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    It’s been an intense week at work, as we’ve been fully focused on watching and visualizing the TED talks. (Side note: you can see the awesome deliverables and insights from this event on the Duarte blog! Check it out, you won’t be disappointed :) )

    One of the core components of this culture is appreciation. People here love to say, “thanks” to their co-workers and clients, and it yields a positive atmosphere. Here’s the thing: it’s not some forced behavior, like when your parents made you apologize after you took your sibling’s toy (and, let’s be honest, who was REALLY sorry they took the toy?), but genuine appreciation for the hard work and skill that others bring to the table. Those two little words make such a difference in employee morale, and I would argue, productivity.

    When people notice the hard work, it makes you want to work harder. When someone says, “Thanks for a job well done”, it makes you want to keep doing your job well. It’s this loop that goes round and round to create good work that creates a positive environment that leads to more good work. Sometimes we think that it’s silly or superficial to tell a colleague that you appreciate their time, effort, and talent, but who doesn’t like a pat on the back every so often?

    So, next time someone does a great job on a project, let ‘em know. It might feel a little forced or awkward at first, but as people start recognizing and appreciating each other, it will naturally spread, leading to increased morale and productivity.

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    Love poem created by blacking out words in other literary works.

     

    My new workplace has a gallery area where we feature art of all shapes and sizes. We had a gallery opening today with a new exhibit, a Valentine’s Day-themed poetry wall… with a small twist. The premise is to create poems about love by blacking out words that you don’t want to use in a magazine, newspaper, or print-out from a novel. The remaining words create a poem. I wrote two:

     
    Irrestistibly Invisible

    Time is foolish
    Time to continue that letter which is never finished
    Love warms the interior
    Love, erratic exuberant games without any apparent practical funtion

    A distinctive song,
    invisible but invariably present
    Irresistibly separated souls to restore a lost communion

    It’s foolish and also lurking in the vicinity, origins obscure
    I don’t know how, but welcome
    These are puzzling matters I am not prepared to resolve.

    The very thing I had in mind,
    No mistaking, a living target
    It would be, among other things, a sanctuary
    to protect, preserve and defind ideals.
     
    Perplexity of Marriage

    Marriage, romantic in nature,
    inspired by complex building

    Love, bright and healthy
    There would be no end

    On your wedding day, your spouse
    that you will look at him
    exchanging a word with him
    a ring and bodily fluids.

    Your life, happiness.
    Celebrate getting married
    or finding a partner whom we will want to spend our lives with
    and have children by
    a winning lottery ticket
    Enter these partnerships and be happy

    Perhaps I am getting things out of proportion.
    Maybe all this contemplation if an inappropriate response to our wedding day.
    One’s thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are worthy of respect.

    Form a party
    After the event, a couple

     

    This was an interesting exercise. I’m not a poet by any means, and I definitely don’t go around word-smithing from random articles. I read several other poems, and during our creation session, we joked that we all need marriage counseling. So many of the poems turned out to be very sad, and I think that says a lot about what our society does to love. We created these poems using someone else’s words, and I think it speaks volumes about the kinds of words we have to choose from. I know that’s pretty meta and emotional, but seriously, why did so many poems take a turn toward regret? Of course, there were plenty of really touching, uplifting poems, but the amount of sadness really struck me. I made it my mission to find the happiness in my selections to work with. The second poem on marriage was created by blacking out two pages of a novel about a couple going through a divorce, and I decided that there was a way to salvage the goodness, in spite of words like “regret”, “sick feeling”, and “bleach-drinking”.

    It was also interesting that many of the poems included the word “love”. Clearly, we were looking for it, but again, I think it says something about what our society claims to value. We “love” nail polish, we “love” the stock market numbers, we “love” a new gadget. Do we really know what “love” actually means? There were also plenty of tangential words, like “fantasy”, “passion”, and “exuberance” in every day articles. Society throws around this depth of emotion to get people to buy the product, service, or idea, yet many times, we are scared to actually dive into these emotions when it comes to personal decisions.

    So, I find it interesting that we can be so laid back about using the word “love”, and yet, at the same time, choose to see the dark side of love. I also find it interesting that you can have so much beauty and complexity if you just look beyond what’s right in front of you. Sometimes, you have to strip things down to find the true meaning for you.

