ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Social Media Marketing aka “Fun in the Blogosphere”
March 31, 2010, 12:16 pm
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by Terrè Houte

Who says it’s crazy to delve into a new marketing experience during the spring rush? Marketing is not for sissies!  (I once heard someone around here say “go big or go home!”)

The goal this month was to get organized and get going! 

Here is a snapshot of what’s been going on: 


  • met with our two expert firms (see Feb blog post) to determine our direction and determine goals (see below)
  • started building actual timelines encompassing the upgrade of the website and the blog design/content
  • began discussions on a project guide
  • began development of a “publishing calendar”.
  • began an inventory of existing creative archives to decide what to reuse
  • started creating a blog marketing plan 

Our goals:

  • inform and persuade
  • pre-qualify prospects
  • drive traffic with SEO (search engine optimization)
  • collect visitor email to build database

 Our timeframe:

  • April 14th preliminary publishing guide
  • May 1st design concepts presentation
  • June 1st LAUNCH

 I’ll keep you POSTED! (NO pun intended, well maybe)


Social Media Marketing – Tip of the Iceberg?
February 24, 2010, 1:56 pm
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by Terrè Houte

 When I agreed to speak about our company’s journey to become “social media savvy marketers” at this year’s Mid-Am Mid-Winter Conference, I had no idea that I knew just the tip of a huge and growing iceberg! The title of the talk was “Wow ‘em with Your Web Presence: The Grassroots of Effectively Marketing Your Business Online”.

 While researching the topic, I discovered a vast, quickly growing amount of information. I was teamed up with a professional, Keidra Chaney,, who helped me understand the basics and gave me the true scope of what was ahead.  

 We have contracted with a talented pair of experts to guide us through the blogoshere. Barb Rozgonyi of CoryWest Media LLC, (contact:, who gave us an excellent start with our branding strategy five years ago. She is the founder of Chicago Social Media Club and featured on the cover of the October 2009 SOHO Magazine as “Chicago Social Media Maven”. Check out her blog at .  Also, Dave Prickett of Karnes Prickett Design, who has given us our signature look for the past five years.

 Barb will help us strategize and implement our blog/newsletter, while Dave will design it to maintain consistency with our brand. SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the goals of this project.

Watch for my posts and join with me as we embark on a new direction in marketing! This is not for the faint of heart! Hold onto your hat! It’s going to be a wild ride!

Mid-Am – More Important Than Ever!
January 19, 2010, 9:12 pm
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 by Terre Houte

Tomorrow I jump on the Metra and head into the big city, suitcase in hand, for a couple of days at the Mid-Am. 

For me Mid-Am is that “sweet spot” in the middle of our Chicago winter. I enjoy meeting up with industry friends, old and new. I love walking the trade show, commiserating with vendors at their booths. New products, new ideas, new relationships  . . .  it just doesn’t get any better than this! 

The educational opportunities give me some useful new tool or idea for the coming season. The WNG’s “Howl at the Moon” is where the fun happens on Wednesday night. Be there or be square! Mixing it up at the Mixer on Thursday night will be the frosting on the cake! 

ILCA’s Leadership Council has provided me with a new set of friends. At Mid-Am, we get reacquainted and rejuvenated. 

The 2010 season is ripe for the picking. It is going to be a great year! Let’s start it by supporting ILCA and Mid-Am.  See you there!

Sixty IS the New Forty – Keys to 60+
November 24, 2009, 8:46 pm
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By Terrè Houte

 Yep, I am less than one month from celebrating my 60th. Here are my random thoughts as I approach this exciting milestone! 

Attitude + Gratitude + Don’t sweat the small stuff – Skype, text, write letters, send cards, give gifts. (My non-traditional holiday gift-giving is a joy to me. I spend time during the holidays delivering “thank-you” sweets to the folks who “serve” me during the year: dry cleaners, veterinary hospital staff, bird seed store, auto mechanics, hairdresser, eyeglass store, resale shopkeeper, doctor offices, mail carrier, restaurant personnel, the place where I get my daily morning bagel and coffee (they give me a great start to my day). The looks on their faces when I pop in to give them a gift is  . . . priceless! 

