Becoming Professional: A Blog

Archive for August 2011


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.

Jump

jumping squirrel

by Navicore on Flickr

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.

Socialize

a gaggle of swans

by Monica Arellano-Ongpin on Flickr

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.

Care

giraffe kiss

by Sergio Vassio on Flickr

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?


A close up on the white king of a chess board.

by plffft on Flickr

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.
Close up of broken glass

by davetoaster on Flickr

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:

  1. It has a goal. You know what it is and you try to achieve it. She translates this as “a sense of purpose.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. And finally, it is voluntary. No one makes you play.

Now, do you see how my blogging is a game?

  1. I have a goal: Continuous growth of my readership. I’d love to hit 1,000 views a day.
  2. I have rules: Post at least once a week. Make it good, and make it fun.
  3. I have a lovely feedback system: Thank you WordPress dashboard. Honestly, though, I need to get Google Analytics on this puppy.
  4. I do this voluntarily: There is no one but myself cracking the whip.

    A bunch of swimming trophies lined up

    by terren in Virginia on Flickr

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?


picture of the application on my profile

I just finished Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Great book. I really enjoyed it (review coming soon), but this left me with a problem: what to read next?

I use reading as a method to extend my education and really keep my brain active and puzzling the issues I’m interested in, such as digital marketing, social media, innovation, game design and gamification, and even story structure. But, I often find myself at a loss when it comes to finding a new book to read. I read more than most people I know (a novel and a business/non-fiction book going at the same time, all the time), so asking friends for recommendations doesn’t always work.

I used to go to the bookstore with my smartphone, look at pretty covers and what’s on special and then look up Amazon reviews. Then I would go home and buy it for my Nook. Yes, this works, to a degree, but it’s not the same as seeing what is on everyone else’s shelves, and thus what I should probably read, too, in order to keep up. This weekend I used Reading List by Amazon and was able to do just that.

application discriptionThis is one of the older applications on LinkedIn, so there are probably those of you who are already very familiar with it. Even I’ve been using this application for a while now. But I wasn’t using it to its full capacity. I thought it was a handy way to demonstrate my interests to anyone who bothered to scroll down that far. It could show that I’m truly into my field and the other areas I’m interested in. I honestly just didn’t bother to actually go into more depth with it.

Yet this weekend, as I sat down at my desk trying to figure out what book to purchase next for my Nook, I decided to give the application a go for its intended purpose: networking around books. Thanks to this handy little app, I picked up Free by Chris Anderson. Yes, it’s not new, and I’ve known that it exists for a while. But when I was thinking about what book to read next, this book hadn’t occurred to me at all. That is, until I saw it on a Reading List shelf.

The way the application works is that you add in the titles of all the books you want to read, have read, or are reading. All you need is the title or author since it works just like an Amazon site search to find the books you want. As you work your way through your “want to read” list, you can leave comments and reviews, ticking them off as you move them into the “am reading” and “have read” lists. You can even recommend books. Simple, right?

The useful part comes when you watch the lists of other people. One way to do this is to find people who are in your industry with the Industry Updates list. You can also see who is following your list and then follow them back. Whenever you view another person’s reading list you can also see whose lists they are following and who else is following them. So once you find a person who has similar tastes to you, it’s a simple matter of following them and the other people who have similar tastes. In this way it is like Twitter for books.

There are some drawbacks. As I was exploring I realized that some people’s lists were very out of date or really sparse. Still, like following an inactive Twitter account, you can unfollow later. And honestly, what’s the problem with following an inactive account? I don’t think it will hurt you much.

As I said, I’ve been using Amazon’s Reading List feature for just about a year now but this is the first time I decided to fully explore the application. I think that  LinkedIn applications are not as appreciated as they should be. They can be really useful, and even fun. Now that I am following the Reading Lists of several interesting people, I can’t wait to see what books they read and recommend. If you have the application, find my list and follow me. I’ll follow you back.


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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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