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What I Learned by Watching a Giraffe NOT Give Birth

This is April.

April is a giraffe in Harpursville, NY.

April has been pregnant a LONG time.

People all over the world have been watching her not give birth. 

So how is watching a giraffe on a live stream on YouTube educational? It might seem a bit of a “stretch” but, trust me, it is.

I first discovered the #ApriltheGiraffe phenomenon while scrolling through Facebook. It was toward the end of February and the headline was something like “Giraffe About to Give Birth on Live Feed.” I took the bait. I clicked and ended up watching a giraffe (April) walk around her stall, eat and toss hay, lay down, sleep, and stare off into space. Taking the article at face value, I expected to see a baby giraffe (called a calf) drop from its mother at any moment. That was over a month ago.

Since then I have checked in on April the Giraffe at least 10 times a day, contributed to the hashtag, read others’ tweets, and read many articles and websites devoted to giraffe fact and conservation. I have learned so much about giraffes. I have also learned so much about people.

About Giraffes

  • Those things on their heads are called ossicones. They aren’t antennae. They aren’t ears. They are cartilage, and may have something to do with temperature regulation.
  • Giraffes eat A LOT of food. In addition to the giraffe chow, they eat hay, carrots and romaine lettuce. In the wild they eat the leaves of the Acacia tree.
  • Male giraffes care about eating and procreating. They are not lovey-dovey with the female giraffes. After a female is pregnant, they really want nothing more to do with her.
  • Female giraffes birth their calves while standing, and until you see hooves emerge, you might not even know they are in labor. In the wild that helps keep them off the radar of lions and other predators, since during labor they are at their most vulnerable.
  • Calves, at birth, fall about six feet to the ground. The fall and subsequent landing breaks the umbilical cord and shocks them into their first breaths.
  • Calves are usually up and walking around within 30-60 minutes, and nursing shortly thereafter.

About Humans

  • Humans will rally around a giraffe – cheering her on – without being able to actually be near her.
  • We will tell others all about the giraffe facts we have gleaned.
  • We will bore others with those same facts.
  • Humans will develop a sense of community around an event like this.
  • We will bond over the common experience.
  • We will donate money to the giraffe even though it is not tax-deductible.
  • Some of us will create art around the experience.
  • Some will anthropomorphize the giraffes into human-relationships that just aren’t realistic for giraffes.
  • We will argue online with others who threaten that community through criticism.
  • We will defend the giraffe.
  • We will defend each other.
  • We will continue to watch the giraffe not give birth for over a month.

I assume that the labor will be imminent at some point. In the meantime, you can find me tweeting with my fellow giraffe watchers, watching April the giraffe not give birth, eating, sleeping, and tossing hay. And, hopefully soon, you can join us watching a giraffe calf grow up.

Michelle Ames is a self-proclaimed Marketing Diva. She loves Rochester,NY and its varied businesses, women-owned enterprises, and all the many and diverse networks in and around the city.

Follow Michelle on Twitter @michelleames or contact her online at


Right Here and Now…


Right Here and Now…

That’s how I begin a lot of Facebook posts. After the ellipsis I ask readers to respond to a question or statement, such as “Right here and now…tell us your favorite candy” or “Right here and now…tell us about a time you were really afraid.” The prompts are mostly ice breaker type questions — the getting-to-know-you first date kind of things.

You would be surprised at how many people respond to these prompts.

[Read more in my Democrat & Chronicle blog post.]

Going Up: How is Your Elevator Speech?


You network. You go to trade shows and vendor fairs. You attend seminars and conferences. But you don’t seem to get new business, or even get noticed at all. What are you doing wrong?

It might be your introduction – or “elevator speech.”

An elevator speech is a brief introduction to another professional in which you share your name and other business information about you and/or your company. It’s called an “elevator speech” because you’re supposed to be able to complete it in the time it would take an elevator to take you from the ground floor to the office floor…usually about 30-45 seconds.

Think of it as a live, in-person tweet: 140 characters or less.

OK, so you can use more than 140 characters, but you get the idea. Just like a tweet, an elevator speech should be carefully crafted to include all of the important information, but in a way that is engaging and MEMORABLE. So what should you include?

