23/ 05/ 2016

Has our obsession with convenience gone too far?

I really don’t know how I feel about this piece on efforts to eliminate the need to fold laundry. I mean, I know that having the ability to buy your time back can be a huge help to so many households. Like how great would it be to create automated folding machines and donate them to low-income, single parent households so parents can spend more time with their children?

But thinking about it from another angle, how many of us truly need this? We’re human–so no matter how comfortable and easy things get, we will always find something else our laziness finds worthy of complaint. Hate washing dishes? Get a dishwasher. And pretty soon, you’ll be complaining about how annoying it is to unload the dishwasher. Not to mention, the extra help doesn’t always save that us that much. My apartment came with a dish washer, which in my 1-2 person household takes more time and only slightly less effort than washing the dishes myself.

A video I did last year on how I prep food and clothing for the week.

Here’s the thing: I’m not against a folding solution, or any other time-saving chore automation. But isn’t it weird that we work so hard as a society to reduce our need for manual labor, only to then feel the need to make up for our increasingly sedentary lifestyles by paying to go to the gym?

It’s the same paradox as with processed foods. The easiest, most direct way to get flavor and nutrition from food is to consume it in its natural forum; but for “convenience” we take those natural products, reduced and processed them into unnatural products, then use chemistry to manipulate those unnatural products so they will mimic the taste of the original natural product.

I don’t hate processed foods or cooking ingredients–for certain things like bread, or special sauces, or pickled vegetables for example, they can save hours of cooking time. But when I see people filling their shopping carts and pantries with pre-cooked stir-fry chicken in a bag or boxes of frozen vegetables, it just makes me wonder what the hell we’re doing to ourselves. These products generally don’t taste very good. Some are full of artificial ingredients designed to make un-fresh food taste fresh. They’re more expensive, and they only shave what, 10 minutes? off the time it takes to cut up some chicken and throw it in a wok.

Services like Blue Apron take this a step farther into the madness. We were tired of making everything from scratch so we started mass-producing all of our food. Then we got so sick of mass-produced food, we became convinced that the only way to deal with this fatigue would be to pay even MORE money to a company who would go back to fresh ingredients for us, and ship them to our door in pre-measured amounts with recipes that require virtually no thinking (nor in effect, any actual cooking) at all.

Or how about that photo that was circulating of an orange that was pre-peeled and then put into a plastic container to be sold in a store? And the fact that so many people have become so reliant on GPS-enabled technology that they’ve forgotten how to read a simple map and get themselves from point A to point B?

It’s a never-ending loop of ridiculousness. So often, it seems like we put MORE energy (and money) into avoiding doing things than we would if we actually did them. I can’t help but feel like we’re all on our way to having our brains and muscles turn to mush. I don’t know what the right balance is of technology-assisted convenience, out-sourcing and DIY. Believe me, I believe that time is valuable and I would never want to do long division in my head. But I DO know that I don’t ever want to be a person who doesn’t know how, or is to lazy, to do shit.



02/ 05/ 2016

200 Subscribers!

It’s been almost three since I posted my very first video on Youtube, but only about a year since I started my channel itsme Lori. And if you guys have been following, you know that this channel has pretty much been the center of my universe since the start of the year.

Well that channel has now surpassed 200 subscribers! It’s a small milestone, but an important one to me, because I’ve seen a bit of an uptick in the rate of subscribership and interactivity on my videos. This gives me encouragement as I continue building my community, and expand my database of videos around real discussion about everything from careers to personal finance and love. A.K.A., real talk about real life.

More soon!



18/ 04/ 2016

Vlogging Every Day in April?!

I’ve joined a bunch of crazy (but awesome!) Youtubers again for #VEDA, or Vlogging Every Day in April. I decided to jump in on the second–couldn’t resist–and have missed a few days, but I’m doing it!

Check it out here:

I’m doing it a little different this time around; rather than follow the prompts of any VEDA group, I’m highlighting a comment from my channel each day to feature some of my favorite discussions so far. It’s exhausting–I basically do nothing these days but go to work, come home and think about videos–but it’s also an adrenaline rush. I’m not sure how I’ll adjust to doing 2-3 videos per week when the month ends!



14/ 03/ 2016

Feeling comfortable on camera

So I’ve done a lot of thinking about how far I’ve come (and how far I have to go) in terms of being comfortable on camera. And I have Dre from EMIP TV and Tim Schmoyer to thank for it!

