I just had an article published yesterday. I haven't done as much journalism writing, and have written mostly for businesses. So this article is really exciting. It is for Global Atlanta and about a major dance company that auditioned local students in Atlanta to perform in their tour of the Nutcracker, which stops in Atlanta next month. The article is here. It is a short read.
High school is a place of many labels—designer, off-brand, popular, geek, and otherwise. Have you considered the impact high school has had on your professional life? Well, I have. I think that in high school, there are seeds to who we recreate ourselves to be, and for me specifically, seeds for the entrepreneurs that we become.
Here are four labels that I either wore or relate to, and how each has served as a positive influence for my company, Turns of Phrase.
The labels are: Challenger of Obstacles, Nerd, Young Talent, and Contrarian.
Challenger of Obstacles: From challenges, foibles and in-you-face “lessons” about race, intra-race and class to a bout of childhood trauma to both benefiting and not benefiting from my parents’ divorce to general everyday puberty-ridden teenaged life and trying to figure things out with many mistakes along the way, times were tough. Yet, in surviving these experiences, ironically, the default effect is that you develop the fortitude to continue moving forward when you’ve reached your max. Facing obstacles and necessary to survival. One obstacle I faced early-on was being told that I lacked clear vision. After initially feeling "salty," or slightly wounded, I stepped outside of myself to take an objective look. I did lack vision, and for one month searched for my identity via a trilogy post dubbed The Soul of a Business. Long story short, I developed my mission, and now work with the person who shared this information with me.
Nerd: I am impressed by my high school self. She graduated in the top 20% of her class, was on the National Honor Roll, earned enough college credits through AP courses to fill a semester of college, and earned an award that only 10% of people in the country earned, and from a foundation from a world-respected entrepreneur. Wow. I was on fire, and like a phoenix in 2017, still am. I am just reinvented for a new era. According to this Inc. article, 42% of businesses surveyed in a post-mortem study from CB Insights failed because they didn’t fill a market need. Yet, I did the "homework" to learn that a market for writing exists through freelancing opportunities and researching successful entrepreneurs. This market includes magazines, web content, blogging, white papers, PR, ghostwriting, the list continues. I've done projects for all of these types of writing.
Young Talent: This label refers more to the idea of taking time to cultivate a talent or skill, which develops discipline and also the understanding of delayed gratification. One that I developed throughout my childhood was dance, which was cultivated to the point that I auditioned for a show at the Kennedy Center my freshman year of college and “made the cut.” I still have the playbill as a member of the cast of Dancing in the Wings, which was a great experience. This discipline has helped me to exercise more patience. After investing my time and money for nearly two years, I am finally starting to see the fruits of my labor. For example, I am excited to now regularly work with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Technology Association of Georgia, Digital Ignition, RIISE Ventures, Bantunium Labs, and now TechSquare Labs.
Contrarian: I went through this stage post-high school, just two years after, and include it because I relate. During this era, I was inspired by the fashion styles of music artists such as Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Madonna, India Arie, Erykah Badu, Aaliyah, TLC, the list goes on. My looks—which were sometimes photographed by the photographer of the college newspaper—included purple highlights, gloves, one earring at a time in one ear, oversized jeans, and leggings. I stood out and see now that I was, through fashion, searching unapologetically for my voice, who I was in calibration with my life experiences. Who else are contrarians? In many cases, entrepreneurs. I work a great deal with them and am one myself. Yet I think that versatility is important and also work with companies in logistics, motivational speaking, and translation and interpretation, too. For everyone I work with, the concept is the same--figure out who you are and say it without apology.
In short, high school has its highs, and it has its lows. And I’m pretty sure that it will always have its labels. Nevertheless, I was and still consider myself a veritable misfit, an amalgam of many different identities that all find their place within Turns of Phrase today, and have contributed to my ability to work with a motley crew of individuals and companies.
Learn more about writing-as-a-service (WaaS) from Turns of Phrase at www.turnsofphrase.com.
