New Year’s Resolution #5: Learn Something New

This is the first in a countdown-style series of my professionally-oriented New Year’s resolutions.

I love to learn. I am insatiably curious, even when I don’t want to be (or have time to be!). I have a mental list of things that I wish I knew how to do but don’t necessarily have to for my day-to-day work. So this year, I’m going to start checking some things off that list. I’ll start with these two.

Continue reading “New Year’s Resolution #5: Learn Something New”

A New Year’s Wish: Make Mistakes

Neil Gaiman’s 2011 new year’s wish came up recently on my Facebook feed and it really resonated with me.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

It’s scary to make mistakes. We’re conditioned to seek the “right” answer (and quickly). Turns out, very little about life has a “right” answer. So be brave, get out there and “make glorious, amazing mistakes.”

What do you want to try this year? How are you going to push yourself?

Surviving Dead Week (or any Stressful Week, for That Matter)

It’s just not fair! After a glorious long holiday weekend, at the University of Oregon we have to come back to campus for DEAD WEEK. The origin of the phrase is that the week should be “dead” – that is, free from too many deadlines and a chance to prepare for finals. As faculty, we even have some rules around how much we can have due during this week. Of course, there’s one big caveat… as long as it’s in the syllabus, it’s fair game*.

For JSchool students, dead week is often the most jam packed of the term. Presentations and final projects are often due during the last week of the term. My classes are no different. I don’t often give final exams and my students have presentations, final papers and team projects due… sorry.

It hasn’t been that long since I was a student and certainly I have weeks that require additional focus and fortitude. Here are my five tips for surviving (and maybe even thriving) week’s like this:

  1. Organize: For me, it’s a brain dump. Literally getting everything out on paper that’s running around in my head. I like unlined paper and adding in little doodles. I’ve learned I’m not a very linear thinker, so this works for me. But if you’re a list maker, go with that. Note: Don’t try to start a new system in the heat of the battle.
  2. Prioritize (a.k.a. Pick Your Battles): Whoa! that’s quite a list you have there, eh? And not enough hours in the day, you say? Figure out what’s most important. You can look at which assignments/projects carry the greatest weight, for example. Or which projects are due first. Estimating the time each will take can help figure out how the puzzle fits together. You have to go back to the list every day. Priorities can change, but keeping your eye on the big picture will help you stay focused through the week.  And at the end of the day, you may have to make choices about what you can and can’t do.
  3. Get enough sleep: All nighters are not good for your brain or your overall health. How many people do you know who get the “finals week flu” (that cold/flu feeling exhaustion that comes once your body can let down its defenses)? Try to get 6 – 8 hours of sleep. You’ll find you’re more productive and sharper than if you try to work into the wee hours of every night.
  4. Eat a balanced diet: Red bulls and Doritos are are not a balanced diet. Eat enough fruits and veggies, along with enough protein for your brain to function. It’s important! For real.
  5. Treat yourself when it’s over: At the end of the week, know that you worked hard. Damn hard. Treat yourself. Whether it’s a spa treatment (pedicures, for the win!), some retail therapy or drinks with friends to celebrate your collective success, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments.

What do you do to survive your own dead week? I’d love to hear!

 

*more or less

To Twitter on Its 5th Birthday

Twitter celebrated its 5th birthday last week. Unlike the five year old in my house, I’m fairly confident Twitter’s party didn’t have an Optimus Prime pinata and a Autobot cake… Twitter’s loss.

Milestones always seem to me like a good time to reflect and ruminate. Of course, I wasn’t there on day one, but I’ve been on Twitter for a while (just over 4 years), and it’s certainly had a big impact on me. A few things that stand out in my mind:

  • I joined in April 2007, but didn’t really start tweeting regularly  until June 2008. Like all applications, it takes time to find your groove, figure out how it fits into your work flow. Does it make life easier/better/more satisfying? My rule of thumb for new Twitter users is to give it 30 days and try to follow/be followed by about 100 people.
  • I’ve sent almost 20,000 tweets in that time. As of today (July 18), I have 5100 followers and 2,690 friends. I learned long ago that these stats had to be about my experience with Twitter and not arbitrary rules about follower ratios or similar nonsense. No, Twitter is not “all about me,” but if the tool doesn’t bring value, then why participate?
  • I average about 15 tweets a day. That’s probably pretty “noisy,” but many of my tweets are connecting to people, not just blabbing for the sake of blabbing. I’m not going to lie, there is definitely blabbing. The @’s and RTs dominate. In fact “rt” is my top word in my tag cloud, followed by the very optimistic sounding: thanks, great, new and good.
  • Twitter, for me, is my go-to platform. It’s the one I use the most and provides the most return on investment for me. Besides, I learned about four of the last five dead celebs from Twitter – now that’s value!

