Happy Maddy

I woke up with a huge smile on my face today. Why? Because I’m completely happy. Plain and simple. I’m excited and over the moon about everything that’s going on in my life right now. A few things I’ve been focused on over the past few weeks:

Family– Over the past month, I’ve seen my family quite a bit. My mom and sister came to Atlanta in late March to wedding dress shop and… dun dun dun… we found the dress! It’s absolutely gorgeous and I love, love, love it.

A couple of weeks ago, my family met up in Charleston for a long weekend of celebrating my Aunt Marg’s 60th birthday, running the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run, watching Venus and Serena face-off at the Family Circle Cup and shopping on King Street. The laughs, stories and love that we shared made it a perfect weekend.

Last weekend, I went home to Greenville, SC to meet our day-of wedding planner and celebrate Kim’s 50th birthday with a surprise party.  First: the wedding planner. Love her. We met with her at a Starbucks in DT Greenville and chatted about everything wedding-wise for about 2 hours. She gave us opinions on bands, rehearsal dinner spots, caterers and day-of ideas. My mom, sister and I have similar opinions and it was nice to have a third party affirm most of our thoughts.

Later that night, we headed over to Nancy’s house for Kim’s surprise party. My mom and her friends had planned the big she-bang for about 4 months and it paid off. The party, people and personalized pillows were perfect. 🙂  My mom read a beautiful poem honoring Kim and she had the whole party laughing and smiling throughout the entire reading. Robert leaned over to me while my mom was presenting the poem and said, “Now I know where you got your writing skills.”

Work: I’m loving it. I’ve been conducting intern interviews over the past few weeks and explaining what it means to be a Porter  Novelli employee. Throughout each meeting with potential candidates, I’m realizing more and more how much I love PN. This agency compares to none. It truly is awesome. I come into work every day looking forward to working with my team. I’m given the chance to be creative, learn, grow, and have fun in a collaborative environment with positive, smart people. I have a wonderful coach on my team who wants and encourages me to grow. I can’t say enough nice things about this place.  Ok. Enough of drinking the PN Kool-Aid… moving on….

Robert– [Gush warning] In the beginning of my post, I said that I wake up with a smile on my face. A lot of that has to do with the fact that in less than 10 short months, I’m going to marry the most amazing man thatI’ve ever met (besides my dad). And the sparkly diamond on my finger reminds me of that every day.  Even though we’re technically in a long distance relationship still, Robert and I talk about 15 times a day via phone calls, texts and even sometimes emails.  Each conversation and visit makes me fall more in love with him. He is sincerely interested in my day, my feelings, my to-do list, my work stories, my workout progress, my family, and the list goes on and on. And I’m really interested in everything in his life. Robert is a rare gem, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us.  🙂 

All in all, I’m very fortunate and thankful for everything that’s been going in my life. I try not to take things for granted because, as we unfortunately saw earlier this week in Boston, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.   

Do you think you could live there?

Every time that I travel to a new city for a work event (NYC, San Diego,Tampa, Orlando, Las Vegas and now Nashville), my mom inevitably asks the question, “Well, do you think you could live there?”  Most of the time, I explain that in my book, the area doesn’t compare to the things that I love about Atlanta.  However, the one place that I would literally pick up and move to tomorrow (if Robert and my family would move along with me)  is San Diego. It’s clean, fun and the weather always seems to be gorgeous.

I say that to explain that my trip to Nashville is the first time that I truly do not have an opinion on possible future residency one way or the other.  All of my friends who have visited Nashville absolutely love this place.  Because I’ve been attending a work event, I’ve spent almost my entire trip at the Gaylord Opryland.  On my next trip here (hopefully soon!) I hope to explore the whole city a bit more, listen to the wannabe country stars on the sidewalks and buy some new cowboy boots. 🙂

When I arrived at the Gaylord Opryland, I found out that my room was upgraded to a balcony room.

We took a boat ride on the General Jackson on Tuesday night and experienced an awards banquet, a country music show and the Nashville skyline at night.

