Maryland Adventures: Final Update

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As promised, here is a quick run-down of my adventures in the great state of Maryland (shhh, don’t tell anyone but Virginia is still better).

Overall, while in Maryland I practically worked 12 hour days. I left my hotel at 8:30 in the morning and I wouldn’t get back to my hotel until after 9 at night (usually). To say I was tired physically and emotionally would be an understatement. I was exhausted. The work was hard and I had to push myself every day to do more and become better.

The Baltimore office was in desperate need of help. They just didn’t have the manpower to penetrate their markets as needed. This was were myself and the colleague I traveled with came in. Not only did we spend a ridiculous amount of time in the field, we also recruited for the office like crazy. Our entire two weeks were spent not only helping the office penetrate the market, but also helping the director more than double the manpower in his office.

I am not afraid to admit the trip was harder than I thought it would be but I learned a lot! I also grew a lot. I had to push myself to be a leader in the company because I had no choice but to be. While I may not be a leader in title (or pay), in attitude and actions I had to strive to achieve that daily.

Every single day I had to fight through negative thoughts and being homesick because ultimately I had a job that needed to be done. I had to realize that I am still learning and still growing, which is ultimately something that never stops when you really step back to think about it.

I remember specifically one night I called my boss after what I felt like was a bad day and I told him I felt like I was failing. This sucked because I don’t like failing. His response was “Well, Abby, I have news for you. This business is designed to make you fail.” It sounds blunt and backwards, right? Yet it’s true. From the very beginning of this job, everyone is very transparent about how this is an investment not only in your careers but also your life.

My job is hard because you have to face rejection from clients multiple times a day and keep pushing forward, all while maintaining a smile on your face and a positive attitude.

The trip was hard, yes. I will not deny that. But it was also fun. My trip taught me how negative things in life will happen. There is nothing we can do to avoid them, they will simply come. The same way happiness is a fleeting feeling, rejection and disappointment are fleeting too. Your attitude about a situation is what ultimately makes it a positive one.

There’s a song in Monty Python that says “always look on the bright side of life.” It sounds cliche, but when you work to apply it into your life every single day, it truly makes a difference.

Things will not always go the way we expect, my trip to Maryland certainly didn’t. That doesn’t mean we give up though. We keep pushing forward. As I continued to remind myself on my trip – God has a greater purpose for me. It was in those moments were I was tired and discouraged and ready to come home and hug my parents that I was able to thrive.

Maryland taught me to see the challenges of life and face them head on. Maryland reminded me that my strength is found not in who I am but who my Father is. I may have only spent two weeks in Maryland, but I have no doubt that I came back to DFW a better employee because of it (which apparently my boss did too because I got placed on a new account this week).

I feel like so often we are quick to judge people when they face trials. I know I have been. Maryland showed me how much I have misjudged people in certain situations before, but Maryland also opened my eyes to everything I want in life and the proper steps to go get it. Let me tell you, I am ready to go get it (seriously, watch out D.C. because I’m coming for ya!)

Trails are hard, but as I said they are possible to overcome because attitude is everything. Even if you have to fake it until you make it (as I have many times before) it is definitely possible.

Lastly, I want to emphasize remembering that God has a purpose for all of our lives. While we may not always understand it, it may not always make sense, and if you’re like me there are days you cannot help but look at God and go “Really?! Are you sure?!” that purpose is there. No matter what position you are in, what I learned is that when we really strive to live that purpose that is when I became the most successful personally.

I’ll leave you with the words from 1 Corinthians 10 – Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. When you remind yourself of this on a daily basis, when you make this your purpose and remember everything you are and everything you do is for the glory of God and God alone, I promise it will make all the difference in the world.

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Maryland Adventures: Quick Update

Hey guys!

I owe y’all an apology, I promised updates about my Maryland trip for work and I have failed…miserably. Believe it or not, I have been working my butt off since I have been here.

I am really exhausted so I don’t have the time to do long posts now, but no worries because posts about lessons I have learned and things I have seen (plus the Maryland Blue Crab I have eaten) are coming. Also keep an eye out for a special Easter edition post. This was my first Easter I have ever spent away from my family, but it ended up being pretty amazing!

