4 Master Tips for Your Social Media Marketing

Social media is a constantly evolving medium. From sites trending in your industry to the latest Facebook features and Instagram influencers, not to mention the development of completely new social media platforms every time you turn on your laptop.

How can modern marketers expect to keep up?


The secret is to embrace the change. If you want to make an impact with your social media efforts, it’s time to refresh your strategy. Here's what you need to know to master your social media marketing and to stay ahead of the ever-changing trends.

1. Customize your use of major and niche social media platforms.

Facebook is still number one and experts say this won’t change in 2018. In fact, Facebook is predicting that Facebook Live will be monetized and that the call-to-action buttons for local business pages will be updated.


Currently the top five social media sites in terms of reach and impact are:

1.     Facebook 
2.     Youtube
3.     Instagram
4.     Twitter
5.     Reddit


These networks are important, but there is also value in niche networks for many businesses. For example, DeviantArt is geared towards illustrators, designers, artists, and art enthusiasts with a network of 26,000,000. Yes, this site would be useless for an insurance brokerage, but incredibly powerful for a photography school.

Instead of spreading your resources too thin by trying to have your brand on every major site, create a strategy that makes sense for your industry and business.

Start with the biggest. Facebook is always a wise choice with 1.79 billion monthly active users. Choose one or two other major networks after you start big. Visual industries are well-suited for platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, while service-oriented industries may gain more leads from LinkedIn and Twitter.

After choosing your major networks, consider a niche social media network. Many have several million active users and offer unique ways to reach out to leads and build brand awareness.


2. Make Your Videos Sophisticated


A recent survey by Wyzowl found 84% of consumers said they have been convinced to make a purchase choice after viewing a brand’s video, and 91% watched a video to learn about a product or service they were interested in. Yet only 63% of businesses take advantage of video right now.


Videos that engage with viewers tend to be very effective. Customer testimonials and demonstration videos will always be valuable, but try adding challenges, games, and surveys to your video content along with informational videos to keep people interested and talking on social media. Buzzfeed’s Tasty does an excellent job of this.

For some businesses, live streaming can make a strong impact. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all being used by savvy brands to engage with consumers in real-time with interviews, Q&A sessions, and brand events.


If you haven’t started using video, 2018 is the year. If you have been using promotional videos on your social media channels, it's time to make them better. The use of video for social media marketing is no longer ‘new.’ It’s about coming up with creative, fresh ideas that will capture your audience and turn them into leads.


3. Focus on Influencers


A business could run eleven different social media accounts, with Twitter updates every two hours, Facebook postings twice a day, Pinterest boards, and an active presence on LinkedIn. But they still would not make the same impact that a couple of mentions by one major social media influencer would create. The big influencers have an enormous following of people who often look to them as an industry guiding force.


While in the past, consistent, regular posting was the way to go, make sure you aren’t overextending your marketing efforts with too many platforms – and too many posts. You may not just be draining your resources, but these resources may be better spent with a more concentrated focal point, like an industry influencer.

A social media mention from an influencer, or a video post that mentions your product or service, is going to reach a broad and engaged audience. Many major companies are now partnering – and paying – the big influencers to promote their products. If you want to master social media, pay attention to who the influencers are in your market based on the social media outlets that best suite you.

They don’t have to be the biggest names around, but with a few hundred thousand followers, you can make an impact if those people share, like, tweet, or feature your content in some way.


4. Examine Your Social Media Ads


Ads continue to be a popular social media marketing tool as they offer marketers a cost-effective way not just to build brand awareness, but also to test products and messaging and collect important feedback for building future campaigns.

Facebook ads still offer the best ROI of 95.8% compared to 63.5% on Twitter, and 2.1% on Snapchat. However, these numbers can shift quickly, especially as the newer networks like Snapchat and Instagram evolve in 2018.


Take a fresh approach to your social media marketing efforts to take advantage of the opportunities available. It doesn’t make sense to just pound away at your existing accounts and follow general trends. Your marketing efforts should be both sophisticated and much more creative. The brands that master these qualities will surpass their competitors in 2018.

The secret is to embrace the change. Advancements and the constant stream of innovations have provided marketers with so much to work with. Just remember, your social media marketing campaigns this year are not going to look the same as what you used last year, at least not if you want to generate more leads and stand a chance against your competitors.

When Did Small Become HugeJan

The big, multibillion dollar companies have all of the advantages in business, right? Think about it. They have a lot of the top talent, can afford any piece of equipment or software, and some even offer unique perks like daycare and dry cleaning services.

But let’s think about this a bit more. Do huge businesses really have all of the advantages?

In his book Small is the New Big, Seth Godin discusses how being small can actually be a significant advantage in the marketplace.

book image.jpg

Let’s look at 15 the most important insights we can learn about the power of being small in a big world.

1.  Respect is the secret to success in dealing with people.

2.  Do something that matters.

3.  Don’t stall. Start now. Expose your ideas. Interact.

4.  If your target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault, it’s yours. If one story isn’t working, change what you do, not how loudly you yell (or whine).

