How I Prepared for Being on WGN Radio

Do you know the best way to prepare for being on the radio for the first time? Not just the radio, but WGN in The Chicago Tribune Tower. The answer is a tequila party.

Thursday, August 17, 2017, Amanda Elliott, founder of Windy City Cosmo was part of a special radio show – Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez Birthday Edition. We were celebrating Patti’s birthday and talking about dating in Chicago.

Since this was my first radio show – I had a few questions – like how long I was going to be on air, what topics they wanted to discuss, and most importantly – how would I sound on air.

So, I thought the best option to prepare for a late night radio show was to:

1) ask my friends who runs a podcast how I should prepare (check out Deena McKay from Black Tech Unplugged: A Tech Podcast here)

2) figure out the meaning of life – and read this blog post 

3) go to a Codigo Tequila tasting event before the show

4) make friends

5) invite a friend

6) take the PR girls’ advice and take the last bottle of tequila left at the party and bring it to the show

7) go to the Chicago Riverwalk and have a moment  (aka cry)

8) eat a Wonder Woman cookie

While this thought process may sound like a bad idea – it was actually the best thing that I’ve ever done. And not only that, being on the radio is by far the coolest experience I’ve ever had.

So, I know you want to know how this night unfolded. I’m going to say yes I made it to my interview.

I’m Going to be on The Radio:

It was finally the day – the day I was going to be on the radio. I had met Patti Vasquez at a Lollapalooza after party. I was talking to Ken Smith and pitching him to be on his show, The Mancow Show. We had met at brunch and after about a year or two of pitching, he finally said that he was doing me a favor by not putting me on his show. I later found out that it was the truth because I had dinner with Chris Bukowski, former Bachelor contestant, who was on The Mancow Show and he backed up what Patti described as being a pretty raunchy show.

Back to the story – so Ken told me to talk with Patti Vasquez at this Lollapalooza after party. I was in a sparkly dress from Akira – 3 fake tattoos in, with a donut hole from the donut wall in one hand and my second Jack and coke in the other. It was about 1 am. It was there that Patti and I talked about how I shouldn’t be on The Mancow Show, but should be on her show. Less than two weeks later – it was happening. I was going to be on Patti’s show!

The night actually started in the late afternoon when I got into a huge fight with the guy I’m dating. This is how all good stories start – with a fight. I walked away and he went on his guy’s trip.

About two hours later, I left work late and decided to go to a Codigo tequila launch party. I show up, unattached. After a few crab legs and a tequila drink, we made it to introductions. I had a fellow blogger from Chicagogrammers, a Chicago Instagram Influencer community,  meet me at the party.

There were a few notable people at the Codigo launch party including the Chicago Food Dude, Adam Soko,  who was there with Victoria Kent, Founder of the restaurant, hospitality and lifestyle company, Victoria Kent PR. Victoria immediately knew the show, Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez, because a couple of her clients were on the show. She advised to be calm and bring a bottle of alcohol to the show.

Later into the night I met the Account Director of Lion & Lamb PR, Amanda Watenberg, and Chief Strategy Officer at The Worth Agency, Shaena Flangan.  They helped me further prep by asking me questions about Tinder dates and what it’s like dating in Chicago. You know it’s bad when you start quoting 90’s country songs about a broken heart, John Anderson’s “Straight Tequila Night.”

Getting to the WGN Studio:

Around 11:30 pm it was time to walk the mile to The Chicago Tribune. Tequila bottle in hand, we were off.

This part of the night was the saddest. It was time to switch tequila for some fresh air. Me and my blogger friend, Lee from It’s In Chicago, took a walk on the river walk to The Chicago Tribune. It was here where I started to realize I’m about to be on air -where I thought about what I had to say. I thought about why meeting in person was important, but then how despite how much I wanted a career, I still wanted a man and that there’s no guarantee. No matter how many jokes you remember or dates that you go on, you can still end up swiping for the fifth year in a row to find your soulmate.

I heard my phone vibrate and two guys were texting me. It wasn’t the time for “why didn’t we work” texts. I sat on the river and put my hands to my face crying about my ex’s, about the fight I had with the guy I’m dating, and about being worthy enough to be on the radio. My friend, Lee just stood there – he let me cry. And then he nudged me – assuring me to dry my eyes because I had a job to do.

The Green Room:

We made it to The Chicago Tribune and checked in. I’m not going to lie, it was an incredible experience. I literally had so many strangers help me prepare for this moment. We went to the green room and we took all the back stage photos we could. It was a special night because there were Wonder Woman cookies. I felt that extra boost of confidence  – that women were supporting women.  And, also bloggers were helping bloggers.