Dre, who is full of personality in his videos, was kind enough to do a collaboration with me. He gave an interview on my channel talking about his careers in aviation, music, trucking and photography, and shared some tips for me on how to have more charisma on camera in a video on his channel.

Then Tim, a family vlogger and Youtube-certified trainer, sent out a very timely e-mail to his mailing list about a similar topic asking for feedback. After some reflection, the following is what I wrote back. It was probably too much, but I’ll share it here because who knows–it may help someone else out there with the same struggle:

I’m a writer by training so getting on camera was tough and also the biggest hurdle for me each time I wanted to do a video. The best thing I did was set myself up with an ambitious schedule and hold myself to it, because doing so forced me to put videos out regardless of my anxieties. It was painful! But I knew it couldn’t last because, essentially, having the same conflict over and over, day in and day out, got boring. There’s only so many times you can go through the motions of taking hours just to work yourself up for filming, then stutter through recording only to have the battery go out before you finish, and THEN have to edit around all that awkward stuttering, before you feel compelled to suck it up and get over it.

The turning point for me was probably when I did a daily video challenge for one month. Making videos got so exhausting that the easiest way for me to streamline the process was to just learn to ignore the fear and self consciousness. At first, it took some mental cheerleading each time I felt I was procrastinating, or that I was taking too long to record, like, ‘GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, or else it’s going to take until 5am!’ And then slowly it evolved into a kind of survival-mode switch I could flip on–my “let’s get this video done” personality in which all anxieties just got pushed to be back burner because any other attitude in that moment, in front of the camera, was just not sustainable.

The other thing, which I only recently discovered, was that a clearly defined, and honest, purpose is key. It’s hard to focus and to turn that switch on when you’re not really sure WHY you’re doing it. For some, it might be fame. For others, money. For me, I have a full time career and don’t crave fame, so it’s about promoting open discussion and sharing practical knowledge because it was the help and generosity of other people got me to where I am, and I want others to have access to that. But regardless of what anyone’s motivation is, as long as we are honest with ourselves about what we want, we can turn that camera on and have the mental clarity and determination we need to put our anxieties and fears aside… And just do the damn thing!

I can’t say yet whether people like me, but each time I do a new video I feel a little more confident, both in the process and that I will be proud of my finished product. And if that’s all I leave this experience with, that’s fine with me!

So to sum up: Set an ambitious (but realistic) schedule, and hold yourself to it; streamline the process so can essentially eliminate any thinking or hesitation that could possibly serve as a crutch for you not to stick to your schedule; be honest with yourself about what you REALLY WANT. And yes, it may very well be something superficial, which is ok–just don’t lie to yourself. Because without knowing your purpose, it’s hard to stay motivated.

Beijos,
Lori



27/ 02/ 2016

My wake-up call at StreamCon NYC

I’ve just wrapped up the first week of my new Youtube schedule, publishing three days a week with a different topic each day. It was EXHAUSTING. But, with some better time management, doable.

This new schedule is the culmination of months of self-evaluation and planning, and I feel good about it. So on request of my friend James (of Rugged Tribe Entertainment—check him out here) I will share with you how this process unfolded.

Things got really kicked into gear for me at StreamCon NYC, a conference held at the Javits Center for creators last October, but NOT for the reasons you might think. There was a lot to learn there, for sure, but my biggest takeaway was that I wasn’t in a position to learn from it.

It was local so I didn’t think it was too ridiculous to pay the $100 something dollars for a creator’s ticket and take a day off from work (no flight or hotel necessary). It wasn’t exactly like VidCon in LA, but big Youtubers like Kandee Johnson and iJustine were there, plus Timothy DeLaGhetto and a lot of Viners, etc. I wasn’t about to join the mobs of fans, though—my main interest was to attend the informational workshops for creators, maybe meet some other smaller creators, etc.

I’d made up a small batch of business cards with the URL for my old channel, figuring I couldn’t show up to a networking conference without business cards at least. I posted some updates to my blog, and rearranged my channel so that anyone I met who checked it out would see my best work first. Then, the night before, I even had the bright idea that I might take my camera with me and “cover” the event, maybe interview creators there about fashion (which was the focus of my old channel). I knew I was going to be shy, especially going there alone, but I told myself I HAD to grow thicker skin and just do it, if I ever wanted my creative efforts to go anywhere.