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    So, it’s been a while since I’ve been on my blog, and clearly, a lot has happened since I was churning out 3-5 posts each week. Let’s take a quick post to play catch up, shall we?

    First, to confirm, my husband and I have moved back to the Bay Area. We chose to keep this move off the social platforms for a variety of reasons, but I’m about to be doing some business stuff that will reveal the secrets (get excited, my job has me doing some cool stuff in the next couple of weeks, and I’m gonna share it with YOU!).

    Second, I started a new position in October, and I LOVE it. I’m incredibly busy all day every day, tackling strategic and tactical issues related to a variety of projects. I’m in my wheelhouse with branding, social media and a website overhaul, and branching out with projects related to TED, South by Southwest, and video. I’ve got some direct reports, and phenomenal leaders as my immediate boss and skip-level boss. I’m learning so much, and I feel that I’m contributing so much more now that I’m in my element at work. I’ve talked about being the best version of myself several times on this blog, and now that I’ve found my niche, I have this sensation more often than not these days. Satisfaction in my professional life bleeds over into my personal life, and I feel compelled to push myself harder in all aspects of my life.

    Third, I’m chipping away at the last 15 hours of my MBA degree. I ended up dropping all 9 hours last semester because of the family crisis, professional promotion, and cross-country move. I’m taking 9 hours this spring, and 6 hours this summer, which allows me to graduate in August 2013! So. Freakin’. Ready. The MBA is the one place where my motivation is lagging. My current position is basically the “MBA job”, and I’m having to finish up my classes online, so it’s more painful than it’s been previously.

    Finally, my writing is still being directed elsewhere, mostly toward work projects. I’m still contributing to The Daily Muse on occasion (I’ll have a great article coming out in the next week or two), and of course, I get back to my blog occassionally. Last year, I made some pretty hefty goals related to my blog and writing in general, but this year, I’m just not feeling compelled to put that kind of focus on my personal writing. I’ve had a ton of inspiration that’s made me say, “Man, I should write a blog post about that”, but I’ve yet to sit down and bang out the content. However, my cool work projects are about to take off, and I am going to commit to blogging about the non-confidential aspects.

    All that to say, it’s been a crazy 4 months, and life is AMAZING. I’m clear, I’m energized, and I’m productive. I may not be writing as frequently, but it’s only because the passion is being directed elsewhere for a while :) I’m excited to share my new projects when I’m able, and of course, I’ll have some handy MBA, markeitng, and corporate content along the way.

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    I’m very excited to be a guest presenter for a webinar hosted by Harvard Business Review and Citrix. The webinar focuses on remote presenting, with tips from Nancy Duarte, author of Slide:ology, Resonate, and the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Spread the word and click here to register for the complimentary webinar!

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    I’ve got an article on the Job Hunting Remotely today over at The Daily Muse. I’ve posted many times at The Daily Muse, and you can check out my other articles here.

    The Daily Muse is a site that caters to professional women, and I encourage you to check out the other articles, written by a slew of talented authors!

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    I visited my first farmers’ market this weekend, and I was struck by the authenticity of the whole thing. We ramble on about being transparent, making a connection, having a conversation, and generally being authentic in the business world, but often, we turn around and toss out some flashy ad campaign or cheesy promotion to present a facade of authenticity. But, the farmers’ market is different. There’s no sales pitch, no fancy coupon deals, no expensive TV spots. It’s just honest people trying to make an honest living… and people respond to that kind of authenticity.

    I watched a lady run up to a stall and pluck a strawberry from a weathered wooden crate. After tasting the fruit, she purchased the entire basket. That’s a real taste test.

    I watched a man tap his thumb against his leg as he passed by the amateur bluegrass band, smiling at his secret beat. The kids were more open, shaking their hips, heads, and hands as they passed the instruments. That’s a real emotional connection.

    I watched middle-aged adults escorting their elderly parents among the vendors, and young parents strolling through the street with their toddlers. That’s a real passing of tradition.

    The air felt crisp, the colors were bright. I could smell fresh crepes and sausage cooking, I could hear haggling and planning. I tasted my coffee, and watched shoppers taste their potential purchases. That’s a real total body experience.

    We like to sit behind our polished desks doling out business advice to the masses. But, honestly? I think we have a lot to learn from the farmers’ market.

