Dragon At My Back


My life has seemed like a perfect storm of chaos much of the past few years, lost in the center of a yowling maelstrom of worry, fear and drama, prowled by monsters of threat and ghosts of loss. Even the ground beneath my feet seems uncertain, sometimes.

Yet, there’s one place the monsters cannot come, where flimsy doors close tight against them, and I can stand in unfailing calm for a time.

Preparation. Shake out and don my gi. Position my obi. Unfold my hakama, press out any wrinkles with my hands, straighten the pleats. My fingers linger on the worn areas over my knees, testament to dedicated hours. Tie the himo to enclose and support my scabbard, my saya. Each step brings a sense of deepening calm, as the student/warrior emerges from chaos.

Feet bare, I step into the dojo, bowing. The door swings gently shut behind me, and a sudden quiet falls that has nothing to do with the sounds of squeaking shoes in the next gym over, boys scuffling in the hall, bleachers rattling. This is one threshold the monsters cannot cross, the ghosts cannot breach. This is refuge.

I leave them outside the door, and with them I leave my own monsters – pride, embarrassment, the need to prove my worth. In here I become simply a student, neither gifted nor slow, where the true values are teachableness and intention.

The sense of safety is a paradox. What we do can be inherently dangerous, each of us wielding a three-foot katana, striving for power and precision in a stylized art of battle. Even our unsharpened practice blades or wooden practice swords can inflict major injury in clumsy or careless hands. We form a network of trust, each of us knowing that a loose blade, ripped hem, or moment of inattention can bring injury to another. We’re forced to be attentive both to our own movements and to those around us, moving in
harmony, always ready to react and modify. Together we bow to the shomen, to each other, to our swords. The formalities focus and bind us, and then we begin.

Kneel in seiza. Breathe. Draw. Cut. Chiburi – clean the blade. Noto– sheath. Stand. Again. Again. And again, kata flowing together. Around me, I can feel my comrades, intent yet open,  weaving an invisible wall against the dark. Ken, gentle and good-natured, with a hidden thread of fire and steel infusing his iai. Mitch, precise and flowing with banked force. Wes, passionate, fast, intent. Sarah, light and efficient and graceful. Sam, rangy, deceptively fast beneath his humor. K, a kindly bear who uses his power carefully. Sensei, quietly teaching, a warrior with smiling eyes. Outside this space, we’re students, engineers, EMTs, artists, techs. Here and now, we’re journeying together seeking something that can never be mastered, opening doors within ourselves, the blades in our hands as much expression as reality.

"Remaining heart"

Faintly, I hear passing echoes of the ghosts and monsters outside the door, then the breeze carries them away again. This door they cannot pass. I will not let them into this space. I am surrounded by a flashing of metal and the ripped-silk sound of air being cut, and I feel safe. I have a dragon at my back.

Funny, Clever or Direct?… which one am I ? Maybe None.

I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself. I’m Kelly Kyle……a Business woman, ARTIST, Photographer, Blogger, Wife, Sister, Step Mother, Friend & Rotarian. Writing for blogs is relatively new for me in the past 2 years….although I loved creative writing projects in school since I was a kid. As an adult, when the mood struck me I would write about a trip here or there…or write long holiday letters to family and friends telling of stories and places I travelled. It’s a wonderful giggle to look back at what you wrote 10, 20, 30  years later. Maybe something to post in a future story.

I think what I am most known for lately, is my community and humanitarian work with ROTARY. Caring about people and pulling for the underdog, is what I love to do. More specifically, the Redmond Rousers Rotary Club, of which I am the Current President, seems to get my foot in the door, when talking to people. I’ve taken on an unusual 2 year term as Madam Pres. Continuity, is a big part of being successful at any venture. When I stepped in as President on July 1st, of 2010, I had the enormous task of re-developing a club that was almost defunct. We were standing on our last leg of hope with only 5 members….and it was my job as the new President, to somehow, “save the club”. So, I looked at this, as one of my biggest tasks at hand. Recruiting and setting some outrageous GOALS, then followed.  #1,  If we did not have people ..AKA….BODIES… in those seats, who cared about “community”, then the club really was finished. So, I decided to stick to this #1 goal. I struck out one day, hitting the streets, getting to know my community. I met a man who changed the course of my life and it is ultimately, why I am writing this now. My world had a radical paradigm shift & everything in April of 2010, changed. Enter Social Media. This was 3 months before I became president and a few weeks after I had gone to  P.E.T.S., Rotary’s President Elect Training Seminar. Saving our club’s community history & “Rousing” club image, was fresh on my mind. Blaine Millet, of WOM10, walked into my life that day, and started talking about Social Media Strategies. I was all ears. I knew nothing about it…but it was different, it was edgy, it was NEW.  I liked what I heard. With blogging, we could control our future, not someone else’s view of it. . After going home and doing some research, how could I not be interested…this was the future of business and communities everywhere. Social Media was coming on strong, and anyone who wanted to be “IN THE GAME” had better jump on….So I did. I bought into the plan. Now all I had to do was convince the other 6 in our club to do the same.