I also think I’m going into Fell’s Point Historic District and the Inner Harbor tomorrow to see some light show and go to a music festival so for someone as nautical as obsessed as me it should be a great time!

Have a great week everyone and see y’all when I get back to Texas!

P.S. The Department of Defense held a commemorative ceremony for Vietnam Veteran’s Day. A wreath was laid at the memorial in D.C. and it was beautiful. Most importantly, THANK YOU to all Vietnam veterans for the sacrifices y’all made. I can never express my gratitude enough.

Maryland Adventures

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If you would have told me three months ago that at the age of 21 I would be the person packing last minute to fly across the nation for a business trip, I probably would have laughed in your face. Actually, there is no probably. I would have laughed in your face. But I mean, it’s the dream right? Getting your flight, hotel, and all that jazz paid for. Feeling official boarding a plan in a nice pair of khakis, a navy blue blazer, and a nice coral necklace for an added pop of color. You feel top-notch, like those important people you see in the movies or on Wall Street (except your business pro outfit didn’t cost $800+).

Yet the likelihood of this dream actually becoming a reality remains simply that, a dream. Unless you are seriously well-connected, how else can a 21 year old just pack up and fly out last minute for 2 weeks? It’s crazy, right? Am I right? We know I’m right.

What if I told you it was possible? How crazy would you think I was? Would you think I was lying to you? Or do you think I have a job that pays well into the six figures every year? I can assure you none of these are true. I’m not crazy (well psychologically speaking anyway), I’m not lying to you, and I definitely do not have a job that pays six figures every year.

On the exterior, I am your average 21 year old. I literally just graduated college. I have a job that requires a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours. I am still trying to figure my life out. I am still trying to make my dreams a reality. And most importantly, I am still a kid at heart. Seriously, unless you’re in the military (which if you are, then mad props to you, you are awesome), we are probably quite similar when it comes to the job market.

Internally, I’m not a 21 year old. I constantly have to remind myself it was only a couple months ago I graduated college. I look at the potential in my job and am blown away at the possibility of where I could be in a year. At times I see my life falling unexpectedly yet perfectly into place and just have to sit back and smile.

In fact, I have never necessarily been average for my age at all. Being the perfectionist I am, I always strive push harder and to do more. I always want to be more mature than my actual age. I always want to prove I can make it with “the big boys” per say. But I wouldn’t say there is one thing I did or didn’t do that has helped me out along the way. The bottom line is I have simply been blessed. Really, truly blessed.

Yesterday I departed Dallas Lovefield Airport, flew a blue and orange plane branded with Southwest Airlines in bright, bold and white letters, and spent 2 hours and 40 minutes crammed (well, not really crammed. I am a little person after all) between two gentlemen for Maryland. Yes my friends, you read that correctly, I am in Maryland.

Why am I in Maryland? I’m so glad you asked. The company I work for has done so well representing our clients in DFW, their appointment books are quite literally backed up for weeks. In so doing, they have analyzed other markets across the nation and decided to outsource people from my office to other locations and companies. Hence why I am in Maryland (others remained in Dallas but are training with a new client). I am apparently so good at what I do, it’s time for me to go aid and learn with another market.

If you are shocked then understand you are not alone. I was probably more shocked than you are. After all, I have only been at this company “officially” for two weeks now. Crazy, right? Yet here I am sitting at a hotel in Maryland ready to hit the ground running (and probably about to get my butt kicked too).

I understand this kind of lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people love home and prefer to stay at home. That’s awesome. If that’s you, then by all means please embrace that. You can do amazing things from home. Myself? I’m one of those busybodies. I get uncomfortable being in one place too long. I love travel. There is a reason I’m getting a graduate degree in International Affairs after all. I think I said yes to this opportunity before my boss could even finish getting the sentence out.

I guess at the end of the day, I am just so surprised I am getting chances, I am taking baby steps, toward living out my dream so early. It has always seemed so far off and like I haven’t put in the “right” work to reach that point, but isn’t that the funny way God’s plan tends to work? We never know how He will answer our prayers or fulfill His promises to us, it just kind of happens. You could be like me and pretty much hate surprises, but our Father surprises us in the absolute best ways possible. It’s truly incredible.