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    I’m contributing to an article on the Go to Grad School Guide: MBA Programs today. I’ve posted many times at The Daily Muse, and you can check out my other articles here.

    The Daily Muse is a site that caters to professional women, and I encourage you to check out the other articles, written by a slew of talented authors!

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    It’s 11:00 pm, and I’m laying in bed, surfing the ‘net… and suddenly, the whole apartment starts shaking! This is Irving, TX, people, we don’t get shaking floors in these parts. My husband is in the living room, and we look at each other with confusion. “Um, was that an earthquake?” Surely not, since, ya know, we don’t get earthquakes in Texas very frequently. Cue operation: figure out if we had an earthquake. GO!

    My husband heads to the official government website that tracks and measures earthquakes around the US. I head to Facebook and Twitter. Guess who got verification first? The hashtag earthquake query on Twitter brough up confirmation from around the metroplex in less than 20 seconds. My Facebook status update resulted in confirmation replies with locations within 10 seconds. So while I’m hitting F5 and seeing reports of the earthquake from friends and strangers, my husband is still waiting on the government website to register any news at all. It took a full 15 minutes for the site to show our earthquake. Heck, we had an AFTERSHOCK before the official site logged the first set of ripples! The aftershock was also confirmed by social media before the initial shock was recorded through official channels!

    Am I the only one who nerds out about this kind of connectivity? I mean, there was a time when you had to wait MONTHS to get news, and now we have real-time conversations about events. #blowsmymind!

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    At some point, I’ll get back to my regular posting schedule, I promise! For now, I want to share a post inspired by a trip to the bathroom. Don’t worry, it’s not gross!

    Many universities and companies are trying to go green, and they’re installing fancy toilets that allow you to choose the amount of water needed for each flush. Most of these toilets make it pretty simple with a button for solid waste, and a button for liquid waste. The toilet I saw yesterday, however, made it difficult. First, the instructions were really tiny, so I didn’t really notice that it was an environmentally-friendly toilet until I was turning to leave. Seriously, I must be the only nerd that actually looks twice at the handle to see if there’s a blog post waiting to be written, but I looked a little closer at the instructions. The designers wanted you to pull the handle up for liquid waste, and down for solid waste. Now, this, to me, is poor design for a couple of reasons. First, we’re all used to pushing a handle down to flush, so the immediate response from the majority of people would be to do what they’ve always done. Second, I don’t have hard statistics on this, but I think it’s safe to assume that in a public restroom, most people will have liquid waste. So, why make them think harder to go green? If the designers had just flipped the functionality, I think the toilets would save more water!

    I saw some statistics a few years ago about re-wording the forms at the DMV to increase the number of organ donors. In most states, the form reads, “Please check the box below if you would like to be an organ donor.” Very few people checked the box, because most people won’t take an extra step. However, when they changed the wording to read, “Please check the box if you do not want to be a donor”, they had more donors. In theory, the same number of people chose not to check the box, but in this case, that action resulted in a positive consequence for the donor pool.

    So, what do toilets and DMV have in common? They have initiatives to promote, and they’re dealing with a largely apathetic public. If you really want your initiatives to work, it’s gotta be a no brainer for your customers!

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    I heard a blurb on the radio today about Britney and Christina going head to head! Who will win: X Factor or The Voice? Which one will YOU choose? So dramatic and hyped… and pointless. My immediate reaction was laughter, since DVR makes these rivalries a moot point. People can watch BOTH shows!

    In fact, DVR has changed the TV landscape quite a bit for marketers. Advertisements are sold with the assumption that a certain number of viewers will see the ad. In the past, viewers could change the channel, leave the room, or otherwise tune out, but it was much easier to figure out how many viewers watched the show. These days, viewers can DVR shows for later, or watch them “live” but with a 10 minute delay, which allows them to fast forward through the commercials altogether. I’m not knowledgeable about this type of technology at all, so I have no idea if networks can measure how many people DVR a show. But, even if they can measure how many people DVR a show, I doubt there’s a way to measure how many people actually watch all the shows they DVR. So, once again, we’re back to inaccurate or immeasurable viewer figures, and the ability to fast forward through commercials.

    How long will we pretend that one TV show trumps another? I do think there’s still some significance about the line-up and show promotion, but as technology advances, I think these rivalries will be less and less relevant!

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