I giggle a little, because then, some 20 months ago… I really did not know what Social Media was. Not compared to now, anyways. So I quickly approached the club board members, all 4 of us, and told them, not asked, but told them my plan to revitalize the club through a social media strategy and campaign. I was passioate. I must have been hopped up on caffeine or something, or doing a little jig…. cause all I got were wide eyed stares. I might as well have been talking about little green men from Mars!. It was an uphill battle during my 15 minute talk of fame, with hands slapping on the table, and a wild voiced presentation. But in the end, I persuaded them, or maybe just scared them or wore them out. I don’t know. But, they gave my ideas and me a chance to do something I believed in…even if I had only heard of it less than one week ago. But they did not know that.

I was allowed to spend money and time on what was perceived, a selfish project for ME. So, with that said, I got a little help from my new friend, Blaine in producing the effects of a well thought out plan. We were to use social Media to attract new people and to do good with our Rotary content. Nothing else the club had tried over the past 4 years, had worked, our numers were down to critical mass 7. The number of committed members were right there, only 3 staring back at me. We were in the position of being down, but not out.

I had “won”, but only after a long 15 minute “rant”, that I like to call my “passion”, coming out. I had sealed my fate…good or bad, and I was headed in a unknown and untried direction for a Rotary Club. I could feel all 3000 pair of eyes on me as I tried something new. I felt a little numb & like Christopher Columbus setting out to find a new world. (Funny, some days, it still feels a little like that first day over and over again, but now with a familiar, ring to it.)  It has been 18 months now, and praises, awards and accolades later… I am the district 5030 supper star. I was awarded the ROTARIAN of the YEAR award for our district of 3000 people…and 54 clubs. AWE inspiring stuff. There is a U-tube video, on our www.redmondrousersrotary.org site, of me on stage…that looks like a “deer in the headlights” version of me as I accepted my great award. I count my blessings of gratitude and I guess being a trailblazer and new explorer is something I like, and never gets old for me. I love being adventurous, and in this instance it worked out well with my personality and my sense of wanting to change the culture of ROTARY….in the community, and in our world.

Proud? Damn straight…I am. I feel like the Queen of my Castle….Momma of my flock, and worth every minute I spend…working on making a better life for kids and families in need. Every time I have a bad day….I think of others who sleep in tents, or who do not have enough to eat, or who do not have a family to love them. I know I make a difference, and am extremely proud of what WE do in Rotary….helping others. I guess, I really don’t know how to do anything else, any better…or I would do that.

So, to conclude this story and bring you up to date on what happened after my 1st year as President, July 1 2010 to June 30, 2011… I recruited 23 new people into our club. WOW….that is amazing, even for me to re-read that stat. An unbelievably rare accomplishment at any level of recruiting in a  Rotary club, especially when I didn’t know what Social Media really was. We won 3 more awards, the Presidential citation,the literacy zone and district awards, made a lot of new friends, made my mom proud and made a great story to tell my grand children someday. So, that is the good news. The bad news is that all of the newbies did not stay in Rotary. Some of them decided it wasn’t the right fit, long term for them…although they liked the club. Some lost their jobs, & moved away…But MOST of them stayed. Our Club now has 18 solid members in it. I have the good fortune to say, they are all now friends of mine.

SIDEBAR: I forgot to tell you about the catalyst to this story….and it matters, so here is why I decided to do what I did. One of my beloved and dear friends in our old club of only 8 people, was Russ. My longtime buddy of 10 years,  Russ Newman, suddenly died after a heart bypass in Feb 2010. 3 weeks before his surgery, he shuffled into the meeting like an 85 year old man does occasionally, but this time he looked different. I said to him, “Russ what’s the matter, why are you walking so slow?” He said to me…”well, my Dr. says I have a bad ticker and I need surgery”.  We proceeded to talk for 10 minutes about him and all he had going on. Who would feed his parrot ,was a big decision, I recall. He then pulled me close to him gave me a hug, and said to me, “Kelly-Girl”, (his nickname for me) “You are going to be the best Rouser President EVER!”. I was taken back by his confidence in me…and told him I hoped so, but I doubted it. We had had some really good ones in our past 20 years….like him, Bruce, Eric, Tom, Lisa and others. But somehow, his faith in me, was real, and I could feel it. I remember I cried hard when I found out he died in the recovery room after the operation. I was just making plans to go see him in the hospital, when I heard the news. I had lost my buddy, my pal, my one biggest fan & supporter in this presidential run….of a year in my life. What was I gonna do now?….I cried some more. Then a few days later, I went to P.E.T.S….and found the courage & faith he had told me about. I found my deep LOVE of Rotary and WHY I was there, training to become the new president. I was trying to revive an old dead club into a new alive club again, and it was going to be a lot of hard work. After this amazing weekend, I was now up to the challenge. Russ’ words stuck with me…as they do today and everyday. He was and is a BIG part of why we are still here…and if I could reach out to tell him, thank you, this is what I would say. “Russ, Thank You, from the bottom of my heart for your kind words and faith in, Lil ole me. Love you, Kelly Girl”

