Becoming Professional: A Blog

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.

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?


Two people (cartoons) with twitter and other icons in speach bubbles

by khalid Albaih on Flickr

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.

skype logo

by la cueva del escorpion on Flickr

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.

shirt that says multitasking kills

by Daquella manera on Flickr

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

Netflix on a Television

by MoneyBlogNewz on Flickr

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

me holding up my Nook

My Nook

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.

Implications

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.


The First Strike Went to Social Media

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

A little over two months ago I faced a time management challenged: How to stay involved in all the social networks I enjoy and still (OMG!) have a life. It seemed impossible at the time. Every morning, I would get up and look at my social networks, which I would check each day. That meant a good hour and a half or more of social media, engaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Brazen Careerist, and, of course, this blog. It was the perfect definition of “Time Suck.”

My Counterstrike

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

So I started my social media counter strike. I decided to touch each social media outlet in a daily rotation. One day LinkedIn, the next Twitter, then the blog, and so forth. It’s worked, to a degree. Because I’m only worrying about one social media outlet a day I am able to dig in and get some real value of out it, like learning from experts on LinkedIn or actually publishing a blog post on a regular basis.

But it hasn’t worked for Twitter. You cannot get any benefit from Twitter through a condensed engagement once a week. It’s just too hard to carry on a conversation. Sure, once a week I can go through my lists and unfollow people I forgot I was following in the first place, but I still was not getting any value out of it.

Phase Two of the Battle – Two Fronts

Two Lines of Tanks

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

Okay, so social media is still kicking my butt in some ways. Twitter remains a problem: how to engage enough without spending my life on it? I know that this is an issue many people have. So I’m experimenting with lists and my News Feed. I’ve already got the lists going, so now I just have to see how to use them appropriately. Maybe it’s just to dip my head in on the conversation occasionally, or maybe it will make in-depth conversations easier. Dunno. We’ll see.

The next thing that’s whooping my rear end is RSS Feeds. If you do not have an RSS Feed Reader, get one. They are gorgeous and enable you to keep up on all the blogs you like without visiting all the websites. But, if you are following a ton of feeds, like I am (58 total right now), it can be hard to keep up. I’m attempting to sort my RSS Feeds into folders and try to attack them piecemeal, but we’ll see how that works. Maybe if I don’t try to read everything each day I’ll be able to keep up. Or maybe if I do that, I’ll fall behind on my news. Again, we’ll see.

The War Continues

Tank pointing at the camera

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

This is not a battle I will easily win. As I master one time management system, some new social media tool or network will come out to entirely mess it up. That’s the way wars go. Besides, you know what happens to the best laid plans once you hit the battlefield.


Where people are getting their information is changing. But what is it changing into? The process is on-going, but I thought I’d delve into my own habits to see where it is heading. I may not be a representative sample, but I am a digital native. So, let’s see the results.

What paid media do I read/watch/listen to?

“Paid”? What is this word, “paid”? In all honesty, I do tend to purchase books, both those in paper and those for my Nook eReader. More and more, the eReader is carrying my library. I’m even considering rebuying some books just to have them on the more portable device!

I don’t buy much else, though. Occasionally a magazine or a DVD, but that’s almost once in a blue moon. I just satisfy my needs elsewhere. Sorry traditional publishers!

How do I stay up to date with the world?

sky news left hand site navigation

by Bobbie on Flickr

Hehe, news? I confess that most of my news happens almost through osmosis. But I can list a few channels that it tends to seep in from.

Facebook (social): If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d never know the current political developments in my home town. After all, it’s a Red State. Most news just says its Red and live with it. But I’m Blue, and I like to know how my fellow Dems are doing. On social media, like Facebook, news is pushed to me from my more up-to-date friends.

Twitter (social): If it weren’t for Twitter I’d never have known that that the British Queen wore yellow to her grandson’s wedding. Or, on a more serious note, I would not have known about the Japanese earthquake of recent past and the subsequent nuclear reactor fallout. More important to me, I would not have been able to keep track and support the various charities going on to help Japan.

Yahoo News Homepage (B2C): Ah, Yahoo. Home of lots of inane stupidity and occasional nuggets of must-have info. This is how I found out about Osama Bin Laden’s demise.

Google Reader (Agreggator): If you are talking about world news, then nope, not from this channel. I’m not that dedicated to staying informed. I should be, but I’m being honest here. However, I do gather industry blogs so I know what’s going on in the digital marketing world. If you don’t, I recommend you do. It’s quite handy.

