Millennial Homeowner

Homeownership for Americans 35 and under declined to 36.2 percent, down from 36.8 percent in 2013 and the lowest on record since the census’s Housing Vacancy Survey began tabulating homeownership by age in 1982. (source USA News)

When I came across this stat after I had my closing date set, I actually studied the facts further and even started to doubt my decision to buy a home with my husband.

I have had three close friends go through foreclosures and now are renting. I have no single friends that own homes right now that I can think of.  A few that are newly married that have chosen to wait to buy a house “until it’s the best time in the market”. Then finally the friends that do own homes all have children and are in the construction industry “when it just makes sense”.

Really, the facts have always been clear that the millennial lifestyle is just not like our parents.

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New homeowner cards filled the mailbox the first week. My favorite card from a college friend and fellow millennial.

 

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It wasn’t taken on the day of our closing…but the photo holds the memory and the key that doesn’t work anymore (we changed the locks of course) to our home.

 

I think of one of the earliest research stats I can remember, the average number of children per couple. Gallup has been asking Americans “What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?” since 1936, when the ideal number per family was 3.6. This number declined between 1957 and 1978 to an average of about 2.5 children, where it remains today—OK enough on that stat that’s another blog post, and no I’m not pregnant.

Steve and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in our home this weekend. Just for the record, we have also already done 91 Home Depot, Menards and Lowes visits in just three weeks (glad the 11% Menards rebate was going on too). Don’t worry friends this blog won’t turn into a BEFORE and AFTER or DIY picture over-share… we will save that for Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by. Three advertising and marketing events this week, so stay tuned for strategic updates and thought-starters (now I really have to write about at least one).

Your newest millennial homeowner,
MN Design Gal plus Steve 

fun in front of the home

#32under32 Award

What is 32 Under 32?

In every industry, there are those who push beyond what’s asked of them in the hopes of disrupting the status quo. These are the early risers and late-nighters. The after-work hustlers and the opportunity seekers. In the advertising and marketing industry, we call these people ambitious and recognize them as being one of the 32 Under 32. This elite award recognizes 32 up-and-coming ad professionals in the Twin Cities, hailing incredible accomplishments and endeavors they gain at such a young age. – AdFed MN

On June 26, I accepted this award among talented advertising colleagues and fellow savvy marketers, designers, copy writers, digital directors and more.

Why the age 32?

Ad 2 members have to be 32 and under for the lower membership rate, basically it goes back to Ad 2 National rules. There also is a local MPLS magazine called thirty two that was an original sponsor in 2013.

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With my husband Steve moments after receiving the award.

Below are the highlights from my acceptance speech that I preformed in my bathroom, by myself, later that night.

Thank you for the opportunity to be among these incredibly talented people. Some of you have hired me in this room, others of you we have volunteered together for years or just hours, we have played together at the uptown bars and later on in our careers some of you will want to hire me and I will want to hire you.

I sincerely am not here without the American Advertising Federation and Ad Fed MN organization. Too many times we take it for granted the volunteers, the ideas and the execution of these events. I would like to thank Anna Sanders for her idea on this 2 years ago and this year being the 2nd annual event for #32under32. [insert applause] I also want to thank past Ad Fed and Ad 2 Presidents and current board members and volunteers, photographers and social community managers I recruited a few years back because without event marketing there wouldn’t be any attendees to come to these events and all the volunteers and bartenders just stare at each other.

I’m accepting working as a volunteer and past Ad 2 President will always be part of my life because you learn so much more shit when your not getting paid for it, it’s just less apparent. [insert laughs and claps]

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Even though no one knows who nominates them, I knew one for sure in this room. So I thank Cathleen for her time and on-going support in my young advertising career, you are an incredible entrepreneur and talented business woman.

I also want to thank Steve. My husband and supporter of my crazy creative thinking, late-nights on my Mac researching and executing ideas that I’m not getting paid for. [insert laughs] I am lucky to have a tech savvy man who also understands that I will always be in this crazy design & advertising world.

Also want to thank Family and Friends that aren’t here tonight-they are usually always positive and encouraging of my creative talents. Without them I would have probably never made it through presenting for 2 hours my digital design portfolio at BSU and surely would have never handled all those 2nd place call backs. Seriously my family is my rock and I’m excited to see where my career and life keeps taking me while designing this path through life.

Thanks for listening and thanks for not booing me while on stage. See you again soon! Cheers!

[insert applause] exit stage—

your mn design gal - designing her path through life 

mndesigngal

Drive Your Business Forward

Fast Company is a news source with the following of innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business. What is happening this month is the judging of their Drive Your Business Forward contest.

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The submission process started with seeing the ad for small businesses on a promoted post on Facebook and then taking a look at the past winners on YouTube. My Dad is the sole owner and operator of his vending machine company who works 14+ hour days with a Sprinter van with over 340,000 miles on it. He has never owned a new work van or truck ever.

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We met Dad at one of his Minneapolis vending stops on a late Thursday night in May and filmed him in action.

After explaining more to him about this mystery contest, he insistented in a follow-up shoot where he would be more prepared with commentary on why he deserves a new Sprinter van. A new Sprinter van or even the $10K would be an unforgettable experience and dream for him and the really-the entire family.

What is the GRAND PRIZE you ask?

The Grand Prize consists of a 2014 (or 2015, if available) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van together with $10,000 worth of customizations. 
Additional second place is BEST VIDEO: The Readers’ Choice Prize is $10,000 in cash.
 
The eligible entries will be judged on the following criteria: 
1) how the proposed use of Sprinter van will help Entrant’s business grow (50%)
- Keith is all about efficiency on his route being the sole owner and operator, the more variety of snacks in his machines and the more stops on his route the more sales will be made. So with the help of Fast Company if he could customize and create the best layout in the Sprinter van, meanwhile drive a new safe and quality vehicle, this would grow his business. 
2) overall business strategy (25%)
Keith needs to transfer all of his machines to credit card acceptance and that is a huge investment; so his route and sales need to increase by 30% to be able to do this by 2015. With the business strategy to keep his route efficient with the best possible transportation as possible, it will help this sole business owner. 
3) quality of performance on submitted video (25%)
- Trina (my younger talented sister) used Final Cut Pro to develop this entertaining and customized video, so the quality is super- just see for yourself!
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Taking all this into consideration we went drafted a quick outline for the 60-90 second video submission and used iCloud to quickly upload video clips from iPhones and labeled them in sequential order for efficient editing.
With the deadline being May 30th we had no time for multiple revisions. While Trina found music that wasn’t copyrighted, I created Dad a Google+ Account, YouTube Channel and added photos captioned from the submission video shoot.
Without any further details, please comment, encourage and LIKE our 90-second video submission for the Fast Company’s Drive Your Business to Success starring Keith Severson:

 

Ready for more? Trina made an extended version with an overview of a day in the life of attending to vending with Keith:

Lastly, for Father’s Day we had to make sure to release the uncut version. At the end there is a shout-out to Fast Company and how brilliant of an idea this contest is because not only did we spend time filming our hard-working Dad, but he may the underdog but he’s still the Winner to us!

Cheers to hard-work and stop by after July 7th for the update to the Fast Company contest. We hope our Dad wins because he needs a new Sprinter soon!

Staying creative as the Vending Man’s Daughter,
Tricia jo

pic of this mndesigngal

We Left Our Hearts in San Francisco

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First-time to San Francisco was the last weekend in May 2014. #SPLUSTSF was started for this quick 4 night trip to represent Steve Plus Tricia in San Francisco.

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The first tourist stop we made was visiting Alcatraz Island. We sent sail on the 12:45 PM ferry and were glad it was in the middle of the day because it was a windy island with outstanding views. We were lucky to have a bright blue sky while setting sail that day. Make sure to buy your tickets prior to your trip to SF, because rumors were tickets can be hard to find and most likely sold out during peak season.

