Wednesday, July 31, 2013

25 Things I've Learned From The Experiment - Day 30 !

So here we are. The last day of the great experiment. 30 consecutive blogs later - mission is accomplished! For those of you who have followed my every word, a great big thank-you for your encouragement, your comments and your sharing with friends.

I've learned so much! So for my last post on this leg of my journey I've compiled a list of the 25 things that are - at the moment - my biggest take-a-ways. Some of this is brand new information. Some a reminder of what I had forgotten. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which. 

1-The more I write, the more I write.
2-The more I write, the more I have to write.
3-The more I write, the more other stuff gets done.
4-Nobody reads as many blogs on the weekends.
5-The more honest and vulnerable I am, the more the reaction.
6-The subject of bragging as a good thing is apparently quite controversial.
7-Publicly announcing your intentions is a good tool for accountability.
8-Those moments where I don't want to hit publish because I think my writing is just not good enough, never go away - no matter how much I write.
9-Inspiration does not come when you are looking for it and worried if something will stand the test of time or not.
10-Inspiration comes when you observe and take notice.
11-Inspiration comes when you are in a groove.
12-It's never just about the writing. It's about the listening.
13-Anything I set my mind to can be achieved. The key is to not over think the process.
14-I have a lot to say about a lot of things.
15-Trying to predict what will get a lot of page views never works. Nobody cared much about Jerry Seinfeld's new video series. 
16-My egg timer theory does work.
17-Deadlines are a good thing.
18-Lists are fun to write. Tips are great to share. But writing story  that resonates - like the day I left the building for the last time- is the best.
19-When someone tells me that when they read my blogs they feel like I'm having a conversation with them, my day has been made.
20-Writer's block does exist, no matter how many people want to tell you it's a myth.
21-Forcing oneself to get one's butt in the chair, and shut off all possible electronic distractions is one way to get past it.
22-So is taking a break, going for a walk and trusting the muse will arrive and with her the words.
23-My voice is what works best here. Trying to make it popular, to please others, to write something that gets all sorts of new traffic to my site is not what this blog is about. Never was supposed to be. If that goes against all the old and new rules of marketing, so be it.
24-That I am still in awe of those who manage to post every day, 365 days a year.
25-That it's possible for me to do it too - if I so choose.

I'll be back soon - just not tomorrow - with my next blog. Until then.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Zen Of Shredding - Day 29

When you live in New York you get used to periodically going on a rampage and throwing stuff out. Living in small spaces forces you not to accumulate too much for one simple reason - most of us just don't have the room to. 

Sometimes I plan the decluttering activity. Sometimes it just sweeps over me - an unplanned project that once I start - I can't stop. 

Like Sunday night. After an idyllic few days out of the city, I decided to get a head start on the week. It started by looking through a few files in search of something I needed. I still can't tell you what that was. It seemed all I was finding was the stuff I didn't need. Nor could I figure out why I had been saving it.

I tossed those aside until the pile toppled over. The next thing I knew I  was sitting on the floor in front of my shredder watching the unnecessary transform into thin strips of confetti. 

I fell into a  Zen - feeding in just enough paper not to jam or overheat the machine - before I emptied the tray into a giant Hefty trash bag and started again.

I can't quite explain the sense of peace this gives me. The feeling is never replicated when I do it electronically. Hitting a delete button on my iMac or dragging a file to the trash basket are not a substitute for the tactical release of stuff I once thought important enough to fill a file folder and now constitute junk in my life. 

note: This is Day #29 of the 30 Day Experiment. Tomorrow is the last day! Don't miss it!   Here are the details on how it all started.


Monday, July 29, 2013

7 Non-Techie Ways To Make An Impression - Day 28

I love all things digital. I admit to getting a bit geeked out over a cool new App or some new techie tool designed to make my life easier. But when it comes to standing out from the crowd and making a good impression the best and simplest way is by indulging in one or more of these good old-fashioned human tricks. 

1- Say what you'll do and do what you say. A lot of people will tell you what they are going to do, but the fact remains that very few follow through.

2- Be on time. This is one of my pet peeves. Just ask my NYU students. For that matter ask anyone who knows me. I'm always on time. For two reasons. I consider your time valuable and do not want to keep you waiting. The second is I consider my time valuable too.

