My heart. Oh, my heart. {Weekend Recap}

“It’s an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.”

-Oscar Wilde

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This just in!  I’m wearing a dress!  Without sleeves! in San Francisco!  In the summer!

Amazing. It’s too much for my little heart to handle.  Here are some shots from my warm, sunny weekend in San Francisco.  I apologize ahead of time for the iPhone only photos…I didn’t have an actual camera with me this weekend.

My first drive over the new San Francisco Bay Bridge was at 2am...perfect because there was no traffic for once in my life.

My first drive over the new San Francisco Bay Bridge was at 2am…perfect because there was no traffic for once in my life.

After taking an early morning walk through Golden Gate Park (photo above), my friends and I headed over to lay out at Baker Beach.  I've never seen such a gorgeous, warm day in San Francisco.  Ever.

After taking an early morning walk through Golden Gate Park (top photo), my friends and I headed over to lay out at Baker Beach. I’ve never seen such a gorgeous, warm day in San Francisco. Ever.

To celebrate my upcoming trip to Spain, we dined at B44, the city's best Catalun restaurant.  You must try the seafood paella!

To celebrate my upcoming trip to Spain, we dined at B44, the city’s best Catalun restaurant. You must try the seafood paella!

Fun with Tegan and Sara in Berkeley, California, Greek Theater Miss Social Travel Blog

Up next, we went to the Fun. with Tegan and Sara concert at The Greek in Berkeley. We were lucky enough to meet the bands back stage and enjoyed the cheese bar!

Backstage with Fun. & Tegan and Sarah.

At the Fun. & Tegan and Sarah after party at The Greek in Berkeley, Calif.

Musical Motivation: San Francisco – The Mowgli’s (Can you feel the love?)


How do you pick your path?

Let’s just get it on the table…

When people read my blog or look through my Instagram photos, everyone seems to have one of two reactions: They’re either hugely supportive and proud, or they have a myriad of follow-up questions.  Today I’m putting it all out there, so here are the answers to all your burning questions about my not-so-private-anymore life.  Pull up a chair…

1.  Don’t I want to have kids?

I recently read this hugely offensive article on Thought Catalog that stated that a woman should have kids first, get them out of the way, and focus on a career later.  At first the article got my blood boiling.   It seemed to set feminism back about 40 years with that statement alone.

But I found myself losing sleep the next few nights over it.  Should I have gotten married when I was super young?  Had kids before 25 like so many of my friends?  The article stated that while developing your career can be done at any point in your life, having kids (naturally) can’t.  Oh. My. God.  That makes sense…Why hadn’t I thought of that before?  I never wanted to be the type of woman that was concerned with her ‘biological clock’ (that phrase makes me want to gag), but all of the sudden, everyone else seems to be worrying about me settling down, as if I’m almost out of time.  In case you’re wondering, I’m 26.

As much as I act like all my single ladies, all my single ladies, I do want to have a kid, or maybe a whole crew of them.  Eventually.  Maybe it’s my type-A personality, but I’m a full believer that yes, I can have it all, and I will, just not yet.  So… Can all you baby-pushers give me (and every other 20-something female) a break?  I will have a baby, and it’s going to be adorable, and have totally rock star parents who are ready to have kids. Which brings me to…

2.  Don’t I want to get married?

In theory, yes.   But, the older I get, I realize that my actions don’t exactly line up with that goal.  I want to be in a relationship, but I can’t stay in one place long enough to actually go on more than a date or two in sequence.  I’m either going to have to A) Settle down in one place or B) Find someone who likes to have the same adventures I do.  I’m thinking B sounds like the better option.

I’ve gotten close to getting married before.  Heck, I’ve even been engaged.  Have you ever seen that episode of Grey’s Anatomy when Christina is getting

married to Burke and she hyperventilates when they put her wedding choker/necklace thing is on?  That’s how I felt the entire 2 months I was engaged.  I know it was because it was the wrong person, so until someone can make me feel the opposite of that, I think I’ll stay out of a life-binding contract with them.  As my friend Brittain puts it, I may be taking the long way around, but at least I’m not settling, and I’m not stuck.