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DSC03041We walked around the island and took in the views, sun, wind and history. DSC03042

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My husband enjoyed the 3-hour audio tour and even pretended he was in jail several times during it.

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Who’s ready for drink? (Me!) We had reservations at the Cliff House which is on the far West side of SF. We enjoyed a fish dinner and watched the sun set. We commend reservations or being there by 6:30 PM for a nice 8 PM sunset.

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The Cliff House area had a lot to see too. There is even a beach and you could plan to look around for hours.

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Late night beverage late one evening just blocks away from our hotel, with views of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge). As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road route between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries approximately 240,000 vehicles per day on its two decks. It has one of the longest spans in the United States.

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The first 2 nights were spent downtown SF and we were recommended by friends to rent a car so the sights could be seen downtown in addition to hundreds miles away. The San Francisco Palace Hotel was centrally located with valet parking that we did not use. The rooms were small but nice and the lobby bar was a nice surprise for a quick sip before heading out onto the town. It is a Starwood Resort so using our SPG points helped keep the hotel budget way down.

Parking in San Francisco is expensive-the best is $20 and that will not be near the main area. Find a lot that you can park, but watch the times. Steve woke up one morning at 6 AM to get the car out before being charged another $30.

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The famous Pier 39 was full of tourists and entertainment. We took the sight in and left quick.

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Every where you go clam chowder is served with also famously made sour dough bread. Steve is trying this at a big chain in the Pier called Chowder.

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Who’s ready to ride the trolley? We waited in line for the POWELL STREET trolley car for an hour. It really was the best trolley line to ride.

Locals can jump on any time during the ride until it’s full. The fare was $5 per person 1-way.

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Hanging off the trolley is the best part. But yes watch out for cars.

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China town was a sight to be seen. We walked through it at about 10 AM when the shops were just opening up. Grab a coffee in Little Italy and walk around. If you want to shop, wait until Noon to get there.

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Steve is a bruncholic. (Which means he is addicted to brunch, and would eat it everyday if he could.) A goal is find one of the best spots in town for brunch whenever we travel. So with his research in San Francisco, Mama’s on Washington Square was his pick. Look at those ratings on the window!

We arrived at 10:30, after walking through China town to get there and the line was wrapped around the corner.

Not knowing how long it really was going to take, Steve hopped in line, while I walked around the Washington Square park neighborhood.
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Would I recommend going to Mama’s? Yes. BUT- not if you’re in any sort of rush, have more than 4 people in your group or if your just wanting a 3 eggs and bacon breakfast. I ordered the Monte Crisco and was very happy with my choice. Steve picked a California omelet and it was good-but not worth a 2 1/2 hour wait.

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Walking around the neighborhoods in SF. Behind me are hills of homes and beautiful architecture and churches.

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Ready for a drive? I took our rental car down the famous curvy road of Lombard Street. I guess that is just something you have to do-according to the locals.

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Our first stop entering into Sonoma was a friendly family owned winery Cline Cellars. This is one of the first wineries that greets you will see coming into wine country. We drank our free sampling and walking around with quarter glasses in the vineyards and flower gardens.

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Steve met a real ass at the winery too.

Next stop was one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma area. Buena Vista Winery was down a   wooded path and off the main road. It was a little bit of a walk to the main tasting room too-but we didn’t mind at all.

It felt like you were in another country with the English-inspired buildings and calming atmosphere.

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After dining downtown Sonoma for lunch, we continued on our way through wine country.

We randomly stopped next at Domaine Carneros because of her big white umbrellas, bright sun shining on down on it and perfectly manicured greenery. This winery literally was calling out my name, “Hello Tricia you must stop by today“.

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The website says reservations only, but this winery actually was the only one we went to that served wine, cheese and crackers. There are rules that certain wineries can’t serve food. We nibbled on few almonds but didn’t order anything off the menu. We shared a Pinot Noir and Champaign wine flight. He gave us generous pours because they were slow on the Friday afternoon we were there and the cost was $25.

