Encourage positive comments — If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! Simple as that.
As a part of my interview series about the things we can each do to make social media and the internet a kinder and more tolerant place, I had the pleasure to interview Kimia Kalbas. Ambitious, bubbly, and charismatic are just a few of the ABCs that describe Kimia Kalbasi is a quintessential nutshell. Born in LA, raised in OC, schooled in SB, worked in NYC, and now residing in SF, Kimia is the creative content marketing powerhouse behind Kimia’s Kravings, your ultimate go-to guide for where to eat, drink, and play in style intertwined with puns and positivity. She has been featured in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Good Morning America Digital, and Huffington Post. Throughout her career, she leveraged her personal interests and goals into her full-time livelihood and transitioned from her extensive background in tech sales to content marketing and social media by utilizing her hobbies as her creative outlet. She thrives off networking, building and cultivating relationships and long-term partnerships, and above all, mentoring others. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, staying active through hiking, hot yoga, boxing, cooking, and exploring hidden gems playing tourist as a local wherever she goes. The quote she lives by is, “It takes 10 years to create an overnight success” and is always more than happy to share a detailed background of her roller coaster of a professional journey. You can learn more about her at KimiasKravings.com and follow along on her adventures @KimiasKravings.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
At 15, I created my own e-commerce website called K. Gift Baskets and then started a nutrition blog called NutriNerd back in ’08 (#TBT OG blogger days) and started a little greeting card biz with my sister where she wrote heartwarming poems inside and I drew the artwork on the outside. I’ve always had that go-getter, entrepreneurial spirit instilled within me for as long as I can remember. Above all, in a quintessential nutshell, I loved creating and I especially loved playing by my own rules. I knew what my interests were (I also was well aware of my weaknesses), and I had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like but I didn’t know how to get there. That was the exciting part of it all. I had always loved storytelling, documenting, and sharing experiences, and opening my world to the rest of the world. When social media emerged, I was hooked. Funny enough, ever since I was a little kid, my dream job was to be a journalist. I loved being in the know and keeping up with current events. Instead of watching Nick Jr, I’d watch the news with my parents. I found it so fascinating how the journalists would tell the stories and I loved knowing what was going on locally or around the world. As I got older, I felt the pressure of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life career-wise. I had embarked on a variety of internships and jobs before entering college and during college as well and I was constantly networking everywhere I went. It didn’t matter where I was, I would leverage my story and share it with whoever I met. Longest story short, after college, I took a corporate job and halfway through it, I began to freelance for an online food and travel site (which funnily happened through my networking where everything surfaced full circle but that’s a whole other story in itself). Since I was always documenting what I was up to and my adventures whether it was hanging out with friends or checking out new restaurants in the city, I was consistently uploading my experiences and this was way before “influencers” were even a thing. My interests aligned with today’s social media space. One day a friend reached out to me and said, “Kimia, I’m so surprised you never started a food blog! You go to the best places to eat.” That’s when the light bulb moment happened — I rebranded my social media from my first name and last name and specialized it to be more specialized niche and I still actually have the notes in my phone where I was brainstorming quirky names to rebrand myself 0 “Hungry Heart,” “Feels for Feels,” the list goes on and on. It was actually my cousin Parisa who came up with “Kimia’s Kravings” and she told me that when I grow, the term “Kravings” will still align beyond food, and boy oh boy, was she right. My rebranding occurred 2 years ago from this time around and I can’t begin to explain the endless opportunities this journey has brought for me and as much as it has brought on, I’m extremely humbled grateful for all of the incredible, mind-blowing, indescribably experiences, endeavors, lessons, and people this has brought into my life, and so excited for what’s yet to come. I still pinch myself to this day and quite frankly, it never gets old.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have countless stories on stories on stories but the most profound one that comes to mind is definitely the story of how this all came to be. Longest story short — before college, I interned at a boutique PR agency in LA and one day my boss Kelley took me out to lunch with her friend Kat who at the time was writing for a major magazine and had interviewed all of the A-listers and I was simply in awe and asked her for guidance and advice (At the time I told her I wanted to be the next Giuliana Rancic). Funny enough, I recall she had mentioned wanting to get out of that scene. Fast forward to post-college, I was working my first corporate job but knew I was capable of so much more and wanted to something for fun where I could express my creativity. Funny enough, I remember stumbling upon Kat’s profile only to see that she left the magazine and was writing for a food and travel outlet and was also living in SF. I decided to send her a warm reach out and outright asked her if I could also write and contribute to this food and travel site. I’ve always loved writing for as long as I could remember and who doesn’t enjoy food and traveling and all that comes with it? I had always documented wherever I was going, the places I would go to explore and eat, etc. It provided me the opportunity to connect with publicists in the food and hospitality space to visit restaurants, hotels, travel destinations, etc. By going to all of these places, that allowed me to get creative and create content! It was perfect timing with how big influencer marketing has grown within the past year. Anyway, from there, Kat connected me to the editor-in-chief at the time who’s now one of my good friends Chelsea and from there I started writing away and taking on assignments. One day, Chelsea forwarded me a press release for an assignment to work on and I noticed that the press release came from “Kelley” and I thought to myself, “Hmm I wonder if this is my boss from my very first internship..there aren’t very many Kelley’s who spell it like that,” I scrolled down and sure enough it read Founder of Melrose PR and chills came down my spine. I immediately called her and we were cracking up. I couldn’t believe how the networking came into a full circle and to this day it still blows my mind.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake was thinking initially before I started that running a business is a smooth linear operation..think again. It’s a roller coaster and you’ve got to enjoy the ride, every up and down and those upside-down twirls that make it all worthwhile. The lows are low and the highs are high but regardless it’s a matter of keeping the momentum going. After all, it’s the journey that creates your unique story. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as a finish line or “making it,” it’s a matter of going no matter how tough the going gets. I’ve also learned that you learn as you go. There is no manual or guidebook. You essentially create your own path and keep following that path. Keep going, keep building those blocks of your business and above all, keep building those relationships, and keep showing up. You realize how small the world is, particularly within each niche and industry and you never know you’ll run into again so keep nurturing those relationships.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Stay tuned 🙂
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Have you ever been publicly shamed or embarrassed on social media? Can you share with our readers what that experience felt like?