For now, I’m happy sharing my love, words, and emotions with someone who’s on the road as much as I am (just not always the same road).  Ohhhh mystery.  I can’t tell you all my secrets, can I?  But, I will tell you just writing about him makes my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

3.  Why didn’t I get my college degree?

Probably because I’m irresponsible and couldn’t get to a single class on time to save my life.  Mostly, because every marketing class I took in college made me feel like I should have been teaching the class.  I student-taught a lot, but in the end, marketing is a skill that you’re always learning and improving on, so you might as well be getting paid.  Do not follow my example.

In conclusion…

Any more questions?

Feeling Lucky


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Every once in a while, I just have to pinch myself.  I’m so happy to be doing what I’m doing, where I’m doing it, and whom I’m doing it with (that’s what she said).

Upcoming trips (!!!):

Now: I’m home in SF for a girls weekend.  Special thanks to Tegan & Sara for giving me backstage passes to Tegan & Sara and FUN in Berkeley tomorrow night!

Next week: I’ll be back in Kauai for a special hiking/biking/snorkeling/surfing excursion with my friends that are lucky enough to call Hawaii home.

Next month: I’m flying to Paris for a week to visit my sister, and then I’m going to Spain for a few months!  ¡Adios!

Be sure to follow my whole journey by subscribing here:

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Musical Motivation: Closer by Tegan and Sara.  These girls are awesome and this song totally makes me jump up and down all over my friends apartment (sorry, neighbors downstairs).  Can’t wait for their show tomorrow!

photo by LoveSpun Films

Breaking into the Club: Starting my Own Marketing Agency Among Thousands of Others

It took a long time for me to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I didn’t dream of growing up to be a marketing or PR girl.  I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, a fashion designer, a full-time writer, or simply a mom.

Natalie Grinnell - Cheshire Dave Photos - Digitally Chic - San Francisco Travel Blog

But, my independence got the better of me.  I insisted on moving out of my parents house when I was 19, and with that decision came more responsibility than I was prepared for.  Without being armed with a college degree, I had to start from the ground up [read about my journey here].  Starting as a marketing assistant, I slowly moved my way up the latter to a Marketing Director position.  But, that wasn’t enough for me.  I knew I wanted 3 things from whatever work I was doing:

1. Flexibility in my schedule.  The ability to work where and when I want.

2. More money, less work.  I never wanted to work “full-time.”  But I knew I had to find a job that could allow me to make the same amount…not easy.  I didn’t need to be rich, but make enough to live comfortably and travel often.

3. Do work I love.  My passion is in writing, so I knew whatever position I held, writing would have to be a huge part of it.

During my time as Marketing Director, I began to see starting my own marketing agency as the perfect way to combine all 3 of my above priorities.  I began to put feelers out to my networks, online and off.  Twitter became a huge part of my networking because it allowed me to connect with like-minded people in San Francisco, and begin developing relationships with them.  By the time I decided to move to San Francisco, I had hundreds of business contacts.  When I quit my job and moved to San Francisco, I hit the ground running.

The only problem:  I had no idea how to start my own marketing agency.  So, I took a part-time position as an account manager at a small agency in Oakland for 3 months.    I watched everything the sales reps, the writers, and the designers did, and implemented them into my own actions.  After 3 months, I thought, “This seems easy enough!”  I quit that day and dove full-force into my own business.

Natalie Grinnell - Cheshire Dave Photos - Digitally Chic - San Francisco Travel Blog

When I finally broke into the marketing scene, it took about a year to really get things moving.  Looking back, I see the mistakes I made during that first year, and if I had to do it all over again I could move it along much faster:

1. Relationships.  I was too distracted by break-ups and make-ups to really focus on my work, especially when they’re both so volatile.

2. Money.  I had nothing in savings, so every cent I made went to rent and paying my team of contractors.  This was a real pain come tax season.

On the other hand, here are the true gold nuggets of that first year:

1. Be everywhere.  I can’t say enough for networking.  I know it’s an annoying buzz word, but it works.  Be at every event.  Shake hands with every one.  Follow up afterwards, and not just from a business standpoint.  These are people who have been where you are and they can give you advice on how to succeed.  Buy them coffee or lunch, and pick their brain.

Be everywhere online as well.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn.  These are your friends.  It’s not a waste of time.  You want to be the first person a client thinks of when they- or someone they know- needs a marketing agency.  The way to do this is to be wherever they are, online or off.  Plus, you’re a marketing agency, you need the practice!