3- Listen. Actively and with interest. Most of us don't listen very well. We're off in that delusion that multi-tasking is cool. So why just sit and listen, when I can listen and check my emails or texts at the same time. The message you send is that the person in front of you is just not that important. Worse, they are likely to be telling you information that could help you, but you will never really know because you were only hearing, not actively listening.

4- Ask questions. We're all so busy talking today we forget to ask questions of the person in front of us. Asking questions shows interest in the other person. It builds relationships. It makes you different.

5- Do your homework. So, so easy to do today. But so many fail to do it. Just type it into Google. Check a Twitter feed. I never meet with anyone new without first checking out their LinkedIn profile.

6- Be authentic. I'm talking true authenticity. Not the staged kind. Corporate speak is so very 20th century.

7- Smile. It changes everything. We've gotten so used to staring at our computer screen that sometimes we forget how to emote when in front of another human. We forget what a lasting impression one smile can make.

note: This is Day #28 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Agile Career Path - Day 27

Agile is a big word these days. It's used alot in marketing circles. One must be agile to keep up with the pace of things. Be able to course correct in real time. Take advantage of breaking news and use it newsjack our way to earned media. Reappropriate a budget on a moment's notice.

In other words - just because we had a plan for the next year or two or three - if we want to stay relevant we need to be able to react to changing circumstances on a dime.

Same holds true for our careers. 

It used to be we picked a major in college, got a degree and thought our life path would be linear until retirement. But nothing is linear anymore. Not the consumer cycle or our career. 

I went from teaching seventh graders to selling radio ads to television to entrepreneurship, writing books, blogging, consulting and teaching - again. 

I'm not sure where my circuitous path will take me next. 

But what I am sure is that as long as I stay agile and open and remember that every step and misstep is serving me - I'll know where it is when I get there. 

note: This is Day #27 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Lengths Some Folks Will Go To - Day 26

Last Sunday Twitter was a flutter over Chipotle's tweets. Something had gone awry - as if someone had hacked into their account or a disgruntled employee had caused the feed to go "loco."

Chipotle has been celebrating their 20th Anniversary so there was speculation it could be part of a promotional stunt. 

But the company was silent as to whether this was intended or someone had indeed hacked into their account. The only explanation was this: 

Until Wednesday, three days later when the truth was revealed to Mashable. It was all nothing more than a marketing ploy intended to garner more attention to their anniversary promotion.

And it worked. 

That day they added 4000 followers and had 12,000 retweets. The earned media continues to pile up - this blog just adding on to the tab.

Or did it?  

Do you build customer loyalty by a hoax?
Or do you annoy and create distrust?

Are these the sort of antics necessary to rise above the noise today?

Will any of those new followers represent new customers?
Or were they just curious to find out what all the Twitter uproar was on Sunday?

As for me - lying is not something that endears me personally or professionally. I am no more likely to visit a Chipotle than I was before. Perhaps even less likely now. 

note: This is Day #26 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The 10 Things I Have NOT Done These Last Five Years - Day 25

There are a lot of things I have done these last five years. But there are also a lot I have not done. For instance:

1- I have never read a Harry Potter book nor cared to.
2- I have never seen an episode of Dexter or Game of Thrones nor cared to.
3- I have not been to Machu Picchu but would like to.
4- I have not been able to figure out what Kim Kardashian (or for that matter any of the Kardashians) really does that is that interesting to warrant so much attention.
5- I have not been able to understand how anyone signs up to go on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette and really believes they will find true love
6- I have still not been able to finish reading Cleopatra.
7- I have not eaten at a Chipotle restaurant - or wanted to.
8- I have not been on a date with George Clooney but would eat at a Chipotle if that is where he wanted to take me.
9- I have not started a podcast but would like to.
10- I have NEVER regretted my decision to reinvent my life five years ago.

note: This is Day #25 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where The Cool Stuff Is Created - Day 24

The really cool stuff, the ideas and innovations that are changing our lives are not being created in the big corporate offices.

