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?

Why I Joined RingLead to Lead Content Marketing

18 Apr

RingLeadAfter three years at salesforce.com (and formerly Radian6), I’ve taken on a new and exciting venture leading content marketing for RingLead as Director of Marketing. RingLead is a leader in data quality for salespeople and marketers. It ensures clean, deduplicated data for CRMs and marketing automation software.

I couldn’t be more excited about this new opportunity. Here’s why.

A strong vision

Ever since I started working, I’ve ensured that I am 110% behind the company vision. Data quality is critical for CRM and marketing automation success. Bad data is a waste of time and money. It doesn’t serve the customer or the user in any way. I always strive to solve business problems so both customers and employees can focus on doing their jobs well. RingLead is all about that vision.

Smart company structure

RingLead is a flat organization where everyone works together, and everyone plays a role in marketing. This enables great collaboration and transparency across the entire organization, and easy, two-way communication with anyone from sales to the CEO.

Creative freedom

I’ve had creative freedom at all my tech jobs and RingLead is no different. They are open and excited about my ideas, my vision, and my love for strategy and writing. They will fuel and support my plans and that only pushes me harder to execute. Creative freedom and trust is a huge part of content marketing success.

A love for content marketing

RingLead believes in content marketing. Team members like Gregg Thaler and Michael Farrington  (@michaelforce) are already doing content marketing. The company is investing in me and the content strategy I can bring to the table. This kind of support fuels growth and at a smaller organization, I can help this company grow and break new ground with content.

Salesforce ecosystem
I love the brand and products of salesforce.com. It was important to me to continue to be part of the Salesforce ecosystem that I’ve grown to know and love. RingLead is a Salesforce partner and therefore, I will continue to be part of the great Salesforce community. Dreamforce 2014, anyone?

Work life balance

I started writing this post from the Long Island Ferry, commuting home from a meeting with the great folks at RingLead. I am passionate about my career, but equally dedicated to my family and the balancing act that is work and life.  There’s nothing more conducive than a great work environment. I am excited about having the flexibility to work from home to write and develop strategy, yet take a quick ferry ride to the office.

I am thrilled and ready to start this new venture, and I look forward to sharing my learnings and experience as I take this new path to career growth.

Learn more about RingLead and what I’ll be marketing in this awesome video:

Please share your new job advice! I’d love to get your insight.

Why I Never Stop Taking Chances

13 Apr

I have some big news coming up (which I’ll share later this week) and this news relates to taking chances. I took chances non-stop in my teens and 20s. Fear was not in my vocabulary.

Today, however, I am more settled. But I still have that burning fire inside me that encourages me to take another leap. I love to constantly be challenged, learn new things and explore.

I recently read an inspiring post by Jason Goldberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Fab. called 90 Things I’ve Learned From Founding 4 Technology Companies. Now, I may not have founded four companies (the closest thing I’ve done is start a dog park), but there are great inspirational moments here to encourage me to keep pushing myself personally and professionally.

Here are some of my favorites from his list.

23. Inspire.

Are you doing everything in your power to inspire everyone around you? Whether it’s at work or at home, push others to move forward, do their best and work toward something great.

61. Spend every dollar like it is your last.
 But, don’t be afraid to spend.

There’s a balance between saving and spending money, but part of taking chances is finding the right moments to spend, and then spending it. My husband and I finally took that cruise we always wanted and it was one of the best vacations of our lives. It’s about quality of life today as much as it is about saving for retirement.

65. If you’re on a rocket-ship, strap on on your seatbelt and aim for another planet.

If you’re on to something big and exciting, go for it. Then, don’t take a break but instead, soar toward that next exciting moment or goal. I remember when I ran my first 5k. I was excited and proud but then I thought, what if I can run further? That’s when I started running five miles.

77. Wear funny socks or colorful shoes.

This is great for company culture, but it’s also a perfect reminder to have fun in your day-to-day life. As a mom, I can easily find myself in jeans and sweat shirt, but I don’t feel excited or empowered. I push myself to wear something that makes me feel good, even if it’s on a Saturday morning.

80. Laugh at yourself, and let others do so too.

Whether it’s burning toast or making a typo, I try not to sweat it. I learn from my mistakes and quickly move on.

83. Find inspiration in the people around you.

Always be open-minded and ready to learn new things. You can learn something from everyone you meet, so take that chance.

84. Have fun every single day.

It’s as simple as Jason puts it, “If it’s not fun, stop doing it.  No one is making you.
”

87. Mature, but don’t grow up.

I love playing with my two-year-old as if I’m a kid, too. We dig in the dirt, ride the slide together and make a giant mess in the kitchen. Some of these moments are the best ones I’ve ever had.

90. Smile, you’re designed to.

 

Thanks Jason for the amazing post. What other inspirational learnings have you gained? Feel free to share your thoughts here. And stay tuned for my news in my next post.

16 Ways to Enjoy Spring with Social Media

6 Apr

Spring Social MediaSpring is here and coming from New England, I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been nailed with snowstorms this season so I’m thrilled about the fresh blades of grass, the budding branches, and the flocking birds.

Using social media everyday, I love to document my experiences of Spring as well as find things to do outside. Here are some ways that I do it.

 

  1. Post Spring photos on Instagram
  2. Check in with Foursquare to parks, playgrounds and hiking trails
  3. Join local Facebook groups to find nearby events or talk about the weather
  4. Follow community leaders and web properties on Twitter to find or suggest events
  5. Sign up for EventBrite notifications for relevant events
  6. Follow and use top hasthags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram like #spring, #blossom or even #flowerporn
  7. Write blog posts while sitting outside (I’m doing that right now!)
  8. Share your new blog posts on LinkedIn
  9. Use a pedometer or tracker like FitBit to get outside and challenge your friends
  10. Go geocaching and join the online community
  11. Find an allergy-tracking app to stay healthy outside
  12. Spring clean your social media profiles: update your bios and photos, unfollow unwanted users, update your LinkedIn profile, etc.
  13. Use the beautiful Spring backdrop for a new avatar, Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or gravatar
  14. Shoot a Vine of your budding backyard
  15. Download a new app to track your outdoor activities, such as Runkeeper or Runcoach
  16. Put the phone down! Go an hour without using social media to truly enjoy the world around you

What other ways do you use social media to enjoy Spring?

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