2. Blog. Blog every week.  Every day if you can.  In order for your business to succeed, you need a website.  More importantly, you need traffic to your website.  The best, and most organic, way to get traffic to your site is through blogging.  Don’t just post blogs with a bunch of key words, but make valuable content for your readers.  Google will recognize the quality of your website, and put you ahead of your competition in search results.

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3. Do quality work. Most of my new clients come from referrals.  I’ve developed multiple referral incentive campaigns and none of them work as well as simply doing the best job, making my clients talk about me to their colleagues.

4. Be ahead of schedule.  I have content calendars for all of my clients, and most content is developed about a month in advance, depending on the campaign.  Being ahead of schedule gives me freedom from stress and the availability to meet with new clients or do a last-minute high-paying job.   Also, coming in well before deadlines really impresses the client.

5. The customer always wins.  The best sales come from previous clients or up-selling existing ones.  If a client is ever unhappy with my work for any reason, I will give them a month of free services, or make it up to them in some large way.  Taking a temporary loss is better than losing them as a client altogether.

6. Bill in monthly retainers.  The only way I manage to not be stressed out about bills all the time is that I charge my clients on a monthly basis.  My marketing packages all have monthly pricing, which allows me to anticipate my income every month.  That is my bread and butter.  When I’m ahead of schedule for the month, I’ll gladly take on a la carte jobs like a website or graphic design project, but I always have the foundation of my monthly clients.

7. A well constructed contract.  All of my monthly packages have a requirement of a 30-day notice for a contract termination.  That way, if a client does decide to cancel their contract, I have a month to figure out how to make up for the loss.  (But who would ever want to cancel their contract with me???)

8. Don’t leave it up to the client to pay on time.  The first year of owning my own business was toughest because I made one fatal mistake for an online company: Accepting checks.  I would drive myself crazy running to the post office every day to see if I had any checks in the mail…and most of the time, there wasn’t.  Or if there was, some checks would bounce, leaving me strapped for money at unfortunate  times.  The solution was simple: Square.  I slowly transitioned all of my clients to credit card-only payment.  Every month, on either the 1st or 15th, I charge my clients for their monthly services.  It takes so much stress out of the billing process.

Natalie Grinnell - Cheshire Dave Photos - Digitally Chic - San Francisco Travel Blog

These are just a few of the many things I learned in the first year of owning my own business.  That first year was in 2010, and now 3 years later, I’m still making mistakes and learning from them.

What did you learn in your first year of small business ownership?

Or, if you’re thinking about opening your own business, what has motivated you?

Musical Motivation: This morning I’m dancing to Counting Stars by One Republic.

All photos shot by the talented Cheshire Dave!

Wednesday Work Out: Work that Butt


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I’ve been watching Dexter (can you believe the end of Sunday’s episode?!) and I can’t help but get jealous every time Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) walks on screen.  Seriously? Does that girl have an ounce of fat on her?  After every episode I’m even more motivated to get a rock solid body.  Hannah – a tall, fit, healthy (albeit celebrity) woman – is definitely my inspiration for this week’s workout.  Here is my new booty-centered routine:

Musical Motivation for this workout: Fitz and the Tantrums: Out of My League

Travel Tuesday – San Clemente, California


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San Clemente - Greetings from California - Travel Blog - Natalie Grinnel

Alright, you caught me.  This isn’t travel for me, because I live here.  But, up until 2 years ago, I didn’t even know this little beach town existed.  Which is why I thought it was important to show you a little glimpse of the town I currently pay rent in (not the place I call home, for home will always be San Francisco).  You can follow my adventures in San Clemente by following #thebeachlife on my Instagram.

The following photos are less than a block from my front door…

View from San Clemente Roof Top Natalie Grinnell - Travel Blog - California Travel Tips

The view from my roof top

San Clemente - Greetings from California - Travel Blog - Natalie Grinnel

Along my morning run

San Clemente - Greetings from California - Travel Blog - Natalie Grinnel

A foggy day in South Orange County

A few steps from my house, before the beach, is a gorgeous park over looking the sea.

A few steps from my house, before the beach, is a gorgeous park over looking the sea.

San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog

Other days, it's quite gorgeous.  Last week I saw a dolphin on my morning run.

Other days, it’s quite sunny in the morning. Last week I saw a dolphin on my run.

San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog

A short hike up from my front door...

