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Life

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."

The Xennials: A Micro-Generation of In-Betweeners

November 7, 2015
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So, as I’m sure some of you may have heard, or read, or seen somewhere online, be it social media, or a chain email (if you still get those), the idea of this micro-generation between Generation X and Millennials known as Xennials. I always thought this was Generation Y (my generation!), but I guess I was wrong as people believe that GenY is, in fact, the Millennial Generation. It’s believed that GenY was just an oversight, or under-sight, however you’d like to classify it is fine with me. The reality is there has been quite a bit of controversy around this subject as of late. I’ve been reading more and more articles on what peoples’ opinions are surrounding this non-existent, imagined, and underwhelmed generation. Yet, here I am, and here we are! We stand together, however far a part we may be, those of us born between 1978 and 1984, have got to be recognized. Because it is us GenY-ers, now known as Xennials, that made the transition between Generation X and Millennials possible. We are the Homo naledi that bridged the evolution of big generations together. We are, essentially, the missing piece that allows every other piece to fit nicely together in the puzzle of America’s living generations.

“And these children that spit on you, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations – they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” – David Bowie

Taking a look at the Living Generations…

Let’s start with a quick history lesson of the generations that are still represented in this nation right now. There is usually common ground amongst the “generation and generation gap” experts with the first four representative generations.

They are:

  1. G.I. Generation (1901-1926) – Needless to say, this generation is super old! But there are still a few left, and I would like to tip my hat to these people because, let’s face it, they’re awesome! They are considered the “Great Generation.” They fought the Great War and survived while never speaking a word about what they saw or experienced. They raised their families in the Great Depression and persevered in the face of overwhelmingly hard times.  They built an incredible infrastructure for our nation and never took credit for it. They’re loyal, honest, hard-working people, and I hope we don’t forget this generation. They deserve to be remembered, and remembered well.
  2. The Silents (or The Matures) (1927- 1945) – Considered the nation’s last innocent generation, they were a little quieter than their GI predecessors (hence silents). They didn’t make a huge splash and they didn’t have much to say. They got corporate jobs, they lived normal lives, and their dreams were that of the “true American dream” – getting married, buying a house, having kids, and retiring well. They listened to Big Band music, they read the newspaper every morning, and they were cautious people.

  3. Baby Boomer Social Security CardBaby Boomers 
    (1946-1964) Ahhh, my parents…your parents… all of our parents. The Baby Boomers boomed and, apparently, they did it in two different styles. 1). The love and peace revolutionaries of the 60’s/70’s. 2). The career-climbing Yuppies (young urban professionals) of the 70’s/80’s. I love this generation, there was so much diversity! There were hippies and hard workers. Woodstock, civil rights, and climbing the company ladder. Rock and roll was huge and non-violent protests were popping up all over the country on college campuses. They were the “me” generation and a generation of firsts. The first TV generation, the first divorce generation. They are now considered the Golden generation in the workforce, many of them close to retirement, but most of which will not retire at 65. The differing decades they’ve lived have made them incredibly wise and incredibly important.
  4. Generation X (1965-1980) – Also known as the “latchkey kids,” they were left to fend for themselves. Street smart, but closed off. Partied all night, but still got up in the morning. They were individuals, there was no “greater good,” there was only themselves. They were the forgotten ones, the ones that society left by the wayside. They did drugs in high school, cut class more than any generation and listened to the Sex Pistols, INXS, and Tears for Fears. They abhorred big business, didn’t care for the government, and at times, even hated themselves for being born. The were creative kids that gave way to real jobs, and they’ll have an average of 7 careers in their lifetime.

Now this is where it gets a little confusing…..and interesting!

