Monday, October 26, 2015

Making Sense

Thinking of whether or not this new mindset makes sense in my life. If something happens to either you or me, would this all make sense as the last breath in our lungs departs?

Thinking of how you caught me at the last minute to say goodbye before I left that night. When that last breath is slowly trickling out, will you or I regret standing there sans hug or handshake or smile?

Did you walk or run to find me before I walked out?
Did you think the dialogue would have been different?
If there was any thought of ending on a high note, why disappear after my departure?
I'm tired of trying to connect your actions with the feelings that you seem to have, that you make me feel.

The thinking is endless because I find our behavior so thwarting. We are on this path of discovery and growth and improvement and potential, but we can't stop being awkward around one another. I am also guilty of attempting safe, mundane, conversation.

We were never friends to begin with, I don't think we would have become friends on our own. I've realized you are too calm for me. I am too jittery for you. Yet, we're still alive in each other's universe. The possibility exists: friendship.

The new mindset tells me it can happen. While the realistic, pessimist mindset tells me we are just playing pretend. We are on this growth journey until it gets uncomfortable. Then we excuse ourselves with chants of, "I have moved on, we don't need to go back now." Sounds logical until I think of kindness, forgiveness, repentance and letting go. Truly letting go.

Is letting go ignoring you and not remembering you live? Or attempting to add you back into life as something improved?

All I hope is that, when that last breath is out, I can rest easy. I hope not to think, "I had it all wrong."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Love Notes III

Can I go back in time and not know you?

I wonder how that would change things now.

Would I still feel the void I feel now, after knowing you?

Or illusion a better "now" would happen if I met you in real life?

As I did.
As I thought.

Life was changed.
Love was had.
Memories still burn.

Would we had been better off not bumping into one another that night? The next day? That evening?

Even after all this time, and the moments we have had, one thing remains true...

You want me.
I want you.

I still love you.
And so do you.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Love Notes II

While I remember you with joy, passion and sometimes also sadness, I do think of you with anger. 

I remember how you pointed out what a mess my life was on more than one occasion. It shamed me. I felt embarrassed by admitting it because, indeed, my life is a mess. 

Is it really an excuse to say the mess is not half-created by me? 
That I care for others and cannot control their actions, which inherently affect mine? 

If I use that excuse it's easy to say I can choose not to be the caregiver and walk away from the mess. That would make my life much easier, but is it realistic? 

No. I can't just walk away, and that's what hurt me about your judgement. 

To me your life was a mess too, you know? 

There was structure that only made sense to you, ideas that seemed effervescent,  difficulty in communication without interrogation, you were not mess free- and I accepted that. 

I did not point it out; and while I know you accepted my mess, the simple fact that you felt it necessary to make it tangible hurt me. When I remember that I feel less guilty about asking to end things. 

I remember that you're not perfect after all, even if my heart tells me you might be. 

(Originally written in 2013)

Love Notes

Today is one of those days. 
I miss you a lot, the thought of you. 

In my head I think I've made you into a greater being, but then I think my imagination is perhaps not too far from the truth.

I miss your Hugo Boss t-shirt, the one I liked to sleep in, it was so "you" because it was a normal shirt, a normal man; but soft and structured, high end, well-crafted, loyal. A good t-shirt, a good man. 

I miss your mouth. I miss that mouth constantly. Your mouth and your explosive kisses. When I look at other mouths, new mouths, they don’t help me to forget yours whatsoever. That mouth ignited those hands that grabbed with the right pressure. 

I miss your freshly washed hair, brushed back, and how your cheekbones seemed to pop out even more with that spy-dandy hairdo. 

Most, I miss is that heart that was so passionate, yet calm. 

I miss you a lot today. It's just one of those days.