Check out this stellar infographic chronicling Twitter’s history. And share! What do you love (or hate) about Twitter?

by visually via

Smile More: And Other Life Lessons Purple Hair has Taught Me

Earlier this week I was walking through the middle of campus with a scowl on my face. Not an I’m-in-a-bad-mood scowl, but a zoned-out/mind-is-elsewhere glare off into the distance. In fact, my eyes must have been cast downward because, in my peripheral vision, I see a man jogging toward me. He was clearly on a mission to get somewhere. As he approached, probably 10 feet from me, I looked up suddenly and made eye contact.

“Great hair!” he said with a big grin. I didn’t even have time to respond, but smiled quickly in acknowledgement of the compliment.

In that moment it struck me that as that man jogged toward me, I likely did not look very welcoming or approachable. And that moment was identical to millions of moments in my life. Except, now I have purple hair. So that man, the woman at the bank, the hygienist at the dentist’s office, the fellow concert-goer, my barista at Starbucks… interact with me and seem to remember me much differently than when I had plain brown hair. There’s a distinct lack of anonymity.

So, sure, purple hair is an obvious flashpoint/conversation starter/set-yourself-apart kind of thing. But truly, it’s not for everyone. So how can you set yourself apart in your day-to-day life? I’m not talking about in a physical sense… let’s use purple hair as a metaphor, shall we?

Be approachableBe conscientious of your body language, facial expressions and demeanor. No, you shouldn’t care what everyone thinks about you, that’s not the point. But if you non-verbal says, “I’m approachable,” you may be surprised at who you’ll meet or what conversations you might strike up.

Take interest in people – Be genuine, though. Don’t be obnoxious (there’s a certain coffee stand chain in Oregon that rhymes with Hutch Druthers that has the most obnoxious baristas who want to chatter non-stop and ask way too many questions about what you’re doing… don’t do that).

Smile & make eye-contact – I get stopped on the street (literally) and complimented on my purple noggin. No, I’m not always in the mood to smile and say “thank you.” But I do it anyway. People take a risk when they talk to a stranger – even if it’s to pay a compliment. The least you can do is show respect by acknowledging with a genuine response. Or if you’re the one taking a risk, then do so with a smile and eye contact. You’ll find both are usually reciprocated. And if they aren’t, it’s probably not about you.

People don’t always remember what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel.

Don’t take yourself too seriously – I have purple hair for crying out loud. Have fun, and the rest will follow.

I’d love to hear what you think.

You Can be Smart AND Cool… I love it!

Nothing to do with PR, really (except that everything has something to do with PR, I suppose), but I just love this story. From CNN:

Danica McKellar has a message for girls: Cute and smart is better than cute and dumb.

Danica McKellar wants girls to steer away from the example set by Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

McKellar, who played Winnie on the 1990s television show “The Wonder Years,” is coming out with a book, “Math Doesn’t Suck,” to encourage girls to get into math.

“When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible,” the 32-year-old McKellar told Newsweek for editions to hit newsstands Monday.

“But I want to show them that being smart is cool,” she said. “Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life.”

Interactivity is Fun!

The new Pet Moustache site from Burger King is the latest in a growing trend of interactive Web sites that give customers more ways (and reasons) with which to engage a brand.

Pet Moustache, launched to promote the BK Cowboy Burger, lets you upload a photo and well, grow a pet moustache. Here’s my attempt: (I’m not such a good virtual moustache groomer – note the score of 31)

Become an M&M has been around for a while, but that doesn’t diminish the fun. And hey, you’re much more likely to find me eating M&Ms than a BK Cowboy Burger. This is my ode to summer break (and yes, you know I’d have a latte even in paradise).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A couple of other fun sites. Kohler (as in the toilets) has Jo’s Plumbing. At the site, an attractive brunette “plumber” will flush various things around the bathroom (including dog food, trial shampoo bottles and marbles among others) to show you the power of the new Kohler toilet.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Finally, GEICO let’s you visit the Caveman’s Crib with a fully interactive site designed to represent the Geico Caveman’s apartment. You can watch TV, change the music on the iPod, read magazines or just hang out. The site barely mentions GEICO.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

What do you think? Do you feel more loyal/connected to a brand when you participate in sites like this? Are there others you know of?

What We Call the News!

A little satire for your Spring Break.
“Only three percent of people can point to Kabul on a map/but 96 percent have seen Brittney’s putty-tat…”
Related Posts with Thumbnails