According to many, the next generation is the Millennial generation, some call it “the first-wave” Millennial generation. Well, I think that’s crap! But for continuity, here are the remaining two generations:

5.  Millennials (1981-2001) – There are so many things we could call this generation – the 9/11 Generation, the Echo Boomers, the Boomerang Generation, some say GenY, others call it the MTV Generation (I disagree with these last two). They lived in an era of fast falling crime rates all over the nation. They had parents who wanted to be present and involved. They prefer to work in teams and collaborate with one another. They keep impeccable schedules, they have an overly optimistic outlook on life in a dim, no-real-prospective-opportunity reality. They get all their information from the internet. Libraries don’t exist. They sexted growing up, they had mobile phones in high school. Britney Spears was their idol, along with the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees (or is it 97 Degrees? Doesn’t matter!) They’re hopeful, they process the world as fast as they can, they’ve been told their uber special and expect something for nothing. They’re spoiled, and they don’t give a shit.


6. Boomlets (born after 2001) – I had never heard of this before, some call this generation Generation Z (cute!) or the Technology Generation. Apparently, they will change the way the American melting pot is viewed in terms of behavior and culture. Most of them will grow up with TV’s in their bedroom. They will have never known a world without computers. They will always be connected. Their status in life will be determined by how many Twitter followers they have and how many Instagram likes they acquire. Apparently, they will also be tired of hearing about “saving the planet” – known as Eco-fatigue, they won’t give a shit about recycling. This is the generation that will no longer have a childhood that’s played outside or played with toys, they won’t explore the woods and neighborhoods close to their homes. They’ll be in front of the computer and their parents will call it “learning.”


Childhood by the Lake

My Childhood:

Time for Adam to add his two cents…or three.

I have fond memories of my childhood. A time without technology and without the worries of everyday life. We played flashlight tag, and “guns & commandos” in the woods next to my house. I was able to pickup the phone and dial my friends’ numbers by rote memorization.

I remember how excited I was when my sister and I discovered we actually got MTV on our television set (and how disappointed my parents were with that discovery). I think the first video I ever watched was Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. We were the MTV Generation, we watched movies like The Breakfast Club and The Goonies 10 years after they were released and fell in love with them. We grew up with one computer, we had to use the phone to connect with the internet (dial-up). We had one TV, and we fought with each other because we all wanted to watch something different. Full-House, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then as we aged we watched shows like Blossom, My So-Called Life, and Dawson’s Creek. And we ate dinner as a family, but still went outside afterwards.

Talking ’bout my generation:

My generation is different, I assure you that! And we, cannot be lumped into these above buckets. I had angst as a teenager and believed in my individualism, but always knew there was the greater good. When I went to high school, cell phones where used by stock brokers, and they were enormous, I mean, seriously, they were as huge as your face and you could not fit them in your pocket. I remember I bought a beeper and thought I was the coolest kid ever! Man, did those things go outta style quick. I had a walkman, for years! And I used it, for years! I always knew technology was important, but I never really cared about it until much later in life. I have a lot of friends on Facebook, but let’s face it, I probably only keep in touch with 10 people on there. I still read books and consider them timeless gems, they will be the art of our generation and eventually become precious commodities (in fact, I’ve always wanted to write a novel about the dying breed of books, but I’m sure that’s probably been done before!). We grew up as the in-betweeners, and that’s a great place to be. The middle child, not too high, not too low. We weren’t experimented on and we weren’t held too tight. We were in the right spot at the right time and will always be able to adapt and change with the evolving tide.

For those of you who were born in between 1978 and 1984, you are the Xennials, and you will forever have the upper hand in the generational flow because you’ve lived the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Stand with me now, and stake your claim, we are here to stay!

 

What I Would Write if I Won

September 15, 2015
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Win what? TheListserve, of course! I wrote about this cool community in one of my other posts. It’s a really great community of people all over the world and the Listserve is kind of  like the lottery, only you don’t win money, you win an email – one email. And you get to email everyone on the Listserve. There’s only one rule, no links! You can tell people to google something, but you can’t add any links, which is pretty cool when you think about it. I think the total is up to 24k people, maybe more, it keeps growing. Some day I’ll win! But when you win you have a short amount of time to write this email, so I figured I’d get started on it now. What should I tell the world….or the people who read the Listserve…..which is representative of the world….so what should I tell the world?

Maybe I’ll write about the things I’ve done….

