Archive for the ‘Life Habits’ Category
A little over a week ago, I reached an event horizon. I graduated from graduate school. I am now the proud holder of a Masters in Digital Marketing. While this is a happy event – I certainly worked my tush off to achieve it – it does mean that a large phase of my life has ended. I am now off to the Big Apple to start a career in Digital Marketing Research.
Before this next phase starts, I want to take a look at the top 3 lessons I’ve learned in getting here.
The best things have happened when I jumped right into them, eyes wide open and praying that I landed on my feet. Though, I might not have always landed where I thought I would, I always landed running.
That’s how I wound up with a degree in Digital Marketing and not, say, an International Business or MBA degree. And I’m happier for it. I’m digital, and I like it that way.
I first signed up for the Masters in International Business program, actually. Hult hadn’t announced the Digital Marketing program when I first signed up. When I saw it on their home page, I’m not even sure I read the course description all the way through before I called up my recruiter and asked to be bumped over into the other program. I jumped right into it, and if I hadn’t I’d never have gotten my new job in New York.
I’m actually a natural home body. I den like a bear. But if I did that all the time, I’d never have gotten to where I am today. In high school I joined some clubs, but mostly because it was a requirement for the scholastic program I was in. When I reached college I continued with the habit. It became something more than just a check-box; it became an integral part to my life.
Through my very first anime club in college, the Otaku Club, I learned to access the social networks around me. Introductions let to introductions until, eventually, I became the PR Director for a 14,000 attendee, fan-run pop-culture convention, the Phoenix Comicon. (The Con is still going strong today, though I’ve moved away. If you’re in Phoenix in May, check it out!)
Joining groups and clubs and then finding new groups and social networks through them has colored how I do my work and opened doors all over the world for me. This is why I’m starting up a #themeet140 in New York, once I get my feet under me again. I attended these lovely meetups in London and met some great friends. Meetups and clubs are definitely an important lesson.
It is hard to care consistently. People will ask for things at the oddest hours of the day. They will ask stupid questions. And they won’t always be people you actually like. And yet, you have to care.
I’m a busy person. That’s why this blog doesn’t always get updated consistently. But the person asking me a favor, needing an ear to tell her woes to, or simply having a tough time getting a task done and needs a bit more time… That person isn’t interested in how busy I am. This is when it’s hardest to care.
And yet, I think the key to success, the key to me getting to where I am, is caring when it’s hard. Caring about doing a good job when all I really want is to get out of the office and have dinner, or caring about my roommates when all I really want to do is sleep. That’s when caring is the most important. And that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
Jump, Socialize, Care
These three lessons are simple yet hard learned. I’m sure I’m not the only one to come up with them. Whole books are written on life-lessons, after all. Just check out your the self-help section of your local book-monger’s. But this is my take on them. What’s yours?
I just finished reading Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. I’ve enjoyed every page of it, and I’ll put up a full review in a bit. McGonigal talks about how crappy reality really is. And, truth be told, it does suck. Here’s what she thinks is wrong with reality:
- Reality is too easy. It’s just not engaging us in good enough challenges. There’s a reason why work is boring.
- Reality is depressing. Where is the hope of success? What is success anyway?
- It’s unproductive. You work and work, but do you ever feel like you’re getting anywhere?
- It’s disconnected and trivial. Do you actually know your neighbors? If you do, tell me where you live so I can move there.
- Reality is just not engaging. It’s really hard to give a damn. Even if you accomplish something, how worthy was that goal?
- It’s pointless and without rewards. So what if you managed to get the grocery shopping and the laundry all done in one day? That’s the bare minimum, right?
- Reality serves up bitter disappointments. How do you get over being laid off?
- Reality isn’t sustainable. Ask anyone what makes them happy. For one of my roommates, it’s shopping, but she’ll run out of cash eventually.
- Reality lacks a purpose, a point. What’s the goal? As I said before, what is success? It’s not an easy answer.
- Reality is a mess. It’s disorganized. It’s hard to know where to go or what to do.
Now isn’t that a depressing list? McGonigal uses her book to discuss how we can use games to fix reality. I think it’s a great idea. But as I was reading I realized that we don’t need to use outside games or organize everyone we know to play with us, though that does help, if you can do it.
Rather, as I was reading, I realized that I was already playing life as a game. This blog, for example, was a game. Before you give me funny looks, here’s McGonigal’s definition of a game. For McGonigal, a game has four key traits:
- It has a goal. You know what it is and you try to achieve it. She translates this as “a sense of purpose.”
- It has rules. These are the limitations that confine the players. If you have ever played party games you know how ridiculous and fun these can be.
- It has a built-in feedback system that gives players information on their progress towards the goal. The popular badge system, for example. Or a leader board.
- And finally, it is voluntary. No one makes you play.
Now, do you see how my blogging is a game?
- I have a goal: Continuous growth of my readership. I’d love to hit 1,000 views a day.
- I have rules: Post at least once a week. Make it good, and make it fun.
- I have a lovely feedback system: Thank you WordPress dashboard. Honestly, though, I need to get Google Analytics on this puppy.