Facebook: Turns of Phrase
Thank you for reading.
In my first blog post, I shared my thoughts on the Top 10 Innovative Companies of Georgia. In this one, I’d like to share my thoughts on a particular sector of hyphen tech.
Hyphen tech is popular, and essentially illustrates the impact that technology is having on every segment of our lives. Fintech—finance and technology. Fashion-tech—fashion and technology. Agrotech—agriculture and technology.
Doesn’t the concept itself of a “food computer” just sounds exciting? 0’s and 1’s and broccoli.
Well, this was one of the ideas introduced by the presentation of Caleb Harper, the Principal Investigator and Director of Open Agriculture at MIT Media Lab.
So, dig this.
We have a world of varying climates throughout its many regions. Each region is conducive to growing certain types of food. As we know, natural resources have always given certain regions certain advantages over others because of the demand for food to sustain life.
But what if we could engineer climate in a way that would allow any region to produce any type of food? An arid region, with the right climate setting and lab, could produce fruits found in tropical regions, for example.
With a projected world population of nearly 10 billion people in 2050, Harper stated that we could code our way to the next agricultural revolution, by developing labs with climate settings amenable to growing particular foods.
His presentation highlighted a shrimp farm in Germany, where outside of the indoor farm was cold, but inside, it was 30 degrees celcius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Or plant factories in Japan that grow food to offset the effects of pollution and pesticides. See here.
I was really intrigued by this presentation and think that, simply put, a lot of good can come from the ideas that Harper shared.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Georgia Technology Summit with the Technology Association of Georgia. The organization invited me as a guest blogger, which was pretty cool. I’ve been working with TAG for about a year now, and work with them primarily on Hub Magazine. So this is nice to be able to do something else with the organization in another capacity.
Long story short, the Georgia Technology Summit, #GTS, was a fun event to attend. I’d just had a piece published by UrbanGeekz here, about the tech ecosystem of Atlanta. So to see this ecosystem at work up close was a great experience.
I’ll just share some of the highlights that really, like Gak from old school Nickelodeon, stuck with me.
First, I think it’s fitting to congratulate all of the companies honored: Cybraics, Roadie, Ionic, SalesLoft, LaaSer, Sharecare, nfant, Terminus, Pindrop and Videa. They span so many fields that I’d like to (and will) blog about even more. Cybraics uses AI to solve problems in cybersecurity. Roadie is an on-the-way delivery network. The concept is Uber meets UPS meets sustainability.
LaaSer solves an issue that we don’t want to know exists. If you call 911 from a cell phone, which includes 70% of emergency calls, how do you know where a person is? Cell phones don’t always display the right location data, and if a person needs help immediately, a quick response becomes the difference between life and death.
I personally love when a company connects to a larger societal mission, and for LaaSer, I have to say that the concept is a bonafide winner.
I also like that Terminus takes its name from the early name of Atlanta in the early 19th century. There is something to be said for a company that recognizes its roots and takes it with them wherever they go, using it as part of the basis for success.
Some of the company’s accolades include being named the Best Place to Work by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and the Tech Startup of the Year by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Marketing Association in both 2016 and 2017.
It is an inspiring nod to accepting one’s origins. I will remember this as I continue on as an entrepreneur myself.
So in sum, while I just highlighted a smattering of the ten Most Innovative Companies, I do still congratulate all of them. So congratulations to everyone.
NOTE: I just posted this piece to LinkedIn, which started out as a blog post about how high school experiences can positively impact entrepreneurship. After letting people review it, the draft evolved into this piece. I think my next post might be high school "labels" that could be advantageous for entrepreneurship, but until then, here is my LinkedIn post/blog post. Enjoy. -Obinna Morton
I like this quote spoken by Steve Jobs: "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
For Turns of Phrase, this quote rings true.
I am a Writer/Entrepreneur with a new business writing for others. I have had two notable wins this year that have inspired me to tell the tale.