(Originally written in 2012)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A whole lotta nothing

Think back to show and tell at school. Or, if you grew up in another country, class presentations where you stood in front of everyone and were expected to present from flashcards or recite from memory. Do bad memories come to mind?
Fast forward now and think of the times you have been in a meeting and when time comes to "share your thoughts" the same people speak up, every single time. How many times have those same people said something that actually helps further the goals of the meeting?
I've gotten these three schoolwork variations and lived through meeting déjà vu hell. I believe, none of these school experiences raise kids to become more comfortable with public speaking or to become adults who can drive their points across professionally.
Instead, whenever public speaking is involved all we hear is complaining, self-praise, or repetition of project updates for a project that should have been completed months ago. Dr. Travis Bradberry just wrote a great post on how to handle toxic people, who, to me, seem to be the perfect examples of this public speaking educational failure.
The ability to share thoughts and ideas out-loud has come up at meetings or networking sessions these past weeks. Thanks to being an only child and to speech writing and public speaking classes, I have received compliments on my public speaking more often. As well as receiving questions on how to become a better speaker.
While I am honest in explaining that I needed to speak up as a child whenever I wanted something, since no siblings were around for me to get things from, or that timed debates and lots of red ink in edits from professors created a mental whiteboard, where I draft sentences before I speak or write, a separate aspect of what makes public speaking easier for me now is still often unaddressed. That aspect is the purpose of speaking.
Every opportunity we get to speak and deliver a message, even if it is the message of "dinner is served," is an opportunity to provide something meaningful. As with the aforementioned example, "dinner's ready!" is very different from, "everyone, come to the table, dinner is served!" Even more different is, "Bobby, Jane, honey, dinner is ready, come to the table please!"
Words are everything.
Perhaps you've heard the saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all" What you may not have considered is that this Bambi-adapted adage can refer to more than just the way you speak to, or about, others. Everything you say and the way you say it has a purpose. Therefore, speak with purpose.
Are you about to open your mouth for something good?
"That's it?" you may be asking now. "What hippie-dippy hogwash," I've also heard. Okay, "hogwash" replaces another term to be honest, because you deserve more polished language, but the remainder of the expression stands.
Speaking with purpose is not easy to adapt to, to enforce, or to like. Because of this many people choose to ignore purpose and live with their fears of public speaking; knowing they will have a reason to blame for their speech inabilities. It's an understandable reasoning.
Many times my accent, my impatience and my favoritism of expletives, get in the way of my purpose. Thoughts or ideas are not delivered adequately but I still get a societal pass because, "I was nervous," "I felt attacked," "I was waiting forever," or "I was hangry."
While things work out despite word vomit, projects, activities or conversations take on a different path. A path that will often involve more work and more future explanations. When you become aware of how purposeful speaking can change your workflow and life, you regret the times that word vomit gets the best of you.
Try these simple exercises and begin to speak with purpose:
Pen and paper
Before and during a meeting write down the topics you would like to discuss and the questions that come up in your head as the conversation is taking place. Use a pen and paper, not a laptop. Studies have shown that we are more receptive to a message when we write down notes- and we process that information better because of it, the latest example is here. Sounds simple enough but you may be surprised to find yourself holding your tongue and fidgeting with your hands because you want to interrupt a person to share your thought- instead of writing it down. Some eureka moments still need to occur but ask yourself before you speak, "is this a eureka thought?" Allow people to finish their sentences before you begin yours then. This will also help you fine tune your listening skills and demonstrate respect to your colleagues.
Breathe in
As you look over your written-down notes breathe in before you share them. Those seconds allow you to put together a sentence and even straighten up your posture. Deliver your message at medium-speed and continue to breathe in between points. If someone interjects between your points raise your pen and calmly say, "excuse me, I was not finished." There is no need to be rude when saying this, you want to be firm and drive the point across that you actually listened and you have full sentences to share, not just blurbs. After you do this once, people around you will notice your delivery is different and may actually pay more attention to you because you're sharing complete ideas. Also, because you managed to stand your ground in a polite manner. Flawless, as Beyoncé would say.
Use your tone and language
Since you and I are grown ups we need to use grown up words. "Yeah" or "you know" should not be the main expressions in your conversations. If you are meeting to discuss a report, write down words from that same report and use them when discussing it. If you are brainstorming for a new product, express support or disagreement with examples rather than applying one word responses. So, "this is an idea that would work because..." or "I don't believe we should attempt that for this reason..." are great. Leave "that's cool" and "I don't like it" behind. It is inspiring to encounter a professional who can express him or herself in layman terms, without needing clichés or colloquialisms. Try to be that inspiration. Moreover, be aware that the tone you use, and even the tone of your voice, affects your delivery. Mimic the tone of a broadcaster on TV or the radio, not too high pitched and not too somber, when speaking in a group setting.
Don't force it
Think of Bambi and Thumper and remind yourself not to say anything that will not benefit the cause or the people around you. Sometimes just being alert and engaged through note taking is enough. You won't have questions or ideas in every interaction you have in your personal or professional life, so learn to agree, smile and stay quiet. By no means does this mean become a pushover, though. If you do have a thought, breathe, form a sentence in your head and speak clearly until you finish a whole sentence. Don't stop halfway. Don't start a new idea in the middle of your sentence. Don't back down and say "never mind." Begin to realize that your thoughts are important and deserve to be delivered and received as such. When you don't feel like a thought should be shared, then be content with yourself for acknowledging this too.
Very few people are born with the skill to speak with purpose, or the ability to recognize this skill. All us need to train ourselves and help others by example.
Speaking with purpose can make you into a powerful messenger or leave you saying, well, a whole lot of nothing.
*If you would like to read my future posts please click "Follow" at the top of my LinkedIn Pulse articles and feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