Apple's roots were in somebody's parents' garage. Facebook was created by a couple of college students. Twitter is reportedly the result of a brainstorming session by a podcasting company.  Instagram,  Pinterest and Vine were not borne in an idea lab funded by a big multi-million dollar corporation.  Warby-Parker - who has disrupted the entire eyeglass industry - was the result of a conversation between four Wharton graduate students over why it was so hard to find a reasonably priced pair of stylish eyeglasses. Social media channels continue to proliferate. Case in point - Happier, which bills itself as a "simple and beautiful way to collect happy moments you find in every day, share them with close friends, and be inspired to do more of what makes you happier." 

Big business resists innovation. They might say otherwise, but they hardly walk the walk and instead create hierarchies of processes that make it near impossible to do something new in real time. 

They don't like risky. Risky is too hard to explain to their board members and shareholders. That conversation is not about the cool and cutting edge. It's about what their monthly financial statements look like. 

There's no doubt in my mind if the idea for Happier was pitched internally at a stalwart media company that it would have fallen on deaf ears. In those environments - if it bleeds, it leads. Which would be their reasoning behind passing on  the opportunity as they explained that happy stories don't make money. 

Except of course the one about the new start-up called Happier that according to the New York Times has found $2.4 million in seed funding.

note: This is Day #24 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Obsession With Time - Day 23

I've been obsessed with the subject of time. More so than usual but not necessarily news for those who know I wrote an entire book on the subject last year. 

Acutely aware of my own mortality.
Humbled by all I've managed to fit in the last five years and how fast it went.
Worried that the next five will go too quickly as well.

Even as I write this, I have the egg timer set. It's my assurance to myself that I will make the most of this time I've allotted for writing today. Anxious not to waste a moment.

My mother intensifies this conversation for me.

I observe her at 90. She'd hate that I wrote that number here. But since she has refused to get with the times and get computer literate she'll only read this if I print her out a copy. 

So yes, she is 90 and will be 91 in October.

I watch her, no longer as mobile as she once was, no longer the woman I had trouble keeping up with just ten years ago. Reminding me every day of just how short our time here is. How fast it all goes. And that if we're not paying attention - it's gone before we get to fulfill all those dreams and visions that kept us alive. 

I see her and my obsession with time intensifies. I want to slow down the moment. To savor it before it slips away.

note: This is Day #23 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Will This Stand The Test Of Time? - Day 22

There are literally 838,000,000 search results when you Google "how to write a great blog" - at least as of this morning. One question that many of them will tell you to ask yourself is this -

Will this stand the test of time?

On the one hand I like the idea of taking a moment to step back, look at what I wrote with a fresh perspective and ask myself - is what I wrote good enough, interesting enough, smart or funny enough to stand the test of time? 

It seems like a very good gauge for posting quality work - not limited to blog posts. One that obviously is not being considered in the case of Honey Boo Boo.

On the other hand it is also one of those questions that can stifle my creative flow. The kind that can make me look and look again - in search of perfection - before I hit the PUBLISH button. The kind that can leave me in doubt, wondering if anything I have to say is worth posting. 

This experiment I've been running never promised quality. It was partly a challenge to myself to see if indeed I could come up with something every day - in a row - for thirty days - that I felt comfortable enough with to hit publish. It was also partly a way for me to gain perspective on the last five years.

I wanted it to be fun. Most days it has been. Although I admit to days when I wish it was done already. My only hope was and is that whatever of my own gems I was thrusting out into the blogosphere might also resonate and make a difference in someone's day.

But I am sure that had I started torturing myself with that question - especially in those first few days, I would not be writing this post - day 22. 

Sometimes you have to not ask the big questions. Sometimes you have to just press forward and go with it.

Will this one stand the test of time? Only time will tell.

note: This is Day #22 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In Search Of Perspective - Day 21

There is a film I ask my NYU students to watch called The Powers of Ten. Written and produced by Charles and Ray Eames, better known to the world for the design of the Eames chair, the film was made in 1968 and re-released in 1977. It's since become a bit of a classic and in 1998 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Why you might ask, would I ask a class of digital marketing students to watch a film that from a technical standpoint is from the dark ages?  That's okay. They don't get it at first either. In fact, some of them need to watch more than once to understand what I want them to see.

Which is pretty simple. Things are not always as they seem. Depending on the vantage point from which we are watching our perspective will change. If we want to be good marketers we need to look at things from more than one angle and more than one distance.