On Air:

It was finally the moment I was waiting for – being on air. We were escorted to the iconic WGN radio studio, where I learned it was Patti’s birthday. We all took a group photo.

This special edition included Dan Kotowski (Child Serv), Scott Stantis (Chicago Tribune Cartoonist), Rep. Anderson, and Rep.  Ann Moller, Amanda Elliott from from Windy City Cosmo and Comedian Paul Farahvar, host of the Podcast “Singles Only”.

I had the pleasure of being on air with the host, Patti Vasquez, Dan Kotowski (Child Serv), and Comedian, Paul Farahvar.

Once we went on, it was like having a normal conversation. We literally talked about dating faux pas like using a Groupon on a date, and about where we find men. Then we went on to talk about ghosting and how to get out of a bad date.

It was a perfect evening. We closed the show at 2 am, when we all got a moment to share our gratitude. I felt so encouraged to do this segment and supported by friends and party goers alike.

In the segment I said, “I’m just thankful for the Chicago community. There’s really great people who are actually supportive of your goals and dreams. The bloggers – I mean I’m part of Chicagogrammers and the person who is here tonight is part of Chicagogrammers and they’re all very supportive of helping you reach your goals so that’s huge that we actually care about each other.”

I feel like Chicago is a special city with a great sense of community and support not only in business and blogging, but in life. Lucky to be Windy City Cosmo and live here and date here and write another chapter of my life here.

What I learned from being on the radio:

There’s a few things I learned from this experience.

1) You never know who you are going to meet at brunch.

2) Be persistent – even if you don’t get the job or the opportunity you were pitching, it might lead to a better pitch.

3) Build a support network – tell people about what you’re doing and help one another.

4) Take lots of photos.

5) Bring a gift – even if it is a bottle of tequila.

You can listen to the full show here. My segment starts an hour into the show. Let me know what you think about dating in the city and about preparing for a big presentation or event in your career. Cheers!




How to Recognize Talent

By Soulaima Gourani

Every year millions of U.S dollars are wasted on “talent spotting”.  Large companies are spending energy, time and money on “talents” who are not talents at all, and overlook those who truly have a talent, merely because they do not know how to spot talent.


What Is Talent, And How Do You Spot a Talented Person?

You can spot a talent in less than 10 seconds, but only if you know what to look for. If you don’t know what to look for, you can end up spending an incredible amount of time and resources on searching, finding and finally acquiring a person who does not fit your needs.

In the world of sports, showbiz and naturally, business, the concept of talent spotting is used quite often and has become one of the most talked-about concepts in recruiting. Talent comes in many forms, but the question is whether you can immediately spot it in others when you encounter it. When we look for talent, many of us look for something recognizable, and that is where we go wrong because not all talent is recognizable, many times talent is hidden dying to be unleashed. The challenge that most people face when looking for talent is, you like what you can recognize, and you can only recognize something you’ve seen before.

Below are a few tips to help you see whether you’ve found yourself a ‘winner’ (within the first 10 minutes)


  • First, be open to nontraditional types! Please be aware that the ‘talent’ you are looking for many not always be what you expect. For example, it is easy to think that those who come from the best universities and have the best grades are your answer. But often, that is far from the truth. Sometimes it’s the ones who have seemingly failed, or dropped out or changed their careers a few times that are the real change-makers. Real talent, are often “out-of-the-box” thinkers, and not the typical “do as I’m told” types. They are creative, non-traditional or non-linear-thinkers that hate to be restricted or confined. So, if you see that they’ve changed their careers/jobs a few times, it can simply be that they are looking for a place where there are smart people who are unafraid of new ideas.


  • Does the person “light up the room” when they walk in? Do they convey an aura of personality that draws you in and captures your attention? I like to point this out because charisma & confidence is indeed a talent. It implies that they have a healthy self-esteem and tend to approach things with a “can do” attitude.  Although, mostly a talent needed in business/sales. If a person can light up a room the instant they enter it, just imagine how easy it is for them to communicate with others and close a business deal?


  • Look for the “shiny eyes effect.” Eyes will tell you about that person’s energy, drive, health, strength, passion, and personality. Passion and energy produce what has been called the “shining eyes” effect, which just means that one has a radiant sparkle in their eyes. Which can indicate that they have a passion, drive, and determination.