Nashville Skyline

This weekend, I’m heading to Asheville for a mountain weekend with Robert, my sister, Sam, Brittney, Derrick, Margo, Lauren, Brandon and Parks.  I see a bonfire, a cookout, warm clothes, micro-brews, shopping, football watching, dancing, singing and laughter in our futures for this weekend. Just call me Ms. Cleo.

Amazing August

Summer seriously flew right by me. I feel like the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day was gone before I even had the chance to get a solid summer tan.  My roommates and I talk about the issue of time flying by all the time, but our overall feeling is that we have so many things going on that it’s hard to not focus on “what’s next.” This summer, and especially August, I tried to slow it down and focus on the present as opposed to looking towards the next week or weekend. Below is a quick recap of my August.

Asheville: During the second weekend of August, I visited Hendersonville and coincidentally, my sister was on her med-school summer break, so she and Sam joined.  On Friday night, we ventured into downtown Hendersonville to play pool and somehow wound up in the middle of an after-party of a rehearsal dinner.  This was a new experience for me because the soon-to-be newlyweds were two men. We mingled with the guests, well-wished the grooms and headed back home.

Merr and me in Hendo.

Instead of sticking around Hendo on Saturday, Robert and I decided to spend the day/night in Asheville. We headed up in the Jeep and checked-in to the Crown Plaza (za za za za) before exploring Asheville in the daylight.  We went into all of the cute shops, listened to the street singers and admired the street performers.  Merrick and Sam met us for lunch/drinks at LAB and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.  After a drink at the downstairs bar, Robert and I got all dressed up and headed back to downtown Asheville for a nice Italian dinner.  I love our quiet dinners because it gives us both a chance to relax and talk about random things.  After dinner, we went to a few bars and walked around the lit city. It was a beautiful night and I don’t think that we could have asked for better one-on-one time. 🙂

Date night in Asheville!

Big 10 Pub Crawl- My roommate, Lauren, went to Penn State.  When she moved to Atlanta, she became part of the Big Ten Alumni Association and recruited us to celebrate the Fall football season kick-off with a The Big Ten Pub Crawl in Buckhead.  Now, it’s become a tradition for us. The Big Ten Pub Crawl always benefits a charity and is filled with football spirit, excited fans and wonderful beer/food specials.

This year, Lauren chose to co-chair the Big Ten Pub Crawl and started working on it in February.  When she was searching for a charity to serve as the recipient of the funds raised at the pub crawl, Lauren asked me if YES!Atlanta would be interested.  I immediately said YES! 🙂 I serve on as the public relations chair on YES!Atlanta’s board.  YES!Atlanta is a non-profit organization that seeks to enhance the lives of at-risk teenagers through mentorships.  One of its main goals is to lower the drop-out rate of inner-city high school teens.

So, this year’s Big Ten Pub Crawl benefitted YES!Atlanta.  It was held in midtown and raised more than $17,000. Lauren did a great job and I’m so proud of the amount of money that she and her co-chair were able to raise!

Group of girlfriends at the Big Ten Pub Crawl

YES!Atlanta + Big Ten

Company offsite– On Friday, Aug. 24, my company held our off-site retreat at Dad’s Garage where we attended “Spy School.”  At the offsite, I was able to get to know my colleagues better and use my creativity.  Afterwards, we went to Barcelona Wine Bar for drinks and appies and I got the chance to talk to my colleagues in a different, more relaxed type of setting.  Robbie and I will definitely be going back to BWB in the Fall to sit by the outdoor fire and drink wine. Oh la laaaaa.  The offsite was such a nice and fun way to spend my Friday.

The Happiest 5K on the Planet & Branny’s Surprise Party

For those who don’t know, I recently joined Porter Novelli, a global public relations company, in January.  I’m working on the technology practice as an account executive and am loving every minute of it.  I felt so welcome walking into the firm back in January- and that feeling hasn’t left.  At the very first staff meeting, when our general manager announced my arrival, my new colleagues started clapping and yelling- putting an immediate smile upon my face- which also hasn’t left.  My team has helped me ramp up on my clients, I’ve learned the lay of the Porter Novelli land and I’ve even traveled twice in the past three months. It’s been a great experience thus far.

