Archive for the ‘professional’ Category
Whether you celebrate Single Awareness Day, Love Safely Day, or a new one this year, Generosity Day, it’s still February 14th in my book. In my world, Valentine’s Day represents the first time that I kicked ass and proved myself in a work environment.
My first job story
Valentine’s Day is the number one holiday for the flower industry. But it’s an even bigger day if it falls mid-week as lovers from all walks of life need to send something to their loved one on that day to build up for the big date on the weekend.
In high school, I worked at a flower shop. It’s a local empire that has a retail arm plus it’s own wholesale business that produces bouquets, elaborate vase arrangements, potted plant baskets, and more. A friend of mine got be the job and we started by only working on Sundays in the warehouse, processing flowers that came in boxes locally and internationally. From there I moved to the “Cuts” department, making bouquets for the retail stores and distribution to local grocery chains.
Valentine’s Day means “all hands on deck,” and in 2003 V-day fell on a Wednesday. Picture this chaos: a rent-a-cop was on duty doing parking control so that frantic customers wouldn’t just pull up, hop out of their car, rush into the store and rush out.
I was working in the warehouse at this time, but was asked to help at one of the stores. My role was to tame the buckets and buckets of bouquets and cut flowers on display outside in front of the store and consolidate the display as merchandise was purchased. I spent the entire evening running out the back door of the shop to the front and back again, pulling more bouquets from the cooler, and discretely dumping out the water of the empty buckets. I saw the store manager maybe once the entire evening.
Lines and lines of people poured in and out of the store. Piles and piles of petals went out, wrapped neatly in tissue. Money was exchanged, receipts tallied, and at the end of the evening there was nothing left.
Before closing for the night, the store manager made her first trip to the front of the store. Everything was under control. I don’t remember her exact sentiment, but she was absolutely shocked by how she didn’t have time to even check the front.
It was a success and my first impression with her.
If you have to buy flowers on Valentine’s Day
For the love of all things retail, buy local.
I received an email from friends about the abusive practices of 1-800-Flowers and how workers on flower fields in Central and South America do not have any rights at all. It’s crazy and I didn’t realize that fair trade extended to this industry (but why shouldn’t it?).
I’m not saying boycott the flower industry, just be smart. If you have to buy flowers, purchase from your local flower shop and at least make a ripple in your own economy. Or do research and find a shop that supports your own values and ideas.
Also, skip the roses. Wholesale prices for flowers get jacked up in the weeks leading up to February 14th and your local flower shop has to pass on the price to stay in business. And most often than not, these roses are not top quality due to the season and demand.
Get creative with a lily or Gerbera daisy ensemble. Bonus, buy something that’s not red. Or get even more creative and splurge on something like a cactus.
And for the love of the green thumb, never, ever get baby’s breath.
Back to my point
By doing what I felt I needed to do that day to get the job done inspired the store manager to request that I work at that store on a regular basis. It was the best interview and impression I could have left.
When given the opportunity to prove yourself—be it through a project or a simple task—just do it. Results speak louder than words.
Make it your goal to leave the only impression, the best one.
Do you remember the first time you kicked ass at work or in a professional environment?
Share your story.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk
The more immersed I am professionally and personally in social media, the less I self-identify as a social media professional. It’s interesting because when I left my last job in the book world, I advertised that I was “social media curious” and was aching to do something in that space. I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew that I needed to be there.
Fast forward to now. You all know that my major concentration at Jolkona is social media—it’s so core to my position that it’s 50% of my title. But social media is also part of my “non work” life. You can see an example of that right here on my blog and how you can always find me on Twitter.
So here I am, sitting on the top of my social media empire. Someone who learned the skills and is making an impact in the space, and yet I don’t want to self-identify* as just a social media person.
Why? Because social media is a tool—a channel, a platform. What is more important than the tools you use is what you do with them.
Here’s what I do through the content that I write and share across social media channels, personal and professional: I promote, I market, I provide customer service; I connect, I network, I build relationships; and I show up virtually and in-real-life. More importantly: I write, I edit, and I share. All the time.
Social is inherently social
Last night I started reading The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith. I barely read through the introduction before the authors blew my mind with this quote on page xiv:
It is clear from our research that, in contrast to what you may think, promoting a personal goal is inherently social. To be successful, you must translate your passion into a powerful story and tell it in a way that generates “contagious energy,” so that your audience reflects on your tweet, blog post, or email, long after they leave their computers.
