When a Cheesy Facebook Quiz Made Me Think Twice

31 Aug

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 1.59.55 PMI recently took a gimmicky Facebook quiz from Bitecharge (come on, we all do it) about the right career for me. While I’m not questioning my career, I don’t spend my afternoons taking quizzes, and I wasn’t about to let a tacky quiz confirm my life choices, I was intrigued. I also wanted to indulge in some mindless activity for the heck of it.

During the senseless, ridiculous clicking, one quiz question stood out:

Do you tend to live in the past, in the future, in the present?

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 1.47.19 PM

Believe it or not, that lame Facebook quiz made me think.

Past

You can learn a lot from the past. Reflecting on it can reveal patterns and lessons. It can help you learn from mistakes. It’s where memories are held and where friendships start. The past can make you smile, or it can make you cry.

The past, to me, is the easiest place to go. It’s a default. It’s where my mind goes when I daydream and when I dream I night. I remember those I’ve lost and those I miss. I relive both positive and negative memories in my dreams.

However, the past doesn’t help you focus on what’s to come. It’s not looking forward. It’s not a place to be when you’re goal-oriented or driven by something untouchable at the moment.

Present

The present is about enjoying the moment you’re in right now. As you read this post, you’re focusing on the present. You’re not looking back, and you’re not looking forward. Focusing on the present is important.

As a mother, I work hard to focus on the current moments. I want to enjoy and cherish my son wearing his first pair of roller skates or eating apples off my apple tree. I never want to wish this time away, and if I focus somewhere else, I’ll miss what’s right in front of me.

The Internet focuses on the present. If the Internet could talk, it would ask, “What have you done for me today?” No matter how hard you work to build up a social media presence or to create great content, it’s truly what you launch today that makes the most impact.

I find this place the hardest one to focus, but it’s important personally and professionally. If you constantly look back, you’ll never move ahead. If you’re only looking forward, then you miss this moment.

Future

Looking toward the future is about constantly keeping your eye on the prize. Whether it’s a promotion, your kid’s next birthday or even considering which post you’ll read next, it’s always about looking forward.

I am an optimist. While I reflect on the past, I’m more likely to be positive and open about what’s ahead. I don’t see doom and gloom in my future; I see a place that holds my achievements. It’s a dangling carrot; and I’m hungry.

Perhaps more than the past or present, the future is where I want to be. I am excited about what the future holds both personally and professionally. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I do want to think about the road ahead and how I can prepare for it now.

Thinking about the future helps me overcome any current challenges. It reminds me that my concerns are small in the scheme of life. It keeps me grounded and thinking about the big picture. Whatever you struggle with today, ask yourself if it will be an issue tomorrow, a month from now, or even a year from now. If it won’t be a problem at that point, it’s probably something that you can overcome. Thinking about the future can get you through the complicated, challenging and sometimes painful things that life throws at you.

 

And so, I clicked Future.

Perhaps like life, I was looking ahead and hoping for the best. But when that quiz revealed that my career is a Writer, I realized that maybe the answer I chose wasn’t just the correct click for the quiz (which you can take here). It was perfect for me, too.

 

How Social Media Changed the Way I Shop

18 Aug

social media shoppingThe way I shop today is completely different from my shopping experience during my teenage years. I used to walk the malls for hours every Saturday. I would window shop while swinging shopping bags each containing a garment or two. Today, the mall is a distant memory. I haven’t held a shopping bag in years.

Times have changed, but I’m not just referring to the shift from brick and mortar to online locations. This is about the shift to social media. Here’s what I mean.

Facebook Group Shopping

My town and the neighboring towns have Facebook groups for residents to buy, sell or trade items. From campers to kids clothes, couches to purses, the group is updated non-stop with items. It’s a great way to keep items local, and out of landfills. It’s like Craig’s List limited to a town-wide radius, which makes selling bulky items a breeze.

This is a social environment for neighbors to connect. It’s about leveraging the people around you to find and sell items for major discounts (even free) without having to travel. It’s a local and social way to shop.

Pinterest Shopping

Whenever I need a specific item (typically clothing, accessories or home decor), I search Pinterest first. I was all about rompers this summer, and Pinterest had tons of adorable options to peruse. Once I found the romper of my dreams, I clicked through to the website to get more details and eventually buy the item. Once I bought it, I pinned it, too.

Pinterest aggregates innovative, unique and fun ideas into one, social space. I use it to plan, and it helps organize my thoughts and ideas before making a purchase.