5.  Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Hard work is about overcoming obstacles.

6.  Big opportunities bring change, and change is painful.

7.   Marketing is about wants, not needs. Give me what I want or I’m out of here.

8.     People who make up new rules continue to be in short supply.

9.     Competent people resist changes. In fact, competence is the enemy of change. In the face of change, competent people are helpless.

10.  Make stuff worth talking about first. Then talk about it.

11.  Figure out what the always is. Then do something else.

12.  There is no correlation at all between success and hours worked.

13.  People judge you by the way you make them feel. So how do you make people feel?

14.  Quit making stuff and start making a difference.

15.  Start building something that people will remember.


Wow. Powerful insights, right?

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I’ll leave you with one simple question that now demands an answer.

Why not choose to be great?


How to Network Your Way to the Top

I’m often asked to speak to college students about career development and success. One of the main topics of discussion is networking. I tell the students networking is the number one factor that will determine their career success. Because it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you, right?


In Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, Little Black Book of Connections, he provides incredible insights into the art and skill of making connections. Connecting is all about your friendliness, your ability to engage, and your willingness to give value first. The secret, Gitomer says, is to allow the other person to benefit first.



So without further delay, here are the
17 strategies, guidelines, and rules of connecting.

1. Be friendly first, and everything else falls into place.

2. Protect your self-image in a way that breeds confidence in others.

3. Your ability to look someone in the eye as you speak to them is a tell-tale sign of your own self-respect.

4. Your consistent positive attitude will breed positive responses and positive results.

5. No connection is made without some form of risk.

6. 90% of success is showing up prepared.

7. The less you focus on your motive to meet, the more likely it is that your connection will be successful.

8. Take a genuine interest in other people before you them to take a genuine interest in you. Ask good questions!

9. The sooner you can find something in common with the other person, the sooner all the barriers will disappear.

10. The higher up the ladder you go, the more cautious people will be of your advances.

11. Your projected image will often determine your ability to make a real connection.

12. People judge you by every action you take.

13. Provide value.

14. Transfer your message with excellent communication skills.

15. Staying in touch is more important and more valuable than making an initial connection.

16. Since you don’t know what day a powerful connection will be made, you must be ready every day.

17. Your present reputation determines your future fate.


All of these networking practices are really simple,
but they aren’t easy. So here is some closing advice.

Talk real. Act real. Be real.

Being you is more than enough. And when you’re comfortable being you, you’ll find others will do the same in return.




Meerkats in the Spotlight


Meet Corey! 

He is our assistant vice president and general sales manager. He's a fearless leader and is guaranteed to make your day better when you see him. 

Corey's role is essential for supporting our clients and other sales representatives at Huddle, and he has a passion for leading others and cultivating relationships. Throughout my interview with him you'll see how apparent his love for Huddle is. 


How does my work directly impact brands?

I help guide brands through the high school and local marketing world. I position them in the space where they can directly reach their core customer and the communities that impact their business. The marketplace we are in can be challenging to successfully navigate, but as the experts, we're able to find what is right for the customer. Outside our core product offerings, we often custom-build powerful, grassroots opportunities for brands that engage the audience.

Sometimes it can be hard to stand out in such a saturated market, but we move our clients into a position that benefits them. We always do business in a way that is organic and different to build relationships so our clients trust us and are confident in our ability to serve them.


How do I directly impact high schools?


Every program we sell provides value to a school. Whether it’s Huddle Tickets providing free admission tickets which saves schools’ money or a competitive pledging program that promotes graduation, every program engages a school while benefiting the brand and fans too.  


What is my favorite part of what I do?

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Problem-solving. Sometimes it feels like we are climbing Mt. Everest during our sales journey, but the end result is powerful and rewarding. Experiencing the journey with people you work with, who are more like family, is so much fun.


Fun Fact

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Corey has perfected the art of cloning. His daughter, Margot, is a spitting image of him.

Meerkats in the Spotlight


Meet Heather.



She is our AVP of Customer Experience, and she couldn’t be more perfect for the pivotal role. She is the heartbeat for our customers and strives to ensure every client has the same positive experience with Huddle. Heather and I sat down and reflected on how her role impacts both our brands and our schools, and it is clear she is passionate about the work she does at Huddle.


How does your work directly impact brands?

It is our job to make it easy for the brand to position themselves within the high school marketplace and the community surrounding it. We make this easy for our clients, saving them bandwidth while helping them achieve community partnerships. We want always want our clients to look good and feel good!

Our goal is to ensure our clients have a great experience so they continue to work with us and continue to serve more schools.

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How does your work directly impact high schools?

If we continue to provide our clients with a wonderful experience, they will choose to not just pay a fee for our services but will see it as a partnership with us over multiple years. A returning community partner is in the best interest of the school. 

If I provide the right clients with the right experiences, then the schools and fans get the brands they want, including the ones that make the most sense for them. Another way my work directly impacts high schools is by serving the school first no matter what, and then finding the best suitable brands to partner with those communities.