OK …so, back to the story of the newbies,…..Some of them listened to me and followed my urgings to start new committees, and to become new members within district committees and events. We even tackled a BIG new project together: Our new WORLD CLASS signature event, the Coup de Cascades. Our Bicycle fundraiser to help eradicate END POLIO in the world, just went viral with the news that we are now a RAAM qualifier. Some members I know better than others, but all in all, we are working towards a common GOAL; to make our community a better place, to live, work and do business together…through Service Above Self…our ROTARY motto.  Once again in our 21 year history, the Redmond Rousers Rotary Club is on the Map, literally. Our newest venture in Social Media is an ad placement on the 4th AVE MAPS…a new advertising piece that is an interactive MAP of the area for residents and new people in town. Microsoft has put their TAG in it for people to use as a scannable device to go to different websites to see more info about the companies in the MAP.  We plan to use it to attract more attention to our 425 mile Coup de Cascades biking event in Aug 18th & 19th of 2012. Along with that, it will be a great way for people to find out where we meet and come see us for dinner on Tuesday evenings at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse. We meet at 5:30pm at 16600- N.E. 80th in Redmond. Hope to see you too for a FREE dinner with new friends. bring your business cards and a smile!. Check out our speaker schedule to find someone you might like to hear, and come on down…. we’ll have a seat for you. www.RedmondRousersRotary.org

Kelly Kyle – Artist, Humanitarian, Friend


Cherish Conversation

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of talking with many ‘local’ business owners, people who serve the ‘local’ market and those trying to figure out how to reach the ‘local’ marketplace.  Along the way, I re-discovered my own need to engage and connect, and was happy (grateful even) to take a few exits off the ‘information highway’ to rest, get inspired and talk for a while.  I had coffee, I broke bread, I laughed, I learned, I pushed ‘silent’ often, I ran into an old friend and I connected, truly connected with some amazing teachers.

Although, I work daily in the online world and continue to be fascinated by the digital tools we have available right now (and the ones coming our way daily) this experience reminded me to slow down, breathe, listen and really cherish a good conversation. All this online stuff is great, but I deeply hope that nothing will replace the good old face to face or voice to voice conversation.  I move on in my journey even more encouraged to continue my quest to understand how I can help local companies build bridges between where they are today and where they want to go through the ever illusive art of conversation (and a few cool tools as well!)

From these conversations, three key themes emerged across all of these conversations.  They show up as both concerns and keen insights.  I know looking at them from both angles will help me as I continue to explore how best to help my customers be found, be known and be heard.  My hope is that you find them useful, too.

1. Be Found – Tails and Tales:
Keywords have long tails, and that is good…search engines like them. Use them freely.  Stories sell, use words/text as links. Use them often site to site, page to page.

2. Be Known – Self:
Put your “self” forward, it is more powerful than just a product or being all business all the time.

3. Be Heard – And Don’t Disappear: 
Shhhh, I am listening actively and I will be here for you.

I know I said three, but here are six really good extras…

1. Time:
Find me time…to keep my social pages up to date without affecting the important time with customers who are actually in my store.

2. If:
If it is relevant to me I will come, if it is personal to me I will stay, if it is meaningful to me I will come back.

3. Be Social: 
It is not about ‘doing social’, it is about being social.

4. About Them: 
It is NOT about me, it is about them.

5. Simplify: 
Make it simple for your audience to relate to, to do, to understand, to engage.

6. Baby Steps: 
Crawl, walk, run.

Until next time, take an exit off the information highway, slow down, grab some coffee, find a teacher, listen, learn, enjoy the art and the heart of each conversation.  After all, doesn’t everyone want to be found and known and heard?  I know I do.

Joni Kovarik
BizDev Consulting www.bizdevbiz.com
& Powering RelyLocal

SIC 2011 (Seattle Interactive Conference)

I was able to attend day two of the Seattle Interactive Conference 2011 today.  Not sure what to expect, I was impressed that there were over 1500 people in attendance.

