The Kindness of Strangers and Friends

Last week, I was getting dressed for a networking event and contemplated taking my Star of David necklace off. I had never been to an event with this group of people before, so I knew no one. I thought about the location of the event and eventually decided to keep my necklace on but hide it under my shirt. I’d make it more visible if I felt comfortable enough at the event.

Can you imagine having this conversation with yourself about whether to wear your favorite cross around your neck?  If you are Jewish, you may have second guessed your jewelry lately for fear that someone may come up to you and ask about the rise of antisemitism or the situation overseas. Or worse, make you feel unwelcome because of your identity.

I remember the first time a group of people “othered” me. It was a cold winter morning in 1983. I stood on the blacktop with the rest of my 6th-grade classmates, waiting for my teacher to open the door and let us in. My elementary school was comprised of several small buildings—one for each grade level—connected by open-air walkways. There wasn’t enough room for all students to gather inside the buildings, so we were forced to wait outside for school to start.

While waiting for school to start, I stood with a group of friends waiting for my turn at Chinese jump rope, I heard some coins drop on the ground by my pink snow boots. I looked to see if my ice cream money had fallen out of my coat pocket. When I saw the coins didn’t add up to enough money to buy an ice cream sandwich, I knew the coins were not mine.

At my feet were five shiny pennies. A group of boys stood nearby, pointing and yelling a slur that I knew was meant for me. I knew this word, and it sent chills down my spine. I was no stranger to bullying, but this was a whole new level for me. Thankfully, my parents taught me not to pick up any coins thrown in my direction.

Not wanting anyone to see my reaction, I walked to the bench where the PTA moms were hanging out. They were supposed to watch us until school started, but they were more interested in gossiping than supervising. I didn’t tell them what happened, but I didn’t have to; I knew that by standing near them, I felt safer.

Back at the networking event, I felt comfortable enough to let my necklace be seen. Within minutes, someone came over and complimented me on my Star of David. Then, she asked me what she could do to be more supportive of the Jewish community. I told her that not everything was as black and white as it seemed. I suggested she check the news sources and social media sites before sharing the information. Then, I asked her to check in on her Jewish friends to see how they were doing. And then, I thanked her for asking me that question and asked this complete stranger if I could hug her. She said, “Absolutely!”

I’m so grateful when people like her come into my life, even for a brief period of time. I also have friends who have reached out to see how I’m doing and share their support of the Jewish community. One even attended a vigil at a local synagogue after it was vandalized with a swastika on their sign. I was so touched that she went out of her way to show her support. Did I mention that my friend is not Jewish?  I was touched, but not surprised.

Every day, I replace the story of those bullies from elementary school with people and stories who cancel them out. Please keep them coming.



Push My Buttons

Tonight, I’m putting on my email marketing to talk about call-to-action (CTA) buttons. If you or someone you love writes emails in Constant Contact, MailChimp, or another email marketing platform as part of their job, feel free to take and share my advice. If you only write emails in Outlook to your co-workers with attachments, go ahead and read any of my other blog posts instead. I don’t mind.

If you are still with me, the purpose of email marketing is to get your audience to take action, like sign up for an event or donate to a cause. Basically, you want your reader to push your buttons. So, here is some of my best advice for CTA buttons based on questions my clients have asked me.

What Should I Keep in Mind When Designing A CTA Button?

  • Size matters – If your button is too small, it will be hard to click on a mobile device. If it is too large, it looks less like a button and more like an image.
  • Shape it up – Most email platforms will let you round the corners of the CTA button or make it pill-shaped or rectangular.
  • Add a pop of color – Black and white buttons are boring. Use a brightly colored button with dark text. You can also use your branding colors for your buttons. The idea is to stand out on the screen and be easily found.
  • Location, Location, Location – Put the button above the fold, meaning toward the top of the email. It doesn’t have to be at the very top but don’t make people scroll to the end to get them to click. They may not read that far down.
  • Technical stuff – Leave enough white space between the blocks of text and the buttons. If the buttons are jammed up against a wall of text, it doesn’t look as nice.

What Text Should Go on the Button?

  • Keep the text short and sweet. Five to seven words maximum. Be clear about what you want people to do.
  • Feel free to be creative. Do you want them to “Sign Up Here”  or ask them to “Save Me a Seat”?
  • Bonus Tip: Don’t write the word “HERE.” It is vague and doesn’t tell people what will happen when they click. Be more specific.
  • Underline the text on the button so it looks like a link.
  • Check the button before sending the email to ensure it goes to the right page.

How Do I Build My Email Subscriber List Using Buttons?

  • Buttons are everywhere, including on your social media platforms. Take a look at your organization’s Facebook profile. You should be allowed one button; many use it to visit their website. Change it to “Sign Up for My Newsletter” for a month and see what happens.
  • Add a down arrow to your cover image that points to the button and draws attention to it.
  • Put your newsletter sign-up button at the top of every page on your website. If it’s at the bottom, move it up—again, don’t assume people will scroll down to find it.

I hope this was helpful to you. And now, back to our regularly scheduled program. 🙂



Don’t you hate when things go missing? I don’t know about you, but something is always missing when I need it the most: my phone, my car keys, my purse. No matter how prepared I am the night before or how much time I leave to get ready in the mornings, there is always something I cannot find.

This morning, I had a networking event at 9 am. As a freelance writer who works from home, having to be somewhere that early and dressed to impress is a lot to ask. But I was ready. Last night, I pulled the perfect outfit from my closet, including shoes and Spanx. I checked the bathroom to be sure everything I needed was there: moisturizer, foundation, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. At my age, I require all these items to put on my professional face.

I checked my purse for my car keys and wallet and charged my phone. There! I was as ready as I’d ever be for this event. Or so I thought.

At 8:30 this morning, I remembered the one thing I had forgotten: business cards! I can’t show up to a networking event without them. That would be very bad. It’s the epitome of being unprepared, which is so off-brand for me.

I just had new ones printed and picked them up from Staples yesterday. I was so proud of myself for remembering to order new ones. Now, where did I put them?! I ran around the house, looking in all the obvious places—my office, bedroom, and kitchen. I started to sweat, which was not good as I was wearing a bright blue blouse that left no armpit stains unseen. Fifteen minutes later, it dawned on me to check my car; sure enough, that’s where I had left them.

I arrived at the event 15 minutes late and extremely frustrated. But I took a deep breath and gave myself a quick pep talk. I wouldn’t let a bad morning ruin this opportunity to meet potential clients and make new connections.

“You got this,” I said to myself. As I opened the car door, I glanced at the passenger seat.

Where the f&ck is my umbrella?!

(For my UBC friends and anyone who doesn’t live where I do, it was pouring rain here today!)


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