 What are the key moments of interaction with clients?

We want to make the biggest impact on a client while asking them to do very little.  It is our priority to make sure a brand has a smooth on-boarding process and to have proactive communication. This helps us provide answers to potential questions up front so our clients spend less time asking.

Client gifting is also one a key moment with some of our clients. We want them to know we consider our relationship with them as a meaningful partnership and not just a transaction that happens once a year.



What is your favorite part of what you do?

It’s hearing the emotional response clients give us when asking for feedback. If our clients’ program success makes someone look good in front of their boss, it is the best feeling ever! We know Huddle Tickets works, but sometimes it’s hard to measure those feelings of success from the client. When we do customer experience interviews and sense the excitement in their voices or receive tangible feedback like thank you notes, it’s priceless.


What Our Clients Are Saying:


"We earned almost 5 times more than what we put into the test."

— Kelly Sulkosky, rue21


"Effective. Targeted. Unequalled. Huddle Tickets delivers what it promises."

— Kendall Poole, Tennessee DOT


"Huddle gives CITGO a local voice, making a significant impact for us."


— Joesph Minotti, CITGO Petroleum

Procrastinate on Purpose

Book Review: Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden


Have you ever wished you could multiply your time? I know I have.

From working crazy hours to fitting in everything else important to me, there have been many scenarios where I just wanted more time. But what if I told you it was possible to multiply time? Would you believe me?

Well I have good news. It is possible… sort of.


Procrastinate on Purpose is a terrific book written by Rory Vaden. The book shows us all how to multiply time.

Are you ready? Alright.

Here are the top seven insights from the book.


1.  Priority dilution occurs when we delay the day’s most important activities by allowing our attention to shift to less important tasks.

2.  Multipliers think differently. They are not victims. They are capable. They are powerful enough to decide what they will and won’t do with their time. But one thing they are not is too busy.

3.  To a multiplier, it is ultimately only about producing their desired results.

4.  Multipliers don’t just make decisions based on the here and now; they make decisions based on a perspective of how it will affect the future. This is about significance.

5.  Ultra-performers multiply their time. How? You multiply your time by spending time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow.

6.  You should be doing anything that is going to make tomorrow easier.

7.  Multipliers have given themselves five permissions the rest of us have not. These include:


a.  Eliminate – The Permission to Ignore. Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

b.  Automate – The Permission to Invest. Always calculate the opportunity cost. By simply        realizing one purchase will simultaneously cancel out an opportunity to invest somewhere else, you will find the emotional temptation of the decision at hand almost instantly reduced.

c.  Delegate – The Permission of Imperfect. Ask this question, “Does what I’m doing right now require my unique skill set, or is it possible there are other people capable of doing this?”

d.  Procrastinate – The Permission of Incomplete. Ask, “Can this wait until later?” And if the answer is yes, don’t do it right now! Why? If you act too soon, you make yourself vulnerable to change cost. If you’re not at least 75% sure of what the right decision is – don’t make one.

e.  Concentrate – The Permission to Protect. Until you accomplish your next most significant priority, everything else is a distraction.

Focus Funnel.png

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book to encourage you to make the most of every day.


“Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.” – Rory Vaden


Meerkats in the Spotlight


Meet Preea. She’s a seasoned Meerkat as she quickly approaches her fourth year of blessing us every day at Huddle! Preea is a graphic designer and the artistic genius behind all things creative. She maintains our brand standards, creates our marketing collateral with visual storytelling, supports account management, conceptualizes innovative designs, and manages the Huddle Tickets and GoFan design process.

Preea is strong willed, honest, extremely talented and painfully hilarious. She supports every department within Huddle and she always exceeds expectations. 

Here is a recap of my spotlight interview.


How does your work directly impact brands?

With every creative project, I keep our mantra of making our clients look good and feel good.

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I do this because we never want to put something into the marketplace for our clients that does not reflect our own high standards.

My work directly impacts brands because I am responsible for executing the vision of the client and helping their ideas come to life. With every creative project, I position the client’s brand as the hero.


How does your work directly impact high schools?

The design process for Huddle Tickets is one way I help impact our partnering schools. By implementing our process, we ensure quality printing of the schools’ tickets that is visually pleasing and consistent with our brand standards.

I also impact high schools by designing the schools’ Huddle Tickets in a way that helps the individual high school feel like they have some ownership of the ticket without it just looking like an advertisement.

The designs of marketing collateral needed for a brand-sponsored program also impacts schools. Schools are more receptive to items associated with a program that are easy to display, visually interesting, and useful to them. We always make sure the programs our clients have sponsored are valuable for the school and the community.

PP Blog tickets.jpg

How does your role play a part in providing proof of performance?

When a program is approaching the end of a school year, it is my responsibility to sit down with our account managers to go over photos, thank you notes and other appreciation items from our clients to create something that visually displays the impact that brand had on their partnering school.

