ELEVEN years in Vegas. Take a minute and think about how much you've done, how much you've changed or how much has happened in 11 years. 

Here's a couple of fun facts: 

  1. We were all on Myspace and just barely converting to Facebook
  2. Instagram wasn't a thing
  3. Twitter was launched just 8 months prior 
  4. The very first iPhone was released
  5. Most of us didn't have the iPhone yet and GPS still wasn't really a thing on phones. (I had to buy a $150 bluetooth GPS adaptor to connect to my Samsung Blackjack phone and download a Map app for my drive/move to Vegas)
  6. Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were still pretty relevant
  7. Netflix was on the up-and-up, just barely starting limited streaming of a small handful of movies
  8. Snapchat did not exist
  9. We still paid for nights & weekends and had calling plans with 500 text messages included. (Real talk: How did we function before unlimited texts and unlimited calling plans?!)
  10. AOL messenger was still pretty relevant (what was your AOL screen name?) 
  11.  I was still in my 20's (good god, that seems like forever ago)

So yeah... Eleven amazing years in Vegas. But the time has come and I'm ready to take on the next chapter in my life: heading home to Arizona. 

Someone asked me the other day "why are you moving?" and without hesitation I responded "why should I stay?" I've had an incredible time in Vegas and I've come to absolutely love this city. Real talk... I hated it when I got here. I was counting down the days to get the hell out of here my first year. But in all fairness to Vegas, I also moved here in April 2007 at the beginning of the recession and Vegas was one of the hardest hit markets in the country. It was incredibly difficult to make friends here and I felt like there was a ton of shadiness going on. People were trying to get out from a massive amount of debt and making friends wasn't exactly what people were out to try and do. People were just trying to survive. 

I was recruited to Vegas to work for COX Cable. I was hired by my mentor Jeff Myers and my incredible VP at the time, Andrew Simon. I was a nervous 27 year old stepping in to take on my mentor's old job as Marketing Manager. Needless to say I was scared out of my mind. I had big shoes to fill and I never thought I'd be as good as Jeff was, but I wasn't about to let him down. New Job. New City. New Life. That was April 2007. 

Can we take a minute to think about how damn hard it is to sell cable and internet to people when you are in the #1 foreclosure market in the country?! You can say we had our work cut out for us. Three super tough years, but I learned more from this incredible team at Cox and we went from zero to hero. One of the best teams I had the pleasure to work with and while we got off to a rocky start, we SLAYED it and brought the Cox Vegas market from the worst performing to the #1 market in the country. #HellYeah

April 2010 I was off to UFC. (Remember: I wrote down UFC as a goal 13 months before it happened!) I lived out my wildest dream doing something I thought I'd spend the rest of my life figuring out HOW to even make it a reality. I traveled the world. I worked with incredible athletes. I lead one of the best social media teams on the planet and came out of the experience with some amazing relationships all over the globe.

After that ride was up, I rolled the dice and went all in on myself. Started my business, ELVN Digital. and wanted to give this entrepreneur thing a shot. Questions that ran through my head: Could I do it? Would I love it? Would I hate it? Would I be good at it? Soooo many questions/uncertainties/unknowns. The toughest part was that all my success and all my failures would be in my hands. (Thankfully I haven't had many failures along this journey, but I've learned a TTTTOOOOOONNNNNNNNNN). It's the toughest job I've had to date and the most rewarding. I've been able to prove to myself that I could do it

I had a very humbling experience after the October 1st shooting in Las Vegas. In the blink of an eye, you have such a profound appreciation for people and life in general. I realized I had put many things on the back burner for my career; working hard and being successful at my job was #1 above all things. I missed birthdays, weddings, births and just being present in exchange for planes, trains and automobiles. I had a very spiritual awakening during this traumatic event and it made me re-strategize things in my life. I have spent a lot of time meditating, planning and sought out my purpose. I rediscovered my passions and many many many things have been manifested and brought to fruition... hell, here's just a couple of things I was able to accomplish in 365 days

So what's next? 

Anything and everything is possible....I really mean that... I've done it. I have a couple of personal passion projects I'll be working on in this next chapter and look forward to sharing more about them in the future. There are many amazing things on the horizon that I'm super excited about: a new house (of course home renovations are in my future), new Jeep trails, catching up with old friends, spending time with family and making Arizona the new home base for ELVN Digital. 

There are not enough words or time for me to express everything I want to. All I can say is thank you for the incredible friendships, talks, camping trips, Jeep runs, laughs, concerts, celebrations, Las Vegas Corgi meet ups and so many more things that have been a part of my story and my journey in Vegas these past last 11 years.