Two weekends ago, my sister and Sam came into town for a weekend full of activities including a 5K race and a surprise birthday party.  We took them to our new favorite restaurant on Friday night, Mikros in Buckhead for pasta and I think it’s safe to say that they loved it.

Our whole apartment (Margo, Lauren, Merrick, Sam, Robert and me) woke up early on Saturday and dressed all in white to get ready for The Color Run 5K in Piedmont Park.  See before:

During the race, volunteers threw a flour-like substance of varying colors at us at every kilometer mark.  By the end, we were covered in green, yellow, pink, purple and teal colors! See after:

Roommates after the Color Run

Robert and Madison after the Color Run

After the Color Run

Merrick and Madison after the Color Run

The 10,000 runners raised money for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  All in all, it was a fun run, good exercise, and it was for a great cause.  After taking 3 showers to get the color off of our skin and laying out by the pool, we started getting ready for the big surprise party that night.

For weeks, my roommate Lauren had been planning a surprise birthday party for her soon-to-be 25-year-old boyfriend.  Lauren reserved a part of Fado for about 30 of Brandon’s friends and family.  She lured him to Fado by suggesting that they watch the Final Four games at the bar before going to dinner.  When they showed up, Brandon was totally taken off-guard and totally surprised.  In addition to the perfect party planning, Lauren also scheduled celebrity appearances by Justin Timberlake, Amy Adams, Clint Eastwood and that random guy in all of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s movies, Matthew Lillard.  They were all in town filming a new movie, Trouble with the Curve.

While I wish that I could say we rubbed elbows with the celebs, they were very stand-offish and didn’t want to have much to do with the birthday boy and/or his entourage.  We had a great time and I still think that LC is still the best party planner in ATL.

Maggie, Margo, Lauren, Madison, Emily and Merrick at Brandon's surprise party!

Sidenote: I love when my sister and Sam come into town because they integrate so well with my friends and they’re always up for anything.

Seal the Deal: What You Need to Know to Land the Job: Real World PR

For the third session at Real World PR in Atlanta, I attended Seal the Deal: What You Need to Know to Land the Job.  There, Sharon Jones from Ketchum and Tia Jackson from Porter Novelli gave tips on how to land a job.  Below is the list of tips that Sharon gave us:

  1. Start by networking.
  2. Start social networking- Twitter, LinkedIn.
  3. Research the company beyond the Web site.
  4. Send your resume to the company and make it PERFECT. (Sharon said that she rarely looked at the objective on a resume.)
  5. Send a cover letter (but Sharon reads the cover letter LAST).
  6. Follow up after sending in your cover letter and resume.
  7. Rehearse your elevator speech.
  8. When you get the interview, arrive 15 minutes early.  Thirty minutes early is too early.

WHEN you’re in the interview:

  1. Practice being calm, yet energetic.
  2. Listen to the question that you are asked.
  3. Maintain comfy eye contact.
  4. Mirror the formality of the interview and maintain an appropriate level of business.
  5. Come with thoughtfully prepared questions- at least 3.
  6. Write hand-written thank-you notes after the interview.

Tia Jackson from Porter Novelli then spoke about how to behave once you’ve landed the job:

  1. Go the extra mile.  Meeting expectations isn’t enough.
  2. Network.
  3. Meet with your manager and team.
  4. Set goals.
  5. Find our your expectations.
  6. Become actively engaged.
  7. Take advantage of volunteer opportunities.
  8. Meet deadlines.

Tia also gave two tips for phone interviews:

  1. Put a mirror in front of you during the interview so you feel like you’re actually talking to someone.
  2. Smile. You can hear the smile in someone’s voice over the phone.

My experience at Real World PR was very helpful.  Below is a picture of all of the Clemson PRSSA members who attended the conference.