Proof of performance is so important for us to send to a client. It is our way to tangibly show their program is working in the community and that they are meeting a need of the school.

proof of performance designed by Preea

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Best Night Ever Campaign, Lord & Taylor

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Huddle Folders, Tallahassee Memorial Health


What is your favorite part of what you do?

For me, designing never feels like work and I will never get tired of doing what I love.  Since you are making me pick a favorite, I would say what I love doing the most is designing and branding our internal Huddle experience. I have worked on many projects for clients and schools, but the various projects I have done for our own team is by far the most rewarding. Most of the time, I am unable to see the reactions of my designs from our clients, but when I see how people I work alongside every day react it makes my job that much more rewarding.  

As far as the internal experience, some of the projects I have worked on are signage and invitations for internal events, birthday cards for Huddle spouses, design creative for our various departments, new hire welcome banners and cards, Huddle Farm creative and internal website design.


Other designs by Preea


GoFan School Signage


Website Design, Impact

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Viewfinder Image, Moneygram


Huddle Employee Planner Design


Fun Fact

Preea has the cutest snaggle-toothed pup named Jax, and the meanest hissing cat named Vera.

An acurate depiction of ho

An accurate depiction of how much Vera loves Jax...

Meerkats in the Spotlight


Meet Derek. We call him Pags, D-brickashaw, Papa Pags, Drrrk, and Sid. 

Derek is our Director of Inside Sales, and he is an incredible leader. His team directly impacts brands and fans every day here at Huddle as we live out being the leader in high school event tickets and marketing. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, I thought we would highlight how some of our Huddle team members serve our corporate clients and foster and maintain relationships with participating schools. 

I sat down with Derek (which was nothing short of entertaining to say the least) and asked him questions about his role at Huddle, how he impacts our clients and schools and what aspect of his role is most meaningful to him. Here is a recap of our interview!

How does your work directly impact brands?

My team’s job is to make our clients look good and feel good.


We remove ourselves from the equation to ensure we position the client as the hero within the school. Essentially, we champion the brand by helping them meet a need while directly connecting with the school.

The goal of our every day is to position the brand’s biggest area of strength in front of the school and leverage their reputation as the reason schools will want to partner with them.

Whether our clients’ main objective is return on investment or to be an exclusive community partner, we make it easy for them to be successful. We execute every detail after a brand has committed to a program with Huddle. The brand is the star of the show.


How does your work directly impact high schools? 

By simply meeting a need that otherwise would not happen without our brands’ willingness to do so.

It is our job to translate the importance of event tickets and marketing within high schools to our clients. High schools love the funding created by event tickets provided to them for free on behalf of our clients. The schools also benefit from brand-sponsored incentive programs and sweepstakes. Huddle executes efficiently for both the high school and the brand.

What my team does best is helping brands make an explosive impact in communities across the nation while helping the brand get new customers, drive sales, and meet the needs of high schools.  


What is proof of performance and why is it important?

We provide all of our clients proof their programs are impacting schools by giving them something tangible to measure success. This can be anything from pictures of school staff, students, or fans using the products, to handwritten thank you notes and testimonials from those that are directly impacted by the sponsored program. The proof of performance helps the brand look good and feel good.

The return on investment speaks for itself for the client, but to have something tangible from those who are impacted by corporate dollars speaks volumes and encourages the brand to continue to make a difference.  

Proof of performance also acts as the voice of the customer. This could be the parents of a student, the athletic director, a guidance counselor or simply a fan of the football team who attended a Friday night game at the high school.



What do you feel is the most important part of your role?

Listening. Our line of work is very niche in an industry that requires a lot of listening. We constantly want to hear feedback from schools and brands that enable us to make our programs better. This also helps us have the most accurate information as to why the programs works.


What is the most meaningful aspect of your job?

The most meaningful part of my job is watching each member of the Huddle Farm grow. The Huddle Farm is our internship program. I hear them day after day get better with each conversation they have with schools. I love seeing my team go from point A, as new members the Huddle family, to point B, where they handle conversations with schools and cultivate strong relationships. Be Growing is important for all of us at Huddle, and I feel my team is a great example of this core value.    

It is also rewarding for me to see our Huddle Farm members move on to bigger and better things after our internship program whether that be within Huddle or outside of our organization.

We believe we serve our clients by serving schools by first.

School Relationship Team's
Code of Conduct

Put affiliates first
Exceed expectations
Be positive
Work hard, play hard 


Did You Use These Local Marketing Tricks for Halloween?

Halloween is upon us!

Did you know it is the 8th-highest spending holiday in the US? Last year Americans spent 8 billion dollars on candy, costumes, and decorations. A record high!


Think about it – what other holiday do people open their doors and share freely with strangers? Your brand can target consumers at the exact time and places they will be making plans and purchases for Halloween.

Here are three local marketing tricks and treats for your brand.


1. Know Your Halloween Shoppers

Spooky Stats:
47% of people plan to dress in costumes this year. 
73% of households will buy at least one costume.
47% of consumers will buy their costumes in stores. 
43% will buy costumes online.