I would highly recommend this winery. The cellar tour is worth checking out too, it’s 2 hours long and people were raving over it. We didn’t have that kind of time on our wine country journey though.

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FOLLOWFANCY

While enjoying the sights and wine, Steve saw a Porsche and Lamborghini and a few other “fancy cars” driving down to another winery just across the street.

We were curious.
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We were greeted with this modern delight of the Cuvaison Winery. Online the winery says reservations only as well, but we arrived at 4 PM when they had a break before the night crowd so we seated in the sun and started our tasting.

Cuvaison was a quiet spot and we were happy to learn more about this unique place with almost 1,500 solar panels and implemented green initiatives.

It isn’t a required Napa spot-but it was a nice finish to our journey to downtown Napa.

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Right in the heart of downtown Napa we stayed for 1 night at the Andaz a Hyatt resort. It had been designed just for the Napa tourists with a wine happy hour at 5 PM and we were even greeted with a glass of vino too.

This was one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. I loved the modern amenities and personal touches of wine country decor. There was a large patio bar on the 3rd floor that had a neighborhood feel and had the bright afternoon sun.

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Downtown Napa was easy to get around and our hotel was centrally located. Steve’s breakfast spot was just 5 blocks away and guess what- NO LINE! It was actually a bakery called Alexis Bakery Company, but wasn’t a chain at all even though the name may sound like it. Everything was made from scratch including ricotta pancakes (another good choice by this MN Design Gal).

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Patio and cabana back at Andaz.

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Beautiful gardens and scapes while walking downtown Napa.


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The last full day in California we got up and drove back to downtown San Francisco to our 3rd hotel in 4 exciting nights. This day’s main event would start at 7 PM.

GOTWINS

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The view from our seats on club level. Steve bought them off of Ticket King before we left Minnesota.

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Even wine at the ball game in a cute vintage store.

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About 10 Twins fans there on Saturday when we were there. A few more in the background.

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A successful first trip to San Francisco. We really loved all the food, views, culture and palm trees. The bay makes it extra windy and it wasn’t nearly as warm as you think. Half the days we were out and about this gal wore her long-johns so I didn’t get a chill (for real).

The Napa Valley day was my favorite adventure because of the drive through Sausalito and through the Marin lands then experiencing my first ever California wineries. Being able to experience the downtown San Francisco including some nightlife and also drive up to wine country was a perfect taste of SF.

If you have questions on places we were find this design gal on Foursquare or follow some more of the fun in more detail check out #SplusTSF.

I thought I would leave you with the famous San Francisco song that was even played at the end of the Twins lost against the Giants.

Keep traveling,
your MN Design Gal

GoPros Aren’t Just for Pros

GoPros have been around since 2005 and really has become a household name over the last few years.

The company was formed by Nick Woodman. Woodman said he was inspired to start the company following a 2002 Australia surfing trip in which he was hoping to capture quality action photos of his surfing, but could not because amateur photographers could not get close enough, or obtain quality equipment at accessible prices. His desire for a camera system that could capture the professional angles inspired the ‘GoPro‘ name. Learn more from Wiki.

My personal love for the GoPro came when my little brother Troy started in the Air Force as a loadmaster. He filmed his first video and uploaded it to Vimeo to show the family what he on the job. It truly feels like we are on flight with him as he mounted the camera in multiple places to experience the journey.

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Family and close friends met in Cabo for my wedding and Troy brought 2 GoPros with all the accessories to document the wedding week.

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The slightly awkward part about a GoPro is the fact you actually can’t look through the lens to see what your recording. Farmers place it on their tractors, hunters mount them in their hunting shakes, surfers on their boards and they need to use their smartphones to trigger a feed to see what they are recording or just hope it’s capturing what they need.

On the wedding day, Troy mounted both GoPro’s in the palm trees to film the views birds in the trees and a unique perspective to the day.