A short hike up from my front door…

SUP (Stand up paddle boarding) is my favorite water activity.

SUP (Stand up paddle boarding) is my favorite water activity.  (I know, hot dogs or legs?)

San Clemente Sunset - Natalie Grinnell - California Best Travel Blog

Foggy mornings usually clear up early afternoon, and by the evening we have the most beautiful sunsets.

San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog

San Clemente Sunset - Natalie Grinnell - California Best Travel Blog San Clemente Sunset - Natalie Grinnell - California Best Travel Blog

If you take the beach trail from our local beach about a mile, you reach Downtown San Clemente:

San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog San Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social BlogSan Clemente Travel California Natalie Grinnell Miss Social Blog

And, don’t worry.  If you feel the need for a crowded beach, Laguna Beach is just a few miles away.

Laguna Beach natalie grinnell beach travel california blog

Musical motivation for the day: Bastille – Pompeii (Live in Paris!!!)  You can skip the ad after 5 seconds.  They are amazing.  I’m actually hoping to see them in Europe while I’m there in 2 months!

Monday Inspiration: Bob Hope

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It’s 10:18pm on a Monday night now, and I’m not sure exactly where my day has gone.  Today was very much like many of my other days: Wake up, drink coffee, work, work out, back to work, dinner, and now back to work again.

What keeps me from absolutely going crazy from all this work?  A few things…

I’m thankful that I have work to do, as many people these days are without an income.  I am especially grateful that every day I get to wake up and do a job I love.  I get to be creative, I get to write, I get to work with creative people, and I get to travel.  But what really keeps me going is the light at the end of the tunnel: success.  Not monetary success, but riches in adventure.  Almost every month of the past year, part of my paycheck has gone into plane tickets.  I’ve been to 5 different countries in the past year, with at least a few more before yearend.  Because my job allows me to work every where, I no longer have to skip camping trips with my family to work for a boss I can’t relate to.  I don’t have to miss my nieces and nephews growing up because I’m too busy working and trying to afford a high rise apartment in the city (although it was also an awesome experience).  I get the privilege of doing what I want, every day.

I get asked the same questions every day, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or my blog…Do I ever work?  How do I get to travel so much? How did I get so lucky?

The honest truth is, I’m always working.  I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to work at a 9-5 job.  I wanted to be able to work from anywhere; my home with my family, or in a Parisian cafe, on a Thai rooftop, or a studio apartment in Barcelona.  I gave up security of an office job with 12 days vacation a year for a job that allows me to work where and when I want.  I may have to answer emails while I spend the week in Hawaii, or be on a conference call at 4am while I’m in Paris, but that is a small price to pay to be in those places in the first place.


But it didn’t come easy…and it’s still not always easy, but a few years ago I started putting my dreams into actions.  Knowing the end goal, I started planting seeds.  I couldn’t just open my own online marketing agency with little to zero experience at age 23.  I applied for a job on Craigslist for a 9am-6pm position as an administrative assistant.  I made $9 per hour.  I could barely afford my $650 per month apartment and most of my meals consisted of some sort of pasta from a box (or cup, rather).

After a few months of working there, I decided to take action.  The CEO was considering hiring another administrative assistant, but I convinced him to let me work 2 extra hours a day, to save him money, if he promoted me part-time to be the assistant for the Marketing Director.  Getting into the office at 7am and leaving after 6pm each day, I was exhausted, but learning a lot.  Soon, the Marketing Director decided to leave the company to be a stay-at-home mother, and I was promoted to Marketing Director.  After 2 years as Marketing Director, I left the company to start my own company.

Even that wasn’t easy.  Leaving the company meant leaving my paycheck, which I had spent a great deal of time negotiating pay raises.  I was back to square one.  Back to eating noodles from a cup, but this time in a smaller apartment in a bigger city.  I knew if I wanted to be successful with my business, I had to go after bigger fish, and that meant leaving Sacramento behind and moving to San Francisco.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

I went to every network event, even started my own networking group with a few friends, and tried to meet everyone in San Francisco.   I made it happen, with the generous help of my friends, business contacts, and support of my family.

Fast forward 3 years later and here we are.  Looking back, I know that every opportunity I had is because I created it.  So, thanks for the advice, Mr. Hope.

Musical motivation for your week: Young The Giant – My Body

I can’t help dancing and jumping up and down all over my office whenever this song comes on the radio.