So next week, April 15th will be my last day in Vegas. It's been an amazing chapter in my life. Thank you to all who have been a part of this incredible ride. 

See you soon, Arizona. I've missed you. 



What I can do in 365 days...


What I can do in 365 days...

365 days ago, I was "laid off" from my job. First time in my career to ever be laid off but I don't look at this as some sort of negative notch on my resume. It has been an opportunity to learn, grow, reset and has allowed me to do and achieve more than I could have imagined.  

What I was able to accomplish in a year

  1. Travel and cross off some personal bucket list goals (finally got to see the Statue of Liberty, my first NFL stadium game... last NFL game I went to was Cardinals playing at ASU's stadium)
  2. Take my dad to his #1 bucket list trip, to see Ohio State vs Michigan home game (and win in double overtime!)
  3. Cross off my #1 bucket list career goal, working with the Super Bowl
  4. Cross off my #2 bucket list career goal, working with a major brand, Budweiser
  5. Surprise my Grandma with her first trip to NYC to cross off her travel bucket list (actual trip takes place in December)... there's still more to come with this trip that she doesn't know about yet. 
  6. Start my own business, ELVN Digital
  7. Speak at Social Media Marketing World
  8. Speak at Players Tribune Sports PR Summit
  9. Asked to be a guest speaker on two panels for the San Diego AMA
  10. Work with four sports brands/leagues/teams
  11.  Continue to mentor and work with some of the most brilliant people I know... either collaborating on projects, hiring people to work with me as a freelancer, mentoring, etc. 

Aside from this list of things I've accomplished, the one that means the most, is having the freedom and flexibility in my schedule to be able to give back to my community when it was needed most. I was able to do my work remotely while standing in line for 6.5 hours to give blood in support of #VegasStrong, Driving around until 4am picking up concert goers from Route 91 Festival and getting them to a safe place, working with my clients to bring hot meals to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff /volunteers who had been up for 24 hours saving lives from the tragic October 1st event.

I've learned more than I can ever describe throughout this process. About myself, running a business, people, friends and family.  

Cheers to the rest of our lives,  making the best of every opportunity and taking life's curveballs and hitting a home run. 




Vegas Strong


Vegas Strong

The events that went down in Las Vegas on October 1st, 2017 were indescribable. 

The last 30+ hours have been a blur. I first learned about the shooting from a Facebook post by a former co-worker who linked the Las Vegas Police Department scanner stream. I turned on the local news and immediately started to hear all the sirens. 

I live half a mile from the University Medical Center Level 1 Trauma Center and had the front door of my house wide open. I felt the screaming sirens in my chest. I began to text friends to make sure they were safe, checking friends Facebook pages marking themselves safe. I didn't want to call my family in Arizona and wake them, but I knew this would be the first thing they would see when they woke up so I decided to send them a text to assure them I was safe. 


I had a couple of different text exchanges with friends sharing our disbelief in what was unfolding before our eyes. I was sitting on my couch watching the news and listening to the sirens. When I saw that people were using their pickup trucks to transport the injured to UMC, I couldn't help but think to myself I cannot just sit here and do nothing. Anything. I'll use my Jeep to help get people out of there or get them to safety, home, hotels, whatever.

I noticed that the media wasn't saying much about blood donations at the time and based on the amount of gunshots I could hear from all the videos, I knew the projected number for injured at 100 people had to be incorrect. Blood was going to be needed, and quickly. I tweeted out a reminder, tagging media outlets hoping people would start spreading the word and getting the community to their nearest blood donation center. 

As soon as I heard the roads were open, I jumped in my Jeep and went for it. I didn't care if it was just one person that I got to safety. I knew plenty of people that were at the concert and for the locals, they were likely not able to get to their cars. Tourists wouldn't know where to go, bodies needed to get to hospitals, I just wanted to get there to help people get to safety. 

I picked up a couple of girls who were in shock. I dropped them off at a gas station where they were going to meet family coming to pick them up. They just wanted to get as far away as they could. I turned back around and picked up another couple. They were hesitant to get into a complete strangers vehicle and I assured them I was a local just trying to help. They told me they lived far and I said " I don't care, just get in". They said again, "we live really far, on the southwest side of town" and I repeated again, "I don't care, get in and I'll get you home". 

