Speaking my mind.

I’ve been biting my tongue for twelve years. I don’t say that out of frustration, anger, or even repression. I say it because it’s true, and I am as active a participant in the situation than anyone. It’s the nature of the beast.

I work in communications. I currently head up marketing and communications for a startup I believe in so very strongly. This story is not about them, nor is it about the companies I’ve worked for in the past, at least not in the terms of who they are. It’s about where we – collectively, as a tech industry, marketing and comms in the foreground – are these days. Because I’d bet that I’m not the only one feeling this way, but maybe my thoughts will resonate with my peers. Still, that’s not why I’m sharing it.

I’m sharing it because I’ve found that my career,  always thinking fifteen steps ahead, anticipating the worst, the almost-worst, and the not-nearly-as-bad-but-we’re-still-fucked, has taught me to refrain from saying what I really, truly, think about situations. In life, in love, in everything work-wise and everything but.

In college, I would declare, once a year or so, there to be a “Brutally Honest Aubrey Day”. I’d drink a few – ok, a few + a few – beers, and as we all ended up at the bar (ahem, He’s Not Here), I’d give myself the license to say all of the things I wanted to but didn’t because it would make me look uncool, make me sound needy, make that boy know that I cared more than I wanted to, make myself vulnerable. Why I wasn’t more confident than that is an exercise for forthcoming therapy, but lo, that was enlightening. To be that honest, at 18! 19! 20! (Uh, I mean, 21…), well, it taught me a lot. If anything, it taught me the power of words, that positioning is crucial, that delivery is critical, but mainly: that your feelings – good or bad – should be heard.

Fast forward 10+ years, my day-to-day involves all of this, but in many ways, it seems I’ve forgotten that lesson. Or at least sacrificed the personal for the good of the collective. I’ve spent years emphasizing: The words we choose to describe our company. The response to a negative article. The proactive discussion we elicit when it’s something within our reign. I’m careful, I’m specific, I’m intentional. Because I know the repercussions. I’m good at my job, and I’m not apologetic for it.

Previous to leading a team responsible for these decisions, I’ve been hyper-aware of the impact that employees can make at a growing company. Having been at companies like Google, Digg, & Facebook when they’re small & growing – not to mention working on the Comms team – more than anyone I knew the potential impact of my thoughts. That they might not be aligned with the “corporate narrative”. And because I cared – actually, because I still do care – I tapered them. I’ve had my hand slapped at a company for using the word “Gmail” in a Tweet (from my personal Twitter account) because they saw their product as a competitor. I’ve had my loyalty questioned for expressing apathy in a product set that was tangentially aligned with something my company was doing. And that doesn’t feel good. Whether it’s right or wrong (I have my opinion), you feel a mix of anger and embarrassment. And for me, I learned quickly, to shut up.

And yet today. I see others leaving their roles, where perhaps the constraints – be it communications or otherwise – have left them inarticulate. They’re embracing being vocal, or investing in what they want, or going on record to support things that their former companies may not necessarily agree with. Me, I feel extraordinarily lucky that I work with a team that not only doesn’t censor me, but encourages me to share what I think. It’s rare, and I’m so grateful that I found it. And yet…

My feelings were hurt last night by a friend. Nothing major, nothing relationship-breaking. Just…I was sad. And as I tried to discuss it with this person today, I went right back to what I knew. And what I knew – what I know – is corporate communications. I know about when to respond, how timing is important, how there is a strategy between the offense and the defense, and how words are innately important. I chose my response carefully, and then thought…FUCK. Where is the *me* in this response? I’m mad. I’m allowed to BE mad. I’m allowed to let this person know that they hurt my feelings, that it’s nothing major, that I understand where they’re coming from, but hey, they’d better please not do it again. And I didn’t. 

I forgot: There’s power in the words not said, but that can’t compare to what could be accomplished by sharing the truth.

Because we’re so ingrained, us PR and Comms and Marketing folks, to know how to handle the most ridiculous, the most sensitive, the most pivotal of situations that often make or break a company, that we forget that there’s real life out there. And it’s ours. And it’s ours for the taking.

If we remember to take it.

The strength is in the letting go.

I lived an hour away from an amusement park growing up. We went every year for my birthday, a gift from my Grandparents. I loved the roller coasters.

“Hold on tight!”, my Dad would say. “Don’t let go!”

And I didn’t let go, I held on. I listened to the advice; sage, as it was, I took it to heart.

Hold on tight, Aubrey. Don’t let go.