Read between the lines: your audience is your friends on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/the-next-great-social-network, etc. and your friends in real life.
Remember the giving campaign I launched back in December? Through the help of you, my readers, and my friends across Twitter, Facebook, and real life, we blasted through that goal in 3 weeks and EXCEEDED the goal by supporting 6 moms and newborns in India. (My goal was to only support 5 mothers and newborns–which reminds me, I will write a blog post to recap that soon.) Yes, I could have reached that goal by promoting my campaign offline, and if doing so, I would have used the same strategy and techniques to promote it that I did online.
Social starts with you
One of the best pieces of advice that I received during my first internship is that everyone has to learn how to market themselves. (Thank you, LRC.)
You are the only person who knows what you’re passionate about, who can help you reach your goals, when to approach them, and how to deliver the message. You know what your motivations are and what the motivations are of others that will help turn a conversation over coffee into action.
But you have to start with knowing who you are and socialize from there.
Everyone can be is his or her own advocate and social media is another medium that can help amplify your message.
Questions for you:
If you work in the social media space, do you self-identify as a social media professional?
Or, if you use social media in your personal life, what role does it play? Do you even know why you have a Facebook profile or are on Twitter?
The funny thing about living your life online is that when something big happens, you can’t wait to share it. And even when something hasn’t happened yet or is about to happen, you can’t wait to translate that giddy feeling inside of you into 140 characters of sheer glee and excitement!!!!!
And then, when something EVEN BIGGER happens in your life that’s a game-changer, you hold off and wonder what the best way to deliver the news is—Is it to be Tweeted about and risk losing it get lost amongst the noise of what everyone else had for breakfast? Shall it be a status update on Facebook that will encourage 10 or so “Likes”? Or will it be delivered in person, where you can give the maximum amount of details and receive the most amazing support from those who know you the most and how hard you’ve worked for it?
That’s what’s interesting about this whole ‘social media’ thang: social media is a form of marketing and now, more than ever, you have to act as your own brand manager. You are responsible for calling your own press conference. And you are the one managing your communications effectively to get the results and secure the ‘placement’ within your friends’ minds that you desire and deserve.
Read all about it: Laura is off the job market!
For the past three weeks I’ve been elusive in my tweets and in my status updates, but it’s all for good reason. In the beginning of January, I started work as Jolkona Foundation’s second full-time employee.
For Jolkona, the startup nonprofit that I have been volunteering with since February 2009, hiring its first two employees means that the organization has reached a pivotal point in its life. I will be working closely with Nadia Khawaja Mahmud, who is the co-founder of Jolkona and the new CEO, as well as the volunteer leadership team and the 20+ volunteers who support them.
As the Director of Communications & Social Media, I’ll lead Jolkona’s marketing and outreach efforts, which include managing my own team, PR/Marketing/Social Media, and the following volunteer teams: Campus Outreach, Events, and Corporate Partnerships.
When I started with Jolkona, I signed up to run their social media with the goal to gain real-life experience that could bridge my way into a full-time, paid position. And it worked, as it landed me multiple contracts throughout the past year. But when co-founder, Adnan Mahmud, mentioned that in the ideally, they hope to look to their volunteers when hiring, I had no intention that that could be my reality.
You can read more about everything that Jolkona accomplished in 2010 and where we’re heading in 2011 in this blog post written by Adnan.
What makes this newsworthy?
For me, signing on with Jolkona full-time is a big deal, not only because I’ve been on the job hunt for almost a year-and-a-half and doing the job for almost a year, but because it’s something I’m truly passionate about. To friends, family members, and even in interviews with other employers, I always talk about how with Jolkona, I get to work with the most incredible, inspiring, and passionate individuals, working towards goals that are more strategic and more smart than any of my paid positions before. Mind you, this is a pitch I started saying last spring.
When I approach a new employer, I always say, “Give me a challenge, and let me show you what I can do.” It’s probably not the best strategy, but it’s the honest truth. And I’m incredibly honored and thankful that Nadia and Adnan have given me the chance to show them just what I can do for Jolkona.
We have a big year ahead of us, and I’m ready.
Photo Credit: Feggy Art
Ambition and passion is infectious. And it’s the one ailment that I want to catch. And catch, and catch, and catch again. And no, I do not want a vaccine for it. Ever.
I’ve written about this before, in my own metaphoric ramblings, and I caught a whiff of it this weekend.
A friend-quaintance asked me to meet over coffee, to pick my brain about how to incorporate social media into the launch strategy for his stealth startup. The startup is a technological solution to a problem that he and his friends deal with everyday. His idea will streamline and simplify things. I have no idea how original it is, but that isn’t why he asked me for coffee.
