Speaking to Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan – Delivering a Moxie Talk

Emily A. Hay Public Speaking to Girl Scouts

I recently had the privilege of speaking to these young women — the Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan about ‘Social Media and YOU.’ The goal of the session was to share how to use social media safely while discussing leadership and inspiring them to change the world (no pressure ). It was both an empowering and cathartic exercise.
For weeks, I truly dug down deep to prepare a speech to help them navigate the tumultuous social media waters infested with relentless perfection and unattainable standards. The mom in me wanted to protect them from every nasty post, self-confidence crushing image and curate their social networks to only include rainbows and unicorns. But the reality is, like a parent, you have to hug them and send them out into the social media world and hope that you’ve instilled in them a value system that can help them be a digital citizen of integrity and put that authenticity on display for the world to see. You hope they become part of the solution.
I am humbled to have had the opportunity to talk to them at this point in their lives as their potential is limitless. (Remember those years between 7th-12th grade??). I reminded them to be sure they don’t just live for the social media post or the Instagram picture. Spend more times in the present because it’s the real life connections that matter. Post positive things. Use social media for good. Be YOU.
Rinse and repeat. You get good at what you practice.



Here’s the full original speech if you want to take a peek…

Today’s topic is Social Media & You.  How to use it safely, how to keep your longterm reputation in mind and the benefits and power of social media.

Normally when I speak to an audience, I use powerpoint and have specific things I teach people how to do on social media.  Things like how to create a strategy for a Facebook business campaign or it could be explaining advertising on Instagram to help a business make more money…and everything in between.  These are some of my professional passions.  But today is different…today I get to speak about social media safety and respect online.  2 things I’m personallypassionate about.  I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m excited to share my own personal experience.  My own learnings.  I don’t have all the answers, I don’t pretend to.  My goal today is to share advice that will empower you, potentially save you time, heartache, fear or maybe all of the above.  If you take nothing else from this, I hope my talk today gives you some perspective on things that have taken me years to get.

Today we will also talk about leadership.  For me, social media has given me the platform to step into leadership.  I used social media to find my voice, to bring others along with me and to lead into unchartered waters without having all the answers.

Another thing, a theme in my speech today is practice.  You will hear me say “rinse and repeat.” It’s a phrase borrowed from the back of shampoo bottles.  The directions explain to the user to put a quarter-size amount of shampoo in your hand then wash.  Rinse and repeat.  It refers to the continual repetition of an action or sequence of events.  Repetition is practice and you get really good at things you practice.

Let’s start with the point of social media safety.

I’m sure your parents, troop leaders and maybe even authorities have shared tips on how to use social media safely with regards to your physical safety.  Important rules such as NEVER post your location, don’t message with people you don’t truly know in person, don’t share pictures of the inside of your house or other parts of your life that could help someone pretend they know you.  I could have a whole session on the physical safety of social media myself.  As a mom of 2 little girls, I am like a mama bear with a smartphone; I’m constantly guarding their digital footprint.  But today, a huge focus of social media safety is your emotional safety.  It is so important to keep your own self-esteem and brain safe.

Let’s talk about your social network.

Be aware of who you surround yourself with.  Find YOUR people…your network.  Your network is a group of people – of true friends – who share common interests and values and show genuine appreciation and care for each other.  Find people who accept you just as you are, and who want the very best for you.

On social media, you can findyour network.  Then it’s your job to guard your social network with ENERGY AND EFFORT.  Don’t follow, friend, like, comment, message, DM, share or heart people that don’t make you feel like your best self. Now you may say, but I haveto follow my friends (and your friends are exactly who may post things that sometimes make you feel yucky.)  I’m not saying to NOT follow your friends, but be selective of this group.  This power resides with you and only you to decide who is in your social network.

You become who you surround yourself with.  Lift yourself up by following positive, REALISTIC, influential people, entities and organizations.  It’s so powerful to be able to reach and connect with them on social media.