As I've been on this blogging experiment these last weeks I've been in search of perspective as well as inspiration for these posts. So I've been changing up my morning routine.

I tend to be a creature of habit. Walking the same blocks to the gym or the Park when there are a variety of ways I can go. Forgetting I can also walk along the River. Frequenting the same Starbucks when there are literally eight I can choose from. 

What I've discovered is that each time I walk a different way or order my coffee from a different barrister I am newly inspired. The neighborhood I've lived in for many years looks fresher, more interesting.  And Starbucks - turns out a chain that looks identical from the outset, each has its own unique flavor once inside.

I invite you to give it a whirl. Walk a different way home today. Try a block you've never been on it. Let me know what you see.

note: This is Day #21 of the 30 Day Experiment.   Here are the details on how it all started.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Right Way And The Wrong Way - Day 20

"Humans now create in two days the same amount of data that it took from the dawn of civilization until 2003 to create." 
Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman

A pretty staggering fact.

In all that "stuff" we try to mine through lie countless individuals telling you the right way to do something. Or the wrong way.

  • Ten proven steps to fix your career.
  • Five things not to tell your boyfriend if you want to get married. 
  • Three sure fire tips that will make you never, ever, ever gain another pound.
  • Seven tricks guaranteed to land you a promotion

It bothers me. Too many people believe there is a secret formula. That there is 100 percent of the time a right way and a wrong way to get what you want. 

And then they get disappointed when they find out life is not like following with precision the steps in a Martha Stewart recipe to make the Best Ever Meatloaf

Here's what I know for sure. 

There is no right or wrong way. There is only your way - which might include more than one bump or detour along the way. That doesn't make how you got there wrong. Or right. It just means you got there.  Which now that I think about is not the right way or the wrong. It's the only way.

note: I can hardly believe this is Day #20 of the 30 Day Experiment and I have not missed a day!   Here are the details on how it all started.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why Bragging Is Not A Bad Thing - Day 19

I used to think bragging was bad. That it was arrogant and was evidence of an overly developed ego. 

That idea was reinforced growing up. The message I got was that it was better to appear humble and not make a big deal of your achievements.  The underlying Greek superstition was that if you talked too much about something good, you were going to give it the evil eye and everything would go to hell in a handbasket.

I've always been such a good student that I carried what I learned through most of my adult life. What that meant in my career was that as good as I was externally promoting my value, I wasn't as good internally in the companies I worked for. In my naivety, in what had been ingrained inside of me from childhood is that I didn't have to. My value would be recognized. I would be rewarded without having to point out why. Plus I was a woman. Bragging was something men did. Nice girls don't brag.

I can almost LOL reading that line back to myself.

My opinion about bragging changed ten years ago when I met Regena Thomashauer. Bragging in her book is a celebration of who you are and what you create. It's owning those milestones, big and small and allowing yourself to physically feel the full effect of what you've accomplished. 

The Internet is full of so many people touting and promoting themselves that its easy to see why bragging is still seen as a bad thing to so many. 

But when you brag from a place of truth and not made up hype and gobbledygook jargon it lands differently. 

You get to feel your worth.

You're reminded that you actually have accomplished an awful lot - even though you were not taking the time to notice.

You get ready for more.

It's not easy to do in the beginning - but like so many exercises, the more you practice the better you get.

note: I BRAG this is Day #19 of a 30 Day Experiment!!! Here are the details on how it all started.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Books That Made A Difference - Day 18

In the last five years I've discovered a number of authors whose writing has influenced my thinking and my direction, who inspire me and make me think. This is a partial list, but a significant one - one that I'd like to share. 

Linchpin - When I was still in my corporate job, I didn't know who Seth Godin was. Which in retrospect does not surprise me. Seth is the kind of forward thinker who sparks controversy and discussion. Not generally encouraged in corporatedom.  A friend and former colleague thought I would like him and suggested I read his blog. He was right. I started reading and haven't stopped since. Linchpin was the first book of Seth's books I read. And it wasn't the last. 