They got in and I tried to turn the heat on since it was a little chilly that night and I didn't have the top on my Jeep.  I wanted to try to make them as comfortable as possible. The guy kept saying to his girlfriend "I didn't think we were going to make it. I thought that was the last time I was going to see you".  I didn't really know what to say, I just wanted to let them know they were going to be okay and that I'd get them to safety.  Half way to their apartment the girl in the backseat says "This is so scary. I work on the strip and we had some recent shootings right outside of Paris". I said "I know, I have a couple of clients that face the strip outside of Paris"  and then she tells me she works for HEXX kitchen + bar. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Of all the people that I could have picked up on the side of the road trying to get away from the devastation that occurred, I picked up a girl who works for my very first client I signed when I started my company, ELVN Digital. 

After I dropped them off at their apartment, the guy was trying to give me gas money and I refused, I wasn't trying to take any money. When they got out of my Jeep they both gave me a huge hug, and when I was leaving the parking lot and looked over to see them embracing each other. Almost like a sense of relief knowing they were home and they were safe. 

I drove back towards Mandalay Bay and tried to see if there was anyone else I could pick up. The police started to block off more streets and it was hard to get to more people. I went on a couple more back roads and decided I was going to head straight to the blood donation center. It was 4 a.m. and I didn't even know if the center would be open, but I'd show up and stand in line if I had to. There was about 100-150 people already there. I shared across all social channels that this location was open and if anyone wanted to help, this was a place that could use donations, blood donors, food, water, blankets etc.

I was so proud to see the Las Vegas Community coming together to do our part in saving lives

Over the next several hours the donations were pouring in and the line was down the street. 

After waiting in line for six hours, I was finally able to get in a chair and donate blood. My single donation could help save up to three lives. 

I would wait 6 more hours if I needed to. 

I would wait 6 more hours if I needed to. 

I started to get several messages on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook from media outlets asking me for content. I was just trying to keep people informed of what was occurring in the community and my whereabouts. I wanted to communicate through social media what we could do to help. I never thought my photos and videos would reach so many. I hoped that I could give one person the courage to donate blood if they had never done it before. I hope it encouraged one person to ask themselves "what could I do to help". I hope it gave just one person the inspiration to help a complete stranger in need.  We should do this as a community, but even more, as humans. 

Be kind to people. 


Here is how you can help. 

Donate Blood at the United Blood Services or Red Cross. Make a donation to support the victims of the shooting on Go Fund Me

Thank you to the media that helped bring awareness and attention to the need for blood donations, CNN, Headline News with Robin Meade, Inside Edition, Mic, my hometown local news station KVOA 4


Honored to be speaking at Sports PR Summit in San Francisco


Honored to be speaking at Sports PR Summit in San Francisco

I'm honored to announce that I've been invited to speak at the 2017 Sports PR Summit hosted at Twitter HQ in San Francisco.  I had the privilege to speak at last years summit along some incredibly talented peers, Raleigh Blank (Twitter), Jeremy Thum (Digital, Golden State Warriors), Marquette King (Punter, Oakland Raiders), and Sam Laird (Mashable). 

Twitter Sports Summit 2016.jpg

The event itself is a full day of sharing knowledge, learning new tips/tricks, and the networking alone is worth the price of admission. Plus... you can't beat the beautiful views from the rooftop of Twitter Headquarters. 


This years line up is pretty incredible. I always love the opportunity to hear from powerful players in sports biz like Melissa Brenner, Digital SVP for NBA, Laura Froelich, Twitter Global Head of Sports Partnerships, my fellow panelist two years in a row, Jeremy Thum just to name a few. For someone who is looking for an opportunity to work in the sports biz / social media this is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some major players in the biz. For those that have been in the sports biz for a while, it's always fun to meet and find opportunities to collaborate together on future projects. Some of my favorite projects/campaigns during my time working at UFC came from the networking and relationships built at conferences just like this one.  

Tickets are available online HERE and you can check out more info about Sports PR Summit and this years attendees HERE


It was all a dream...


It was all a dream...

Almost 20 years ago, I sat on my friend Bernadette's bedroom floor trying to figure out what to do after high school. All my friends were going off to college and picking their majors while I'm over here thinking to myself, "How the hell are we supposed to know the answer to this at 17 years old?! We've barely had a real part time job". 

So I simply made a statement... "I don't know what I want to do...... I just want to be a part of something big.... like the Super Bowl or a Budweiser campaign or something." 