Thankfully I have not but have seen random negative comments from unknown accounts. I’ve witnessed it on other public figures’ accounts and observe how they handle them. Quite frankly, in my opinion, the best way to approach is to delete the negative comments. Destroy what destroys you and remember that negativity stems from insecurity from others.
Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean?
Puns and positivity is my tagline. Spread the love 🙂
When one reads the comments on Youtube or Instagram, or the trending topics on Twitter, a great percentage of them are critical, harsh, and hurtful. The people writing the comments may feel like they are simply tapping buttons on a keyboard, but to the one on the receiving end of the comment, it is very different. This may be intuitive, but I feel that it will be instructive to spell it out. Can you help illustrate to our readers what the recipient of a public online critique might be feeling?
People never understand what others are going through until they themselves feel that very pain. No one truly knows what’s going on in other people’s lives. That person may be suffering from trauma, problems at home, or may have had a bad day — regardless, this is why it’s crucial to help spread love and positivity. Why spread hate when in actuality the person leaving the negative comments is the one with the problem and projecting their deep-rooted insecurities on others as a power move to help them supposedly feel “superior.” How is that feeling superior when you’re making yourself the most inferior one of all?
Do you think a verbal online attacks feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?
I imagine they both feel bad in their respective fields — online, you see the harshness in diction in front of your eyes that live on the Internet and in real life, you feel the tone and expression. Either way, they’re unnecessary and unappreciated. Let’s strive for a positive space both on and offline. It’s all about how you respond to these attacks.
What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?
I’ve read countless stories on the long-terms detriments to online shaming from lowered self-esteem to suicide and that is why we can all collectively make the Internet a safer space. We all play a role and one person can help make the difference, may not sound like much but it’s the small efforts that help the bigger picture.
Many people who troll others online, or who leave harsh comments, can likely be kind and sweet people in “real life”. These people would likely never publicly shout at someone in a room filled with 100 people. Yet, on social media, when you embarrass someone, you are doing it in front of thousands of even millions of people, and it is out there forever. Can you give 3 or 4 reasons why social media tends to bring out the worst in people; why people are meaner online than they are in person?
Simple, people are cowards and it’s so much easier for them to be a monster behind the screen when a lot of the times these people wouldn’t dare say such things in person. They feel more “powerful” from the press of a button and don’t have to show his or her face in person.
If you had the power to influence thousands of people about how to best comment and interact online, what would you suggest to them? What are your “5 things we should each do to help make social media and the internet, a kinder and more tolerant place”? Can you give a story or an example for each?
1. Encourage positive comments — If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! Simple as that.
2. Spread love and positivity on other people’s accounts and create content that highlights those values and attributes and help pay it forward
3. Think before you do. If you wouldn’t appreciate someone leaving something like this on your account, best bet you shouldn’t either.
4. If you wouldn’t express it in real life, then don’t express it online.
5. Remember there is a human behind the screen — with a life, a soul, a family, friends, feelings, as you do too.
Freedom of speech prohibits censorship in the public square. Do you think that applies to social media? Do American citizens have a right to say whatever they want within the confines of a social media platform owned by a private enterprise?
I believe that people have the freedom to say what they want but it should also come with boundaries. There comes a point where it’s unnecessary and if you can’t say something nice, it’s best to not say something at all, particularly in such a public space and some of this negativity is highly detrimental to people’s well being, it causes a bigger impact than one may think.
If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?
In an ideal world, I would fully disable all negative comments so no one can leave such harm and have it so that any trace of negativity is immediately detected and that account gets banned 🙂
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It takes 10 years to create an overnight success.” For as long as I can remember, I had a clear vision of what I wanted my life to look like and have built the momentum that has lead to today. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Every step you take leads to the beautiful journey ahead and there is no finish line, you just keep going and enjoy the experiences along the way, even the hardest days. Those are the ones meant savoring the most. Attaining success doesn’t mean you’ve hit the final destination, it means what you’ve worked towards is coming to fruition and now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor to see what else you can grow in your garden.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
One word, Oprah. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a private breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, coffee, or midnight snack with Oprah? I remember rushing home from school to watch her show when it was on back in the day. Her energy was simply magnetic. Oprah exudes charisma, authenticity, strength, and overall wisdom and resilience. The way she carries herself so confidently in a poised manner is exactly what I emulate about her. She has impacted countless lives beyond her charitable efforts but through her ease of connecting with others and I’ve always admired that about her. The term inspiration doesn’t even cut it when it comes to Oprah.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!