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The best part about GoPro’s is the accessories that can go under the water and also be mounted on someone’s head to give a feel of experience. Many videos for brands are being user-generated content and this is an original and real way to connect with the brand advocates.

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Now I’m not getting any product placement from GoPro’s or even Best Buy to write this post- but I wanted to let people know where to buy them and that they aren’t a cheap fun camera. They start at $199.99 with no accessories, but who wants to not have the waterproof case for vacation?

GoPro shows us how you can throw a waterproof GoPro on your head and swim with dolphins.

Let’s dive a bit deeper and see how it works with a shark snack also provided by GoPro’s YouTube Channel.

I recommend the cameras for trips, weddings, family fun and random Saturday days at the park with the kids. Learn more about my lifestyle brand by visiting video playlists on LovinRlife.com. Remember you can also make your own memories with video. I edited my footage in iMovie, which is now free with the latest Mac purchases.

“GoPro” for capturing those memories in the near future – you won’t be disappointed.

your MN Design Gal

mndesigngal

 

 

Linkedin – My Long Lost 326

“It was nice to meet you. Are we connected on Linkedin?” I bet you have said or heard that line before.

LinkedIn is a business-oriented Social networking service. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of June 2013, LinkedIn reports more than 259 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.

I find myself checking this social network on the mobile platform while riding the bus rather than logging-in on the desktop website. This week commuting to work, I went through my Twitter, Business Insider, Vine and Linkedin routine when I stopped in my tracks.

Checking the home feed, new messages and request, I noticed the +326>

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I scanned the invitations to see friends, current co-workers, past co-workers, 1-time meeters, a few never-met-head-hunters and people that I respect in the industry sitting in this pool of 326. Did I miss something? Was I really ignoring their invitations?

I opened a current co-worker to find the invitation date of Fri, February 14, 2014. (By the way thanks for thinking of me Rachel on Valentine’s Day).

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I quickly texted Rachel to ask if she had really requested my connections on Linkedin, and she didn’t remember but was pretty sure she did some time.

What did these people think when I didn’t accept their invite within a few days? Was it something that they could have taken personal? Are they still waiting to this day for my acceptance?

Thinking through all the possibilities of why this would happen, I waited until I arrived to my MacBook Air at home to see if the desktop version was truly showing the same thing or if it was a mobile app mishap.

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It was true! My desktop version had 326 messages waiting for me to check-mark and accept.

I sent a Tweet to @Linkedin and see if they just did an update. Why would this just show up now? My mailbox would have surely alerted me if I was missing messages.

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No feedback from @Linkedin.

I decided to look a bit closer at the UX and invitation structure of Linkedin. If you’re a mobile user, when a new connection request comes in to your mailbox it will not appear new again in the desktop version.  If the user clicks to review them quickly on the mobile version but doesn’t take the time to accept they will NOT appear on your desktop version later when return to the home screen. This leaves it up to the busy user to remember to go back into the invitations within messages and see them. In the past there never was any inbox alert unless it was active or a direct message that wasn’t clicked and viewed on.

If there is no action done to the invitation they’re put in a blocked category by default.

Clicking into the mailbox then invitations tab, it shows 326 blocked invites. Wait a minute– when did I ever “block” these people?

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When I think of blocking, I think of Facebook. When a person usually blocks an ex, an ex’s ex, a random creeper, a current boss or future boss, possibly a mother-in-law…

I’m surprised that Linkedin mark the unattended invites as blocked as default, maybe this will be changed in the near future. Let’s just hope my 326 don’t think that I truly blocked them.

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My Public Viewing Linkedin Profile

I decided to take the night off and not think too much more about my neglected 326 invites. How did this affect my career?

The next day I launched my Linkedin App on my bus and noticed the Linkedin intro screen with the random lady walking the pavement on a busy undefinable street.

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Who is the Linkedin splash screen gal?

Is that a blurred Coach purse she is wearing?

I’m liking the demin jacket with the black pants. Wonder where I can buy that jacket?