That was it. That was the first time I put my hopes, dreams and ambitions out there into the universe to help direct and guide me in my career path.  I've since updated the list of things I want to do/achieve every year and keep a 5 year and 10 year list. (Yes, I like to have 3 lists as my near/mid/far goals) 

December was such an incredibly emotional month for me as I busted my ass getting everything in order to start my own company. December 23rd, ELVN Digital was born (officially.. like legal, business license and all official). I was so emotional! I had no idea that I was going to be such a wreck over it. Like, I cried... everywhere...all day.. I criiiiiieeeeddd! Leaving my attorneys office, I cried. On the phone with my dad, I cried. At the bank, I cried. Sitting by myself on the computer, waterworks running down my face. It was a good cry.. a really really proud moment and happy tears. 

There had been something in the works for a while and I kept my cool with it because it was a pretty damn big deal. A HUGE deal as a matter of fact. One of the first things I would get to do was crossing off TWO things that I said in the same sentence almost twenty years prior. One of my clients I started working with owned Budweiser Beer Park AND I'd get an opportunity to help run the Houston Super Bowl Social Media Command Center!! Budweiser campaign... CHECK! Super Bowl... CHECK! HOLY $H*T! In my first 34 days of business I get to cross these two things off my list that have been near and dear to my heart for almost TWENTY years. 

I showed up today to pick up my credential, meet up with Joe (my biz partner) and met with some of the Super Bowl Host Committee team and seriously cannot believe I get to be here working with one of the biggest brands in sports for one of the biggest events in sports, period.  I have no words. 

After this, I've crushed all the big things I have ever set out to do. What the heck do I write down now?!.............. hummmmm.... I'm coming for ya, JEEP!! 😜

What a wild ride this will be! I'm so incredibly blessed and thankful for my friends, family and community that have been beyond supportive of me on this journey. I cannot be more grateful for the people in my life that have been a part of this journey.











The Next Chapter


The Next Chapter

The last nine weeks have been eye opening and refreshing. A moment to reset, to find myself and things I'm passionate about. I've been incredibly blessed to have done many things in my life/career that most people wouldn't get to do in a lifetime. For that, I'm forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities. When I landed the job with the UFC, at the time when I made that goal (I wrote it down 13 months prior if you remember), there literally was nothing bigger that I thought I'd do in my career. That would be the pinnacle, working for a huge growing brand in sports (I had zero experience in sports marketing outside of marketing the Pay-Per-View events from my Cox/Comcast cable days). 

So what's next?

I've asked myself that every day for nine weeks. Work for another big brand? I could. Work for a start up company? I could do that too. Sell/rent out my house, pack up my stuff, buy a tiny house or just explore the world for a few years? I seriously considered it. 

The one thing I have always had in the back of my mind was, could I be my own boss? Would I love it? Hate it? I don't know but I felt like if there was ever a good time to find out, it was now.  I took everything I had in my mind and in my heart to start building out this plan and I've been incredibly blessed to have people in my life that have referred me to people that I could help.  I'm blessed to have friends and a community around me who are here to help each other succeed. I'm thankful for people in my life that have inspired me to go in the direction of entrepreneurship and believe in me taking on this journey. I'm grateful for my family who have supported my decisions throughout my career even when my dad didn't want me to leave my first "good job" at Comcast because it was a solid career with plenty of growth opportunity. I wanted to widen my career experience and explore opportunities with different companies, different industries, people and culture and I've done all of those things. 

So after hundreds of hours, phone calls and meetings, I've decided to move forward in this entrepreneurial space. I was going to do consulting on my own and work with a couple of clients but decided I'm going to jump in all the way and start a company. Coming up with your business name is not the funnest thing in the world. Do you go with a acronym? Do you come up with some clever name? Make a name up? This part sucked, not going to lie. My partner Joe and I kept going back and forth on this and I said to him, "I don't know what it will be, but somehow I want to incorporate Eleven, like Eleven 11 or something like that". He asked me what was with 11? I couldn't really explain it... 11:11 shows up in my life every single day. I randomly look at the clock at 11:11 a.m. and 11:11 p.m. every day. Go to the store and the check out price is $11.11, my loft downtown was unit 1111. I see 11 in so many different places and I have a habit of taking a screenshot on my phone or taking a picture whenever I see it.  Joe says to me "You know my first long standing client is Larry Fitzgerald and he's #11 for the Arizona Cardinals, right?"  I didn't even think about that! Somehow we have to figure out how to make 11 part of this.  So I said, "What if we spell it "ELVN" and as we started to do our research, we found the URL and social handles were all available. There were no service marks or trademarks with anything similar so we were getting closer.  "How about ELVN Digital?" I said.  Joe and I both agreed we liked that. 