Sources such as:

– Lean In Circles (small peer groups that meet regularly to grow together)

– AmyJo Martin (author, entrepreneur, podcaster)

– People who give Ted talks like Simon Sinek and Amy Cuddy

Fill your brain with bright ideas, use your headspace to think big and positive.  Not small and negative.  You eat healthy foods to be able to DO your best.  You need to fill your brain with healthy images and messages to BE your best.

Don’t just follow the beauty trends, fashion influencers and teeth whitening products on Instagram, I admit – their pictures are lovely and their videos are interesting to watch but it won’t do anything for your brain.

Down the road, as you get older, you’ll learn the value of time. I’m not the first one to say “time is your greatest asset in life.”  Using social media takes thatprecious time and you need to guard that time to be sure it’s being used for the right kind of activity.  Don’t let yourself scroll without a purpose.

Instagram.  Fakestagram.

I use Instagram every single day for my business.  I don’t use it every single day for myself.

Research is showing us people are SO UNHAPPY on Instagram.

Just in September, a powerful article came out titled “Instagram is supposed to be friendly.  So why is it making people so miserable?”  The article opens with, “For a growing number of users and mental health experts, the positivity of Instagram is precisely the problem, with its relentless emphasis on promoting ‘perfect’ lifestyles.”

Life isn’t perfect no matter WHAT filter you put on it.  Every perfect post has a back-story. What was reallygoing on.  As I mom, I see pics in my feed EVERYDAY of perfect family photos and they make me feel like I’m not doing this whole mom thing right.  Then one day, refreshingly, someone added to their perfect picture post, “right before this picture was taken, my daughter pulled my son’s hair, I spilled coffee on my shirt and my husband got stung by a bee.  Now that’s a post I can relate to J

It’s all about the hearts, right?  It’s really not. In a few years, you’ll look back at things your friends posted…the posts that were SO IMPORTANT then and you’ll laugh at how insignificant they become.

Make your posts powerful.  Post things that inspire you.  Doing new things can help you find inspiration and in turn can be powerful messages.

FOMO – The Fear of Missing Out.  FOMO is anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

You have to tune stuff out. For your self-esteem, for your mental health, to give yourself empty headspace to just think.  You have to constantly train yourself to NOT look everytime there is a new alert.  This takes incredible self-discipline and even we adults who HAVEN’T had social media our entire lives find this challenging.   So in the beginning, just turn your phone face down.  You don’t even have to turn it off.  Just turn it face down.  Go a few minutes without looking.   Then go longer.  Rinse and repeat.  You get good at what you practice.

Remember, life is a marathon not a sprint. It’s important to look at the big picture.  People don’t have “Disney World vacations” everyday.  They don’t have perfect hair or perfect relationships everyday.  Comparisonitis is also a real thing.  It’s comparing every aspect of your life to what you see in your friend’s lives on social media.  It can suck the gratitude right out of you and it’s so important to live your life with gratitude.  Only remember your posts that YOU loved, forget the ones that others didn’t.

Use your social media powers for good.  I’m sure you’ve heard this before but it bears repeating…don’t post ANYTHING on social media that you wouldn’t be comfortable having on the cover of the New York Times.  (That’s a newspaper).  There is no such thing as “deleted.” Your digital footprint is permanent and deletion simply doesn’t work.

Pay it forward.  Only leave positive or productive thoughts as comments.  It’s ok to have an opinion – it is encouraged – but remember, any words YOU choose to put on social media can be taken out of context.  Post a sentence or two.  Less is more.

Think of the social media world as a forest.   Every time a negative post is made, it is a piece of litter.  But every time a positive post is made, it’s planting a flower.  Think of what that forest would look like after just a WEEK of positive comments…flowers everywhere.  THAT’S a social media world I WANT to live in. Think of how gross it would be as a litter-filled wasteland.  YOU can be that change.

Don’t post when you are emotional. Don’t leave dinner at a restaurant because your phone needs charged.  (I’m serious.  I’ve seen this happen.)  Be sure to post things that will show the world your beautiful character. Your character will be judged based on what you post. Try to post less frequently.  Rinse and repeat.  You get good at what you practice.