Is the ponytail too casual for Linkedin?

Isn’t this suppose to be the professional network featuring people like this?

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I decided to  take a look at a few alternative shots that Linkedin could update their app splash screen with.

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The attractive fashionable woman walking the suburbs streets with a briefcase, coffee, painted red fingernails (I have never ever worn red nail polish like that to work) while making sure she is right on time for that important meeting.

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The streets are always crowded and you have to watch your back in business. He is your boy next door, always late but has the best ideas co-worker wearing purple and a skinny tie. She is known as the multitasker and problem-solver, while she used to model and someday hopes to be the first advertising executive on the cover of PlayBoy.


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Life’s city streets are just too busy for the special Linkedin user, you are above the rest. Wearing 3-inch heels and holding a true leather portfolio you can balance it all and be above all the rest with your success.

 

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She is focused always connected even after leaving the office. How does she do it all?

 

Did Linkedin make the right choice with their current image? Did she get any paid for modeling or was this just a random New York City day and she clearly isn’t identifiable.

All silly-ness aside, Linkedin is always updating and I’m glad that they have stuck around and are always improving their UX, integration with other products and are one of the leading social networks.

Now, I will work the rest of weekend weeding through my 326.

Always thinking for the better of your brand,
MN Design Gal 

Photo by 507 Studio and Trina Severson

Photo by Trina with 507 Studio

 

Minnesota Made

Recently I was asked to write down two things that people may not know about myself.

My response was “A Packer Fan” and “Lived in 20+ homes over the last few decades”.

I am a Minnesota born gal. My dad was in marketing and sales for almost 20 years so the family moved around quite a bit growing-up. We moved over the border to Wisconsin and a few cities between Green Bay just in time for the Packers to be at the Superbowl 2 years in a row. The family then came back to Minnesota just in time for me to start 7th grade and I ended-up graduating High School successfully from the same town and with no awkward teenager moves to ruin those valuable years.

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[Info according to 2008 Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends]


37percent_infographicMost stayers say at least half a dozen members of their extended families live within a hour’s drive.

40% said that more than 10 relatives live nearby. A majority of the stayers also cite a feeling of belonging as a major reason for staying put.

I had to sit back and think of those friends and advertising socialites that packed-up and moved away from the Minnesota winters over the past year or two.

 

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Another long-time advertising friend and fellow Advertising Federation board member Forest aka @ColossalRaptor makes the list of digital guys that headed out West. Can you find him above? (hint: he’s not smiling to the top right). Forest moved from the Midwest to sunny San Diego. He requested a transfer from the Minneapolis location of Digitaria last year to help grow and collaborate with their Cali digital strategy team. He hasn’t been out there too long to shake the town up too much but I wouldn’t put it past him to do some amazing digital things out there. Smart move Forest- it’s been one of the longest and coldest Winter ever in Minnesota.

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Photo taken by Jamie – Steve and I at the garden wedding

I met Jamie aka @jutzinger years ago through the Student Advertising Summit and later found out I was going to a wedding in her family’s backyard (pictured above a photo she took at the wedding in her parent’s beautiful backyard). Jamie is #MNmade and after being at a top local agency she felt herself ready for a new city and a new challenge. She took it upon herself to reach out to a past supervisor who completely supported her idea on getting to San Fran and she immediately landed a planner job (and promotion) at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Nicely done. See you soon Jamie!

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If you have ever met Phong aka @phonghtran, you will never ever forget Phong. We met at an AIGA event back in 2008ish, then we kept crossing paths through other organizations and agency events. Phong is super-bad-ass talented in design, development and even photography and he pushed himself out of Minneapolis because he knew there was more out there for him (plus he was really freaking cold). He went out to California then down to Texas where he works now at IBM. Now that is smart thinking.

Do you know more #MNmade advertising and marketers that have broke the mold of being born and raised Minnesotans that have inspired you? Send them my way and I’ll do a follow-up post with additional friends that are doing cool things in different cities.