This is how I start my day, every day.



Natalie Grinnell SanClemente San Francisco Travel Blog World Travel Moving to EuropeNo matter where in the world I am, I start my day off the exact same way: Snuggled up to a hot cup of coffee, and reflecting on past, present, and future travels.  As I drink my coffee, I open my MacBook Pro and log into WordPress.  I spend the first hour of my day reading about the adventures of the travel bloggers I’m following, which only feeds my excitement for my new adventure in Europe coming up.  There are just so many places to go in the world, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  Until I can see everything, these five travel blogs will have to tide me over:

Tuula Vintage Travel Blog Natalie Grinnell Miss Social

1. Tuula Vintage – This girl has the life!  She is living my dream as a fashion blogger, model, and traveler.

Gary Pepper Girl Travel Blog Natalie Grinnell Miss Social

2. Gary Pepper Girl – Ahhhh.  The photos, the love, the fashion.

A New Yorker Travels Travel Blog Natalie Grinnell Miss Social

3. A New Yorker Travels – His Instagram feed alone is enough to make any travel bug’s heart flutter.

Waterlust Instagram Travel Blog Natalie Grinnell

4. Waterlust – This blog and Instagram features films and photos from the water-based adventures of world travelers.  Check out their Instagram, truly exciting.


5. Stylentonic – A fashion blogger who shares my love of world travel, what’s not to like?  Oh, and I’m totally stealing that Crazy Stupid Instalove idea.  Also, check out his latest photos from Mykonos, Greece.  SWOON.

Other blogs I read every day:

6. Confessions of a Nomad

7. Bespoke Traveler

8. Life Out of the Box

If wanderlust was a disease, I’d say I’m terminal.

The photo above (top photo) was taken on my rooftop from my home in San Clemente, California.  Most mornings in San Clemente start off foggy, but by noon the fog has burned off and we’re left with stunning views of the Pacific.  By evening, my sister and I are back out on the roof with a glass of wine enjoying perfect sunsets like this:

Photo taken by my sister #nofilter

Photo taken by my sister #nofilter

Life is good.

Nukolii Beach, Kauai


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On our last day in Kauai, I just had to see one more thing.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do, but I knew I couldn’t leave the island without seeing something new.

With only 90 minutes until we had to board our plane, my mom and I took a drive along the 56 towards Kapa’a.   About 20 minutes into our drive, my mom said, “We don’t have enough time to keep exploring.  We will have to turn back soon and head to the airport.”  Disappointed, I talked her into driving a few more miles.

Just then we saw a sign for Nukolii Beach, and my mom quickly turned off the 56 onto the narrow road, and we were so glad to have taken the extra time to explore, because this is what we found:

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Taking the Leap: On Moving to Europe


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Did you know my sister Deb moved to Paris?!  She’s been talking about moving to Paris for as long as I can remember, and she finally took the leap!

Natalie Grinnell saying goodbye to Deborah Grinnell before the big move _Travel Blog moving to Paris France Barcelona Europe

Some of you may remember that I, too, was going to take this leap…only my move was to Barcelona.  I even leased an apartment right downtown, steps from the beach of the Mediterranean Sea, quit my full-time job, and gave notice at my San Francisco apartment!  I was all set to leave January 15th of this year, but unfortunately, I got very ill for the entire month of January and part of February.  I ended up missing my move date and lost my deposit of my Spanish apartment.  So my dreams of living in Barcelona were put on hold.

Fast forward 8 months and we’re back on track.  I’m happy to say that my NEW flights to Barcelona have been booked and a new apartment is soon to be leased!  It’s not going to be a permanent move (at least not yet) because I love my San Francisco & New York based work as Creative Director of Studio 41 Creative, and I would never want to give up any of the clients that I have worked so hard to keep.  But, I’m excited to spend a few months soaking up the Mediterranean sun while working from my little Spanish rooftop.

My first stop in Europe will be Paris to see my sister Deb for a week or two, and then we’ll be off to Barcelona together for the first month!  I’m getting so excited just knowing that soon my biggest dream is about to come true.

Natalie Grinnell Paris France Travel Blog

Remember the last time I went to Paris?

I don’t leave for another two months, so in the meantime, you can follow my sister’s journey as she embarks on the French life.  Hop on over to The France Project to follow the ups and downs of her new vie à Paris.