The New Rules of Marketing and PR - The first time I heard of David Meerman Scott was at a talk he gave at, ironically, NYU when his book, World Wide Rave came out. I remember being so inspired by his story, his passion and his perspective. Little did I know at the time that a few years into the future I would be teaching at NYU and using The New Rules Of Marketing and PR as a textbook for my students.  The 4th Edition just came out. I highly recommend it for anyone in sales, marketing, public relations or in business for themselves that wants a comprehensive look at what's changed and what you need to do to keep up with the change. It's also an entertaining read. David does not believe in a lot of meaningless jargon or what he calls Gobbledygook and his writing lives up to that.

The War of Art - I found Steve Pressfield through Seth Godin. The title may lead you to believe it is just a book for artists who struggle with getting their art out, but it is applicable for anyone who wants to create something. If the title scares you away try Do The Work in which he addresses the entrepreneur and business person directly. Steve is pure inspiration - the kind of stuff you can read again and again and still say Aha!

Fascinate - Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.  I discovered Sally Hogshead through Nancy Moon of MoonPR who has a reputation for always steering me in the right direction. To say I was fascinated by Sally's take on what fascinates us in today's noisy 24/7 world is an understatement. I've taken her Fascination test (you can too by clicking this link) which offers great insight as to how we fascinate others. 

Unbinding The Heart - It feels like I've known Agapi Stassinopoulos forever, she has become that good a friend to me,  but in truth we met just two years ago prior to the release of her book. While it may not seem like a book with this title fits in with the rest of the list, it does. Corporate culture encourages us to close our heart, exactly the opposite of what is needed for healthy, sustainable businesses. I'm not the only one thinking along those lines. In addition to teaching transformational workshops, Agapi also lectures to forward thinking businesses on the topic. Plus she walks the walk. I like that.

No Excuses - 9 Power Tools for Women - Gloria Feldt is one of the first people I met as I began expanding my networks after the 'divorce.'  I was honored to get an advance copy of No Excuses in 2010. I'm even more honored that she's become a friend and supporter. Every woman should read her book and check out her new venture, Take The Lead Women, where she will be offering leadership training specifically for women.

Control, Alt, Delete - Reboot Your Business, Reboot Your Life.  I just recently discovered Mitch Joel. Once again, the connection was Seth Godin. All I can say is WOW! There are so many gems in this one that I might have more sections highlighted than not. Like this one -

"Ask yourself if you're telling a story worthy of being told or are you telling a story just to get something sold?"

Note there are no novels here, which I read alot of, or raunchy erotica which I've been known to imbibe in. But I do learn from those books as well - about human behavior, character and interactions. However, that is a list for another day.

note: This is Day #18 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What To Do If You Get A Pink Slip - Day 17

The dirty little secret no one wants to tell you is that good economy or bad economy, job security is a myth. All it takes is one new person in charge of your group or one management consultant telling the powers to be how a little reorganization will save money and your day will come.  The one when you're handed the dreaded pink slip.

Case in point. Bank of America just reported their second-quarter profit jumped to 63% to just over $4 billion despite a revenue increase of only 3.5%.  According to Bloomberg, one of the ways they achieved the profit was through payroll cuts of 6.6% over the last year or 18,300 fewer paychecks. 

Enough said.

As you know, I’ve had some experience with this. I’ve handed them out and I’ve had them handed to me. Twice. Like every other scary thing you might be faced with in life, once you’ve experienced it and made it safely to the other side it’s not as terrifying as when it’s a big unknown.

So what do you do if it happens to you? 

#1. Mourn your loss. This is a big deal. Even if you hated your job, even if you prayed you would be in the next round of layoffs, this was your livelihood. So really mourn. Get out the black clothes and cover yourself in ashes if necessary. Listen to your favorite sad music. Write a hate letter to your former boss and then toss it in the fireplace if that helps to release your angst. (Never mail it!) Greeks believe it takes 40 days to mourn a loss. Your personal cash flow will determine how generous your mourning period will be. Even if you can only afford twenty-four hours, so be it. Just make sure to get down on your knees and wail.

#2 Do not start interviewing immediately. There is no surer way not to get a job than still seething over the fact you just got fired. Before you want to sit in front of a potential new employer, you have to get clear on what you want to do next. Maybe it won’t be interviewing for another job doing the same thing. Maybe this was the Universe telling you (as it was for me) it's time for a change. There will be a host of people suggesting you get out there, right away without pressing pause. I'm not one of them.