I’ve driven across the country over a dozen times. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve loved and lost. I’ve been stranded in the Rocky mountains, I’ve raced motorcycles going over 165 mph, I used to play a mean guitar. I worked for the studios in Hollywood, I used to be able to do a kick-flip on a skateboard. I used to be tough! I would take trips to Tijuana to play the sports book in my early twenties. I used to build energy efficient houses. I used to..I was… blah!

Nah…that doesn’t do me justice!

Maybe I’ll write about the things I’m doing now….

I build strong business relationships. I can talk tech with anyone. I’m a member of the Young Leaders Circle, which is actually really cool! I can put together good-looking WordPress sites. I can code…a little. I help companies find right solutions to their web challenges. I’ve finally grown up.

But does this convey what I want the world to know? Probably not!

Maybe I should tell the world about the qualities I have…

I’m a funny guy, I can make people laugh. I am loyal, almost to a fault, but I would move the world for the people I care about. I empathize very easily, I have this innate ability to sense when people are hurting and that makes me hurt too. I’m reliable, very very reliable – I wasn’t always! I’m intuitive, I’m nice, I’m affable, I can carry on a conversation with almost anyone from the kid in the mailroom to the CEO to the homeless guy standing on the corner. I’m a people-person.  I’m pretty hip too!

But….does this encapsulate me?

Maybe I’ll write about who I am….

But honestly, who am I? I am a person, a human being, a son and brother, a loved one, probably a hated one, a lover and a fighter, honest but lies sometimes, happy but I’m sad sometimes, handsome yet I feel ugly sometimes, polite but sure can be rude, I am whatever I am whenever I want or need to be it. And this sure doesn’t paint the warmest picture of me.

But…….what do I want the world to know?

MY STORY….

But what is my story? Sometimes, I don’t even know.

I was born and raised in a blue collar New England town. I have loving parents and a great family. I was popular in school, used

GNR Logo to be athletic and play basketball, cross country running. I got into Guns N Roses when I was young and learned how to play the guitar (I eventually learned how to sing), but I knew in my bones that I was going to be a rockstar….and I failed at that. Then I moved around a lot in my early twenties – L.A., Montreal, Denver… I did a bunch of sales jobs, learned a whole lot! Then came back home, for good, 8 years later.

I got into construction, which I liked for awhile, but then needed something else, something more challenging mentally. I took a year off, moved to Boston (Dorchester, to be exact) and learn how to code under the tutelage of my sister (a kick-ass software engineer). I worked hard, lived off of close to nothing, got help from my family, and started to freelance. Then I got a job as a developer, then I came to Oomph (I love this company). I’ve found a home in the place I work and friends in my coworkers. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger and better, and we all have one common goal – to create some pretty cool shit!

But another part of me feels like I work too much. When I’m dying, will I remember the work I did? Or the people I affected? Putting all this time into work takes away from the relationships I should be making stronger. I need to find that balance, I’ve posted about this before. But it’s really important to connect with people, your friends and family, everyone in your life who’s worthy of your time.

Maybe I should give advice to the world….

I’d want people to know that it’s okay to be kind to a stranger. It’s okay to be vulnerable too. Sure, there is bad in the world and tragedy – no one escapes this, we’ve all been there. Don’t close yourself off because you’re afraid to hurt. Do whatever it is that makes you happy (as long as you’re not hurting anyone else) even if it’s weird. Weird is good. Be kind to our planet, I’m thinking it’s the only one we have for generations to come. Side note: I believe this universe is big enough to eventually find a planet that’s habitable, but we’re a long ways away from discovering that one. Hold on to the good things in your life and share whatever gift you’ve been given. If that means you’re a painter, let people see your work. If you love to play music, shout that shit from the rooftops. Creation is what humans were born to do! So go create something beautiful and be unapologetic about it.

A poem by Edgar Guest: Tomorrow

He was going to be all that a mortal should be
Tomorrow.
No one should be kinder or braver than he
Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do
Tomorrow.

Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write
Tomorrow.
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
Tomorrow.
It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
More time he would have to give others, he’d say
Tomorrow.

The greatest of workers this man would have been
Tomorrow.
The world would have known him, had he ever seen
Tomorrow.
But the fact is he died and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
Was a mountain of things he intended to do
Tomorrow.

Don’t be this guy!!

Maybe I’ll end my email by asking people to take action….

Go do something, TODAY! Whatever you’ve been putting off, well, get up and go do it. Your life will end (and I know that sounds morbid) and most people look back on their lives with some type of regret. I think that’s inevitable for me, but I won’t let it ruin the rest of the time I have left.
Guitar SilhouetteI had these dashing high hopes of being a rockstar when I was 17 years old. I flew out to Hollywood to make that dream happen….and I failed. Or did I? If it’s still my dream, I can make it happen, I just need to keep creating.

My story isn’t a unique one, it’s in line with all the other souls who tried to do something they loved and then ended up doing something practical instead, but it’s my life and I’m happy with it, for now.

Let’s all have hope that we can accomplish the things we want in this lifetime. And experience everything you can, it only makes you better!!!

I’m not sure, but this is probably close to the things I would say if I won the Listserve. It’ll probably always be a work in progress, though!

 

I’m a Huge Rhymer!

September 12, 2015
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For those of you who are unfamiliar with my….erh…softer side, I used to be pretty big into poetry. I’ve been reading a lot of J. Raymond lately, pretty cool stuff. *Be sure to check out his poem below* But when I was younger I used to write poems all the time. I would write to girls I was in “love” with, other people I thought could benefit from a rhyming limerick, poetry that would later turn into song lyrics, epics that went on forever, and haikus when I needed to spark some creativity. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to think creatively enough to craft a poem, let alone write one down. Well, that all changed this evening.

Here’s my new poem, entitled Hush.

I like to see silence creep inside

once in a while in my wide eyed mind.

From diesel to damsel, defiance and doom,

there’s nothing for me that didn’t already bloom.

 

My vanguard sits behind pressure and time,

the spark should fly to ignite its climb

from the depths of discord, disorder, decline.

 

To balance the earnest, the honest and well, 

never make good on avowals to quell.

In drifts of delicate and tides of weak,

it’s the quiet chaotic forever I’ll seek,

 

for the resolute, able, and fine

live their days out by design

with the might to mild their wide eyed mind.

 

A quick explanation, because we all love dissecting poetry!

This poem is about calming the internal narrator in my mind. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my post on my meditation practice – Shambhala and the Art of Being Human – it talks about my internal commentator!

But the poem above is really about calming that voice. I think….a lot!! About everything, constantly analyzing, which can cause my creative side (vanguard) to be stifled. I need to stop thinking so much so I can be more creative and write poems like this one. But in order to get out of that constant uncontrollable mindset, you need to find a balance. And when times are tough to not run from it but seek out that quiet chaotic mind, take it head on! Because the mentally strong people out there can do this, they find a balance, they live their lives with meaning and purpose, and have the ability to calm that inner narrator. Alright, I’m done! Thanks for reading!

J. Raymond Poem:

J. Raymond Poem

Shambhala and the Art of Being Human

August 24, 2015
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I have an internal commentary going off in my head from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed. This narrator, of sorts, is doing one of two things. It’s either replaying something in the past or anticipating something in the future. I will be at an event and try my hand at sarcasm, sometimes it comes out a little flat or just plan rude. When something like that happens, I will stew in that moment for days, sometimes weeks to come. Now, it’s not all the time that I replay this event, but at least a few times a day, I’ll revisit that moment and berate myself because of it. Other times, my ever-present inner chronicler will be forecasting some event that hasn’t happened yet to get a grasp on what I’ll say, how I’ll act, where I’ll stand, and how I’ll come across. It’s never ending. Let me repeat that – It’s never ending. EVER!

Now, I do think it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for things to come (e.g. – like a presentation, or a meeting, etc.), but don’t overplay things – which I do all the time!

