more than that. Humphries explained to me that there are three main titles: Architect, Interior Designer, and Interior Decorator; and that each one is different.

 

 

 

Because Humphries’ title is Interior Designer, she has a broad list of responsibilities to the space in which she is working:

 

“The true Interior Design process includes everything and anything that goes on inside the walls of a home, a restaurant, a hotel — any sort of structure, permanent or temporary. I enjoy doing the full process, but I am also happy doing parts of the process.”

 

Spaces Shape Experiences

 

Have you ever walked into a restaurant, a hotel, or a store and it feels impeccably designed, yet effortless? That is the work of an Interior Designer. The layout, the colors, and so much more impacts the way we move through a space. Almost even more so, design impacts the way you live in your home. Of course, we never think about this, but the design of our homes impacts our everyday experiences. This is one of Humphries’ favorite things about what she does.

 

“It’s almost like you are creating this space that shapes the family, person, or couple’s day-to-day life. I think that’s a way in which design is so much more than picking paint colors and fabrics. And that’s why I like it. That is my favorite part.”

 

Humphries’ work experience is vast and varied. Check out her website and her Instagram.

 

 

How To Start a Podcast

How To Start a Podcast

Do you love podcasts? Have you ever thought about starting one? If so, we’ve got valuable insight from Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden of The Popcast. They have over 1800 five star reviews on iTunes podcasts- so we can trust what they say. The Popcast is a weekly pop culture podcast and if you’ve never listened to it, you can download it here.

 

Knox McCoy, Erin Moon (The Popcast COO) and Jamie Golden

 

Here are some things to think about before you record….

 

What’s Your Goal?

  • Build an audience. A sticky one.
  • Build a personal connection to your existing audience.
  • Create valuable and reusable content.
  • Develop your speaking skills.
  • Make money!

 

Do everything in your power to figure out who is your listener avatar. And when looking for hosting software, Knox and Jamie suggest Libsyn and PodBean. The most important thing is making 100% sure you own your content!

 

What is your show’s format?

 

 

 

When producing content, let your mission/vision inform your content. Knox and Jamie believe that the three components of an excellent podcast are repetition, an early call-to-action and crazy valuable content.

 

Of course podcasting software is important- The Popcast uses Garage Band but they also suggest Audacity as a great option. Knox and Jamie both record from “studios” in their own homes- Jamie uses a large closet so there’s no need to be fancy. Just make sure you limit your hard surfaces using blankets and curtains.

 

Knox and Jamie never record together in person- they are always in their own homes so they use Call Recorder for Skype to record their dialogue! Look it up if you plan to podcast with another person in separate locations.

 

Editing is very important- will you subcontract it or learn to edit yourself? Knox is the editor of The Popcast and he admits its not easy. It can take him several hours to edit one episode. They provided a couple of screenshots of their editing software to show a before and after.

 

 

 

Think about what you want the length of your show to be and stick with it! Knox and Jamie feel like 20-30 minutes is the sweet spot for most audiences.

 

5-10 Minutes : Up First

20-30 Minutes: The Daily

45-60 Minutes: The Popcast

 

One of the last steps is to get feedback- not just from your family and friends. Send it off to other podcasters to get their opinion!

 

Now you’re ready to give it to the world! Upload it to iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.

 

 

 

 

But you might be asking yourself, how do I find listeners?

  • Be sure you’ve made something good.
  • Experiment with social media.
  • Ask your listeners to share.
  • Track the analytics.
  • Listener surveys!
  • Network with other podcasters (conferences are good opportunities!)
  • Be ready to spend some money.

 

HUGE thanks to Knox and Jamie for sharing all of their wisdom and secrets with us! Be sure to check out The Popcast if you haven’t already!