When I started this little title contest I asked myself one, somewhat intimidating question.  “What if I didn’t see any entries?” It happened before. I was terrified, but with faith in my social media community, I posted anyway.

I checked stats after an hournothing.  I checked stats after three hours and there was a hit or two, but no entries.  Then, after a day, one trickled in…  then another and another… within three days, I had so many titles that I almost stopped the contest just to use ALL of the entries for future posts!

I was blown away to see the creativity and fun people were having with the opportunity.  From the sublime “Eat This,” to the off-putting “The Smurfs Were Communists,” each new entry gave me a little insight into the participant’s personal brand – funny… reflective… passionate… curious… driven… While not my intention, I learned a little bit about all of them, and I thank them all. 🙂

Which brings us to our winner:

“Flourish Where You Live.”

sheena_flourishWhen Sheena Rae Lara (@SheenaMacGruber on Twitter) posted her title entry, I knew it was one I was going to have to look into some more – win or not. It had depth.  It had weight that made me think of a million things to write, and that, originally, was the reason for the post “Conquer Writers Block – Save The World,” and Sheena killed it!

So, like I said, my original intention was to take Sheena’s title and write my own post from it.  After some reflection (and basic curiosity), I decided instead of telling you about how I thought “Flourish Where You Live” applied to me, I’d let Sheena tell you.  Because without Sheena and the community in which we live, how could The Brand Chef truly flourish?

Flourish Where You Live

(Brand Chef) What possessed you to post your title for this competition?
(Sheena Rae Lara) I had been thinking about doing my own blog post on this topic and saw your contest and wrote it in.

(BC) So, what inspired your title?
(SRL) I tell people that my plan, when I was in college, was to leave Iowa. I ended up staying and doing well here.

(BC) It sounds like a personal calling or mission you try to follow, yes?
(SRL) Yeah, I think so. I think it’s a waste of energy wishing/thinking about living somewhere else. If you really want to get out of Iowa then take the steps do it, otherwise quit dreaming and start making Iowa into the place you want it to be.

(BC) How to you integrate your title into everyday life?
Flourishing can be different to different people, but for me it’s about doing what makes me happy and adding quality to my life. If that means staying home and baking bread from scratch, taking my son to the park, heading out to dollar pints at Olde Main with good friends or working on creative side projects.

(BC) Are you “a local” or do you hail from outside our little, Midwestern bubble?
(Note to readers: I ask this just because Sheena and I had connected on Twitter a few months ago to discuss her interest in multi-cultural marketing.)
I’m an Iowan, spent my whole life living in Iowa except when I backpacked across Europe for two weeks and lived in Rome for a semester. I love learning about different cultures and people!

So, of course, here come the branding questions…

(BC) If you could sum up your personal brand in one sentence, what would it be, and would your title be incorporated?
(SRL) Tough one! Adventurous and responsible, nothing is beyond reach with a little creativity and ambition.

(BC) What do you want the readers to know about you that isn’t evident through your social media activity or blog?
(SRL) Well, some people have picked up on the axe stuff. I’m a contributor to Best Made Company’s social media presence. I started their facebook fan page and contribute to their blog.


Well Sheena (and the rest of you), I just want to thank you for taking the time to participate in my little social media contest this week.

It IS through the community in which you live that the passion and love for your surroundings fosters TRUE growth.  Sure, I’ve lived in Boston, Kansas City and traveled to other countries, but I kept coming back to my community, my family, my friends in Des Moines, Iowa. Why? I think Sheena said it best,

I think it’s a waste of energy wishing/thinking about living somewhere else. … quit dreaming and start making {where you live} into the place you want it to be.”

It warms my heart to see social media fostering new relationships and creating these communities around virtual commonalities.

This is where I live!  This is where I flourish! How about you?

Keep Cooking! (Wherever you live!)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

Sheena Rae Lara is currently the Graphic Designer for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.
She is looking into pursuing a Master’s degree in marketing and transitioning her career into digital media/marketing with a multicultural emphasis.
  1. Great post, Brand Chef. The Here or There conundrum has tortured indecisive minds for thousands of years, and Sheena Rae Lara provided an eloquent and succinct answer: accept, appreciate and flourish – or move on already.

    Like many, I too flirted with the idea of abandoning Iowa after graduating college in 2007, but ultimately decided against it. Why become the latest resident of someone else’s crowded house, when you can be there to help build upon the foundation of your true home?

    • Joe!

      Very nice comment.

      One of the reasons I didn’t write the post as intended, was that Sheena DID hit the nail right on the head. And your comment reinforces my reasoning.

      When it comes to those that think “the grass is greener,” i just shake my head (’cause I too looked over that fence). The opportunities to flourish are yours to take. Search elsewhere and you’ll be wasting everyone’s time, but mostly your own.

      I’m not advocating becoming stagnate or a homebody, but once you’ve found your “zone,” whether that’s in your home town or a thousand miles from it, make the effort to create your own rewarding life.

      Thanks for the comment. Hope you’re having an incredible day!

      Keep Cooking!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef