Inspired by...Blogging Crushes!

I’ve already told you all about the websites and columnists I have bookmarked so I can get inspired by them every week, but now I’m here to talk about a few of my favourite bloggers who are definitely my blogging crushes!



1. Carly Heitlinger at The College Prepster


Carly Heitlinger, a.k.a The College Prepster is a perfect example of a 20-something taking over the blogging world!  She started her blog to escape from the horrors of a freshman accounting class at Georgetown, and in the however-many-years since, she has become a sensation.  I’m usually not a fan of “preppy” blogs, but this chica is killing it!  In terms of blogging, she is consistent (at least once a day) and her posts are so much fun to read.  She writes about what it’s like to blog for a living, the adventures she has in NYC, trips she takes, personal matters like anxiety and perfectionism, organising tips, product reviews, style, beauty, and on and on.  I’ve discovered some of my favourite apps and organisation techniques via Carly, and have a whole list of places I need to get to once I go back to New York.  She’s the kind of blogger that makes you want to be her because her life is so fabulous, but she’s also incredibly relatable and seems like a really interesting person.  She came and spoke at the Smart Girls Conference last summer (and will be returning this summer) and she really is as cool as she appears on her blog.  Plus, she has the cutest toy poodle named Teddy who has his own Instagram, so there’s a social media goal for you :)


2. Quincy Bulin at

Quincy is the Editor in Chief at Smart Girls Group and a true inspiration!  I’ve been working with her (remotely) for about a year and I recently discovered her blog — it quickly jumped to the top of my must-read list.  First, her blog is gorgeous!  It’s a very simple, clean design that lets the words and message shine through…and oh boy, do they shine!  Quincy is wise beyond her years and I really connect with her because she’s so authentic.  Her blog reads like a journal, like a hidden layer or buried treasure you uncover only by reading more.  She writes about living up to her “hype” on social media, getting out of a rut, her faith, her boyfriend, her decision to leave New York.  WOW, right?  Her [digital] voice is so soothing and warm and she is truly a gift to the world, both digital and in reality.


3. Alex Mathews at

First, I LOVE the title of Alex’s blog!  It gets right to the point and tells you exactly what her blog is going to be about.  Second, Alex is a great friend of mine (who I met this year! Yay, study abroad!) and is the one who told me about this challenge, so how could she not be one of my blogging crushes?  I love how Alex writes both about her trips around Europe (she and I have a serious case of wanderlust) and about the little things she encounters and experiences living in London.  I appreciate that she writes about the big things, and the personal things, like nerdiness, and anxiety and being an introvert, because how comforting is that? :)  You go, girl! 


Inspired to be,



Sunday Night Thoughts

Well, it's Sunday here in New York so I've made my lists and schedule for the week (I find it oddly relaxing…), and oh boy do I have a lot coming up!

I started a new position at the Smart Girls Group as a social media intern for the magazine, the Smart Girls Guide and I can't wait to dive in.  I'm working on strategy for the magazine's Pinterest page, as well as working with Twitter.  The Guide is becoming a major entity of SGG and is growing really quickly so we're working on creating an individual voice for it.  I love social media and Smart Girls Group, of course, so I thought, "why not?"!  That's going so be SO much fun because it's now basically my job to comb through the current and most recent issues of the Guide and promote it on social media.  What could be better than that?  The newest issue came out this morning so I'm going to read it tonight and pick out quotes and articles and pictures and get ready to tweet!  I have to tweet a *ton*, though so I'm looking into good social media management sites.  Any suggestions?

I started my new class, Islam in America, last week and I love it already!  Similar to my American Religious Texts class, this class is history and theology combined, and it adds Islamic history to it so I sit in class with a completely enraptured expression on my face and I have no shame for my nerdiness :)  We talked about the slave trade last week and how Islam was introduced to the US and this week we'll be talking about Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, which was a more militant, racially-driven group that arose in the US in the 20s and 30s.  I have to miss class on Thursday, though, because…..