If you go on Snapchat 10x a day, tomorrow try only going on it 9x. Then bring that down to 8x. Rinse and repeat.  You get good at what you practice.

Start a blog.  Use it as a way to keep track and explain the positive things you are involved with.  Not sure what to blog about?  Find something that makes your heart jump, something that makes you light up to talk about. Become an expert at it. Read everything you can about it. Then teach others about it. You can use YouTube, Facebook Live or Instagram for this.  Especially if you are strong at explaining things with your spoken voice. If your strength is writing, then write away!  Photography your thing?  Be a visual storyteller using your Instagram.  Save the words.  Your expertise and passion for something will give your posts purpose and direction.  A theme to follow – not just selfies.

Launch a podcast.  It won’t be perfect in the beginning, you won’t know what you are doing. But if you get started, you are getting closer to figuring it out.  (Insider tip: YOUNG ambitious people get noticed!)

Join a Facebook group about leadership.  Tune in to a free webinar.  Pick up one new thing from it.  Rinse and repeat. You get good at what you practice.

Be sure you have a LinkedIn profile.  Think of it as your public, professional persona.  It’s you on a job interview…your academic and professional accomplishments on display all the time for future colleges, employers and peers.  It’s an important professional space in social media to shine for all to see…and it can often be the first thing that comes up when someone googles your name.

Becoming a leader.  NO ONE is ever going to give you formal validation that you are a leader. It doesn’t exist.  It’s not like a drivers license or a diploma or a badge.  Only YOU can declare yourself a leader.  Only YOU can declare yourself an expert.  Don’t let someone tell you you are not an expert.  Are they the expert police?  😉

Leaders don’t have all the answers.  They just are ok moving forward without them.  Past leaders made mistakes.  Lucky for them, social media didn’t exist to broadcast every mistake.


Give yourself options.  Options are power.  When you don’t have options, you feel powerless.

Use social media to expand your horizons.

The benefits and power of social media includes discovery. You can search for any place or topic on Instagram and often be directly connected to the PEOPLE making positive change in this world happen. You have so much power with the swipe of a thumb, you can’t even begin to grasp. J

Find solvable problems and fix them.  Problems are all around us in the real world and on social media for you to observe.  But that also means their solutions are close by, too.  A little more on that…

In the past year, I have become friends (in real life) with a woman who owns a company that feeds starving children in Africa.  I’ve researched her work, learned about the people connected to her and have begun to learn about the HUGE problem of malnutrition all on social media.  My world has been opened up to finding solvable problems – problems I once considered TOO BIG to overcome.  I’ve recently joined a new Facebook group called “Why Not Now?” to help me with this thinking.  It’s a group of entrepreneurs helping each other come up with ideas, hold each other accountable and bring one another along with their successes.

I’m currently using social media to explore and find more things that speak to my heart.  It’s a journey I’m able to take almost exclusively through social media.  I’m not limited to just ideas, organizations and people I can physically get to here in southeast Michigan.

As I stand here with you today in person, I want to remind you of the importance of “IRL connections” (in real life connections).  There is no substitute for that.  Enjoy life’s moments and BE PRESENT.  If you just live for the social media post, for the Instagram picture, you will always be disconnected and that can leave you feeling a bit empty and unsatisfied.

Make eye contact.  You’ll make others feel important and it shows you are confident.  Be your authentic self.  It’s ok if you don’t know your true self yet. Knowing your true self is an evolution that takes time.

Finally, it’s ok to take social media breaks. Look for signs that you may experiencing FOMO or comparisonitis.  If you find yourself deleting a lot of comments or posts, it’s probably time to take a break.   You can always get back on when you’ve taken time to recharge and reconnect in person.

And remember, all of this takes practice.  But you get really good at things you practice. 🙂


Be the first to comment.


Say Hay There!


From "I was just wondering" questions to speaking inquires, we'd love to hear from you! Contact Emily A. Hay here today.

All fields required.
Your email is safe with us.