Volunteer! Food pantries, homeless shelters, nursing homes, literacy organizations, and the city of New Orleans appreciate help. 

Try a healthy lifestyle – vegetarian, organic, (can I quit seafood this year?) Drive the speed limit (and drive as if you were the only one paying attention (because you are). Text, tweet, call, drink, read, (shave?) and apply make-up when you get to the parking lot. Relax: see how long you can spend on the couch with a cat (or two) on your lap. The housework and gardening can wait. Exercise: watch HGTV from the treadmill. It makes the time fly by! Laugh – watch Eddie Murphy’s “Nutty Professor” and laugh ‘til you cry. 

Live Green – Remove all carpeting, use non-chemical cleaning, redirect the radon gas, (throw out husband’s secret stash of nasty Turf Builder), visit the Botanic Garden and the Arboretum . . . often. Install rain barrels and rain gardens. Go to the zoo. Feed the birds, chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, possums and yes, even the coyote. COMPOST! RECYCLE! 

Sing + Dance + Play – My grandchildren’s song requests remind me of the joy of music. Dance at weddings. (You can heal sore muscles later). Play with children. Climb on the jungle gyms, run through wet leaves, put on your Wellies and play in the puddles, slide down slides, crawl through the tunnels, act silly. Rule of thumb: Don’t act your age!

I am grateful to have found so many new friends at ILCA. Have a fabulous, memorable, and grateful Thanksgiving!  Terrè Houte

My Book Report, by Terre Houte
October 20, 2009, 3:34 pm
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Our leader is a voracious reader of business, leadership, and management books. When someone joins our team, one of their first jobs is to read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. We throw around key phrases from the book as our office slang. Phrases such as “Hedge Hog Concept” or “the right seat on the bus”.  Since the 2008-09 business debacles, Jim Collins took the challenge of researching and writing the reason for some of his “Good to Great” companies’ demise. His new work, “How the Mighty FALL and Why Some Companies Never Give In”, is a short gem of a book. Its power is in its ability to explain the stages of collapse of these mighty companies in terms a layperson can understand, perhaps in hopes we will learn from their mistakes. Our leader gave us a typed excerpt of the book for us to absorb, discuss, and hang on our walls. I share it with you now. And I quote:

 “Appendix 5: What Makes for the “Right People” in Key Seats?

While the specifics regarding who would be the right people for key seats vary across organizations, our research yields six generic characteristics:

  1. THE RIGHT PEOPLE FIT WITH THE COMPANY’S CORE VALUES. Great companies build almost cult-like cultures, where those who do not share the institution’s values find themselves surrounded by antibodies and ejected like a virus. People often ask, “How do we get people to share our core values?” The answer: you don’t. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang onto them.
  2. THE RIGHT PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO BE TIGHTLY MANAGED. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake. If you have the right people, you don’t need to spend a lot of time “motivating” or “managing” them. They’ll be productively neurotic, self-motivated and self-disciplined, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it’s simply part of their DNA.
  3. THE RIGHT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE “JOBS”; THEY HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES.  They grasp the difference between their task list and their true responsibilities. The right people can complete the statement, “I am the one person ultimately responsible for . . .”
  4. THE RIGHT PEOPLE FULFILL THEIR COMMITMENTS. In a culture of discipline, people view commitments as sacred – they do what they say, without complaint. Equally, this means that they take great care in saying what they will do, careful to never overcommit or to promise what they cannot deliver.
  5. THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ITS WORK. Nothing great happens without passion, and the right people display remarkable intensity.
  6. THE RIGHT PEOPLE DISPLAY “WINDOW AND MIRROR” MATURITY. When things go well, the right people point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves; they shine a light on other people who contributed to the success and take little credit themselves. Yet when things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setbacks and failures; they point in the mirror and say, “I’m responsible.”