I'M GOING TO THE SMART GIRLS CONFERENCE!!!!  I had originally thought that there was no way I could fit it in with work and my internship and class but, after a surprise discount that I interpreted as a sign from above, I made it work so that I'm only missing one of each of these, since the conference is right at Lincoln Center!  Trust me, this event is going to be HUGE!  We have an incredible speaker lineup, from Shiza Shahid, CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund, Brenda Berkman, the first female firefighter of FDNY, Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster, Renata Mutis Black, micro finance entrepreneur, and so many more!  I finally get to meet all of these women I have come to know during my time with SGG and I can't wait to sit in that conference room and bask in the inspiration.  Trust me, there will be *many* posts about this!



It's also going to be live streamed so you can catch any of the events from the website!

Oh, and I have to book my flight to London by Friday so it's about to get even more real that I, Katherine Labonte, am actually going to London in exactly 80 days.  *cue excited scream*.

Yup, it's going to be a great week!  Happy Sunday!

Inspired to be,

Katherine =)

Inspired by The Smart Girls Group

I've mentioned The Smart Girls Group a few times here, as it is one of the biggest sources of inspiration in my life but I realized that I haven't explained what this incredible organization is, yet!  Officially, The Smart Girls Group is "the one-stop shop and sisterhood for the next generation of superstar women."  Unofficially, it is one of the greatest opportunities I have ever had and a constant source of both joy and inspiration.

The Smart Girls Group began in 2011 when Emily Raleigh, a senior in high school, wrote a book for her younger sister, Sophie, for Christmas on how to be your very best in high school.  She didn't want to stop with the book or keep it confined to her sister, though.  She made a New Year's resolution to create The Smart Girls Group so girls from all walks of life could connect and be empowered to be smart and share their "smarts", no matter what they are.  Though it began with a monthly online mini magazine, it has grown leaps and bounds since then!  It expanded to include a daily blog called the Smart Girls Loop, featuring original content written by Smart Girl Sisters, using a platform that Emily designed herself.  In 2012, Emily started her freshman year at Fordham University and was accepted to the Compass Fellowship which supports young entrepreneurs.  She received a grant from the Kenneth Cole Foundation that supported the relaunch of The Smart Girls Group to include online classes and an internship program, as well as funding for the first ever Smart Girls Group Conference, slated to take place in New York City next month!  The Smart Girls Group (SGG) has been featured in numerous publications such as the Daily Beast's "Women in the World" website, and has won the Camp Campbell grant and the New York Young Entrepreneurs Challenge.  In other words, BIG things are coming!

Emily lived in my dorm during our freshman year and I watched the development of SGG throughout the year, all the while thinking, "Wow!  How does this girl DO it all?"  After months of watching and admiring from the sidelines, I had to jump in.  I started as a writer for the Current Events column of the Loop, producing biweekly articles, and I loved getting to write about my passions during the fall semester of my sophomore year.  In January, there was a posting for an Operations Intern position and, knowing that I was ready for more, I applied and received an email that changed my life - I got the position!  I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to begin.  

Emily and I started worked on developing a weekly email newsletter that would showcase content produced my Smart Girls.  I've seen how important email marketing can be for a company so I wanted to make Smart Mail, as we named it, a little dose of everything that is the Smart Girls Group delivered right to your inbox.  I soon had a staff of five girls writing editorials on a variety of topics, which soon grew to it's present number of 12 superstar Smart Girls working with me to produce Smart Mail.  Putting together Smart Mail every Monday night/Tuesday afternoon is one of my favorite parts of the week because I'll jam out to my favorite songs and create something Smart.  Smart Mail is my project and I obsess over our readership rates, and shamelessly plug it every chance I get.  You know that feeling when you see your work on display and you think, "Wow, I did that!"  Well, that's how I feel every Wednesday morning at 7am when my mail notification dings and delivers Smart Mail!  

Welcome to Smart Mail!

Welcome to Smart Mail!

Through the Smart Girls Group, I have developed a love of social media, blogging (!), marketing, and development that I never would have thought myself interested in before.  I wear my official Smart Girls Group t-shirt (which I'm wearing now!) with the utmost pride because I believe in SGG so much.  It is a community of like-minded women who are bent on changing the world by being smart and sharing their smarts.  It has struck the perfect note with me and has left me utterly and completely inspired.