I spend my days talking to people about communication. What their words actually convey, intentionally or otherwise. How a small nuance can affect so much. And even how – as my scientific background has taught me – the way we (ourselves) process things we say out loud. To (egregiously) over-simplify, our brains hear what we say and know it to be true. So, basically, watch what you say, because you’ll soon have to fight yourself for things you were even joking about. Or, in some instances, things you repeat because you’ve been told them.

I hold on tight. I don’t let go. It’s a strength, in many areas; I’m insanely loyal. If I meet you, like you, feel kinship with you, I care. If I invest in you – emotional or otherwise – there’s a reason. It’s not selfish; in fact, in some ways, it probably should be more. But, it’s not…you’re someone I care about, and when I make that distinction; well, I’m in. I won’t refute, nor lament, that. I don’t know how else to be, and don’t know that I want that. But.

“Hold on tight! Don’t let go!”

I won’t. But maybe I should. Perhaps, in life as it is at an amusement park, you have to throw your hands in the air. The proverbial caution to the wind, understanding that the risk is worth the reward. And the feeling, that inexplicable feeling of being rebellious and dangerous, is what moves you forward and teaches you to let go.


It’s time for me to let go.



Bearhug – Angeline

The first time I heard this Sydney, Australia band, my immediate reaction was “maybe Yuck changed their name?” but I’ve owned their record Bill, Dance, Shiner for a few weeks now and it’s become one of my favorite debuts of the year. It’s refreshing to hear earnest, heartfelt indie rock done so well, and this track is the perfect storm of the band’s best qualities. 

Grab the album over on Bandcamp, or out physically by mail order from Spunk Records (AUS/NZ).

—- post by YVYNYL intern + contributor Paul Brown —-


When I was young, I used to lie in bed at night, thinking “I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive.” I would repeat it, not to prove myself anything of the contrary; it was more of a behaviour better suited for grounding myself in the current time and place. This mantra of sorts, “I’m alive”, meant nothing at first, but as I continued to repeat it, each internal utterance was a little earthquake, the shocks of which jolted me back into a reality. Most days – most moments – I found myself not necessarily living my life, but instead watching it unfold as a movie does, each scene with me as the main character yet well enough removed that I could go through this life, almost numb, portraying the understudy who watches instead of acts. This little routine – private, isolated, personal – reminded me to breathe, to live, to act, to make things happen instead of watching them happen. That this was reality – that this was MY life and MY reality – and unlike the very vivid dreams I was having, I couldn’t wake up and find myself anywhere but here. It was simply the subtle reminder to wake up when I wasn’t ever sleeping.

Every now and again I remember this, and repeat the habit. “I’m alive” when I’m staring at the computer. “I’m alive” when I sit at the bar, waiting a perpetually late friend. “I’m alive” as I start to fall asleep, “I’m alive” when I’m sitting in traffic, “I”m alive” in my delight and my regret, “I’m alive” when I wake up to you.

How easy it still is to go about my days in a sort of dreamworld, going through the motions, watching my life unfold with each little piece, each isolated scene all tied together with the mundane thread of ‘stuff’ that binds our meager existance. I’m moving on autopilot: 
Wake up. 
Brush teeth. 
Walk the dog. 
Go to work. 
Clean the house. 
Eat dinner. 
Brush teeth. 

There’s nothing wrong with habits, with routine – each culture, each person has their own. They’re the stuff that life is made of, only they’re the stuff that it it isn’t. They’re the things that get in the way, that prevent us from acting and doing and being.

So every now and again, amidst the shuffle of another day nearly done, at the beginning or the middle or the end of the routine I try to evoke a little earthquake to remind me of my participation in this daily cinema that I call my life, to usher me up from the stand-in role to the star, knowing my time and my place on the stage is determined solely by myself.

*This article was originally published on January 30, 2006. Damn. I’m old.


I’ve been writing on my website for eleven years.

ELEVEN YEARS, people. What have YOU been doing consistently for eleven years? (I mean, besides the topics not fit for public company.) It blows my mind, and I’m glad that I have this record of my public self, at least. It’s interesting to look back and remind yourself who you were. And in re-reading some of these articles I keep thinking that wow, things have changed. And yet stubbornly remained the same. Further evidence that we’re just a future iteration of our younger selves.

I’m going to post some of these over the next few weeks, an exercise in getting myself back to writing more frequently and a walk down memory lane to my overly-introspective self. You can find most of the archives here, but in the meantime, enjoy the next few posts.

What’s the most time consuming task in social?


If you guessed “content creation”, then you’re absolutely right:

Source: Productive Social Marketing – Marketing Charts

As an enterprise, your most important resource is the time of your employees. In light of the above data it is no surprise that the biggest challenge brands face going forward in social is not measuring ROI: it is a lack of sufficient resources.