I want to emphasize I am not on this trip because of anything I did on my own merit. All I have prayed this week is that I would embrace my job and God would use me to open doors and be a light for Him. I am on this trip because of the work God is doing through me. Remember my post about Those No-Good, Dirty, Rotten Mondays? The same principle is applicable here. The work I do, no matter what it is, is for the glory of God and God alone.

As I explore the Maryland for the next couple weeks, I am excited to learn and I am excited to grow. I am excited to see the opportunities God has for me. Something tells me this is all apart of His plan. Even my dad told me he sees the scenario of me calling to inform them I have been offered a job in Alexandria, VA (hey, definitely NO complaints there if that were to happen).

But on a serious note, these truly are about to be some of the hardest two work weeks of my life. Yet I’ll never get to where I want to be in life I am not willing to put forth the work.

This is also a networking opportunity. Going back to the comment from my dad, who knows who I will meet while I am here. Old friends, new faces, potential bosses, I am seriously open to it all.

This is going to be really fun guys and I am really excited for this opportunity. I promise I am going to try and update as much as I can. You can also check my twitter regularly and the new Instagram I created specifically for this blog for a look at the happenings in my Maryland adventures.

Let’s go on this journey together! I am sure it’s going to be a great one!

The link to the new Instagram is @_gilliamgirl. Keep up with my adventures in D.C. tomorrow! I’m happier than a little kid on Christmas Eve!!

 

 

Choices to Make Every Day

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Well guys, today was my first day of work! I know, crazy right? I’m afraid I don’t have any glamorous details to report as I’m still in training, but what I can say is I am learning a ton!

Nervously holding my coffee and my striped folder with some paper and a yellow legal pad in it, I walked through the door today not knowing what to expect. I learned a lot of names, received my new hire packet, and slowly began to feel at ease in a bright room completely opposite of the muggy weather outside.

Facing a job is not like school but there is a lot of the same application. In school, I had to wake up every day prepared to learn something new. This is the same concept only in a slightly different way. Large portions of my job are centered around learning and I have to wake up every day in a mindset ready to learn.

I worked ridiculously hard in school. I killed myself for the grades I received, and there was no denying I earned them. But that verb earn makes all the difference in the world. None of my grades were simply handed to me. I was not entitled to graduate with honors, I had to earn it. The workforce is the same way. One thing I discussed with my mom is how similar this position is to what I did at Allen Samuels. However, the knowledge I already have of the system does not make entitled to anything. This is a fresh plate I am dealing with. I have to earn my position at work and I have to earn it every day.

I have discussed before how I love learning (seriously, I’ll probably be in school for the rest of my life). I now have a chance to learn at work and earn my job, but it is a choice I have to make every day.

So, in the spirit of learning, here’s what I learned today. During the morning meeting, my boss discussed an article titled One Thing Successful People Don’t Make. Know the answer? Excuses.

When we face failure in this life (and we will), it is always important to remember we can overcome. Failure tends come from one of two things – inaction, when we simply don’t do something, or action gone wrong, when we tried something a certain way and it didn’t work. But still, remember we can overcome. I know, I sound like a motivational speaker right now, but these are really important things to remember.

There are four practical applications we discussed along this notion of quitting excuses:

  1. Define your priorities 
    Defining your goal is exactly what it sounds like – know what you want and explore your options to go get it. When you know where you’re going, it becomes easier to align your priorities with your goals. As an added plus, it’s important to remember if you enjoy doing it, you’ll do it. Think exercise, if you hate running you won’t want to do it. One reason I love yoga so much is because I loved dance. Many moves from yoga are derived from ballet, therefore I enjoy it becomes my body remembers the motions from my ballet days.
  2. Do not be short-sited
    Always remember it is the end goal that matters. PR practitioners love to discuss goals versus strategies. Goals are long term while strategies are measurable, or the baby steps you will take to get there. During college my ultimate goal was to graduate, but I used baby steps like moving up a classification or my class ring as ways to motivate me toward that long-term goal. Now? Believe me, my long-term goal is still D.C., but I am currently taking the baby steps to get myself there.
  3. Do not be afraid to fail
    I am sure this is something you have heard your entire life, I know I have. The important thing to remember when you fail is keep learning. It can be discouraging but you have to keep moving forward. In high school, the worst test I ever failed was in Algebra 2. That class kicked my butt. However, as much as my teacher thought I was giving up at times, I wasn’t. I was going to tutoring. I spent hours on hours studying at night, and I did everything I could to keep learning. There were certainly bumps along the way, but come test days I faced those tests (and at times my teacher) head on. Little did I realize my hard-earned C at the end of my Algebra 2 career became what shaped me for constant A’s in pre-calculus my junior year.
  4. Accept responsibility
    When you’re honest with yourself and others, it makes it easier to accept those times you don’t get the results you want. Taking correction, criticism, etc. can be hard, but what I’ve learned is how successful you can become when you simply nod your head, take responsibility, and understand why you’re being corrected. The best leaders I have come across are those who lead by example; these are the people who accept responsibility.

A couple years ago someone told me the quote “No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how much you fall, you are never out of the fight.” (Fun fact: this quote was also used in the movie Lone Survivor) It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time, and it was also what I was thinking about during our morning meeting.

In ending my motivational speech from my first day at work, all I have to say is to keep moving forward. You may not be where you want to be, but you aren’t where you were when you started either. Keep learning, keep earning what you want every day, and stop making excuses. You can overcome.

By the way, y’all are great! Thanks for the many congrats and support on grad school and my job. Who knows what exciting news I could be sharing with y’all next!

P.S. The picture of the top is from my trip to Guatemala in August 2014. I forgot to take pictures today, but hey that looks pretty and motivational, right?

Super Bowl 50: Advertising Success, Shocks and Failures

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Image courtesy of official Denver Broncos Twitter account (@Broncos)

First off, CONGRATS to the Denver Broncos on the Super Bowl win! Since my mom is from Denver, there was no denying who we would be rooting for in my house. The win was well deserved and I am excited Peyton Manning got the win (even if Eli was shocked on the last touchdown drive. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the Bleacher Report article here)

However, let’s talk about the real reason people watch the Super Bowl – and no, I’m not talking about Beyonce. The commercials.

Super Bowl commercials are known for being hilariously captivating to their watchers. Don’t we all love the relationship between the puppy and Clydesdale in the Budweiser commercials (even if it didn’t make the cut this year)? These commercials come into focus for how successful their advertisements are, mainly the reaction they cause among their audience. If you’re a company and you are willing to pay $5 million for a 30-second spot, you better be able to deliver to your audience.

With a world consumed with social media, these companies are instantly able to know how well their commercials performed. So here are what I have found to be Super Bowl 50 advertising success, shocks and failures.

Success:
Remember the PR failure that came on the Miss Universe pageant when Steve Harvey accidentally named the wrong winner? Well T-Mobile banked on that to make what was, in my opinion, one of the most successful commercials of the Super Bowl. The reprise of Steve Harvey’s blunder at the Miss Universe is used by T-Mobile to advertise they now have 97 percent of Verizon’s coverage – correcting the colored balls used in a Verizon commercial to show which provider has the most coverage. T-Mobile used a PR mishap to create an effective commercial for their company. Easy coverage for both T-Mobile and Steve Harvey (sorry, Drake).

Shock Value:
Face it – as WEIRD as Mountain Dew’s puppy-monkey-baby commercial was, it broke the Internet. Everyone was talking about it. In a roundabout way, the shock value undoubtedly became a PR success for Mountain Dew (and hey, maybe that is what they were going for all along). Personally, the commercial freaked me out but I cannot deny it grasped my attention. While I am not sure how well the Mtn Dew Kickstart drink will continue to sell, viewers were acknowledging that the commercial existed. Think back to the Nationwide commercial from last year – while people were not happy about the depiction of a deceased child, they were still talking about the company.