Eggs are nice, but what about the sides?

I've just read the news of Apple getting ready to offer to pay for the costs of freezing eggs for their female employees beginning in January 2015. Facebook has offered the benefit since January of this year.
Perhaps you are overloaded with egg talk by now, and a little bit grossed out. I don't oppose a woman's choice to freeze or not to freeze her eggs, to be life-Shakespearean about it, but I have a very vivid imagination and the image that is stuck on my mind is this:
Matrix anybody?
The benefit is great and, I believe, will help a number of women who know their optimal child-bearing years rival their crucial career-growth years, especially in an industry few women already belong to. The pressure or competition cannot help when trying to start a family. Therefore, good move Apple and Facebook! Kuddos for supporting working women who also want to be mothers later in life.
Meanwhile, the rest of us working ladies, maybe still single and 30 as well, are left to figure out if or when kids will come. Without having the benefit of a paid egg-freezing "perk" there are certainly other benefits that can make employees happy. Some fancier ones are being adapted at more and more organizations, but these are basic full-time office work benefits we all should have:
Unlimited Vacation Time
Let's face it, you want it, I want it, our bosses want it. Unlimited vacation can work and has been proven to work. It is the most trust-building benefit you can give any employee because he or she must prove their management abilities and deliver. Coming from an employee with three weeks of vacation, which is already considered a lot, I can assure you no company will go bankrupt by offering this perk. Some people love to or have to travel, like myself, and other people don't like to leave their home as often. Unlimited vacation is a solution that can make a company look very good to employees while giving them peace of mind, knowing they can make it to that spring wedding, the summer vacation with family, Thanksgiving with grandma, and Christmas with the folks, without taking unpaid time-off, or enjoy a staycation three or more times each year.
Company Matching Plus
Whether it means matching your charitable or retirement fund contributions, company matching can encourage employees to give back or save- and then some. Matching contributions can also go the extra mile by offering an additional percentage if an employee gives the maximum amount allowed for a contribution, or provide recognition or rewards for steady and growing contributions. Being good to employees and encouraging them to be good towards others and their own future is good business. When we, the laborers, feel appreciated, we appreciate our work and do it better.
Internal and External Education 
This particular benefit boggles my mind because there are so many companies that restrict the amount they are willing to give their employees, their talent, to advance their education and become more valuable assets. Something as simple as a one-day workshop or conference can be considered educational advancement. Don't let yourself be limited by the general restrictions all employees at your job face for education. Suggest in-house trainings to HR; negotiate a conference or course with your boss to get a higher, or the whole amount, paid by your company; offer to pay for the course but get a review-recognition in exchange on your record if your organization has a zero budget for education. How can you defend these petitions? With a simple argument: you are willing to improve yourself to improve your work and improve the company, or find a company that appreciates this dedication. Loyalty is not an easy quality to find in prospective employees, but it is an excellent selling point for you to offer.
The Most Important 
All of the benefits mentioned are great and should be offered everywhere, but the most important benefit that will keep you at your job is intangible: values.
A job can pay you well, give you free food, pile on bonuses and offer you freebies, but at the end of the day, when your head hits the pillow, if your heart is not swelling with joy over the greatness that is your job then chances are your company's values might be to blame. Do you fully believe in what you are selling/building/curing/arguing? Did you imagine yourself at your job when you started your first class in college or technical school? Have you become monotonous at work and follow a routine, rather than find new ways to do things? Don't worry, these questions are not followed by "there is a pill for that."
It is true that not all of us can have our dream jobs, the realities and costs of life lead us to safe, stable, work opportunities that can be fulfilling in their own ways. Still, not trying or searching for that professional activity you feel will make your life better is a disservice to you and those around you. When I was a sophomore in college I got my second college internship at MTV, my friends and family were elated. I continuously got asked, "how did you land that?!" and after three weeks of saying, "I wrote a great essay," or "I applied to different jobs" or "I speak three languages" I grew tired and offended by the question and just replied, "I tried." There were no follow-up queries to that answer.
Life is far from idyllic, but countless of opportunities go unacknowledged each day because people grow tired of trying. So, try.
Offer new ideas at your current job, go back to that hobby you loved so much, get a part time job in the field you are truly passionate about, head to the gym, volunteer, write a book even if it may never get published. Try.
The biggest work benefit any company can give us is a personal and professional value of worth. Without it no employee will truly excel in any position.
Eggs are certainly nice, but so are the sides.
*If you would like to read my future posts please click "Follow" at the top of my LinkedIn Pulse articles and feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