#3 Take Care of You. Exercise. Go to the gym. Play tennis. Take a daily walk in the park. Eat healthy foods. Make sure you take a shower and get dressed and out of the house at least once a day. Avoid excessive alcohol.

#4 Purge. This is one of my favorites. Get rid of stuff, especially stuff that connects you to the old job. Purging is cleansing. It feels good. It’s part of letting go of what was to make room for what will be.

#5 Get to Know You Again. Between our jobs and our personal lives, if we're not careful it's easy to lose sight of who we really are. This is an opportunity for you to get to know you again. Make a date with yourself and go do one of those things you kept saying you had no time to do.

#6 Avoid the Naysayers. In case you hadn’t noticed there are a lot of people out there who are insistent on telling you the sky is falling and you better run scared because there is just “no way, ever,” you are going to get a job again, with things “the way they are”. They'll say you're too old. Too inexperienced. They prefer to see the hole while others see the donut. Stay clear of these types. You will get another job. But not with their energy surrounding you.

#7 Go Digital. If you've been resisting understanding what all this digital stuff is about, get over it. Two big reasons. 

The first is  your on-line profile is your new calling card. Networking and making new connections is no longer limited to in-person cocktail events. It’s happening right now, on-line as I type. That woman you met the other day who is considering you for a job is Googling your name. Right now. Give her something solid and updated to find. And yes, you must include a photo.

The second is that understanding digital is not limited to those who are creating and selling this stuff. To stay marketable today and in the future, you need to be able to use digital tools - especially social networks.

#8 Learn Something New. Read a book. Take a class in social networking. Learn how to use LinkedIn.

#9 Make New Friends. Widen your circle. We can get complacent when we're in one spot for too long. Get out there and mingle in person whenever you can. If you feel naked without a business card order an inexpensive one from websites like VistaPrint. Stay in contact with the networks you've already cultivated, but be prepared. Some of those you considered your “best buds” might be afraid to get too close to you now for fear what you have (no job) is catching.

#10 Keep a sense of humor. Above all remember to laugh. You lost your job but you did not lose your life. Yes, things might be a little tough for a while, but you will get through it. If you believe you will. Besides every time we laugh we switch our vibration up towards the positive and we burn three calories. What’s not to like about that?

note: This is Day #17 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Days After - Day 16

The days after I left the building for the last time were not easy. Anyone who tells you they are is lying.  Big time.

For me they were filled with uncertainty about what was next. I knew what I wasn't going to do. I wasn't going to look for another job like the one I had. But I was not 100% clear on how I would earn a living.

All I knew was that corporate life had taken its toll on me. I needed a rest from it so I could figure out who I was again. I had spent most of my career leaning in and trying to fit into the structure. I had made it all into such a game I was playing and got so caught up in it that I hadn't realized the game was no longer fun and the structure was no longer something I believed in. 

Until I wasn't there anymore. Until I started waking up each morning not having to pretend.  

Those days after were not easy. But they were easier than the days before.

note: This is Day #16 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Day I Left The Building - Day 15

There are moments in your life that no matter how long ago they're behind you, the memory is always fresh, the details vivid. That's how it is when I think of the day I was told that my job was being eliminated. 

I knew something was different before I walked into the lobby of the building I had worked in for eleven years. Even though it was a Monday and people are rarely let go on Mondays, I knew this was the day I would be served my divorce papers in the same way I knew driving to the hospital on September 27, 1986 that my father was already dead.

The rumors had been flying for weeks. Cutbacks. Layoffs. Business was bad. Plus I have a good intuition about these things. A colleague once nicknamed me Nostradamus. I knew my situation. I knew I was a target.

So I wasn't surprised when my boss stopped into my office and after asking how my weekend was asked if I had a few minutes to talk in his.  I was less surprised to see HR waiting, a pink folder in hand, with my name written in neat black type on the side. I listened as the prepared speech from the company lawyers was recited. I glanced at the papers and asked how long before I had to leave.

I had been on the other side of the desk more than once in my career. I knew the nausea and the lack of sleep that preceded having to let someone go even when you know it is the right thing. 

It wasn't any easier hearing it. In fact, it was almost surreal. This time it was me.