Source: Productive Social Marketing – Marketing Charts

These two images help explain why we are so excited about our latest release. Our technology is focused on building efficiencies around these two major points in a real way.

Welcome to Percolate

from Blog @ Percolate http://bit.ly/OfLyhT

I Love Percolate!

What’s the most time consuming task in social?

Redefining Priorities

People often ask me my favorite thing about living in New York. And without hesitation, I say, honestly, “Walking.” I absolutely love being able to walk practically anywhere I want to go. I walk to work every day, and am angry at myself when I’m running late and have to take the subway or a taxi to make a meeting. I do it because I love it, because it’s healthy.

That’s the view I’m taking these days: health. Previous incarnations of me, the younger version, was concerned less about health and more about weight or appearance or fitting into a size closer to the ones my very thin college roommates wore. I’d say that’s probably typical of a girl in her 20’s, the skewed focus on the aesthetic vs. the holistic. Things have changed.

Growing up, my Mom was always concerned about her weight. Her eating habits were, without exaggeration, atrocious. She constantly limited her diet to blueberry yogurt and sliced turkey breast and a two-liter of Diet Coke, then would eat an entire pint of ice cream. My Dad’s weren’t much better; he’s always been uninspired by food, saying he’d rather take a pill than have to sit down for a meal. Many days, he’d be busy running around, ‘forget’ to eat, and then his 6’0”, 145 lb. frame would eat a bag of Ruffles potato chips for dinner. The picture of health, he was not. Even when my Mom cooked, she’d make things for us then nibble on her own serving. Because I was an athlete, I realized, even from a young age, that this wasn’t normal. (And I feel incredibly lucky that I had that revelation; eating disorders are often shared by family members, based on the example they had growing up.) Whether consciously or not, I have had a very different approach to eating, which is probably why I deem meals a social activity and love to dine with others. Perhaps I’m making up for many years of missed sit-down dinners; who knows.

Fast forward ten+ years, and my focus is now on health, and more broadly, balance. I preach the benefits of trying to maintain a work/life balance, but in a lot of other ways, my personal life has skewed a bit off-tilt. That’s one of the downsides of living in Manhattan; there is something – often, many somethings! – going on every single night, and as someone newer to the city, I feel inclined to go to most of them. Want to drink eight glasses of wine over the course of the night? All too easy, and often, all too free. Remove the caloric impact of consuming two bottles of wine on any given evening, and it’s still atrociously unhealthy. Accessible? Yes. Wise decision? No.

But am I making these changes to lose weight? To fit into this incredibly thin city? A resounding no. NO. Have I wanted to lose 5 or 10 lbs? Of course. I probably know five women total who don’t share that aspiration. But is it worth it? I don’t know if that’s the right question; instead, I’d say that shouldn’t be the focus. Health should be.

My good friend Daisy wrote an article for XOJane about her unapologetic desire to lose a bit of weight, and I’m incredibly proud of her for being vocal about something that is often seen as a stigma. I’ll support her regardless, but I’m approaching this differently. I want to run a 10k, so I’m training for it. I want to get my advanced pilates certification, so I’m starting to increase my frequency of classes & looking into programs. I want to be able to be active throughout all of my life, so I’m making a commitment to that now. I’m being conscious that a morning workout changes and positively affects my entire day and I’m unapologetically making that a priority for myself, even if an extra one (or three) glasses of wine were stupidly consumed the evening prior.

And you know what? I love it. I was running on the Westside Highway this morning, and I simply thought: I LOVE TO RUN. It’s not always easy and I still loathe treadmills and in the heat of the summer? Lord help me when August comes around. But I love it. I do it for a lot of reasons, and if a welcome side effect is fitting into a smaller dress size, bring it. But that’s not what I do it for. I do it because I like beating my previous mile time. I do it because I like challenging myself in a FlyBarre class when they do that horrid dog fire-hydrant leg thing & I finally don’t have to stop. (NOTE: This day has not yet happened. Not by a long shot.) I do it because I want to kick my boyfriend’s ass in tennis. I do it because when I have a daughter, I want her to inherently know that health is an emphasis in our family, that weight is merely a number, that eating is something to revel in and to enjoy, and that her Mom is strong. I do it for me. Starting today, I do it for myself.

clara judgypants: Nora Ephron: What I Wish I’d Known


People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or less beige.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 per cent wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on…

Wise words. RIP, Nora Ephron.

clara judgypants: Nora Ephron: What I Wish I’d Known