  • Look for the fearless leader! Do they agree with everything you say? Or do they challenge your thoughts (in a respectable way)? Someone who is ‘fearless’ is never afraid to fail and explore new avenues in order reach a little higher; this is where innovation comes from.


However to find the real talent within a person you need more than 10 seconds; to find exceptional demands unique methods and not the same old HR methods, but if you can spot them quickly you can the ability to cut through the clutter of less than dynamic prospects. 


About the author – Soulaima Gourani: Soulaima Gourani is a lecturer, corporate advisor, and author. She is the author of three books; “Ignite your career,” “Take control of your career,” and “Courage to success.” She was elected as a TED mentor in 2016 and was later that same year announced as one of the “Inspiring 50 Nordics” women in the tech sector.


Friendships Drive Uber and Lyft’s Race to Self-Driving Cars

Lyft has made it’s next leap forward in the ride-sharing economy – they are becoming self-driving, and they are doing it with the best in the business.

Everyone who has ever had an idea they believed in knows the feeling of needing friends more than they need you. (If you don’t believe it, look at Instagram and see all of the bloggers helping bloggers). It’s not balanced. But, it also doesn’t mean that the person with the idea doesn’t bring something of value to the table. And furthermore, it doesn’t mean that they can’t grow to usurp the market share in the industry. Lyft has long been the lesser ride sharing platform, and by lesser I mean less in-demand than Uber (and also I believed in Uber’s future through partnerships and still only use their ride-sharing platform). Nonetheless, that is of course in testament to dollars and cents – Lyft is valued below $10 Billion and Uber is valued at $68 Billion (or $50 Billion depending on which shareholders you ask).

One of my favorite innovative newsletter, The Hustle, talked about the Underdog, Lyft this in this morning round-up. Lyft has in many ways been far behind, but just because you’re behind, doesn’t mean you can’t catch up. It just means you may need your friends more than they need you right now. In Lyft’s greatest round of catch-up, they are striking into the autonomous car business – a future technology that will make car’s safer, but on the other side, has undergone a lot of setbacks during recent testing  – particularly Uber’s beta test in San Francisco and the more relevant news – Uber’s lawsuit with Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project, over the self-driving technology.

This piece of news changes it all – for Lyft that is.  While the lawsuit continues, shade can still be thrown, and that’s exactly what Waymo, “the friend” is doing by partnering up with Lyft. It’s not because they’re such good friends. It’s because the big player didn’t play fair. Lyft is Uber’s arch nemesis. It’s another blow to Uber, and it’s another necessary partnership that is quite frankly keeping Lyft in the game.  Will this new investment in self-driving Lyft fleets be a good move for Waymo? And will this actually pay dividends for GM – the giant that’s been investing in Lyft all along when they needed it the most?

Lyft has a vision – a four year vision – that by 2021 self-driving Lyft cars will make up the “majority” or it’s network. And while that sounds noble, I think it’s also interchangeable. Autonomous cars are the future even if some may believe that the technology is better suited for trucks on highways than stop and go cars in cities. The technology is set, it’s being tested, and by 2025 self-driving cars will be built and sold by Ford. There are of course other players in this game including Daimler, Tesla, Volvo and Apple.

Uber and Lyft’s face-off is interesting. Uber drivers are Lyft drivers. They must know this. While the brand is remarkably different (and that does change some things like reputability and users and even the bottom line re: #DeleteUber campaign), maybe as long as the face is the same, the game isn’t going to change that much until there’s no people – there’s just a car waiting for you. The destination is clear: autonomous cars, but the vehicle to get there will be the real surprise.

What do you think about Lyft’s new friendship circle?


The App That Helps Grow Your Instagram Following is Banned

There’s one thing you’ll learn when you’re looking for Instagram following secrets and blogger success stories and tips – and that is 1) they automate and 2) they delegate. One of the best secrets of the Instagram popularity world is Archie – until now.

In the world of influence, numbers matter. And bloggers and influencers and celebrities alike have been turning to a number of sources to inflate their numbers, their Istagram followers and likes. But, as I’ve built connections in the blogger community through groups like Chicagogrammers and through Chicago foodie brunches, I’ve noticed that they all seem to want to play fair.

So, on a platform where you have to get up early to scroll through and like and comment (the suggestion rate is 3 likes and 1 comment for someone to follow you, but to each their own), there was a better way – a more accepted in the Instagram community way – and that way was Archie.

Bloggers Share Why They Use Bots for Likes on Instagram: is a platform that helps grow your social media exposure. Essentially it likes photos for you on Instagram based on approved hashtags. It doesn’t comment.