As we started to get comfortable with the idea of having a name we liked...  I kept thinking, "what's our elevator pitch on the meaning of the company name?"  (as most people probably won't care about my 11:11 thing or Larry's #11 jersey). I thought about this more and I said "Whenever someone asks you to grade your service experience or rate how much you like something, they always ask you on a scale of 1-10. I'd expect that people are thrilled with the service we provide and we should always be thriving for an 11. We go above and beyond. Not only that but the two ones represent Joe and I as the founders of this business. This isn't some sort of a fluffy company mission/vision... it's true to the core of who we are and our work ethic. 

So from here we needed to come up with a logo... I reached out to my buddy David and had spewed all sorts of stuff at him including my Pinterest board of inspiration for fonts, color, design, logos, etc. He came back with a sketch pad of ideas

Sketch ideas for ELVN Digital

Sketch ideas for ELVN Digital

One of the logos really stood out to me and I loved the use of negative space. So we started to refine one of the designs and trying various colors until we landed on something we loved. 

Official Logo 

Official Logo 

Once I saw the logo. I was like, "Wow. This is it. We're moving forward".

I set up time with my attorney to file the business license, service mark for the logo, etc. My attorney has his back towards me as he's entering all the information into his computer and says:

"What's the company name?"

 "ELVN Digital" I replied and gave him the quick story on 11:11. 

He turns around in his chair giving me this deer in headlights look and I just stop talking all together trying to figure out why he's giving me this crazy eye. He's got Google Maps pulled up on the screen and he points to the map and says: 

"This is my house in Iowa where I grew up. The house address is 1111". 

"SHUT UP!" I yelled. I couldn't believe he was telling me this. I mean, SERIOUSLY?! What are the chances of that??!!

We keep chugging along with the paperwork and I still can't wrap my head around his 1111 connection. I'm texting Joe about it in disbelief and also thinking to myself, this is meant to be. While the attorney is submitting all the documents online and forwarding documents to me, he says to me "it will take like 15-20 mins until we will get everything confirmed". So I just keep going through the emails he sent me and organizing all the stuff on my computer until he says everything is done.  A few minutes later I hear the "ding" notification on his computer that he has an email.  He turns to me and says "sweet. You're all set! Here's your business license, your service mark has been filed for your logo, that's it. You're all set." As he forwards me the final documentation and I open it on my laptop, I looked at the top right of my Macbook screen and the time was 11:11 a.m. 

I said to my attorney when he said everything was set, "Look at the time". 


It was 11:11am at the exact time I received this


I don't know what it all means but I feel like whatever it is, it's good and it's telling me I'm doing the right thing. To whoever it is, whatever it is, thank you for showing me in numbers, specifically 11:11 that you are there and encouragement that this is all going to be great. 

I came home and I was full of emotions. We got the business license filed, company bank account opened and I came home and just cried. It was happy tears and super emotional, overwhelming and one of the proudest moments of my life. 

I went into my closet and I dug up this letter my dad wrote me in 1997 when I attended the Flowing Wells High School Leadership Retreat... 

Letter from my dad from 1997

The last line of this page reads "Shanda I can see you as a CEO of a corporation"

Just shy of 20 years since he wrote me this letter.... I am that, of my own company. 

It's official

I'm excited to see some nearly 20 year old goals coming to life at the same time. Many of you remember my story about writing down my goals back in 1998 and saying "I wanted to be part of something big like the Super Bowl or a Budweiser campaign".  I'm happy to say that a few of the first couple of clients we get to work with are Budweiser Beer Park here in Las Vegas and Super Bowl Houston heading up the Social Concierge team.  I get to officially check TWO nearly 20 year old goals off my list that I said literally in the same sentence and I couldn't be more proud. 

We are looking forward to an amazing year ahead.

Happy Holidays. 