  • Your name
  • Your position
  • Your business name
  • What your business does
  • What your business purpose is
  • Something interesting to make it memorable

My elevator speech goes something like this:

I’m Michelle Ames, marketing diva at Marketed by Michelle. I do soup-to-nuts marketing including web design, social media, print advertising, logo design and more. I would love the opportunity to meet with you to see how I might be able to help your business be even more successful and stand out from the rest.

So what did I include?

  • My name (Michelle Ames)
  • My title/position (Marketing Diva)
  • My business name (Marketed by Michelle)
  • What my business does (web design, social media, etc.)
  • My business purpose (helping other businesses be successful)
  • Something memorable (my tagline: stand out from the rest)

And notice how I said “help your business be even more successful?  That is purposeful. No one likes others to put down their business, or imply that they aren’t successful (and when you’re trying to sell marketing, that’s a dangerous line to tap dance on). By saying “even more successful” I acknowledge their current success, and let them know I can help take them to the next level.

Ready to stand out? Push the “UP” button and ride the elevator all the way to the top!

Falling Into Business


I’m often asked how I started my business. I would love to tell you a story about how I did a ton of research, met with mentors, found advisors, wrote a perfect business plan, crafted an amazing marketing plan, and launched according to a timeline all neatly written out (and in a spreadsheet, of course).

It wasn’t like that.

In June of 2013, I decided it was time to leave my job. I hadn’t really been happy for awhile, and the timing was right, financially, for me and my husband. My plan was to take July off, use August to job search, then be employed by September. (Ever hear the phrase, “Men plan, God laughs?”)

I was afraid I might become bored, and I thought I could make a little money doing some marketing, so I posted to my personal Facebook page that I would love to help out friends and family with social media or web design. The needs (and customers) came out of the woodwork.

And just like that, I had a business.

I named my business on a whim. I designed my logo in about five minutes (maybe less). I took only a few hours to build out a basic website. I had hung my “digital” shingle. Two weeks later I rented an office, built a desk, and had my logo on the window. I was open for business.

But here’s the thing…as successful as I’ve been, I would totally do some of it SO differently. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn from my oversights.

TAKE YOUR TIME: You should take some time to name your business. Ask others for their input. Garner feedback from those whose opinions matter to you. You might end up with the first thing that had popped into your mind…or you might find something even better.

DESIGN YOUR LOGO THOUGHTFULLY: I’m actually pretty lucky in that people always tell me how much they love my logo. Others who have designed a logo in a short time (or bought one from a logo mill on the internet) live with regret…and redesigns. Again, input from others can be valuable.

GET A BUSINESS PHONE NUMBER: One thing I truly wish I had done was get a separate phone or phone number for business. Then I could turn it off without cutting myself off from friends and family.

BUILD A THOUGHTFUL WEBSITE: It may be okay to put up a landing page or temporary site, but do take the time to research the best design and content for your website. Make sure your SEO is done well.

FIND A MENTOR or COACH:  You don’t have to go it alone. Find someone who can help you navigate the new waters of entrepreneurship.

One of the things I did well was to leverage social media to find a client base. Connections are the lifeblood of an entrepreneur. I also joined my local chambers of commerce, networking groups, and professional associations. I invest in continuing education to stay abreast of my field.

The path to success can be crazy, slippery, and treacherous…but it’s a path worth taking. Take it from me. I’d fall into business all over again to be where I am.

Finding Focus


Focus. As an entrepreneur it is vital – and often the most difficult thing to achieve. I like to think I look like I’ve got it all together, but I know the truth. In my brain all the tabs are open all the time.

I sit down in front of my laptop prepared to begin a project, and suddenly everything that needs to be done comes flooding in. I will remember that the dance website needs to have a few events added to it, that the chamber of commerce needs to have their newsletter sent out, that there are price changes to add to the hardware website, and the mechanic’s site should have their new hours posted on their home page. Oh, and that I have two blogs to write for, a meetup to promote, a few presentations to get ready, and school board meetings.

And don’t even get me started on the hundreds of emails accumulating by the hour.

[Read more in my Democrat & Chronicle blog post.]