Wherever they’re purchased, online is an important channel for both inspiration and sales. Costumes aren’t just for kids – plenty of adults will dress up at work, at home and for parties.

2017 Huddle Halloween Party

2017 Huddle Halloween Party


Adults will spend an average of $31.03 on their costumes and millennials will spend an average of $42.39 for theirs, thanks to the keen attention Halloween gets on social media. 28% of millennials say Pinterest is their main source for inspiration, while 23% look to YouTube. Research shows millennials spend their free time socializing in locations from trendy bars to art galleries.

Create a targeting segment, based on demographic and location data, to reach them as they socialize. Your ads can serve as conversation starters, and get them excited about dressing up for Halloween. Follow up with mobile and social media retargeting during the hours they’re most likely to shop.


2. Make Your Halloween Marketing Smarter


Consumers who’ve visited your store are excellent Halloween prospects. You can use location data to find, segment and target them in real time with Halloween offers. Location data is a targeting asset for marketers to help drive creative messaging and offers.

For instance, if location data shows a consumer visits a day care center twice a day, five days a week, we can assume that consumer is a parent who will be receptive to ads for children’s costumes. Other data, such as purchase history, can be used in messaging across various locations, which can lead a consumer to purchase.

You can also retarget them at home via any device connected to their WiFi, including their connected TVs!


3. Timing is Everything

October is a key time for purchasing all Halloween items, which means your campaigns should be planned, and your shelves stocked, at least six weeks prior.

Parents are the ones shopping early, which means your initial target audience will be audiences likely to visit kindergartens or schools. These shoppers will be interested in costumes, candy, and decorations for Halloween-themed parties.

Lots of people, college students for example, put off Halloween preparation to the last minute. Campaigns for this audience can wait until the week before. Most sales associated with parties will occur the weekend before.

You can also consider real-world events in your targeting. Provide useful tips and “tricks” for keeping trick-or-treaters warm, feature recipes for festive cocktails, or provide safety tips for the night of Halloween.



If you were late to the game with theses tricks and treats for your local marketing strategy, no worries!! Now is the time to start your holiday marketing for the rest of the year. Regardless of the holiday, these tricks can be used for every holiday season!

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So, what are you waiting for?

What is Outperforming Digital?

Print isn’t dead.

There, I said it. In fact, print is actually thriving and outperforming its much younger and sexier counterpart in many key areas.

And you know what? It’s not even close.


According to research released by Vistaprint Corporate, and as shared here by the good people at MarketingProfs, print’s role in today’s digitally-focused environment is still incredibly important.

Don’t believe me?

Check out these 9 ways print still outperforms digital.


1.     A whopping 92% of 18-23-year-olds find it easier to read printed content than digital.
2.     The response rate to direct-mail marketing was 37% higher than for email, a recent report found.
3.     Consumers trust print ads 34% more than search engine ads for making purchasing decisions.
4.     Print outperforms digital in review time.
5.     Print outperforms digital in emotional reaction.
6.     Print outperforms digital in memory retention.
7.     Print outperforms digital in perceived value.
8.     Physical print ads are easier for our brains to process than digital.
9.     Effective print ads are more persuasive than digital, and they have a higher response rate too.

Now don’t get me wrong. Digital still has an important place in today’s marketing mix. And at Huddle, we are leveraging both print and digital to grow our business.

Our signature print product, Huddle Tickets, continues to generate significant return on investment for our valued corporate partners. These partners place a logo on the front of the high school event tickets and a traffic-driving coupon or community message on the back of the tickets.

And it’s hard to argue with these impressive results clients are generating through Huddle Tickets:




·  A sports retailer drove $3mm in sales.

·  A QSR earned a 10.6% redemption rate.

·  A casual dining partner drove $5mm in sales.


But we aren’t ignoring digital. Just the opposite.

We’ve developed a digital extension to
complement Huddle Tickets.

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The digital ticketing product is called GoFan. It allows high schools to sell event tickets digitally. So now, Huddle provides its valued high school partners with a paper (Huddle Tickets) and digital (GoFan) ticketing solution.


If you’re at a high school and you want to learn more about the complete ticketing solution Huddle has available for you, learn more here.

And if you’re a brand and you want to increase your customer count and sales by reaching local communities throughout your geographic footprint, be sure to check us out here.



As the leader in high school
event tickets and marketing
Huddle is ready to help you! 

Another To-Do List Template...but This One Actually Works!

I want to give you a gift.

It's something that could change how you operate every hour of every day.

If you don't like it and want to toss it in the pile of other things you've been given that just aren't "you” (yay… yet another turtleneck) then that's okay, too - but at least try it on first to see if it fits. Deal? 


This gift is something that could help you defeat those seemingly insurmountable, Goliath-like "things" that stand in the way of your success. Something that will ultimately give you freedom to function and empower you to accomplish more than you ever thought was possible. And like all truly great gifts, it’s free…and there are no strings attached.

If you’re like me, you find yourself staring at your to-do list like it’s Granny’s latest batch of Everything but The Kitchen Sink Soup.