According to Chicago Blogger, Erin’s Inside Job, she mentioned Archie as one of her secrets to maximizing her reach in a blog post:

“I have heard a number of social media presenters talk about growing their Instagram presence by spending hours of their time searching through hashtags and liking pictures. I’m sorry, but I really don’t have time to do that. I do spend time checking the site to make sure that the pictures I am liking align with my own brand and I will even head over to ones I especially like and leave a comment to start the interaction. For me, Archie simply helps cut down the time it takes for me to find like-minded people to start a conversation with!”

I liked her point of view, and I had seen a number of people use apps like Archie to like photos for them.

Another blogger, Maddy Osman from The BlogSmith wrote a detailed post outlining her hashtag strategy and how she uses Archie to maximize her social media presence. 

“Auto-liking, on the other hand, doesn’t come off any way but “interested.” A like is a show of support for a user’s content. People who are creating public content tend to appreciate a show of support. Archie once shared a statistic that claimed that for every 31 likes on average, you can expect a new follower. Oftentimes, a person who gets a like from someone they don’t know (especially if they don’t have a lot of followers) gets curious about the person who liked them. They might then investigate the account, enjoy the content, and follow for more.”

Are Using Bots Authentic?

In a community that is based on authenticity, is paying for a bot to like posts inauthentic?

Well, let me rephrase – how would you feel if you know someone liked your post themselves or if they liked it because you used a hashtag – not because they actually saw it? And that question begs – do you even care if someone actually liked it (because why are you using hashtags anyway?) or are you just thankful for the attention? I mean is using a bot more polite than using the hashtag #like4alike and other variations?

I always go back to that time I was dating someone and I noticed they texted me “Hey, how are you?” almost everyday. I was starting to think I was being autotexted. And that made the texts become meaningless to me. Let’s face it, if someone famous (with a verified account) likes something on social media or comments – you want it to come from the famous person, not the bot, right? But, then how do you get their attention – mining through hashtags all day is not the answer.

How Instagram works is confusing to a lot of people – most recently with the algorithm changes that are even banning people from using hashtags by not letting them show up in searches.

Instagram is Stopping Bots:

In a recent article, The New York Times reported that Instagram has been shutting down Archie and apps like it Instagress, PeerBoost, InstaPlus, Mass Planner and Fan Harvest – to name a few.

So, since Archie has been an integral way for bloggers and Instagrammers to grow their social media following – what’s next? How will this change your likes, follows, and comments moving forward?

Stay tuned for a follow-up article.


Meet the Business Woman Behind Chicago-Based BellaRosa

Meet the business woman, Jasmene Bowdry,  behind the chic, fashion store, BellaRosa.  

This Chicago-based shop was created with one goal in mind – to provide that extra boost of confidence, like knowing how to dress for your body type, every woman needs to step out into the world, no matter her personal style. Bowdry got her start in New York City where she was a successful retail buyer and fashion stylist with over 10 years of experience in the fashion industry.  As a buyer, she advises on current market trends and purchases relevant brand lines for Fortune 500 companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Sears, and more. Bowdry’s fashion expertise also extends beyond the boardroom as she has styled top celebrities, with her work appearing in magazines VIBE, People, XXL and Forbes.

BR jasmene.JPG

Windy City Cosmo sat down with Bowdry at a pop-up event, Summer Time Fab – Fitness, Fashion & Beauty at Coalition Impact to learn more about her style and her success in the fashion world.

How did you learn about styling? Was there someone’s style you appreciated? 

Bowdry: By living in New York City and constantly being around and working in fashion. When you live in the fashion capital there’s always work, so you hear about different opportunities by remaining in the know of who’s who.

How did you build up your clients and following?

Bowdry: Most of the site traffic is driven by Instagram and Facebook. However being able to allow customers to see, touch and feel the clothing is important so I try to vend at popular events that fit my target audience.

Your site is for trendsetters – how does one start a trend?

Bowdry: A majority of trends come from the runway and then trickle down to the masses. But it’s really more about your confidence and you rock that trend. And you do that by being true to you. Rhianna started a trend by wearing exposed bobby pins to the AMAs. But that style isn’t new, ask any girl that lives in New York City about a doobie wrap, been doing it for decades. However, Rhianna took something and made it her own.

What’s been the best part of running your own business? What’s been the worst?

Bowdry: The best part of running your own business is seeing the vision you imagined actually come to life. There’s no worst. It all is a part the process. I look at every experience as a learning opportunity.