In January, I was published in Oz Magazine for a press release that I wrote for the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS), which produces the upcoming Atlanta Film Festival (March 24th-April 2nd). Another piece I wrote, published on UrbanGeekz.com on March 9th, was shared 2,000+ times between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and was called a “good read” by the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed.
I’d like to connect some of the dots of my life to see how Turns of Phrase came to be. I will start with a little-known book called I Eat My Spaghetti with Toenails, which I wrote when I was 10.
1. The book is an offbeat and humorous tale about how one family tree became obsessed with eating spaghetti with toenails, and the happenstance occurrence that led to this strange tradition. Yes, pretty disgusting. Maybe I had been inspired by some of the eclectic programming of Nickelodeon or the films of Tim Burton, which I loved, and still enjoy. Who knows? In any case, I consider this book my first dot. Dot #1.
2. Years later in high school, I realized that in order to attend college, I would need to figure out how to pay for it. For me, securing funds to cover the cost of college tuition was equally important to being accepted to a quality school. As a result, I applied for scholarships, crafting essays and short answers to highlight my strengths. With the support of my guidance counselor and family, I went on to earn many awards, including a full-tuition award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. My ability to write well helped me to secure these awards. Dot #2.
3. At Howard University, I studied French, which gave me a nuanced understanding about the complexity of language, fomenting an appreciation for communication and the beauty of words. Studying a language also opened my eyes to the world, not just the contiguous walls of the United States. Technology has skewed the lines of local and global, and while Pangea no longer exists, I would say that, in a metaphorical sense, the world is fast-becoming a super-Continent where the Internet and other forms of technology erase borders. So as Turns of Phrase grows and evolves, I would love to work with individuals overseas and foreign entities in the United States. I would also like to add translation as well. Dot #3.
4. While pursuing an artistic goal in New York, dance, I worked many temp jobs, from writing for a small business to interpreting at an elementary school to freelancing at a technology summit. Seeing the dots connect, I wondered if I could start my own business writing for others. I subsequently subscribed to the newsletters of companies focused on content and successful freelancers to learn from others’ professional paths and advice. Dot #4.
5. I moved back to Atlanta in late 2014—New York City is expensive. With the goal of starting a business, I built my portfolio for six months. I reached out to individuals to interview and wrote pieces about the Atlanta Streetcar, conducting a scholarship search, and how to turn a hobby into a business. In the summer of 2015, I filled out the necessary paperwork, purchased a license, and registered my DBA as Turns of Phrase. The name itself is a play on words. It is a reference to the idiomatic expression, a reference to dance, and a reference to music. I played piano for many years, and turns are a type of musical flourish. Dot #5.
Turns of Phrase only makes sense looking back, not forward, which is why the Steve Jobs quote fits so well. I admire entrepreneurs and their ability to build and idea into existence. I would like to do the same with Turns of Phrase, working with others to bring their ideas to life through my writing.
I am currently working with the Technology Association of Georgia, Digital Ignition, covello, Allied Logistics, and Bantunium Labs. I would love to work with more individuals and companies to bring their voices to the forefront on the written page.
If you would like to learn more about my work, I invite you to check out my website at www.turnsofphrase.com. I would love to work with you!
Also, Facebook likes and Twitter followers are always appreciated. Please feel free to “like” my Facebook business page at “Turns of Phrase” or follow me on Twitter at @turnsofphrase_. See you soon.
It’s funny how when you’re reading, you just run across new vocabulary words unexpectedly. I’ve learned lots of new words, but I just thought that I’d select a few that I will start to integrate into my conversation. Books are also telling representatives of the society in which we live, especially for one focused primarily on games, and thrones. Let’s just say this.
The words are:
Example: I wish the news were more surprising, but it’s not. I remain now, and forever, nonplussed.
Obsequious: obedient in a servile way
Example: You’re not a servant—why so obsequious?