Wouldn't Change A Thing


Wouldn't Change A Thing

Many people that know me, know the part of my life that has had a successful career working for some pretty cool companies, doing pretty rad stuff. I don't really share much about what I went through to get here.... the hard work, survival skills, taking care of myself, being lost, alone, the "why me" moments, etc, but I figured this was probably a good place to tell the story. My parents were pregnant at 19 years old and had me at 20. I don't really know how long my parents dated before getting pregnant or how well they even knew each other... I never really asked that question nor did they share those stories. They didn't get married until I was seven or eight years old and divorced by the time I was 13. In the early 80's both of my parents had great jobs, bought a house, had brand new cars and bought everything and anything they wanted. I remember my mom would go buy new clothes for me instead of doing laundry. Somewhere in the late 80's to early 90's, things started to go down hill. My dad moved out. I was living with my mom and her drug addiction slowing started to take over. We went from having a brand new house and car, to living in a duplex in a shitty dangerous neighborhood, push starting a small single cab Toyota truck. I'd walk to the grocery store to buy food with food stamps, was on welfare, received food boxes from the Tucson Food Bank and tried like hell to like the taste of powdered milk in my generic brand corn flakes. We often had no electricity and would run an extension cord from our neighbors house to ours, plugging in one lamp in the middle of the living room so we had light at night. I remember heating up water in a kettle on a gas stove and slowly (and I mean slowly) trying to fill a bathtub... by the time I got the bathtub full, it was maybe lukewarm at best but it was better than an ice cold shower.  I remember picking mealworms out of the Quaker Oats oatmeal box, it was what we could afford (marked down to $.50 on clearance at the grocery store) and cooked it slowly over a candle.

In 4th grade, my friend Danielle had the best of the best. The popular clothes and shoes while I got hand me downs (from god knows who) and whatever we could afford from the thrift store. Occasionally we'd get a chance to pick out new clothes but could only afford it by putting it on layaway at K-Mart. As badly as I wanted to have whatever was trendy at the time, we just couldn't afford it. Keds were the "cool" shoes to have and I had the Payless version of them. When my friend would get new shoes she would give me her old dirty worn out pair and I would carefully peel off the blue Keds rubber logo from the back of hers and superglued them to the back of mine. I remember to this day how hard it was to get the superglue off my fingers and also how incredibly crooked I glued the Keds logo. I thought that was what I needed to do to be cool and for people to like me.

By time I got to high school the most important thing I had going on in my life was dance. That was all I cared about and all I wanted to do. I wasn't a bad student but I didn't apply myself as much as I could have.  I did the minimum needed for a passing grade that allowed me to perform. My sophomore and junior year, Ms. Torrez kept encouraging me to join the pom line and I had no interest whatsoever. I was in a different dance class, had my dance crew and thought the pom line was too damn cliquey for me. The end of my junior year I finally tried out for the team and made it. The summer going into my senior year I started practicing with the team and the rest of my senior year was one of the best times of my life.


It changed my perception about the people who were on the pom line and I quickly became friends with people I thought I had nothing in common with. Ms. Torrez nominated me for a leadership retreat that year and that experience really was an amazing eye opener. I learned that no matter what I'd been through, I could be a leader and make something of myself even though everything I had experienced in my life made it seem so impossible to do.

My parents didn't really talk to me about going to college and I had no idea what to do when it came to applying for scholarships or applying to even get in to college.  I. Was. Lost. I got the courage to finally ask the school counselor and he gave me a website to check out various scholarships I could apply for. I went to the school library, logged on to AOL dial-up internet and I applied for one scholarship. A few months later I got a letter in the mail that I was awarded the scholarship I applied for. It wasn't much but I was really really proud of myself. Around this time as I was creating opportunities for my future, my mother was on another level with her drug addiction. She spent all the money we had for the mortgage, utilities and groceries and blew it on meth. I couldn't even handle her when she was coming down from a major binge. On my 16th birthday, I had to be at school at 6am for dance practice and was getting ready around 5am. My mom was going on her 3rd or 4th day coming down from a meth binge, barges out of her room screaming at me from the top of her lungs right in my face. I left the house so angry and walked to school. It was super dark outside and I got to school almost 40 mins early and just sat outside and waited for the gym to open. I put everything I had into practice. My step sister reminded my mom that it was my 16th birthday and went off on her about how she should feel horrible for yelling at me for no reason at all. When I got home later that day, my mom threw a hostess cupcake at me with two candles poked through the top of the package and said "Happy Birthday" and locked herself back in her room. That kind of behavior from her became the norm for me. I knew not to expect anything on my birthday but I think every girl hopes for something special on her 16th birthday...... mine was the furthest from an ideal Sweet Sixteen.

The scholarship I received was for a class that started just a few weeks after I graduated high school. I enrolled at Pima Community College that summer and spent the next few years knocking out my general education courses while working full time, going to school full time and figuring out the process as I went.  (I'm the first and only person in my family to graduate with a bachelors degree and honestly cannot name anyone else going back several generations on both sides of my family who have completed as much as I have in their education).  