Before Pinterest, I would search catalogs, magazines, and websites for ideas. I’d print or rip out pages and put them in binders. This brings that entire experience online and makes it social.

Handmade Shopping

I recently helped plan a baby shower and it turned out that nearly all of the items for the event were purchased through Etsy. We had a specific vintage car theme, and with Etsy, we were able to connect and work with specific designers that had the look we wanted. From the invitations to the decor to the gifts, Etsy was a great way to make the event cohesive, unique and elegant.

Before Etsy, I did the typical iParty or Oriental Trading Post shopping experience. Etsy is more specific and catered to your needs since you work with a designer directly. Even better, it was not much more than a trip to iParty.

How has social media changed your online shopping experience?

How Running Changed My Life

19 Jul

RunningI never liked running. I would beg my mom to let me stay home from school whenever gym class required a mile run. Running seemed boring and tiring. There was no way you were getting me on that track. Continue reading

Lessons to My 21-Year-Old College Grad Self

27 May
Me on my graduation day in 2004.

Graduation day in 2004.

This May marked 10 years since I graduated from the University of Hartford. I remember it well. It was a beautiful day in Connecticut and my dad was there, proud as ever. I was excited for a lot of things that day. I was excited to wear my graduation gown, and to throw my cap. I was excited to see my friends and share the day together. I was excited to start the next chapter in my life and get a job in New York City. That was my dream.

That day was bittersweet. While all of this excitement surrounded me, I  was also scared and sad. I was leaving my home of four years. I was leaving my friends of four years. I was going out into the big, unknown world where no one knew anything about me. It was a day to celebrate, but it was also a day to say goodbye.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t about if you’d find a job, but when, and how fast. Jobs were prevalent then, even for recent, wide-eyed grads. I remember my friend Shawn already had a job lined up and I wanted that so badly. But I would land a job two weeks later in New York City, and it would be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

A lot has happened in the last 10 years. Both life and career changes have shaped me into the working mom I am today. So what lessons did I learn in the past 10 years that I’d want my 21-year-old self to remember?

  • Don’t be sad. The future is bright and shiny.
  • Be optimistic. Unknowns are not scary, they’re exciting.
  • It’s all about what you make of it. Your mindset sets the playing field.
  • Have confidence. You can do it. You have to believe in yourself if you want anyone else to believe in you.
  • Don’t stress so much. You’ll find that job and make that next move in life. Worrying won’t solve problems.
  • Know you’re not alone. Many, many, many, many people graduate. They find jobs. They begin their lives. You can do it, too.
  • Work hard. Things don’t fall in your lap. You have to earn them. Wake up every day ready to kick butt.
  • Life is hard. Embrace this and it will be an easier pill to swallow. Nothing good comes easily.

What other life lessons would you share?

5 Inspirational Social Media Professors to Follow

4 May
Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University

When I was in college, the closest thing to social media was Hot or Not. And while times have changed and Hot or Not is…well…not hot, plenty of other social networks are looking pretty good.

Today, social media has not only changed the way I connect and learn, but it has been my occupation for the past three years.

Today, students need to understand the widespread opportunities of social media. So when I got the chance to teach a community management course at Quinnipiac University‘s Masters of Interactive Media program this summer, I jumped at it.

Many people have sparked my excitement for teaching. Here are five of those professors. They do more than teach. They inspire.

 

Jeffrey L. Cohen

Jeffrey L CohenJeff is a professor teaching social media at Ball State University. He started SocialMediaB2B.com, wrote the Social Media B2B Book, and has years of experience in social media, marketing and advertising. I worked with him for the past few years and not only has he taught me everything I know about this space, but he has tons of great stories to tell (especially since he’s been to nearly every state in the U.S.). He applies his learnings (and Instagram photos) to every class and speaking opportunity. Follow Jeff at @jeffreylcohen.

Dan Weingrod

Dan WeingrodDan understands the need to educate and teach students about social media. He brings real-world examples to his students, as well as personal experiences and great thought starters for conversation. He’s a digital strategist and consultant with years of teaching under his belt. I’ve learned a lot from Dan after working with him for over five years. Follow Dan at @dweingrod.

William Ward

Dr4Ward  My first social media job was working as a community manager at Radian6. My role was to not only engage with our audience, but to create helpful content to grow conversation. Through my work in the community,  I met Dr. 4Ward. We connected instantly. He has a ton of social media knowledge and was willing and excited to share it. We collaborated on blog posts that still get shared three years later. Follow him at @Dr4Ward.