Failure:
A commercial that was widely circulated along the East Coast but received outrageously negative comments was Colonial Williamsburg. While taking their viewers on a trip of foundational moments in United States history, the historical foundation used footage from the 9/11 attacks which quickly spiked the tempers of those who saw it. The use of macabre was, for me, eerily reminiscent of the macabre celebrations found in Renaissance Europe. Many people tweeted their disgust at Colonial Williamsburg for using the horror of the attack to sell tourism. While Colonial Williamsburg spokesperson, Joe Straw, quoted my favorite Shakespeare line “What is past is prologue” in defense of the commercial which the foundation is choosing to stand behind, I have to wonder what types of focus groups, if any, the foundation used before airing the commercial. While I understand the foundation is trying to emphasize the ways the U.S. has both overcome tragedy and embraced triumph, I believe there are better ways to depict that fateful day – such as showing Ground Zero or The Freedom Tower in New York. The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is this year, there are still those who choose to join the military because of these attacks, and while I agree with the foundation that we should never forget our tragedies, there are always other possibilities to memorialize 9/11 without reliving the terror of one of the darkest days to strike this nation.

While there are definitely many more commercials from the Superbowl that struck me, these are the ones that resonate with me the most, and appear to receive some outspoken reactions from the audience. The important thing to remember with these advertisements is it is not only how your company responds to the ad but how the public will as well. Now it will be interesting to see the types of PR these companies receive from their commercials. I guess we will have to stay tuned…

P.S. Lady Gaga did an incredible job singing the national anthem, the Blue Angels flyover gave me chills, and I want her shoes!

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Photo credits to Cosmopolitan magazine

All information for this post came from these articles:
T-Mobile
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Colonial Williamsburg

 

How PR Changed My Life

In one of my very first posts, I spoke about how I think I was always meant to do something with PR. As time has gone on, this feeling has further driven itself into my soul.

When I came to college, all I wanted was to be a historian. All I could think about was getting my Ph.D. in History and working for the Smithsonian. As my college career is winding down, all I can think about is how I am determined to make my public relations minor into a career.

At the start of my PR minor, I fell in love with journalism. I can recall many days where I would text my dad to give him updates on my classes. Whether I wanted to admit it or not (since often times I am stubborn and do not like admitting what I know is happening), I knew I was onto something in the journalism department. Even during my 2000-level Reporting & Writing for Media class I knew something just felt “right.”

The feeling began to change, however, when I took my Editing and Intro to PR courses in the same semester. These courses were the first time InDesign was placed before me and all I can remember thinking was I would never be able to use a system like CreativeCloud. My self-confidence was so low I don’t even think you would be able to find it in the tunnels under Baylor’s campus.

I was falling in love with the journalism department, but I needed to prove to myself I could handle what was placed before me. Much to my shock (though I’m not sure anyone else’s), my mock communications campaign for Editing over Wounded Warrior Project received nothing but praise. On that same note, my communications campaign for my Intro to PR course got an A. I still keep the plan book I helped create in the back of my portfolio.

Along with gaining self-confidence, it was during my Intro to PR course I realized how much I wanted to work in public affairs. While I was still learning what PR was, I didn’t realize how much it surrounds the world we live in. So much of the world we interact with is involved in PR somehow. The more I explored public affairs, the more I learned this could be the way I combined the two things I loved in college, and in general – history and PR.

This past semester I completed my final two courses for my PR minor. While Media Programming & Planning was a good class, the course I was most worried about was Advanced Public Relations. APR had quite the reputation and it scared me. I will admit I had an anxiety attack the first week of class. All I would think to myself was PR was my minor so I cannot possibly compare to everyone else. I convinced myself I did not have the skills or the experience of the PR majors. Again, I lacked self-confidence.

Going through APR was hard. I was attending school full-time and working as a full-time intern. Everything was much harder than I ever expected it to be. On top of that, I was also trying to volunteer with Veterans of Baylor as much as I could. However, if it had not been for APR, I would have never received real-world experience in the workplace.