- I do this voluntarily: There is no one but myself cracking the whip.
When I first started writing this blog, I thought that I was doing it for career advancement. Then I thought it was to help me make sense of what was going on and make contacts. Finally, now, I know the truth. I’m playing a game. I do it for the sake of doing it.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to think of work in the same way? School? How about marriage and relationships? I’m not trying to trivialize these things. I’m trying to raise their importance. Blogging has gained an intrinsic value for me. It’s no longer a means to an end. It is worth doing in order to do it. If work could be that way, education, and even relationships, that would be good for the entire world. And don’t kid yourself that all relationships are had for their own sake.
Do you play any games like my blogging one? Does it help you really sink your teeth into life?
Do you get the feeling that you don’t actually talk to people anymore? I do, sometimes. From conversations with family to chats with friends or coworkers, I tend to type my messages rather than just pick up a phone. Even when I’m not in front of a computer, I SMS, BBM, or type a straight up e-mail rather than call. All of those on my phone, of course, an item once thought of as a device to facilitate speech.
I tell myself that I ping people before calling because I don’t want to interrupt them. After all, particularly at work, they are busily concentrating on other problems. But I also do this with my family. Though I live across an ocean from my brother, I can easily call him. He has a Skype phone. That said, I tend to text him, right within the Skype application. He’s not busy. I’m not terribly busy. We could talk. But we don’t. We text. Hell, I’ve done this with my brother when he was just sitting on the other side of the couch from me. Reason we gave? My mother was between us and it was just easier to type than lean forward. Even at the time I thought it was a lame excuse.
This goes on more than I like to admit. More than I like to think about, actually. Virtual interaction is, indeed, with real people. I firmly believe that people are people, even if I only know them by a Twitter handle, so my friendships with them are just as strong as with people I have met in real life in similar circumstance, say at a networking event.
But what does it say about our culture that there are individuals who prefer to text or IM than use a free program like Skype that allows both voice and image? With a text only interaction, we can multi-task. When a person is in front of us, even as a video image via Skype, we have to pay attention or risk being rude. It means we can’t multi-task. We have to narrow our field of focus to the individual in front of us. Pay attention to someone else. People are now so used to multi-tasking that they are not ready and willing to devote the necessary attention to the person in front of them, or to welcome that kind of singular interaction. Yes, sometimes we’re working, but couldn’t we continue the work after the talk? Or answer the phone with a smile, explain the situation, and call back later? That’s what people used to do.
I don’t think that we are becoming only virtual. People still like to go out together, do things together. That’s why they’ll download music illegally but pay a premium to go out to a concert with friends. But the fact that when we have the option and opportunity to go for a face-to-face interaction we opt for text is a bit worrying.
What is your experience?
We have fewer rights to do things with our digital purchases than our physical ones, even though digital is supposed to offer us more freedoms. If there was ever an argument not to buy digital goods, that one is probably it. Just because you handed over your hard earned cash or credit card debt does not mean you actually get to use the product or service you just bought as you see fit. Not by a long shot.
Your Login Details Are Not Yours to Share
Let’s suppose that you want to share your Netflix login with your friends and family. You’re thinking that you bought it, so it should be yours to share if you want. If you live in Tennessee, though, don’t.
Tennessee just passed a law that makes it illegal to share your Netflix login information. The law is meant to target people who sell logins in bulk, but it is worded in a way that if you shared your login with your dormitory floor, or even just your extended family, you could be in trouble to the tune of $2,500 plus jail time if you take $500 or less.
What this basically means is that your digital purchases are not yours. If you want to share movies, buy them on DVD. You do not have the same rights with digital goods as you do with physical ones.
Your Books Are Not Yours to Share
Books, the paper variety, have been one of the most shareable items in the world. Sharing books and other printed material has spread the ideas necessary for political and social improvement, such as Thomas Payne’s “Common Sense” prior to the American Revolution.
Yet, if you own a digital book, you do not have the right to pass it to a friend. Yes, there are systems such as the Nook’s LendMe feature which allows you to pass a book to a friend’s Nook for two weeks, but I honestly have a book on loan from, oh, two years ago (Sorry, Aunt Julie. I promise to return it, eventually).
Besides the Big Brother company watching over your activities, there is a platform war. Because the ebook sharing is based on Nook technology, not the universal epub, I can’t share any books with my father, who owns a Kindle. And he can’t use the Kindle version of this feature with me. This is not an attempt by the book sellers to mimic the freedoms we had with paper books. This is an attempt to get more readers to use their platforms by providing the benefits of the network. It’s more like the Betamax vs VHS wars than going back to visiting a friend’s library.
The worst thing is that these laws and gimmicks are highly unlikely to cut down on piracy. Rather than getting the movies through a semi-legitimate source, many who used to use a friend’s Netflix login are more likely to turn to pirate sources than buy their own accounts. And the inability to pass books on to friends with different platforms is more likely to limit people’s exposure to more material, and you can’t buy what you do not know about.