Jason Thatcher

6a6355e86b812becf2bafefd42284051Jason knows that students need to experience social media first hand. In collaboration with Radian6, he build the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University, where he directs the Social Analytics Institute. I learned about Jason while working at Radian6, and was excited to share his story. We collaborated on blog posts, case studies, ebooks and more. He also had his students write for the Radian6 blog. He gives his students real-world experience that I’m sure they’ll never forget. Follow him at @jasonbthatcher.

Lynne Kelly

kelly_picLynne leads the School of Communication at the University of Hartford, my alma mater. I’ve learned a lot from Lynne both personally and professionally over the last 10 years, and we’ve used social media to keep in touch and continue to work together. Social media may not be her main focus, but she understands the importance of it and supports her social media-driven students. Lynne worked on the Communication Students Special Opportunities Fund, which provides financial support to students so they can participate in conferences, internships, competitions and more. This is a great example of Lynne’s inspirational ideas. Follow her at @ctlynne (and ask her how you can help the fund).

If you’re interested in my course or other courses in the Social Media track, check it out here. And I’d love to hear about who inspires you. Share their Twitter handles in the comments.

How to Stay Healthy While Working from Home

27 Apr
Working from home tips

Me in 2007 before working from home

When my coworkers found out I was leaving my job at an ad agency to go work from home at Radian6, I remember them clearly saying, “You’re going to get fat.” To them, working from home likely meant balancing your laptop from your pajama-covered knees at 3pm. Working from home meant literally rolling out of bed to work, or working at all hours, eating potato chips at midnight. In other words, working from home meant I wouldn’t be productive or healthy.

Three years after that initial conversation with my coworkers, I am still working from home. And guess what? I am more productive than ever before. I also weigh ten pounds less than I did while working at the ad agency. My bad back is hardly an issue, and I’m stronger and can run farther and faster.

Not only is working from home a conducive work environment for my job (I write, edit and produce content), but it’s made me a healthier person. Here’s how I did it.

A Regular Running Schedule

On my first day at Radian6, at 7:30am, I started running. It was the first time I ran since the mile run in high school gym class. I hated running, but I figured it was a quick, free way to burn calories and jump start my day. I haven’t stopped this routine. This gets me energized for the day ahead and puts me on a schedule.

Mentally Separating Home from Work

Running in the morning gets me out of the house so that when I return, I can shower, eat breakfast and start working. It removes me from the “rolling out of bed to work” mentality. I also have a dedicated work space. This helps me focus, and when I need breaks, I can leave the room and mentally separate myself from my workload.

Walking During Conference Calls

Unless I need to be in front of the computer, I walk during all my conference calls. I pace the hallways, walk outside or do laps around my living room. This burn calories (it’s also how I achieve my FitBit goals), but it also helps me really pay attention to the call. Without a computer, there’s no temptation to multitask.

Moving My Workspace

Even though I have a dedicated work space, I like to move around. This small change gives me a fresh state of mind. Whether it’s Starbucks, sitting outside or at the dining room table, I like to change the scenery. At the same time, I don’t work in or near the kitchen, because I’d be too tempted to snack.

Working from home tips

Me in 2014 after three years of working from home

Food Shopping the Healthy Way

Since I work from home, I eat what’s in my kitchen. Therefore, I make sure to shop for healthy snacks and meals. I think this is a big reason for losing the weight. At the agency, there would be tempting homemade goodies everywhere. I can’t eat what I don’t have, so I make sure not to have those foods available.

Small Meals Throughout the Day

Because I have access to an entire kitchen, I eat many small meals during the day versus three big meals. I start my day with an egg and coffee, a granola bar around 11am, a salad or small sandwich for lunch and then yogurt or veggies in the afternoon. At the end of the day, I eat a small portion dinner with my family. I also don’t go out to lunch more than once a month or so.

 

Whether you work from home or not, you need a good work/life, healthy balance. If your only kickboxing class is at 10am, make it happen. You can come into work earlier or work later, or find other ways to make up the time. Take the time to prepare a healthy lunch and take breaks for snacks.  Go out for lunch or coffee less often. Without a healthy body, you can’t take care of your family, yourself or do your job. All employers should recognize this, so no excuses!

Do you work from home? If so, how do you stay healthy?

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