I hope you find some “porch or couch time” and take a read of this book. I’m off to Vermont to join the last of the “leaf-peepers”.

My Glass is 1/2 Full. Is Yours?
September 17, 2009, 4:57 pm
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Where is your mood? Is your glass empty? Half full? Spilling over with positive energy?

The Timbuk3 song says, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades”.

That’s how I feel about the coming “recovery”. I’ve heard more than one person say they are sick and tired of not spending. I think there is a need for people to release their pent up spending urges. When they do, I hope all of us in business are ready to reap the benefits!

 I am also quite ready to hear good news, positive news, and less partisan political junk. Enough about that.

 My growing optimism pushes me to fulfill my 2009 To-Do List. I have been intentional about accomplishing things. When I look back on 2009, I want to be able to say I took advantage of the time I did NOT spend shopping, by enjoying low-cost or free local opportunities. 

In JulyGeneralInfo, we went to French Connection Day at Cantigny. Although it rained, we marveled at the new Visitors’ Center, did a wine-tasting and ate in their new café. (By the way, don’t forget to register for MELA’s annual meeting September 30th at Cantigny. I have been enriched by my involvement with M.E.L.A.)


ginkgo_restaurantI have been faithfully using my Morton Arboretum membership  John and I dined al fresco after church on several Sunday mornings. I have dropped by for lunch while on the road (I know, it sounds like all I do is eat out), I have shopped for my grandbabies in the Gift Shop, driven through the park with the top down, and have gone to a fabulous outdoor concert (Ravinia-style).

 I am ready to hunker down for the Fall/Winter season. The Women’s Networking Group is planning a Fall Event. So stay tuned!

 January, 20th 2010 I am going to Howl at the Moon with all the fabulous people who love to party at Mid-Am. Be there or be square!

 Let’s all decide that we are going to take this whole moody economy in a different direction. If you promise to go out and buy new winter clothes, then I will too. (But first I’d love to lose those 10 pounds from eating out all summer. That’s another story, too). See you at our Fall Meeting! Terre Houte

“I Hope You Have a Sister” by Terre Houte
August 19, 2009, 4:36 pm
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(Or someone who you can pretend is your sister).


“Sisters are different flowers from the same garden” – Author Unknown


I have a younger sister, Jill. She is brilliant, beautiful, and my best friend.

Last weekend, we had a “Sisters’ Getaway” to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The occasion was “Ladies Shopping Night” at Northwind Perennial Farm (Roy Diblik’s place).


“Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister” – Alice Walker


It rained the entire 2-½ hour trip north. Yet magically, by the evening’s event, the rain stopped long enough to create an atmosphere of lush, candlelit greenery highlighted by background music. There were hourly sales specials, strolling hors d’oeuvres servers, a wine table staffed by Northwind folk, kittens and farm animals to pet, and a guest appearance by Roy! Colleen, a co-owner, planned the event. It was wonderful!


“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at” – Maya Angelou


I whole-heartedly recommend that you grab your sister(s) or BFF and plan a “get-away” to Northwind. While there, we stay at the Hillcrest Inn in Burlington. It is a quaint inn on a hill with incredible views overlooking a river and lakes. Their motto is “Featuring Chocolate in every breakfast!” We walked to dinner in downtown Burlington. We both loved the ambience and delicious food at B.J. Wentker’s – Historic Fine Dining. The best part of the evening was talking until the wee hours of the morning.




The Hillcrest Inn





“Helping one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood” – Louisa May Alcott


The next day we headed downtown Lake Geneva to check out the Arts Festival, and the shops, of course. An interesting phenomenon occurs when we are together. Our usual fiscal self-control melts away as we urge each other to “Buy that dress. It looks fabulous on you!” So, we bought our “must-haves” and drove back to our suburban realities.


“It’s hard to be responsible, adult, and sensible all the time. How good it is to have a sister whose heart is as young as your own” – Pam Brown


It was 24 delicious hours of my favorite things: sister-talk, shopping, kittens, music, chocolate, and wine! What’s not to love?