Passive aggressive? Not I!

More and more often I hear friends across a variety of industries complain about their work teams being passive-aggressive, and coworkers being unable to face a problem head-on.
Sure enough, I have been caught in this same venting. Either after a meeting ends and no resolution was reached to a pending issue or after speaking with a person requesting a project without offering materials to complete the work- but needing it done tomorrow.
We've all been there, and it seems that when I vent or hear the venting we are all the warriors. We want to fight, we want the passion, we want the angry emails without the white flag smiley faces above the signature!
Then, I wondered. Are "we" really the warriors? Or are we simply members of the town complaining about the problems without being willing to go off to battle, too?
Thankfully, compared to those in the middle ages, our problems don't revolve around famine or black death, and our warriors don't have to take over neighboring towns for survival. The point is, we all vent but we're not all warriors venting rightfully.
One of my favorite quotes by Denis Waitley is, "There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them." Passive-aggressive behavior can happen at any given time of the day in small or large expressions alike, and it is up to you to live it, copy it, or change it.
For example:
* During a meeting Sally commented on the typos a page on the company website had, without knowing that web administrators had been dealing with tech issues all morning. When Sally asked William when the typos would be fixed she was told, "this is a minor problem, and not your job to worry about, we'll figure it out later." Sally felt embarrassed and decided not to bring up her second idea about a sales application that could have made the company a ton of mulla... a.k.a., money.
* Mike was having difficulty adjusting to his new job after being there for 3 months because people didn't interact much through the day. During a social gathering organized by his office he attempted to spark up conversation with Mary, but she was over tired after returning from an off-site meeting. Mary told Mike, "I don't really want to be here but I have to be so please don't talk to me right now." Mike felt fed up and began looking for a new job.
How many times have you been Sally or Mike? And how many times have you been a frustrated William or tired Mary? Whether you immediately admit it or not, there is no way you have always been the victim of passive-aggressive office behavior. And, sadly, there is not pill for this ailment which plagues conference rooms and cubicles everywhere.
Your choices to deal with passive-aggressiveness are: live it, copy it, change it. Only one of these choices will make you a warrior, and perhaps even a savior, at your office.
  • Live it - You might complain, you might cry, you might even scream into your pillow when you get home after work... but then what? If you don't do anything about the behavior another person has towards you, you're only bottling up frustration and anger. Raise the issue up to your supervisor and be willing to be part of a solution. While the problem won't be resolved immediately, if you don't deal with it you will have a break down, give zero cares (to put it politely) about your job, or reciprocate. Which leads me to...
  • Copy it- When you don't know what to do about a passive-aggressive person and you put up with their behavior over, and over, and over, and over again, that point will come when you think, "enough is enough." Perhaps you spoke to your manager about the attitude and nothing changed, or perhaps you are the manager and your attempt to mediate between team members did not work. Since nothing is different you will start rolling punches. When you hear a mean comment disguised as a compliment you will answer back with even worse fake-flattery. This will only create a downward spiral of people quitting, people getting fired, people having full-on verbal or physical altercations. Which leads me to...