To subscribe to Smart Mail, click here!  For more information about The Smart Girls Group, visit their website and let the inspiration begin.

Inspired to be,


The Daily Catch-Up

I like to know things.  Ever since I was little, I have been a sponge for information in any form, soaking up facts and dates and snippets of knowledge.  It made me the most obnoxious Jeopardy! viewer in my family, and quite an eager member of my high school's quiz bowl team.  Now that I'm older, I've learned that this ability to memorize and absorb, and this passion for learning inspires me.  I want to be smart and this desire to live every day inspired has become a daily routine that I call "The Daily Catch-Up."  (It used to be the "Morning Catch-Up" but it basically lasts the entire day now…)

I wake up in the morning to about 15 emails in my inbox and they keep flooding in as the morning progresses.  Given the fields I want to enter (politics, public policy, branding, women's empowerment, etc.), I need to make sure I am on top of what's going on in the world so I've subscribed to a bunch of email campaigns and news websites to get content delivered straight to my inbox.  Most of them come in before I leave for work in the morning so I try to get through them all during my commute, and more arrive throughout the day so I check my email quite a bit.  My top-favorite emails from specific news sites are The Week 's (an excellent news magazine) "10 Things You Need to Know Today" and Time 's basic headlines emails.  Those give you the bylines and links to full articles so I can explore more on my own.  I also get more specific content from Politico (a politics-centered website) and Foreign Policy Magazine.  From Poltico, I get briefings of general political headlines and congressional affairs, and then I get what's called "The Huddle" which gives you longer blurbs about the headlines you received in the briefings emails, so it's like shorter versions of articles!  I get "The Situation Report" from Foreign Policy which is a little long for my taste but I like the writer, Gordon Lubold, and how he tells you who in U.S foreign policy is where on that day, and gives longer descriptions of major foreign news.  Since I'm interested in the Middle East and Central Asia, I get specific Middle Eastern and Asian affairs briefings, as well.

And now, onto my favorite emails!  If you're looking to get the facts explained to you in an easy-to-understand format, look no further than these four campaigns:

TheSkimm comes at 6am and is for anyone who doesn't want to sound ignorant at a cocktail party, as I like to say.  The two women who write it are former news producers and they have a flair for sass!  They "skim" the major news stories, break it down for you, give you some background on the issue, and voila!  You are officially armed with everything you need to know for the day.  This is the first thing I read in the morning and it gives me an excellent foundation for my other "Catch-Up" emails.  I've loved theSkimm so much that I became a "skimm'bassador" for them to spread the Skimm…and the sass.  Click here to subscribe!

PolicyMic's  "Mic Check" is another favorite of mine and it gives you not only the major headlines, but it categorizes them into "The Agenda" (the major news stories), "Matters of Debate" (op-ed and ongoing issues), and "Marvels" (interesting extras).  This gives you both information, but it lets you explore more, depending on your interest.

Quartz is your quick "give me the facts" email.  This is a quick read that lays out the headlines in bold with a sentence or two about them, and then "soft news" headlines for those of you with a little more time to explore.  What I really like about this one is that Quartz draws from a wide variety of news sources, such as Le Monde, The National Interest, and more off-the-beaten-path blogs and websites so you get a very well-rounded curation.

 Need 2 Know is for the categories-driven (*cough* type A! *cough*) among us which I greatly appreciate.  There's a one phrase category such as "Iraq", "Business", "Weekend Box Office", and a quick blurb underneath and a link to the full article from its original news source.  Whoever writes it also includes his/her two cents in a one-liner and, let's face it, who doesn't love a little sass?  


What's great about all of these email campaigns is that they don't take that long to read at all and you start making connections between past and present news stories and references in the media, and you start to feel like you have a slightly better grip at what's going on in the world.  You can start with the "skimmed" emails and then expand it depending on your interest, and, soon enough, you'll have an inbox flooded with current events when you wake up in the morning!  

The more you know, the more interested you become, and the more inspired you are.

Inspired to be,