My sister gave me this book, 10% Happier, by Dan Harris, one of the co-anchors of the weekend edition of Good Morning, America. Cool guy! He was a field reporter for quite a long time (still is) and had an on-air breakdown (it was an anxiety attack) where he forgot what he was supposed to say and froze. He pretty much came out unscathed, at least from a public viewpoint. But it jarred him a bit, as I’m sure it would most anybody. He was covering the “religion beat” for his work and he basically went on this journalistic journey that took him from religious sects to self-help gurus to just plan whackjobs, but he learned a tremendous amount of valuable information and started meditating in his daily life.

HALT! Did someone say mediation? Alright, I’m gonna read something else now! But if you want to stick around….continue reading….

I recently went to Shambhala training and for those of you who are unsure of what that is, it’s a form of meditation, in Buddhism. We participated in sitting meditation and walking meditation (which I thoroughly enjoyed) over the course of a 3-day weekend. Our Shastri (teacher) for the weekend guided us through a journey of self awareness and told us to care about ourselves. It’s the art of being human. Basic goodness comes from within and she related it to the first time she fell in love, or the first time she bit into a lemon, or that moment right before you shovel snow off of your driveway. It’s basic goodness, which I feel like it’s there all the time, but we really have to open our eyes to it. I know this is hard to read, but I sat with myself (just myself, no iphone, no TV, no reading a book) and tried to just “be” – it was unbelievably painful. It’s really hard to focus on your breath, and your body, your mind, and your heart. But when you let go and realize it’s ok to be with yourself and the way you feel, there’s kind of a weight that’s lifted off your shoulders. You feel alive and sad and happy and angry, one after the the other. And it’s all ok.

I realized a few things on this 3 day weekend. 1) I work too much and it’s my form of escaping from myself. 2) I can’t seem to get comfortable with being in the present moment. 3) I tend to let little things bother me (an asshole driver, the old lady taking forever in line at the grocery store, my non-punctual coworkers, etc.). 4) I need to change the way I think and feel about certain things.

In walks meditation! I’ve had a daily-ish practice for a couple of months now, and it’s going really well. I’ll set my alarm and do 15 minutes in the morning when no one is in the office and maybe 10 minutes at night when I get home. If I forget or if I’m too busy (which some would say is the very reason why you should meditate in the first place), I’ll skip it. But it’s there with me, and I have it when I need it. It’s a really cool thing to do – I challenge you to try it. Think of it like going to the gym. You go to the gym to develop your muscles, right? Maybe you’re there training for a race or just want to be in shape. Well, meditation is the same way. You exercise your mind to be in the present, in the now.

Now, just so you know, you don’t always have to be in the present to be meditating. Meditation is not (I repeat, NOT) about keeping your mind clear of any and every thought. It’s about letting your emotions and thoughts come to you, explore them (and kind of lean into them), experience the thought or the feeling, and then let it go. Because everything is fleeting, all of our moments are escaping us at all times of the day. Right now, as I write this word, that experience I just felt is gone. Accept these feelings and sit with them, it’s okay to feel, just don’t stew! Don’t stew in anything. You’ll start to find that when you lean into your feelings and experience them, it’s much easier to let them go. Hence, the end of your inner narrator. Well, maybe not that quickly. I still have my inner speaker and probably always will, but I’m getting better at calming him down!

That weekend helped me forget about my analytical mind, it helped me get in touch with myself. Have you ever spoken to yourself, I mean, really listened and asked imperative questions. Because I’ve lived probably close to half my life already. It’s time to start being happy and cherishing these moments that we get with our loved ones, family and friends. I need to focus on my relationships and not my work all the time. I need to get involved with the community. These are the things I’ll remember when I die, these are the things I’ll probably be able to take with me, wherever we go. It’s important to remember that there are good things out there for you, there are people who care, and places that you’ll connect with. It’s the art of being human.