  • Change it- You don't want to lose your job and you don't want a black eye, right? You need to ride the wave and become part of the solution.
When someone asks you to help in a project, write down the details! What is expected of you? What is everyone else doing? What can you do? Once all the i's are dotted, be clear with those asking for your assistance on what you can or cannot offer and politely clarify those expectations face-to-face to avoid miscommunication.
When you're stressed and dealing with an unexpected problem, talk to your team! Explain to those around you that you're stressed and that you need space to manage the issue to avoid snapping at them, or express what kind of help you need to find a solution together.
When you're pooped, mentally fried, overall disengaged with everything around you, take yourself out of the equation entirely! Ask to be left alone because you feel "off," or ask to leave early or avoid interactions with people you know will put you over the edge to avoid offending others with your seeming carelessness.
Only YOU know YOU.
When you feel a passive-aggressive air coming on, breathe and keep yourself from releasing your anger onto others. Ask yourself if you're truly that big of a deal to act like a King or Queen to your co-workers and have some humility to understand that you're not. Managing your own emotions is a powerful skill that can help you become a better negotiator, manager, customer service professional and even parent. Being emotional does not mean being easily overpowered by those emotions; and in professional settings, hurt feelings are often linked to hurt egos- not broken hearts.
It would be easy to say, "forget about everyone and find yourself a new job," but these attitude-farts are part of being human. You will encounter passive-aggressiveness at any office. Changing jobs is always an option, just give yourself the chance to improve on your passive-aggressive management skills to bring them with you onto your next work opportunity.
Alternatively, don't let your spirits be brought down either. You can keep yourself in check to avoid being passive-aggressive and you can help others become aware of their own attitudes. If you are having a tough time dealing with a person who is being combative, serenely express to them that their operating mode can and should change because it's not productive.
Write down a problem and agree on a written-down solution with the passive-aggressive culprit. Office accountability can improve with physical check-lists or detailed notes that are being reviewed in person with all parties involved, and serve as a reminder of an agreement that if broken will have a direct person at-fault, not everybody pointing fingers. Besides being clear in writing also talk, talk, talk. Offer constructive critique, suggest solutions, explain your problems, ask questions. When you start talking you may become surprised at how much those around you want to talk as well. The simple activity of speaking can increase trust, understand processes and even build respect. Overall, once you attempt to give your best you will have peace of mind and a light heart to deal with others who still, regardless of any positivity that comes their way, choose to be unhappy.
You can only change your life not the life of others, after all.
It is much easier to jump on the Debby Downer bandwagon that to willingly put yourself out there and attempt to change a system. However, the personal development achieved is dramatically different on the easy ride than the leadership marathon. Taking responsibility for changing conditions is what warriors do. Robbie Abed wrote a funny take on how to manage this change, read his thoughts.
Passive-aggressiveness can be defeated, if you change you perspective and become a positive influence on others.
Living with and for happiness is a choice, not a given.
*If you would like to read my future posts please click "Follow" at the top of my LinkedIn Pulse articles and feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