Stay inspired.
Take chances and remember… you can ALWAYS move back.

your MN Design Gal

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The Power of a Poorly Designed Website

I’m sure you have seen the MN Sure healthcare commercials that is encouraging people like you and me, to sign-up before March 31 to enroll in healthcare savings.

A reliable source had this on his large list to do since the first of the year. I share his experience.

As the solo owner and operator of his business, my dad, Keith knew it would make sense to sign-up at MNsure.org especially after owning his own business for over 15 years and not being able to find affordable insurance. My mother works nearly full-time at a locally owned store and isn’t offered benefits. My parents pay almost as much as I pay for rent on my townhome in the Twin Cities for their monthly health insurance. Seriously.

Keith logged-on to MNsure.org several times over the last month and read about the process before just jumping into the registration process.

He started at 8 AM yesterday and moved his business route back just an hour to get this done and off his list.

The website says it will take 15-20 minutes to finish.

The first problem he encountered was the M002 online service message.error message mn sure

After many tries and exiting out and restarting his 2-year-old PC computer he called the 1-800 number. The first question he got from the operator was what browser are you on?

He was on Internet Explorer 11. As many developers know IE11 is a standard practice,  The IE11 changes help, in part, prevent poorly written user-agent detection mechanisms from (incorrectly) identifying Internet Explorer as an earlier version. As a result, sites that rely on modern standards display as intended.

The MNsure.org operator told my dad that the website was compatible on Firefox or Chrome. He was told to google it then download one of them and that should be the fix or at least help the process.

So Keith downloaded the Chrome browser.

He got to start the form! A few pages in he was looking for the NEXT button for several minutes. Because the size of the website and the right aligned button was pushed so far to the right of the screen with no horizontal screen bar, it wasn’t visible. He’s on a standard 20 inch screen, with a 2-year old PC– there is no need for that problem. Luckily I was near by and I showed him the quick trick of zooming the page itself out to make it smaller to see the NEXT.  ON a PC (Control + Shift – ).
This trick luckily eliminated a call to the 1-800 that is open just 8 AM to 4:15 PM. Who doesn’t work Monday to Friday those hours? When would you talk to customer service?

I took a look at the form myself and the form size was OK on MAC Safari, but I was surprised on how poor the form’s UX was. The alignment of the form fields and titles are horrible. So are you asking me for my middle name or last name on the first line? Simple spacing change could help this.form on mn sure

After getting through most of the website, Keith saw the SAVE button and thought it was a great idea to SAVE just in case another error or something timed him out. He hit SAVE & EXIT and was moved out of the entire process back to the homepage. Shortly after hitting the button he realized he should be fine, he will just log-in again and go back to his drafts or find a resume. He has a log-in and password where his sign-in info should be. That is why they make you sign-up right?

Keith logged in to his MNSure.org account to find there are NO DRAFTS, RESUME or SAVED areas on the site to find anywhere.

So he called the 1-800 number. It is now 11 AM.

The operator said that Keith qualified for a specific NAVIGATOR because it sounds like he is having some troubles online. Keith was given a phone number to call his NAVIGATOR who will schedule a time to call you back and talk him through his site problem.

thepromotedeasyprocess

When Keith called his NAVIGATOR he/she quickly said they were booked up to March 31 and had no openings.

Keith quickly asked the NAVIGATOR if he could just explain his simple problem of finding his RESUME or SAVED DRAFTS. The NAVIGATOR seemed knowledgable and was nice but they had never heard of where this info was saved.

She advised him to start over.

This 20 minute process turned in over 4 hours and Keith had to get to his customers and start his work day.

MNSure.org would have to wait again.

Not only did I feel the pain of this process but there is no excuse for this to happen to anyone.