My first job was at a party supply store where I worked for one month as seasonal help. I had actually applied at Target several times and really really really wanted to work there but I never got a call back. My dad gave me some advice to write a cover letter and apply at Target again. I thought it was a stupid idea but I did it anyway. A week later, I got an interview and I landed the job. I was the happiest person ever wearing my red shirt and khaki pants, proudly displaying my Target name tag with my name engraved on it. (I still have that name tag!)  While I was working at Target, I was asked by a Team Leader to help out a group of customers with a really big shopping order. Turned out this group ended up being employees from Jones Intercable (Jones was later purchased by Comcast) and they had 6 carts full of toys and clothes for several families they had adopted for Christmas.  I kept them entertained and laughing while I rang up all the items from their shopping cart and one of the ladies says to me "You are amazing! Come apply for our call center position". As soon as I got off work, I drove straight over to their office, still in my khaki overalls, red shirt and Target name tag. A week later I interviewed and got the job.

That was the start of this incredible career journey where my work ethic, personality, and desire to deliver the best customer service began. Making memorable experiences with people I encountered on a daily basis had become the trend of being recruited to every job I've ever had since then.

Jones Intercable (Comcast) recruited me from Target. Arizona Lotus Radio recruited me from Comcast. Cox recruited me from Arizona Lotus. UFC recruited me from Cox.

Looking back, I wouldn't change any of it. It made me who I am; it made me the fighter that I am. It gave me the strength to get through tough days... and yes, I laugh when someone complains that they didn't get the extra pump of whatever in their Starbucks coffee or their burger had mayo on it when they asked for "no mayo". If that's the worst thing to fuck up your day... try putting yourself in my shoes not knowing if you'd have food to eat, a roof over your head and a warm bed to sleep in, then tell me how shitty your day was.

Next time someone says to me "you're so lucky" when referring to the jobs I've had or things I've been able to accomplish or experience throughout my career...keep in mind, I've worked really hard for it. There was nothing lucky about getting here.


Lessons I've learned in life


Lessons I've learned in life

  1. Chase what you love to do. Not what you think you're supposed to do. 
  2. Write down all the things  you've ever wanted to do/see/achieve in life. From the biggest dream you think is out of touch to the smallest thing you think isn't worth writing down. Write. It. Down. 
  3. When you have an open day, weekend, hour.... go to that list and do something. Cross it off. 
  4. The sense of achievement fills your soul and your train your mind to see the things you have done and focus less on the things you have not done. Celebrate success. Big and small. 
  5. Don't assume you are unable to help or make a difference, even when you feel like you have nothing to offer. Being present is often enough. 
  6. Respect people and build relationships. Every single person you meet has a connection to one of those goals you wrote down on your list of things you want to do/see/achieve. You just don't know it yet. 
  7. Understand what makes you happy. Remove material things, money, big house, fancy cars. You have to learn how to be happy with and without them. 
  8. Surround yourself with likeminded people who are willing to work as hard as you and have your back to push and challenge you. 
  9. Find a mentor. Ask for help when you don't know the answer. If you feel like you have stopped learning something new, find something else to do. Challenge yourself daily. 
  10. Breathe. Not just breathe like you do to stay alive. Clear your mind.... not a single thought (trust me this is MUCH harder than it sounds) and breathe. 
  11. Be. Happy. 






A lot has happened in the last 24-48 hours and it's been quite the whirlwind. I was laid off from my job at UFC on Tuesday. Before you say "I'm so sorry to hear that", it's ok. Be happy for me. I had the opportunity to be a part of something amazing for six and a half years. I got to be a part of MMA being legalized in New York, the first ever women's fight in the UFC, the introduction of flyweights and bantamweight division, the last WEC event, the purchase of Strikeforce, the first UFC event in my home state of Arizona, crossing milestones like 10 million and 20 million on Facebook, 1,2,3,4 million on Twitter, 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 million followers on Instagram, launching Snapchat... I mean I could literally go on and on. It's been amazing. I'll always be grateful for the time I had with the people behind the scenes, the athletes, cornermen and teammates, the partners at various arenas, sports leagues and teams, the celebrities, fans and media and literally everyone I came in contact with. You all have played such an incredible role in my life and have been a part of the successes we have had.

I don't know what is next and I have no doubt it will be on to do something amazing once again and I look forward to keeping in contact with you all. On to the next one.

Much love,



Be you.  


Be you.  