A Social One Night Stand

No, it's not what you're thinking...
People who are not "into social media" often ask me how I got involved with it all and how I make a living with it. I got started as many fellow millennials did, by browsing the web and joining networks out of curiosity.
This playing turned to testing when I was a reporter, to find sources or promote my stories. Then testing turned into research to try to be more successful on the web and figuring out how to achieve it. When I was accepted into my graduate program I knew I wanted to learn more about online media, and I thank my lucky stars for being accepted into a school that already had a technology evangelist.
Sree Sreenivasan was my class' dean of students, but his career crosses borders and industries. From reporter, teacher and founder of advocacy groups or start-ups, to television commentator and TED talk speaker (5!) he can easily find talking points in diverse audiences and relate to people of all ages. Sree is now the chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and offers workshops on social media whenever he visits a new town- his "Social Media One-Night Stand" (SMONS) workshops.
While the topic of social media may not be "Fifty Shades Of Grey" racy, attendees still get excited over the event. I've attended two workshops after my time in grad school, and in true nerd-spirit every group shares a collective desire to learn more about the latest social tools or tricks to try.
A week ago, February 19 and 20, Sree visited Boston with his family for February school vacation and like a multitasking champ he offered two free SMONS workshops at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. For both sessions attendees were asked to help make #SreeBOS trend, and for one of them the hashtag did! The beauty, though, is that the hashtag wasn't even used by 100 people when it happened, with give or take 50 individuals the tag trended.
I will list the highlights of Sree's workshop for you to consider in your use of SM. The main point is to remember the power a small group of people can have with the help of social networks. If you're trying to give your brand an extra boost, with organization and a plan you should be able to.
  • Sree was organized: he got us all in one room, two separate nights wto share content he he knew very well.
  • Sree had a plan: he have us a hashtag as well as examples of Tweets to share while he spoke, all while reminding us to mention prominent people he used in examples to gain even more attention for our posts.
This past Saturday, February 28, I was at a youth event presenting to teenage entrepreneurs about using social media for their projects. What I said to them I say to you: never stop learning. I learned new things from Sree, which I shared with these teens and now with you... and which I hope you share with others. The "pay-it-forward" effect does apply to social media, but as Sree also mentions in workshops: give credit where credit is due.
Thank Sree for his workshop and try to catch him if he comes near you! You could say, ".@Sree: Thanks for sharing new tools and tricks at #SreeBOS, come visit (Insert your town)!"
Now, the good stuff:
1. How to have a great Twitter profile:
  • First important detail: Put a space between your name, i.e.: Bessie King vs. BessieKing. People search by a contact's name, not by their handle. They can either search within Twitter or right on Google, this is why it's important to use your name, and have a space in between, even if you didn't find a handle with your whole name in it. Point in case: @bessiejking, the "J" stays until I can get "my name" from Twitter.
  • Second most important detail is your bio: Be, "your best current you." Every time you switch jobs or achieve something, like writing an e-book or winning an award, you will update your bio. Granted your Twitter bio won't mimic LinkedIn, nor can it due to space, you can still tell the world why you're special without labeling yourself as, "guru," "expert," or "industry leader." The people who get called these terms do not identify themselves with them, othersidentify them as "guru," "expert," or "industry leader" because of activities that have proven their knowledge and skills in a field. Earn the title, don't just give it to yourself.
  • On the topic of bios: make yours blue! As in, clickable. A god example given was of PRI's David Beard, he lists handles he's connected to, websites to find his work and an email. He makes sure people can reach him. If you're already on social, be social. A tip I've used: create a professional email account you can use for your bios across the web, that way you don't have to use all of your personal information.