A website should:
– Always be programmed for a 15-year-old up to a 75-year-old to operate
– Be tested on all standard browsers (like IE) and eliminate issues with up to date browsers
– NEVER have a SAVE button if there is no way to access the information again
– Have experts, like NAVIGATORS, but please don’t send someone to them if they are fully booked up
– NEVER change the shape of a logo

GOOD LOGOScreen Shot 2014-03-21 at 3.33.44 PM

BAD LOGOScreen Shot 2014-03-21 at 3.33.28 PM

I did offer to finish or restart the form for Dad.

Thanks MNsure.org for making this hard for an educated and busy business owner to apply for your assistance. I know he’s not the only one.

Was this done on purpose? Let’s just hope not.

Remember it’s not always your computer– it could be the website.

Always curious,
Tricia jo

Tricia_BW_thinking_2

Severson to a leanger

As the bride, when the wedding is over, there are many things that still need to be done–like changing your name. The name change is a big deal and there are many steps that are involved in converting an identity you have been born with to a brand new one. It isn’t just practicing your signature and changing the name on your checks anymore…

I knew that changing my name after decades of being a Severson would be hard, and actually wasn’t really looking forward to it. As a designer your name is your brand, your digital footprint. I branded myself MNdesignGal after starting a Twitter handle for myself and other social channels soon followed, so transitioning in the social space actually helped it become pretty seamless.

newlywed

For email, I secured triciajoleanger@gmail.com months before the wedding to make sure my new name wouldn’t need a number 69 or 21 after it to make it unique.

My Google + account and circles was luckily pretty easily transferable with all the attached history with them. It takes about 7 days, but once that is up and running you can shut down your old maiden name Google+. You do lose your Google +’s on webpages from the past name but that can be quickly made-up for right? Right.
Also you can only combine accounts twice in a lifetime, so beware. [As of December 2013]

google+tricia youtube tricia

YouTube videos and history can NOT be transferred or combined to a new account. So no more TriciaJo22 from 2006, it will now be TriciaJoSeverson connected through my new Gmail account. All videos need to be re-uploaded losing your stats and views. This leaves yourself wondering if should keep both accounts active. #WhatAPain

Facebook name change is easy, my question is how long do I keep my maiden up in as “formally known as (Severson)”? 6 months? A few years? Forever?

Work email transfer will never be perfect, a co-worker will always reference you with your maiden name because of the history the email account will have. I will always need to have an email re-direct from the maiden name. Google chat doesn’t let you change you name, everyone would need to delete you and re-add you with your new name (that is a waste of time and who will do that?).  I’m also not putting on the bottom of my signature ” as of November 16, please refer me as Tricia Leanger” – who am I Prince? Formally known as? No ones reads a signature anyway.

US social security office line

Finally, the social security card change. Get ready ladies for a fun little day trip. I found the 6-county area office that is off of Chicago Ave downtown Minneapolis. Find your location before heading over. In most cities it’s a different office than your friendly and local DMV (I learned the hard way). I thought it was such a great idea to take off work the Monday after my honeymoon to mark this one-off my TO-DO list. From the research I have had, there is never a good time to get there. I stood in line for 2 hours (outside in November) then made my way through a metal-detector and got questioned by an officer (for real). Then I waited over 3 hours in a crowded DMV-type-office with about 100 other people. Ladies don’t worry, the only times you have to go there is if you lose your card or change your name. Thankfully hospitals file for your new baby social security cards.

us social security office 1

What to bring to the Social Security office:
- Wedding License
- Driver’s License
- Current social security card
- Hand sanitizer
- Something to drink (you may be able to sneak something in)
- A snack
- Your phone / iPad fully charged

TIP: Get 2 copies of your wedding license when you go in with your fiancé. It will only be $10 more. This way you can send it to get your Passport changed and even your Social Security without being too nervous about losing the only copy you have. 

Overall the name change has been successful and I have re-branded myself.

leanger_MNdesignGal

tricialeanger_nameonly_lockup

leangerLockUp_nameonlydesign

Cheers to a new name and an exciting time in any gal’s life. It only happens once–right?!

your MN Design Gal TRICIA jo leanger

a new bride