Just like the ingredients in your Granny’s soup, there is no criteria for what makes it on your list and what you’re left with is a jumbled, disaster of a recipe. A hodge-podge of things “to-do” that each require vastly different amounts of energy, effort, and attention is all quite the same as Granny’s soup with confusing textures, tastes and smells.

I was tired of the soup.

I knew I needed to change my approach with “to-doing”, but where to start?


Yeah. I Googled it (I’m a bleeding-heart millennial). And a basic search for "to-do list" yields thousands of results, hundreds of strategies, dozens of productivity templates and even a list of the "40 best to-do list apps". Who knew there were so many ways to organize a list that keeps track of the actual things you're trying to accomplish?

As someone who finds himself being tasked with more and more things to do, someone who has probably tried 39 of the 40 previously mentioned productivity apps and someone who has failed miserably at finding the perfect "to-do" list system, my Google search results were more overwhelming than productive. 

But that’s when I stumbled across the idea of dissecting my singular “to-do list” into two lists; one classic, task-driven "to-do" list and another "to-decide" list for things that needed decisions.

For those of you keeping score at home, a basic Google search for a "to-decide list" yields zero results. At first, turning one list into two didn’t sit right with me from a productivity standpoint. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” So how could doubling my number of lists propel me forward? Is this just another recipe for disaster?

The good news? At the time, nothing I was doing was working, so I decided to give it a try.


The concept is quite simple:

1. Take a sheet of paper
2. Draw a line down the middle
3. One side says "to-do"
4. The other says "to-decide"
5. As items come your way, file them under the appropriate heading

Instantly I was thinking about my work differently. I had created a filter that empowered me to attack my daily responsibilities in a dramatic new way. If I needed to simply do something, it made the “to-do” list (e.g., edit blog post, cold call new accounts, close out a program), and I found myself able to tackle these items in clusters and move rapidly down the list.

Where I found a refreshed sense of freedom was by putting the items that weren’t as simple – the items that needed more critical thinking, processing, digesting, discussion and usually other folks in the organization – under the “to-decide” list. These are not necessarily harder tasks, they’re just a different kind of work. Ones that require contemplation, strategizing and usually a good night’s sleep. Ones that you can't accomplish in a single sitting. And by giving myself permission to compartmentalize items, I set myself free from the shackles that had held me back for so long. 

Here’s the catch.


You can’t let the “to-decide” list become the procrastination list. Since these are usually more intensive duties, the natural tendency will be for you to let these pile up and work on the to-do list much more often.

But you have to decide when you’re going to decide. So jot a date next to each item on the “to-decide” list (this part is critical).

What I found is that crossing items off the “to-decide” list were much more satisfying and energizing. Like I had truly accomplished something meaningful and important.

Remember earlier when you said you were going to at least try it out to see if it fit?

Here are three easy steps on how you can get started. 

1. On your current "to-do" list system, add the following item:

Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and write “to-do” at the top on the left side and “to-decide” at the top on the right side.

Then do just that. And mark the item off your to-do list. Revel in the fact that you accomplished something. Congrats! But there’s still work to be done.

2. Commit to a fair period of time to pilot this new system (for some it could be a day, others a week, or others a few hours).

Once you identify the pilot window, commit to the system and as things come your way place each item under the appropriate heading. My gut tells me you'll experience momentum like never before on the to-do list side, while the “to-decide” list grows a bit. Don’t forget to include a due date next to items on the “to-decide” list.

3. Write down "Does this new system work for me?" on the “to-decide” list with a date next to it for when you'll decide. 

And that's it. Maybe you'll discover this is practical, fits well with who you are, and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And maybe you'll find that even though it's not the sexiest thing in the world, it still has a place in your wardrobe during certain seasons of your life and you want to extend this trial a bit longer.

Or maybe you'll realize that turtlenecks just aren't for you – and what you found was that absence truly did make your heart grow fonder of the way you are doing things. You'll run back to your former to-do list, reinvigorated with a new passion for the perfect fit that the two of you are together.

And that's okay, too - because at least you tried it on to see if it was a good fit.


P.S. - Don't lose sight of the heart of a to-do/to-decide list in the first place. These are the tools to help you get things accomplished and ultimately the foundation for your plan of action. Take pride in the fact that you've got a plan, but don't stop there! These lists are simply the means to a much more fulfilling and satisfying end.

Client Interviews...Worth Your Time?

In marriage counseling we learn about “active listening.” One partner says, “What I hear you saying is that when I do X, you feel X.” The partner responds either with affirmation or “That’s not why I feel that way at all,” and the couple can get to work. We learn what’s important to each other and how certain actions make the other feel. Ideally, my husband and I can use this to be better partners and communicators.

Client relationships are just that. Relationships. So why do we treat them any differently?


The clearest way to decipher what your clients think and need is to go directly to the source. Nothing gives you a truer picture of your client’s heart. It may sound a little sensitive, but trust me, it needs to be your company’s top priority.

Here are 3 reasons why you should leverage client interviews in your business strategy:

1.    People want to be heard.


If you’re a fan of the show Parenthood, you’ll recognize the phrase, “I see you. I hear you.” Nothing is more validating for a client than knowing the company they’re entrusting their budgets (and careers) to is making a proactive, concerted effort to hear their thoughts and vowing to make any possible improvements based on this feedback. All you have to do is ask. It’s win-win for you and your client.

2.    Clients open up to experience managers.


Companies typically rely on their sales force to regurgitate client feedback to marketing and product development. All the love to these weekday warriors, but there’s just something about a “sales manager” title that makes clients/prospects shrink back from full transparency. Having a dedicated customer experience representative to reach out to your clients will be a game-changer in how your company interacts with the people you aim to serve.

3.     People buy based on emotion. End of story.


You buy from Amazon because it’s easy and you have Prime shipping, sure, but that’s just scraping the surface. The root of why you buy is likely that you feel efficient, empowered, and in good hands. Your clients buy on the way they feel, too. Does your product work? Of course. It better. But do people trust you? Do you make their lives easier? Do you make them feel wise in front of their boss? These feelings will ultimately determine whether they partner with you.

Take the time to invest in hearing straight from the heart of your client. Ask them why they buy, what expectations they have, how they feel you can improve, and what matters most to them. Then react!

Leave their brand better than you found it and yours will be transformed, too.

Do You Feel Empowered?

It’s been two weeks since I started at Huddle, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this family. There should have been some anxiety and uncertainty as I began my first few days, right? Wrong.

The people, the job, the environment; I am blown away by the positivity at Huddle.

The workplace is where we spend more than one-third of our lives, and the environment in which we work impacts we how think, act, and reflect. So, what does the environment at Huddle look like? I have always believed a work environment should be a place of positivity where you feel empowered and fulfilled.

Empowerment: the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation and holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.

Fulfillment: a feeling of happiness and satisfaction.


I feel empowerment and fulfillment go hand-in-hand in the workplace. After two weeks at Huddle, I would say each person within the organization could be described using these two words. It’s quite admirable.

While making the transition to my new career at Huddle, I quickly began to realize I too would find myself empowered and fulfilled in my role because of my new environment.


Here are the reasons I know this to be true:

1. Vision


When your CEO starts off a discussion to the sales teams with scripture from Romans, you know you are a part of something special. He referred to the passage to help highlight his vision for the future of the company and his message to all of us to “Believe in the process”. I looked around me during this time and couldn’t believe I get to be a part of this family. The team leaders continued the discussion with what the future of Huddle looks like and their expectations of each of us in the year ahead, three years from now, and five years from now. This right here is an example of how Huddle believes in the process by believing in its people. How empowering is it to know you play a pivotal role in the bigger picture?

2. Purpose

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For me, I feel empowered when I have purpose. My team leader has made it clear from my first day that he is confident in my ability to do great work, bring value to the team, and give new perspective to discussion. Feeling that sense of purpose has been the biggest void in my career before Huddle, but it’s empowering to know I now have an experienced leader who believes in my potential. Huddle is a place where each individual has significant purpose and values their work, while they are valued by others. I am empowered knowing my purpose on a team with an intentional leader who has given me the tools to succeed and will hold me accountable for my outcomes.

3. Great Relationships


As part of the onboarding process at Huddle, I sat down with every person in the company over the course of the first week. I immediately realized each person within the Huddle family is unique, yet all of them are emotionally and intellectually committed to the organization. They are engaged, they add value, and profoundly impact Huddle. I couldn’t believe each person, no matter their role, took the time out of their busy schedules to get to know me on a personal level.

I think we can all find the value in our work and build great relationships, but the leaders in the workplace create a standard for the environment where we can thrive. This relationship standard among the leaders at Huddle is exemplified in everything they do. They support each other, they build each other up, and they challenge each individual on their team to perform at their greatest potential. I know I will look back on my first week and be thankful for the solid foundation that was built to start great relationships with my Huddle family.

My overall experience during my first two weeks has been overwhelming in the best way. I am so excited to work alongside people who keep the vision of the future in mind, who add value, and who encourage each other in all that they do. The family at Huddle has already made me feel empowered and fulfilled.  

So, what does your work environment look like?

Are you surrounded by people who empower you to be fulfilled?

What Do You Believe?

It's an interesting question, right?

I invested nearly 42 years of my life without really thinking through this profound, potentially life-changing topic. There were certainly things I believed, but I had never taken the time to capture any of it on paper. 

But then something changed. A good friend to Huddle, Jack Williams, delivered a presentation last year that addressed his “I Believe” list. He has worked through his list over the years and reviews it weekly, allowing him to see where he is winning and where he needs work.

Jack’s presentation motivated me to explore my own beliefs.


What do I believe?

Why do I believe those things?

And how is my life any different because of the things I believe?

This journey of discovery lead me to create my first “I Believe” list in November 2016. I continued to work through and refine it, creating an updated version in January 2017.

