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.
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?