Example: The petulant child continued to interrupt the other classmates when it was their turn to speak.
That's it for now. I just finished the book. Now onto the next one.
I don’t know you, which is nice. I prefer the anonymity. One thing I have trouble with is really finding a quote inspiring. They’ll be little dogmatic pieces of “truth,” and sometimes I’m just left rolling my eyes as I read it with the “successful person” sitting right beside it. I know, what a downer. It’s just how I see these things sometimes.
But as of late, I’ve been having real difficulties with continuing. I feel like I am on E and am on the verge of quitting. And I don’t want to quit. But it is difficult when you want something to net enough to sustain you, and it’s not at that point yet. You want to quit when you find a part-time job to supplement all of the stuff that you pay for, expenses, etc., and what you want to work isn’t working quickly enough. So this is where I am right now, and I need to figure out how to continue without cursing the wind.
Well, I’ve assembled some quotes that actually resonate with me, not ones that I tend to roll my eyes at. I wish I were more positive today, but I’m just not feeling it. I need to write this post to be able to put my foot in front of the other NOW. I have a Case Study to complete, social media content for a Facebook page, and a guest post submission for TechCrunch that I need to go ahead a finish with images.
But for now, these are quotes that speak to me. That’s the only criteria for them being on this blog page.
That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll see you around. Also, Happy Belated MLK.
Obinna, A Phoenix in Atlanta aka Wings of a Phoenix
I have a mentor now. She actually referred to herself in this way with me, so I say it only because she said it. Her name is Tina, and I wrote her a few months back because I learned about her story in a reference periodical at a local library this past summer, and felt connected to it.
We were both from the Southeastern region of the United States, and more specifically Georgia. She had written for the newspaper that I had just written for, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Well, my assignment was for a magazine published with them, but still, there was that connection. I also wrote her because I was inspired by her being the first African American woman to write for this publication, and I admired her for this, being a Writer who also shares this heritage, and one more specifically who is writing for the same publication that she did.
So I shared with her my story and the ways that I felt I shared a connection with hers. Then I asked for advice as a newer Writer. Long story short, I can’t believe that she responded to my email, and now I’ve spoken with her three times.
I am very fortunate to have her in my corner. I am surprised by her kindness in sharing tips for querying, or how I should blog about meeting her. Don’t worry, I am. :)
She also inspired me to share my story with my Supermodel blog post, which I am still working on now, that it could be what inspires others to bring what makes them unique to their own work or businesses.
In addition to being a journalist, she is a novlist, publisher, filmmaker, the list goes on...a true Renaissance woman. She’s also great at public speaking, which I note from a funny and relatable Youtube video I saw on her website.
But that is enough for now. I just wanted to introduce you to my mentor, Tina McElroy Ansa. I can’t believe it. Well, sometimes you have to be willing to take a leap, and as they say, sometimes you land among the stars. This instance is one such case.
A couple of posts back, I noted how I hadn’t posted in a while. Basically, I've been speaking to a lot of different people and also started working on a "big-wig" guest post, which I really hope is accepted. Anyway, I'm going to share today what I have learned over the course of speaking with these individuals and companies, from small businesses to one Fortune 500 company.
This period was one where not everything was perfect, and I made some mistakes. But as they say in entrepreneurship, fail fast baby. So by addressing these issues, I hope to improve from this point forward.
LESSON OF THE DAY: Prepare by researching a company and individual thoroughly before the first hello.
Here are a few questions that I have developed that you should have the answer to. Really, they are questions that, after speaking with a number of people, have been important to know:
1. Who is the person with whom I'll be speaking?
Start with LinkedIn. Then, Google them. Has this person been featured in the media, whether a news article or Youtube video? Learn as much as you can about this person because when you speak to him or her, you can share this information as the conversation allows to show that you are invested in some way in the conversation and have a desire to work with this company.