2. Across all profiles, change your header image quarterly, not every other week. People can recognize you visually. If you're known for a specific hobby, share that theme each time you change your header, for example. Header images can also reflect the projects you are working on. This point also relates to your profile image, make sure your profile photo looks like YOU. Likewise, maintain a steady profile photo to allow people to recognize your mug. If you don't want a headshot, consider a logo or the first letter of your name as your identifier.
3. Don't worry about being "verified" on social media! The majority of people who are verified are either celebrities, politicians or journalists: so, public figures. Being verified does not open some secret door to better analytics or a post scheduling wizard. Focus on your engagement and maintain a healthy rate of Followers to Following or Page Likes. Your content will verify your skills.
4. Related to verification and content: be interesting in real life to be interesting in social life! Read, listen to music, have discussions, all in the real world. Your activities, your interests, will reflect in your tone and help you stand out.
5. If you want to get noticed, plan it. Twitter lists are useful because you can create a private list with the key people you look up to, want to work for, or want to have follow you. You can also try lists on Facebook to organize your friends into the key contacts you want to interact with professionally, too. Research what your selected social media users post about and learn from their content. Answer questions they post in a helpful manner to get noticed. Share quality content and share it with them directly. All of these activities can grow your following in a valuable way.
6. LinkedIn is more than a job searching tool. Just as you want to share good content on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, LinkedIn's Pulse is an overlooked short-style blogging platform that can get you noticed by clients or colleagues- not just recruiters. Use LinkedIn as a live directory of fellow industry members that can come to or invite you to events, offer their expertise for a project, and even become mentors. One of the first business books I read said networking was not about keeping tabs but about building relationships. LinkedIn can become your platform to build them.
7. Try, try, try! There are new tools in the "old" social networks we use, such as: Twitter video! Facebook CTA buttons! Instagram caption edits! If something new comes out go ahead and test it, don't be afraid to "fail" because we're all figuring out these updates as well.
8. Track your click links, just as you track RTs, Shares, reposts, etcetera. To dothis, use a link shortening site like and get free analytics on your links! This way you'll know what type of content your audience responds to.
9. Awesome new tools to try, in no particular order:
  • Buffer - Buffer makes it super easy to share any page you're reading
  • Peerindex - check out social ratings with social media analytics based on footprints from use of major social media services, Klout-like
  • - allows you to search by time & place, set alerts, and analyze sentiment for every tweet ever made
  • - helps find old tweets and messages by going months back into a feed
  • - Edit video and photos with effects and audio tools that will make your mobile captures look professional
  • - the leading tool for search, analytics and mapping of connections between Twitter friends and followers
  • - enables you to see at a glance who participated in a chat, how many people were reached, who was retweeted the most
  • - automate actions you already do on the web to be more organized and look like a pro. Such as: "if you post a photo on IG then the native image not the link will be shared on Twitter." There are fancier things like banking tracking but this IG formula made my day
  • - know when your email was received and when it was opened without hacking into anyone's account
  • - shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox
10. Sree is always generous in sharing his slides with us, but to find additional tips and a public set of slides he's edited with more information visit:
I hope you learned something. If you need help figuring out an item mentioned leave a comment or send me a message!
*If you would like to read my future posts please click "Follow" at the top of my LinkedIn Pulse articles and feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