I am on a three hour delayed flight leaving Seattle heading home to Las Vegas after an AMAZING three days with Simply Measured at their 2nd annual LIFT Social conference.  There are few times in life when you come across some of the nicest, genuine, humble, kind and caring people all under one roof.... And I got to spend three days in this bubble of amazing bliss.  

I'm honored to have been asked to speak at LIFT Social for the second year in a row.  I psych myself out going into it because I worry, "maybe I'm not good enough", "maybe I'm not smart enough", "maybe I'll forget everything I wanted to say in my presentation", "what if I don't memorize my slides and I suck on stage"..... It all goes through my head. We're human, right?

Fuck it.  I'm not going to memorize my slides.  I'm not going to tell you ONLY the amazing successes I've had.  I'm going to tell you about the things I failed at and plans that didn't go so well.  I'm going to tell you how I approached a situation and figured out what I was trying to solve for versus expecting to cast a wide net and make something make sense or start vomiting numbers and stats.  I'm going to tell you how I started at square one and experimented along the way and turned every stone to find an opportunity.  I'm going to tell you things that you can understand and apply to your real world life, work, school.... whatever.  THAT is what I decided to do. 

So I did. 

I took the stage for my one hour session to a packed grand ball room.  I couldn't see too many people because the lights were bright and but I could spot two familiar faces in the crowd. So... here we go.... It's show time. 

My 60 minute session and Q&A comes to an end and I leave the stage thinking "I hope I didn't make a jackass of myself" as I make my way down from the stage and the long walk to the production guys to drop off my mic, I have attendees sticking their hands out to high five me from both sides of the isle.  

How. Freaking. Surreal. Is. This. 

So many people approached me afterward to thank me or tell me they were inspired and I literally want to cry.  I want to burst into tears with every single "thank you" that was said to me because I'm so humbled and so grateful for the opportunity to share what I love, who I am, I can inspire people to chase their dreams and believe in themselves .....  these people get it.  They can take something from what I said.  That's what success is.  It's not money. It's not fame. It's not being the most popular person in the room.  It's being real.  

LIFT Social is hands down my favorite social media conference and it's crazy to think this is only their second one. The product is phenomenal.  The people are even more phenomenal.  I have to admit when I took over the role as Social Media Manager for UFC 3 1/2 years ago, the product was something I inherited.  I didn't know what to do with it or how to read the reports.  I remember we came up to a renewal and I was like "no one is using this, I don't know what it is or what to do with it.  I don't think I'm going to renew it".  My rep, Lauren Berry asked if we could set up a couple of tutorials, once a week for a couple of weeks and she would break it down to me.  So I obliged.  Each week I felt like all of this was a foreign language and I didn't know what I was looking at or what I was supposed to do with it.... But each meeting more and more made sense.  I had a work trip coming up in Seattle because we had a fight scheduled at the Key Arena and Lauren said "why don't you come spend the day at our office".  So I did.  I met with product people, engineers, account managers, the guys who built the platform.... and everyone was incredible helping me understand what the tool could do.  That meeting was a game changer. I figured out that I didn't understand what I was looking at and what to do with the information because I hadn't figured out what I was trying to solve for.  The problem was I hadn't defined what I was trying to get out.  I then started to understand more of what the data was saying and it helped guide me to make business decisions to change things or add things to my social strategy.  It helped guide me if things were going well or if I should stop doing something immediately. From there, I learned how to put the data into context to tell a holistic story and understand the 360 degree effect. These little successes over a year wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the team who believed in their product and hadn't genuinely cared about what I did or didn't understand and help me make sense of it all.  There came a point in time when I started asking questions that they yet hadn't developed for the product or I had use cases where specific data could help me solve for some other business objective and I was then helping them to think about ways the businesses use their product to make their platform best in class.

So this is what a win-win relationship is like.  

Over the next 3 1/2 years the business relationship has grown as did the personal relationships.  I made my second appearance speaking at the summit and it's a feeling I can't even put into words about how I feel coming out of it. Grateful. Blessed.  Smarter today than I was yesterday. Humbled. Honored.  So many feels.

The attendees I met over the last few days were incredible. I handed out my business card like I was passing out candy on Halloween.  "Take my card. If you have any questions or want to chat about whatever, give me a call".  I meant it.  

I learned not just things to help me in my line of work in social media but I learned a lot about people.  We want to be inspired and have someone motivate us in a way that gets us excited to get up the next day and say "Fuck yeah! Let's do this!"

Yes, I cried. I felt overwhelmed, excited,  happy and the part that matters most....  I had the opportunity to inspire people and these people inspired me.