I floated through the next hours as if someone had taken over my body. There was a combination of relief that what I knew was going to happen had finally occurred and disbelief that it was now reality. They had said I could stay as long as I wanted - but I had to be out by the end of the day. That's corporate speak for we're trying to be nice adults - but not that nice. I'm still not sure what made me linger. But I did.

I walked the corridors and told the people who I wanted to that I was leaving. They looked terrified. I knew it wasn't about me. It was about the truth of what it meant. It could just as easily be them one day. That's how corporations work. One day you're a valued employee. The next day you're an expense cut.

They wanted to know what they would do without me. I'd been in the corporate world long enough to tell them the truth. They would forget. They would go on. That's how it works.

I still remember standing on the sidewalk outside of the building on that hot July afternoon waiting for a cab. A colleague held the white cardboard file box filled with my personal belongings, the ceramic coffee mug with Goddess printed in purple and a green hanging file with my collection of praise for all I had done right. My pass key and company ID had been turned in. 

I think that's when the numbness started to wear off. 

I was leaving the building - for the last time. 

I had no idea what tomorrow would look like. And I had barely shed a tear. Not yet. Not until I got into that taxi.

That was five years ago yesterday.

My story is not unique. It happens every day in a corporate office near you. It's the ugly part of big business. No one ever believes it will happen to them. Until it does.

note: This is Day #15 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Three Ways Technology Helped Me To Say Goodbye To Corporate Life For Good - Day 14

I owe a lot to digital technology. In fact, I'm pretty convinced that if not for the advances of the last five years I would probably be sitting in a glass-walled office someplace rather than at my desk in my living room.

Looking back, these are what I see as the top three reasons technology has allowed me to follow an entrepreneurial path.

1. It kept me connected. One of the hardest things to adapt to when you leave a busy office is not having all those human beings around all day. At first it seems like nirvana, being able to work uninterrupted and not having to pretend to be interested in a conversation a colleague has dragged you into. But it can get lonely at times. Which is where social networks come in. They keep you connected. You need a break and a little interaction and all you need do is sign on to Facebook or Linkedin. And you don't even need to get up from your desk.

2. It helped me learn what I needed to in order to move forward. A lot of people discount social networks, especially Twitter. They think it's nothing but mindless jabber.  Sometimes that's true. But more often than not it's also a great source of news and information. It can connect you to like minded people, influential bloggers  and potential business prospects as can other nets like Google+ and LinkedIn. The trick is learning how to use them right - which ironically can often be found at the end of the right link in a good Tweet. 

3. It allowed me to inexpensively set up shop in the living room. Let's face it, even ten years ago it was not as easy or seamless to create a business with nothing more than an iMac and the geniuses at the Apple store to show you how to unravel its mysteries. Five years ago it was. Today even more so. 

Lucky me. Lucky you. Lucky us. Thank you technology!

note: This is Day #14 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Numbers Obsession - Day 13

I told myself when I started this experiment that it was for me first. That I wasn't writing any of these posts with my readers in mind. Whatever I was inspired to write, I would write.

But then I caught myself the other day checking my Google Analytics. Trying to make some sense out of which posts are getting the most reads and which ones fall flat. What's getting a retweet and what is a lonely soldier. And then my head started spinning with what I should write that will get read more so I could get the stats up instead of what I wanted and needed to write. 

The next thing you know I couldn't write at all. 

Except I had to. I was committed to this 30 day experiment. And almost half way through I am not about to bail. So instead of staring at a blank page on my computer I stared at my Stats Overview. And then my inspiration clicked in.

I've been here before. I saw myself fall into it when I self-published my first novel. Checking Amazon every day for numbers of books sold and where my darling was ranked. It was that same obsession with numbers that had been drilled into me during my corporate career. That above all - above the quality of the work, above the process, what is most important at the end of the day are the numbers. Did we meet our KPIs? Are we pacing to meet our goals? How much money will this make us?

It's a failed premise. Yes, the metrics are important and in the age of Big Data we are now entering, there is no doubt there will be even more emphasis on numbers. 

But an obsession with how may Facebook shares you garnered gets in the way of delivering good product. A fixation on how much revenue is hitting the bottom line gets in the way of creativity and productivity. It gets in the way of the work. And sometimes it gets in the way of writing a blog post. 

note: This is Day #13 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.