Various Blogs (generally B2B): Of course, if I’m listing off where I get my news, I have to also list off the blogs I read for industry information. Here are my favourites:

  • Facebook Insider If you want to know what is going on at Facebook, this is the blog for you. Keeps to the point.
  • Social Games Insider I love games, and social games are where it’s at. Run by the same folk who do Facebook Insider (can’t you tell?). Does game reviews as well as publishing industry statistics.
  • Hubspot Blog I love Hubspot. All about how to attract customers rather than reaching out to them. While they do publish a lot of amusing articles, when something happens in the industry, they let you know.
  • SEOMoz If you want to know about SEO, then you want to read this blog. Every time Google changes something, they are on top of it. And they also teach you how to use it.

Looking at this list, it seems I do not rely on what could be described Consumer to Consumer media, or media written by a consumer for the benefit of other consumers. An example is a book review on an individual’s blog. Actually, this blog could be C2C, since I’m not writing it on behalf of a business. Though I do read blogs written by individuals, they tend to be used to support that individual’s business practice. I’d qualify them as B2B. It’s a grey zone. I do find it odd, myself, that I read few personal blogs, since C2C is one of the more interesting developments in publishing.

What media do I use to keep up with my hobbies?

Hobbies? Do I have time for any hobbies?  I tend to read books, watch anime, or read manga as my major hobbies. When I need a new book or series to watch or read, I put out a call on Facebook for suggestions. If all else fails I hit the generic “Top 10” lists for ideas. I tend to find those via Google searches. I suppose that my parents would read specialty magazines for this kind of information. Not this digital girl.

What about for entertainment?

A fantasy novel's cover art

One of my favourite books

For entertainment it’s science fiction and fantasy novels, music on Spotify, DVDs of television series and movies, YouTube and other online videos, and sometimes a good essay written on an entertaining topic – think why Harry should have been with Hermione and not Ginny. Good laughs. The essays tend to be published on blogs, most often on LiveJournal.

This is one section where I do consume C2C media. Those goofy essays are almost always published by consumers for fellow consumers. Consumers even post good short stories online, as well. So while my news is almost exclusively distributed by businesses, my entertainment online tends to come from fellow consumers.

Free? Paid? Online or off?

Perhaps more interesting than what media I consume is where I do it and at what price: how much do I pay for and how much to I consume offline?

As I mentioned, I pay for my books and I have no problem handing over money for a DVD, but how many DVDs do I own? Currently 3, and one is actually a friend’s. (Don’t ask about the books. I really do own a library.) So in terms of paid media, I only consume books and DVDs. It should also be worth noting that these are the only media I do not consume online, even though they may be digital, particularly my eBooks.

I get a lot more of my entertainment for free and online. I watch online videos, not all of which are about silly cats, and read short stories or those essays I mentioned. Music, too, is free, thanks to the freemium version of Spotify, though I might start paying for that. The commercials are killing me.

The Publishing Take-Away

So, judging from this, my news is published by businesses, but free. I find out about it, though, often through social media. My offline entertainment tends to be B2C as well, but online I find C2C entertainment readily available. I pay for media I consume offline; I expect free in regards to media consumed online.

Publishing is changing, but maybe, if others behave as I do, an effort should be made to focus on offline products for revenue and online products for publicity. I don’t mean “traditional” by “offline,” since my eBooks are distinctly digital. Even my DVDs are. Rather, I just mean media not consumed directly on the web. What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.


I can’t keep up! So much to do and so much to see. So many people to talk to and so many places to be!

an eraser whiping out stress

by alancleaver_2000 on Flickr

No, I’m not rapping. I’m describing my life. I live in London, am studying for a Masters degree in Digital Marketing, have a social life, am interning (in another town), and am networking with local professionals. When am I supposed to take an hour of my time to read blogs? Or dedicate another hour to Linked In, Twitter, Brazen Careerist, and Quora? Let’s leave Facebook out of the picture. I would love to make myself a Fan Page and use it for networking, but when? When am I supposed to read those lovely business books all budding marketers should memorize?

Something has got to change. I’m streamlining my life, hopefully in order to get even more done and without going crazy from over-work. How?

Of course, there is an element of prioritization. But I’m also going to limit what I am actually going to do in a day. Up until now, I have been present on all my social media networks every day. No more. I’ll be on Linked In for about half an hour one day. The next day, I’ll be on this blog, the next on Brazen, and then onto Quora. This way I can give each network its due whenever I’m there. Even Twitter will be in the rotation. Though I have a feeling my Twitter addiction won’t go away, I’ll be more involved in finding out about my followers or new people to follow on certain days, while simply not doing anything on other days.

I’m reminded of why Seth Godin doesn’t use Twitter. It’s too easy to spend too much time getting nothing done. Hopefully this new tactic towards social media usage will get me where I want to go, instead of just hassling me.

How do you manage? Have you come up against this problem before? Let me know. In turn, I’ll post an update on how this is working in a bit.


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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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