More than this, however, it’s the question: Who owns these digital goods? Not you. Even though digital opens the opportunities for more freedom with your purchases and information, you actually have fewer rights with digital products than physical ones. You just paid a one-time only renting fee to use them.
Have you ever seen an injustice in the world and wanted to change it? Did you? I’m inspired by the actions of Arié Moyal, a man I’m proud to call a friend. He has taken the initiative to fund raise in a very imaginative way for Mental Health America (MHA), a charity devoted to dealing with mental health issues in all their incarnations.
Arié started Hug Train. He’s been spending his holiday season jaunting around the United States giving out hugs, raising funds for MHA, and spreading more than just good vibes. He’s spreading information. And while he’s been doing that, I’ve been stuffing my face with Christmas feasts and lazing around the house. Arié has seen an issue and is trying to make a positive impact on it. The world needs more of this type of initiative.
I talk quite a bit about going out there and just doing stuff, like asking for favors or applying for jobs. Sometimes it’s necessary to just go out and do good, too. Let nothing get in the way of giving out a hug and some info on the issue that strikes closest to your heart. Arié isn’t.
And chances are, Arié’s issue is also close to your heart. Mental Health America (MHA) describes itself as America’s, “leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives.” How many people do you know who have mental health issues? This can be everything from children with emotional behavior problems, such as those often linked to ADD, to soldiers coming home with PTSD. And yes, this also includes classic “diseases” such as bipolar disorder. We all know at least one person who could benefit from a bit more mental wellness.
Boy, I wish I had Arié’s gumption. And don’t you? He’s taken an issue that affects us all in some way or other, owned it, and is helping make the situation better. Though I believe his train trip has ended, you can still help him by donating online via his charity’s FirstGiving profile page.
How can you help improve the world? Arié has inspired me. I don’t know if I’ll be jaunting around the US, but I may just take to mentoring disadvantaged kids. Do what you can, then think about it, and do more.
I was asked by @tjohnsoniii what I thought were 10 skills an aspiring marketer needs to be a success. He decided number, so this post is longer than my norm. Bear in mind, I’m an aspiring marketer, myself, but I can still say what I am working on, and then others can pipe in with what they are working on, which brings me to point number 1:
1. Listen to others: You have to be willing to learn from everyone around you. And I do mean everyone. Learn from children. They have a really neat way of looking at the world. Learn from your fellow students, too. Of course, learn by reading blogs.
2. Self-Awareness: You might be a marketer, but you’re also a consumer. You have to be able to look at yourself and learn from your own behavior as well. You might be your best inspiration!
3. Aggregate knowledge: Be able to not just learn from all sorts of people, but also take knowledge from different sources and put them together to find new insights. For instance, if you know from a Linked In answer that CEOs read blogs but don’t write them, but you talk to a strategy planner who asserts the importance of CEOs having a direct contact with consumers, you might want to suggest Twitter in your new marketing plan. Get the CEO to retweet those blogs that he likes, and perhaps answer people via Twitter and give little tips. Little time commitment and he’s engaging directly.
4. Diligence: All of these things can be hard to do regularly. For instance, writing daily, improving, takes a lot of time. I love to aggregate knowledge (Read my Twitter feed. I’m constantly reading a wide variety of blogs and Tweeting them) but it’s hard to get through my entire Google Reader, and I try to do it daily!
5. See from other Points of View: As @pristyles said at a Tweet Up last night, you have to be able to sell products that personally don’t appeal to you. The agency where she works, BBH, does the ads for Axe. I think it’s a fair bet that the people working on the Axe account aren’t all 18-24 year old guys, the Axe target demographic.
6. Play well with others: Most work nowadays is group work. You have to be able to fit your specialties and abilities with those of others. No one person can do it all. This goes beyond working with a Graphic Designer. One person can’t know everything about SEO, social media, ad networks, television advertising, and website usability, but each element relies the others. That means the people behind each element must also rely on each other.
7. Network. A lot: You have to know how to deal with people. How to meet them and how to get along with them. This is generally important, but I think that it is more important in marketing, as opposed to the “harder” business disciplines, if I can steal a term from science. You spend more time with people than with a spreadsheet. Not that you don’t get some good quality time with Excel, too. Which brings me to…
8. Understand numbers: I expect many aspiring marketers might look at this and say “I’m a marketer, not an accountant! I deal with emotions, pictures, behavior…not numbers.” Well, you look at analytics to understand those emotions, pictures, and behaviors. Today’s world is increasingly traceable. We’re buried in data up to our ears and marketers have to be able to understand those numbers.
9. Write well: Even if you have no desire to be a creative at an advertising agency, you have to be able to write well. If you can’t write, you face a real block in communicating your ideas. This isn’t just saying, “Yes, well, young women like rhinestones.” You have to explain insights that others might not understand at first. Like why you want to take a technology company’s website and make it feel more like a neurosurgery facility.
10. Give good presentations: Many marketers have to give their final marketing plans as presentations, so if you stutter when in front of a crowd, join Toast Masters. Get confident in front of others. No pressure, but if your presentations is a flop, you’re idea might, too.
What do you think? Any aditions?