As he talked through his pitch and outlined his plan, I could see the temperature of his thoughts and his words rise—there was something behind what he talked about that is more than just an idea. He has a plan, an ambition to create something, and the drive to get him and his business partner there.
We all talk about it, but how many of us actually listen to the voice inside us that says, “Hey, you’ve got something there,” and go after it? And how many of us pause when we hit the wall and ask others for help on figuring out how to climb over it or knock it down?
The Four Key Players
When it comes to an idea about creating a new product, starting a movement, or creating a legacy, there are four key players who ensure its success. They are:
Founder – This is the person who caught the bolt of lightning during the “Ah ha!” moment and decided to run with it. More than likely the founder is the person who has the mad skills to build the product or the idea and take it to launch, but may not know exactly how.
Producer – This is the person behind the founder who is responsible for “making it happen” so that the Founder and the other key players can concentrate on the product itself. They are the connector. They know whom you should talk to, when you should talk to them, and how you should talk in a way that will net you the resources that you need, when you need them.
Board of Directors – This is a fancy word for mentors. They are the group of people who have done what you are about to do and can guide you through your successes and your failures as you march toward your goal. They believe in what you are setting out to do and if you’re lucky, they see a little bit of themselves in you, and that is their motivation to help you get to where you need to go.
Beta-Evangelists – Then, there is everyone else. These people are the rock stars who make up the support group that is attracted to your passion and sucks it up like a sponge. They are your friends, your fans, your audience, and your customers. They are first in line to test your product, your idea, and give you honest-to-God, straight-up feedback. They are your power-users, your pre-evangelists, your network, and they are more valuable than anyone else in this equation.
You are the founder of your own life and your own ideas. Most of the people who care about you will fit into the last category. And if you’re lucky enough, your spouse or your best friend will be your producer. The hardest thing about working this formula into your professional life—be it how to be successful at climbing the corporate ladder or thinking outside the 9-to-5 and launching your own venture–is taking the first step and voicing outloud, “I want help reaching [my big ambitious goal] and I was wondering if you could help me get there.”
Oh, baby, is it ever so hard to ask for help, especially when you bear your soul about something that is near and dear to you, like being more extraordinary than you already are.
It’s easy to have an idea, but it’s hard to take the first step towards speaking or actualizing that your idea can be something physical, something real, something more-than possible.
Do you have a personal Board of Directors? How did you go about asking those in your life for help in achieving the goals you only whisper?
Photo Credit: another.point.in.time
December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)
Shit. I’m trying to give myself a sabbatical from blogging, but I can’t quit it. When I read the #reverb10 prompt for Wednesday, the word to describe 2010 flew into my head and swept me off my feet. I started chewing on it and thinking about it all throughout the day. I read reverberations around the blogosphere and I wanted to write.
But I sat on it. And on Thursday the word changed, morphed into another language, and drew out some key points that occurred this past year. And then my mind started writing and I grabbed the computer. And I’ve been waiting to publish this post.
What’s one word to capture this past year? Limbo.
For the majority of the year, I have been what the state calls “unemployed” or a casualty of this flourishing economy. I have been on the job hunt, revising my career, leaping from old to new media. I have been a networking rock star, a veteran interviewer, and one who kicks out one damn fine cover letter. I’ve been over qualified, under qualified, hired, fired, and back on the market, again. I’ve been that girl who “everyone on our team likes” but still not the right fit. And you know what? That’s okay. There are too many factors that go into finding the right job that it’s a waste of time to take it personally.
How many times do you walk into a room full of strangers and the first thing out of their mouth is, What do you do for a living? They ask because they’re curious and work is one way that we relate to each other. It’s the common ground that really isn’t common at all.
How often have you seen a person start a job just to watch them fall off the radar because they’re so consumed in their new position and their new company? How often do you see people who have personal brands suddenly disappear when they start a new job only to be replaced by mixed messages of their new org?
It happens because whoever gives us a paycheck, validates our identity. It’s why “social media experts” get so much shit, because they don’t publish their client list so we can check their credentials. Employers, especially ones with names, add to our personal brands and make us accountable.
Imagine being kicked out of the club, granted one you were ready to leave, and then walking through a world for a year with your eyes open, ready to jump on board with anyone who wanted you back. I’ve been unable to commit fully to any one thing because I’m not sure where I’ll end up. (more…)
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