The panelists and presenters were mostly local entrepreneur’s from the Seattle area which was great.  Although, the topics discussed were almost identical to Enterprise 2.0 conferences in Boston I attended in 2008 and 2009.  In fact, Top 10 Inbound Marketing tactics – deemed as the holy grail were almost the same as the ones shared back then.  I was reminded of the phrase, “everything old is new again.”  Paraphrasing, they are:

  1.  Content is king
  2. Add video content to boost SERP visuals
  3. Build Thought Leadership in your space
  4. Use social networking for personalized rankings
  5. Link building within social networks
  6. Long Tail SEO via Gamification
  7. PR through Social Outreach
  8. Create viral-worthy content
  9. Influence search suggestions through branding
  10. Leverage other Thought Leaders to build content

Not much new here.  And all are still worthy, doable tactics for all size businesses.

On the lighter side, here are some of the buzzwords and references I heard that made me chuckle.

  • The ‘old days‘ and ‘way back in 2007′
  • Overwhelm is the new opportunity
  • Return On Investment (in Social Marketing) is still squishy
  • HTC – ” we are building community around a
    local in field manager, but it is not scalable so we are trying to create a ‘human
    feeling’ community
    (what the h…?)

The coolest part of the day was running into two old colleagues and friends from my
Getty Image days.  Fun to catch up with them.  We laughed a bit about the ‘old
days’ comment, because we worked together from 1998 – 2003 – must be the
‘really old days’ or ‘ancient days’.  As we chatted about the conference, we all agreed that all if it could be summed up  – it all comes down to a real connections and real conversations.  If you can do that in your business, that is the holy grail.

More later.  Off to see Mudhoney at the Showbox.

Joni Kovarik


Punch My Ticket, Lunchlady

And then Chris Farley says something really loudly and falls down.  And we all smile.

My child-thing Harrison had his first school lunch yesterday.  It’s something he’s been asking for off and on since school started.  With day after day of un-masticated healthy packed lunch coming back home, I finally said OK. He, of course, completely enjoyed the experience and gave me a full report when he got off the bus, “I ate healthy food today!  I had fruit and chocolate milk and a sandwich with green salad stuff on it.”  “Lettuce?”  “Yeah.”

Yes, that’s a full report from a 6-year-old.  Imagine how talkative he’ll be in the teenage years.  (Oh, the expectant quiet.)

So he enjoyed it and the chocolate milk was a given.  Hell, it’s what I choose when I eat lunch with him at Einstein Elementary.

The whole school lunch thing got me thinking about my own experiences with school lunch.  At Lincoln Elementary in Western Nebraska, I lived a block away from school and took my lunch pretty much every day.  I didn’t have a regular lunch ticket until junior high, I rarely bought lunch in elementary school.  My Snoopy (and later, Transformers) lunch box had a variety of sandwiches depending on what was leftover and what my dad was taking for his own lunch….cold meatloaf sandwiches, picante loaf, chopped ham loaf….yeah, I grew to really hate each of those!  Ugh, just the thought of a chopped ham sandwich right now makes my stomach do a flip flop.  The greasy pressed texture.  Nasty.  

Of course I looked enviously at the rectangular pizza slices or “soy burgers” and after enough whining persuaded my mom to give me a dollar on the bi-weekly pizza day.  THAT, was awesome.  It was freedom from my parents, it was joining a crowd, it was the community of being able to trade pears for a cookie or vice versa (like that would happen – cookies rule!).

It was a right of passage.  Just like learning to ride a bike or getting the car keys.  

Granted, I bet I brought home a lot of barely eaten meatloaf or chopped ham sandwiches, and that was likely, easily my mom’s motivation to fork over a dollar on pizza Fridays.  AND granted, in Redmond you see kids bringing a Trader Joe’s buffet in their lunch bags; enough to feed at least four children.  But in all, there is a huge sense of community that comes with buying your food and enjoying it with you peers who also bought food.

Think about your first job, or your current job.  There are people who bring their lunch, and they tend to hang out together or enjoy some quiet time alone.  And then there are the people who go out or order in, as a group, publicly exchanging money for food, and hanging out together, building that rapport.

Even as an adult, it’s been a occasion of sorts when I’ve ponied up to buy lunch with people.  It’s been a moment to enjoy freedom and community and all that good stuff.  And there is a difference between sharing thoughts on butter chicken all around the table, vs being the odd man out with a bologna sandwich while others Ooooo and Ahhh over butter chicken.  

So school lunch for the 6-year-old….I’m all on board with that now.  Especially if he keeps coming home with happy news of “I ate a healthy lunch and I didn’t get sent to the office today!”  (insert beaming young smile at the statement of these two accomplishments.)

I am participating in a November blogesphere event over on Tuesdays With Deborah. November is National Novel Writing Month, so several of us have committed to blogging something like 100 words a day.  My apologies in advance :)

Til tomorrows entry…

Scott Bell
BLOG at http://mediadesignseattle.blogspot.com/