Generation Z

No, I'm not talking about zombies...
In late February I had the great pleasure of volunteering with United Way of Massachusetts for Youth Venture Professional Development Day. In this program teens from across the state work on projects that will benefit their schools, families and communities. The event was a check-in for students to present their project developments and get feedback from mentors and judges to continue the completion of their projects.
On that Saturday I was also asked to do a short presentation about using social media for project promotion. I tell you, speaking to teenagers about best practices for Twitter is more nerve-racking than addressing million-making company CEOs on the matter. The whole day was wonderful, with no glitches, plenty of questions and a lot, a lot, of inspiration.
In the first half of our day we heard students present their projects for feedback. Two of the projects we heard from were from Lynn, Massachusetts. The first working to have a second Dance Jam where professional breakdancers and choreographers could join a dance party to promote healthy living through art and dance while increasing teen's confidence. There was a lot of meaning behind what could be deemed as just another party. The student group had hosted the event in 2014 and in 2015 their goal was to raise enough funds to secure a dance class at the Lynn YMCA and show that looks or outfits don't matter on a dancefloor.
The second group also turned to their YMCA, but for a different purpose. The students wanted to create a support group for homeless teens in Lynn. Their personal experiences and research showed that Lynn has one of the highest teen homelessness rates in the state. Three other judges and I were floored after hearing this. The students explained that these teens never fit in, they pretend their lives are alright because they are embarrassed to admit their homelessness but this defense mechanism never allows them to create real friendships. Their support group would pair a homeless teen with a teen who has a home to talk about feelings, TV shows, life goals, teen love, anything at all, to give homeless teens a place where to belong. When asked why the group decided to tackle this issue, the seeming leader, "Eddy," said that his grandma asks him frequently, "have you made someone smile today?" and he wanted to make the homeless teens he knows and sees at school smile.
"Have you made someone smile today?" Osayaba, aka "Eddy," whose @speakunited project is to help homeless teens in Lynn.
Eddy's intention stuck with me. An outspoken young man with a fiery spirit, he wore a dress shirt and bowtie to look his very best, despite being from a city with a 21.9 percent poverty rate. Perhaps his family, too, has dealt weathered through tough financial times, or perhaps not. But by making the choice to present himself in the best way possible and share his desire to make others see the very best in themselves as well, I was given a perfect example of dignity and humility. Eddy left me wondering, do I make someone smile everyday?
The last project we heard from tackled colorism. It was from students in East Boston who wanted to talk about people discriminating against each other because of their skin color being darker or lighter, despite coming from the same race. This was a politically charged and societally needed project, which stemmed from Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, Mo. As a Mexican-American I was marvelled at the willingness these high-school students have to address subjects my own parent or grandparents feel uncomfortable talking about.
Once the presentations were over I hosted other students for a branding and social media for business presentation. Again, the questions from the young-adults and their capacity to grasp new concepts, when explained a little more in detail, blew me out of the ballpark. Two sisters behind the project of a "Grateful Wall" approached me to ask for more social media guidance for their idea. They want to build a website where people worldwide can post a message of gratefulness for 10 cents, and choose a charity for the dime to be donated.
Have you heard these kind of ideas, using movement or events or art or outreach or education or crowdsourcing to accomplish a goal, from ANYONE in your office lately? After the event I felt guilty.
Guilty because I, like many others, have doubted Generation Z. The news reports of teen bullying, sense of entitlement, lack of skills due to over-digitization and so much more, truly blindfolded me. I've volunteered to help fellow, younger millennials, or pre-high school students because of my biased thinking, "teenagers nowadays just don't care." Boy am I, and are we wrong.
Generation Z has incredible potential. The next generation of employees will be hyper-digitized, globalized and politicized. It is up to everyone 25 and older to help them focus their skills and knowledge into positive work. Let's face it, the teens of today will not live through another Y2K or Facebook launch or first Black elected president.
For the most part our civilization is set as we know it, but Generation Z will experience the changes and consequences of environment, new civil rights, and even terrorism-related happenings. If we want our businesses and corporations to have a legacy, we need to think about adjusting our business models beyond millennial lifestyles. We need to start thinking of more than digital offices, we need multilingual work environments, community involvement, a plan for global impact, increased education and travel work benefits and real, acted-upon, values.
I've been asked more than a dozen times, "what do millennials want to stay in a job?!" The answer is easy, we want to see a clear path of growth if we're to stay in one single company for more than 2-years. I think Generation Z will want more than that, they will want to understand how the work of one person can affect the whole company and the world. While there are some millennials who think like this now, the mindset will expand. 
Be inspired and afraid and, like me, get your blindfold off. Today's teens are ready to make changes. 
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