Whether I was planning events, managing a social media account, or writing, I was continually refining my skills. My entire internship at Allen Samuels DCJ was defined by communication with clients and I loved every minute it. I spent my internship standing outside hotels talking to potential customers, sharing coffee with vendors, and attending events as an Allen Samuels representative. These are things I would have never imagined to be doing at 21-years-old.

While things were stressful at times, I enjoyed my time working in business development for the dealership. I experienced new things and everything was extremely rewarding.

As my internship is winding down, I know I am ready to move forward into the next phase of my career, wherever that may be. I love history and I’m so thankful I chose history as my major for college. My time in Baylor’s history department has been nothing but rewarding, yet, being a historian is no longer what I desire for my life. Combining history and PR, working in public affairs, this is what I desire.

I have learned to stop trying to guess the future, so I have no clue how the next five, 10, or 20 years of my life will play out. All I know is whether I am a PAO in the Navy or a federal civilian employee, I am determined and driven to make these desires a reality. History gave me the background I needed to reach this point, and PR will be what will take me to the next level.

P.S. – I do still wish to receive my Ph.D., but it will probably be in something like International Relations or Law, if not both.

At Last I See the Light

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I’ve always felt there must be more than this provincial life but I’ve always wondered how I am to find it. How am I to find more? How am I to find who I want to be? How am I to fulfill my dreams?

I have always dreamed of being a Disney princess. I don’t know who WOULDN’T want to be a Disney princess! Perfect hair, big castles, adventures, and of course meeting the prince (unless that prince is Flynn Rider, then he’s only brought to you by a horse).

At last, my dream came true. Santa made his arrival at Richland Mall in Waco and I got to join him in his entrance, letting go of everything else along the way. I was finally a shooting star and I can no longer go back to where I used to be.

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Initially the night started out slow and I was cold. I was standing outside the entrance of the mall getting funny stares and wondering why I agreed to participate in this event. Yet I was continually reminding myself I was finally fulfilling my dream of being in a princess and it was pure perfection. I was more popular than Santa himself! All the little girls wanted pictures with Elsa, all the little boys wanted to hug Elsa, and all the parents wanted Elsa to hold their twin babies. I’ve never felt more like a politician in my life. But the whole experience was worth it.

I didn’t know how big of a deal this Santa parade at the mall was every year, but apparently it’s as popular as your Texas high school homecoming parade. In comparison, it might has well have been the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom. Everyone in the Waco area showed up, and I mean everyone. Riesel, West, Lorena, Midway, Axtell, Gholson, literally every small town surrounding the Waco area was there. There was a drum line, the Chick-fil-a cow, an elementary school choir, and of course Fiats. All the strings were pulled and nothing was held back for Santa. At the end of the day, I truly was living the dream.

However, I cannot take all the credit. Along with Elsa, Allen Samuels Fiat Alfa Romeo also had appearances from Spider-Man, Woody and Jesse, and a couple of elves. While we all cracked jokes about how we got suckered into dressing up in these ridiculous costumes, I think I can speak for everyone when I say the night became incredibly rewarding. I got to see kids truly happy that Elsa showed up, even if they constantly asked me where Anna was and how Sven was doing.

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I may not have been a Disney princess at Walt Disney World, and I did try to make a break for it at one point (I’m sorry but I can only hold so many babies plus I was hungry for some La Fiesta) but at the end of the day I was FINALLY a princess. I had a blast and personally, I think could I give the Elsa at Disney World in Florida a run for her money. Although, I do now have mad respect for the real Disney princess because I can’t imagine having to be bombarded every day for pictures. And keeping a smile plastered on my face quickly made my jaw hurt. However, while there are many things I could “complain” about, as a young girl my heart a made a wish and I got to live my dream.

I would also like to point out that I had previously made friends with a plethora of animals including squirrels, birds, goats, and a donkey.

I learned the most fantastic, magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish. I kept dreaming my dreams and constantly reminding myself even miracles take a little time.

So go to wonderland, live an awfully big adventure, and always remember the right pair of shoes can change your life. Just don’t dishonor your cow in the process, you don’t want to end up as a poor unfortunate soul.

Once a Disney princess, always a Disney princess.

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