Change is inevitable, and it’s time for Will Gage and I to move on to our next adventure. My last day at OETA is January 27. Starting February 6, I’ll be working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as marketing and social media manager.

And yes, that’s Atlanta as in the ATL, Hotlanta, The A. Georgia. Where peaches (and pecans and peanuts) are as abundant as Yuengling and sweet tea. The South. Home.

The Atlanta area has a special place in my heart. It’s where I worked so many Southeastern Conference events through the years from football to basketball. It’s where Christina Hilliard and I came back out of retirement to work on the best media coordination committee ever for an SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. Right, Tammy Wilson?!

We’re excited to be closer to our families. I’m even more excited for David Reed to give me the donut tour of the area. And I’m sure Brian Rice will be up for a visit to The Varsity anytime.

Going to the Dogs

I’m often asked who are my favorite social media accounts to follow. There’s a lot to be learned from watching others and how they use social media to market their personal brand. My eye-opening answer to the question? Dogs. And a lot of them.

It’s crazy to think that an animal that can’t even type has more social media followers than some celebrities, but that’s the case for Butler Blue III, Manny the Frenchie, Doug the Pug and Sir Charles Barkley (oh, there’s more… plenty more). When I’d meet with professional and collegiate athletes to discuss personal branding, I’d often point a dog’s social media accounts as go-to examples of how it’s done. Sure, there’s a human (or hooman if you’re the dog talking) behind that account, but the time and effort put into making these four-legged friends famous is certainly impressive and it pays off.

They’ve inked endorsement deals, have sponsorships and have even scored free travel and products. What’s so great about these animals is they use their celebrity for good. Manny the Frenchie often travels the country to help raise funds for local animal groups. If you’ve ever seen The Dogist’s books or social media accounts, they’re sure to bring a smile to your face. So, what is it that makes them such great examples? Authenticity.

Social media may have gone to the dogs, but in this case, we’re more than happy to keep feeding the frenzy. And if you’re interested into a look into my life from a different perspective, check out our dogs Dirk and Nash on Twitter and Instagram.

Dirk Twitter
Dirk Instagram
Nash Twitter
Nash Instagram

It’s A Wonderful Life

My all-time favorite movie is Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life. While it may be set in upstate New York during the Christmas season, George Bailey’s holiday struggle is something many people face year round. I usually cry at some point in the film. It depends on the year, how I’m feeling and where I’m at in life. But, I always come back to the one line that changed the entire course for George, “I wish I’d never been born.”

We all have ups and downs. Some days are better than others. And there are those that have had to be talked down from the bridge more than once. We’ve all had people like Mr. Potter in our life. Those that are selfish enough to do whatever it takes to eliminate those of us who truly care about integrity and honesty. And, yes, we all probably even have our own version of Uncle Billy. Those family members you love and support despite their faults.

You could go through every character in the movie from Ma to Harry to even Annie and we all know someone who can relate. But for most of us battling depression, we can relate to George. How you go on with life – being social and laughing and loving – even though inside you feel you’re missing something or it’s all just gotten to be too much. I could use a Clarence in my life.

I don’t consider myself someone that has thousands of friends. I have one best friend, and she’s been with me through everything. Sometimes I feel like a failure. Sometimes I feel there’s nothing going right in my life. Some days I wonder if some of you are my Clarence. It seems that I always get words of encouragement from people out of the blue or read something I needed to hear.

It took an angel without wings to show George what the world would be like without him. No Harry receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, no houses in Bailey Park to help people get out of Mr. Potter’s slums and Mr. Gower would be in jail. It wasn’t until George saw the world without him that he realized how much he actually meant to people. He spent his entire life putting others first, going about his life day-to-day and fighting to make his community better through the building and loan. It wasn’t until George stood on the bridge ledge you realize how it all affected him. How are we wearing ourselves down by holding in it? By not taking care of ourselves at some point?

In the end, the community George had fought to save ended up saving him. Sometimes we need help, and we’re afraid to ask. Sometimes it takes others realizing it to set things in motion. My favorite line in the entire movie actually wasn’t spoken. It’s what Clarence wrote in the copy of Tom Sawyer he left for George.

No man is a failure who has friends.

There’s no place like home.

Dorothy Gale was just an ordinary farm girl from the Kansas plains until Mother Nature swept her up in a twister and made her one of the most iconic characters all-time in American film. There’s a lot to be learned from Dorothy’s experience over the rainbow but none more important than the power of a journey.

When Dorothy landed in Munchkinland all she wanted to do was get home. Like me, Dorothy was fortunate enough to meet some people along the way that helped her, molded her and even some who showed her who she didn’t want to be. Her transformation from a meek young lady to the leader of the pack often goes unnoticed throughout the film’s narrative.

Sometimes we don’t choose to be the leader. Other times, we’re the first to raise our hands. And sometimes, much like Dorothy from the time the ruby red slippers were put on her feet, we’ve always had the power to go home, we just never realized it. Regardless of how we got there, it’s the journey that often defines our legacy.