By the time I went to bed I was seriously hyped, telling myself I was going to get my money’s worth out of this conference no matter what! I felt ready. I didn’t have a fully developed channel, but I had an idea of what I wanted to do (or so I thought), and had done a few videos that did ok with hundreds or thousands of views. But I arrived at the convention center the next day, with a heavy ass bag and all my filming equipment in tow, ALL that shit went out the window.

I went to two or three workshops, heard people talk about multi-channel networks, Snapchat, and short-form film-making, but all of it was kind of a blur. I tried to talk myself into approaching some people to for my fashion video, but I got the distinct feeling that I was at least 10 to 15 years older than just about everyone else there, and was out of my element. I ended up just walking around, shooting some photos of the general scene, and cowering behind my phone. The friendliest exchange I had was with a nice lady at the information booth (who might have been one of the only other people there over 30! lol).

The big test came during a party for creators with an open bar, which I went to because I wanted to at least give it my best shot (and hey—even if I failed, at least I could get a few cold ones for the money I spent). The party was intimidating, too—but thanks to the boldness of OTHER people, I met a few other creators, a handful of social media publicists and a really nice guy from FLAMA. I was within arms reach of Kandee Johnson, and actually shook hands with a really beautiful young woman whose friend promptly (and politely) informed me was a famous Viner. I told her I really respected 6-second videos as an art form, she smiled a polite “Who is this random old chick who isn’t on Vine?” sort of smile, and I moved along, slightly embarrassed for not knowing who she was. (From my day job, and from common sense, I know that one simply does not show up to an “industry” event and not even have a clue who the “industry” people are. It’s not the end of the world, just not good form.)

IMG_0008

At one point, I spotted Timothy DeLaGhetto, probably the only person in the joint that I actually knew of and liked, but I wasn’t about to mob the guy and ask for his autograph—that is just not my style. I wasn’t there to fawn over celebrities, I was there to get my taste of the world of Youtube.

So here’s what I learned: 1. that world is way bigger even than I’d previously imagined. If you have an inkling of just how many creators out there are also starting channels, and trying their hand at vlogs, at fashion and beauty, gaming or comedy, just multiply that number by 100,000. 2. I may have thought I had some sort of idea or direction of where I was going with my channel and blog, but I didn’t have the first clue. Being asked by someone I just met what my channel is about, and then not having a clear answer for them, was something of a come-to-Jesus moment.

The truth is, you never know for sure if you really do have an elevator pitch until you’re put on the spot and asked to give it. When I was put on the spot, I realized that I could KIND of describe what my channels and blog were about—but I had no idea what my purpose was. Fame? Fashion? Film? The answer, was none of those things. So while it was a little embarrassing that I didn’t recognize some famous Internet celebrities, it was WAY more embarrassing to be caught like a deer in headlights, without an identity and with an apparent lack of drive. If you knew me in “real life,” you’d know that I am none of these things. But–I am also determined not to mix my real life and my “Youtube life.”

So I went home very clear on one thing: I had to get serious. I had to find my purpose, define my audience in a concrete way, come up with an elevator pitch of sorts and work backwards—not because I want to have something to tell people at cocktail parties, but because without a clear direction, it may as well be for nothing.

Did I forget to mention what I ultimately decided my purpose was? It was to put my skills to use helping people. And so I decided that I will tap some of the relationships I have with interesting people and share my personal experiences to spark discussion. In my mind, if my videos help even one viewer in the way that the people in MY life helped me, I will be proud of what I’m doing regardless of how many people subscribe or watch.

There you have it: my long-ass StreamCon story. Sorry to say it didn’t include much content from StreamCon itself! But if any of you out there are feeling as lost as I felt, I would highly recommend throwing yourself into an event like that where you’ll be around a lot of other creators who are doing better and worse than you. It really puts things in perspective.

As for the information I actually got from the conference, there were a few tidbits here and there that might be helpful, like learning about iJustine’s interesting story, and about live video platforms like YouNow. I’ll try to pull those together in a separate post soon!

Beijos,
Lori



itsmelori

itsmelori

I'm a 30-something multimedia creator from New York. I do videos on Youtube centered on open discussion and co-mentorship. Once a month, I host a Q&A with inspiring people from entrepreneurs to athletes and more on The itsme Podcast. Be warned: I can be opinionated. But it's all love! Please follow and subscribe, it would mean a lot! :)

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