So here’s how this works for me. I review the entire list once a week (okay, I forget some of the time), and I focus on one specific “I Believe” statement weekly. I just write the statement on an index card and place it in a spot where I can review it consistently. These simple practices allow me to consistently measure how I’m doing against the things I believe.

I want to share my “I Believe” list with you in this blog post. Buckle up, because I have 52 “I Believe” statements!

To be clear, I’m not asking you to believe what I believe. And it’s okay if we don’t believe the same things.

We can still be friendly, right?


I’m simply sharing my list with a goal of encouraging you to create your own list, review it weekly, and more closely align your actions with your beliefs. This will put you on a path to living with meaningful purpose.

And who knows, creating your own “I Believe” list just may change your life too.

John Vaughn’s I Believe List

1.     I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and He is my Lord and Savior.

2.     I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and has complete authority.

3.     I believe in growing spiritually and investing meaningful time in God’s Word.

4.     I believe Jesus loves me, God is in control, and my value comes from Him alone.

5.     I believe I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

6.     I believe the quality of my personal relationship with Christ is my responsibility.

7.     I believe when I align my priorities with God, He will show up in dramatic ways.

8.     I believe God has called me to leadership and I should lead from the front.

9.     I believe in using my talents for God and the advancement of His kingdom, with a focus on my spiritual gift of encouraging others.

10.  I believe in the power of prayer.

11.  I believe in “God appointments.”

12.  I believe “Success” is daily living in God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.

13.  I believe I am the Spiritual leader of my household.

14.  I believe in being faithful to Angie.

15.  I believe in showing Angie the attention I gave her when we were dating.

16.  I believe in speaking Angie’s love languages of quality time and gifts.

17.  I believe in praying for Angie and my marriage every day.

18.  I believe Angie wants a Godly husband.

19.  I believe Angie gets much of her self-worth from me.

20.  I believe that vulnerability leads to amazing relationships.

21.  I believe my “Why” is to point people to truth.

22.  I believe my character and integrity must never be compromised.

23.  I believe in forgiveness.

24.  I believe in living a life of service while listening to others and putting them first.

25.  I believe in simplicity and clarity.

26.  I believe in taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

27.  I believe in lifelong learning.

28.  I believe I am responsible for my actions.

29.  I believe in tithing, giving, and saving.

30.  I believe in living an intentional life of significance.

31.  I believe in being debt free.

32.  I believe in developing and practicing good habits.

33.  I believe in telling people I love them and saying thank you.  

34.  I believe in doing the “next right thing.”

35.  I believe in accountability.

36.  I believe in patience.

37.  I believe in adding value to other people.

38.  I believe people matter and investing in relationships is the right thing to do.

39.  I believe words matter.

40.  I believe I need to be flexible and willing to change as needed.

41.  I believe in the power of goal setting.

42.  I believe in the sanctity of life and that everyone has value.

43.  I believe in dealing with reality.

44.  I believe in doing what I say I’m going to do.

45.  I believe in maximizing my time while being fully present with others.

46.  I believe in having a mentor / coach to help me get better.

47.  I believe I have total control of my attitude.

48.  I believe I’m always just one bad decision away from doing irreparable damage to myself and others.

49.  I believe it’s my choice to be a “victim” or a “victor” when adversity strikes.

50.  I believe grace is easy to receive and difficult to deliver.

51.  I believe you can’t have love without truth

52.  I believe struggle provides opportunity for growth.

How Servant Leadership Can Change Your Company

Deadlines.  Goals.  Stress.

These words can commonly describe most contemporary workplaces, but rarely do you hear the word servant used. That’s because of how easy it is to think of ourselves.  However, this selfish mentality creates an unenjoyable workplace for everyone.

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At Huddle, our mission is to Serve Our Neighbors. We define our “neighbors” as not only our clients and affiliates, but we also make it a point to serve our co-workers.

That’s right, the people that we spend 40+ hours per week with – the people that are a second FAMILY.

We are not perfect at being servants. When I took over a team for the first time, I had never heard of ‘servant leadership.’ All I knew was we were responsible for hitting a number, and if we fell short, I would be the one answering for it. My first quarter as a leader was a crash course in how to lead incorrectly. I was not serving them the way I should have been. 


Over that summer, I got my hands on a book called Dare to Serve by the former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Cheryl Bachelder. Cheryl introduced me to the idea of what it means to be a “Dare to Serve” leader, which can be broken down into two initiatives:

“Decide to think positively about the people you lead.”

“Decide to be a leader who serves others over self-interest.”

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These two thoughts became the basis of our team over the past year. We were able to develop a team code based on Cheryl’s teachings, which led us to great success. I have also been able to identify my true leadership style, and will continue to practice this throughout my career.

Recently, we had a group of seven interns begin the fall semester with us, and I posed the question to them,

“Who in your life has acted as a servant?”

Almost immediately, each responded with someone who has impacted their life in an amazing way. So I will pose to you the same question – who in your life has acted as a servant? Would you consider doing the same for your team?