2. What does the company do?
Answering this goes beyond the obvious of knowing the field of a business or the product that it sells. It also includes knowing the company's mission and any cutting-edge developments that are in the works. So in addition to reviewing the website, see if the company has also been featured in the media as well. Are there articles about new company projects, a recent community-driven event, awards, featured members of company leadership, etc.
3. What do you do?
I will say that I am still figuring this out, considering what I do seems to be a newer concept, more of less, personalized writing services for specific needs. The Internet Age, and social media too, I think, certainly have a great deal to do with the fact that Turns of Phrase can exist. So I'm learning a lot as I go. However, it is still important to have something specific to say to provide clarity of vision. My advice would be that if you are still in the refining process, and you are asked what your specialty is (as I was), then latch onto an area that includes a significant amount of work that you do well. For me at the moment, this is the technology/entrepreneurship space. What will you say when the person on the other line or in front of you asks, "What do you do?" Okay, time's up.
These are just three tips when speaking with people from established companies that you'd like to work with. It has made the difference even now as I interview people for the "big wig" guest post that I'm currently working on.
Anyway, that's it for now. I'm working on my Supermodel post and am excited to share that soon. Talk to you later.
One Phoenix in Atlanta (Me)
Spotify is bae. Hmmm…I think I actually used this term believably this time around.
Anyway, sometimes I work without music, and other times, with. I know that Amazon now has a similar service too, but I’m fine with Spotify now.
The beauty of Spotify is that I can listen to any type of music, create a radio station, or create a playlist. I mean, it’s great stuff. Do I want music from a favorite film, Top 40, R&B music from the 1990s, classic rock, Beethoven and Chopin, or even just A Hint of Bad-a$$? Well, Spotify is your tabula rasa…now draw. And then listen.
But back to the review.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I think that Spotify is great, and I’m still discovering all of the great things about this service. I get to listen to music new and old, songs I haven’t heard in years, and songs I’ve been meaning to listen to. I was particularly impressed with the Browse section, which lets a user select playlists created by Spotify or music by Mood and Genre. What I didn’t expect was that Spotify would have a genre for the spoken word that allows a user to listen to speeches from American Presidents and major historical figures, learn languages, listen to poetry, and listen to audio books. There is even a playlist in this genre dedicated to the writer Edgar Allen Poe. I'd like to read, or maybe even thanks to Spotify, listen, to more of his work.
Overall though, I’m excited to have found a great resource to accompany the days and evenings I spend working on projects. I get to make Playlists based on my musical preference du jour—some with words, others without.
A SECTION BY SECTION RUNDOWN
BROWSE: I went over this a little earlier, but I didn’t cover everything. Other portions I didn’t recount include:
RADIO: Make a station based off of an artist, playlist, or song, for example. The catch is that it doesn’t just play a set of songs based off of one song, but also based off of how you rate a song. Give the song either a thumbs up or thumbs down, and the list will adjust to better fit your musical taste.
SONGS: I don’t really know the purpose of this. I just drag individual songs that I like here, so far only four songs, one being a holiday song. I’m listening to it now.
ARTISTS: It includes the pages of the artists that you’ve decided to Follow. This section gives you the chance to see new music selections from the artist. All of the artists that you like will be in one place so that when you want to listen to this music, you have everyone that you like on one place instead of having to use the search box.
STATIONS: It includes radio stations that I’ve followed.
PLAYLISTS: This is what I use most often. I have a few Spotify playlists—either created by someone or Spotify itself (whoever you are), and made a few playlists of my own. I will have to look into creating a Turns of Phrase playlist. That would be fun.
LIKED FROM RADIO: The songs that you give a thumbs up to on the radio are listed here.
In sum, I like Spotify and listen to it now on a regular basis. Maybe I'll figure out one day to sync to Facebook, which is the one thing I couldn't figure out. Otherwise though, Spotify is a useful resource that helps me to stay calm and collected while I complete projects.
That’s it. C’est tout. Talk soon.
More free-form, fewer rules. Still legitimate.