Morning time, theListserve, Work, and Dan Rather

August 7, 2015
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As I sit here listening to alt-j (Nara is an awesome song), it’s early in the morning and I’m the only one in the office. I like this time, mostly to talk to myself about upcoming presentations or how to articulate our value a little better when I talk to prospects. But I love this time too, morning time. It’s quiet, except for the music, but it’s peaceful. There’s a calm about me and I can’t express into words the feeling that just sweeps over me sometimes, I feel connected, loved even.

I joined a community called thelistserve, it’s kinda like the lottery. But instead of winning money, you win an email, one email. And you can say whatever you want, you just can’t link to anything in the email. It goes out to the 30,000 people who are a part of this community. All the emails I’ve read from others have been extremely positive. People looking to help others, either through what they do or who they are. A personal tragedy brought to light, a haiku style rant, a plug about your company or music, it’s a really cool community. If anyone wants to be a part of a growing community, join up and maybe one day you’ll be able to send an email to all the people on the Listserve.

Balance is everything

I also wanted to touch on work (I know, I know). I haven’t posted anything in a really long time and I’m sorry, I’ve been super duper busy! It’s an ongoing battle to consistently get my work done, but still save time for myself and doing the things that I want to do. I am losing this battle, work has been winning. And maybe as I put this down on paper (or a WYSIWYG) I’ll hold myself to keeping myself in check. I need that balance, we all do. Or at the end of our lives, we’ll look back and weep for not doing the things we wanted to do. Now, I’m all for learning new things at your job/career, but you have to sprinkle in “fun” time. It’s the only way to continue to do what you/we do, and do it well.

Go do something fun, NOW!!!!

Find the time to be weird

I’m weird, super weird, and those who know me, know that. I’m human and I’m weird…..that’s okay, trust me, it is OK!! We all have our quirks, embrace them. So what if I talk to myself. People around the office know this about me and they’re cool with it. They might laugh behind my back, but that’s ok. If you like to eat peanut butter and egg salad sandwiches, eat up. If you’re a secret Rebecca Black lover, sing that shit at the top of your lungs. If you have a natural aptitude for krumping, thug out! It’s okay, seriously, we’ll like you more! Weirdness is ——- COOL

Embrace it and own it!!

___________________________________

Now for one final note, ever since I’ve been a part of the listserve, I’ve felt connected again to something bigger. I was born and raised Catholic (and yes, I’m still recovering from that), but when I was a kid I prayed all the time. To me, God was Dan Rather in a white robe standing in the clouds looking down on me, and I prayed to him. Somewhere in high school I lost my faith, did some stupid things (that teenagers do) and didn’t think about religion for years. Coming full circle, I have found my faith again, but I don’t believe in God in the traditional sense, I believe in connection to all other living things, that’s God. This is why I’m able to empathize and feel someone’s pain or suffering. This is why when a stranger is wildly laughing walking down the street, I laugh too. And why tragedies (like the recent airplane crashes) greatly affect me and my state of being, I cry because their loss, is my loss, it’s our loss, because we are all together. And that’s good, it’s great in fact, for we are here together, and for generations to come, we will always be connected to them. We feel what everyone feels and I’ve seen more and more acts of kindness and good for me not to believe there’s something bigger.

My view this morning:

It’s a cloudy day, but it’s beautiful. The possibilities today are endless for me, and for you, for us!! Let’s make today special, maybe we’ll meet each other on the train, or see each other sitting in a coffeeshop. If that happens, say hello, I won’t hesitate to ask how your special day is going. Just think, something miraculous is going to happen to YOU today, something great and wonderful and unexpected. But make sure your eyes are opened, because it can happen in the blink of an eye. Remember, if it happens to you, it happens to me and I’ll cherish that moment we share together!

Everyone, have a wonderful day, it’s only the beginning and wherever you are – there’s the entry point.

Well, it’s the end of the year! We are all heading into 2015 and, hopefully with some reinvigorated purpose of ourselves and our lives!

I’d like to take this time to kind of reflect on this past year, where I was and where I am now. I’m proud to say it’s been one of the best years of my life! I work for an incredible company, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and I’m still constantly learning.  I think I’ve learned more in this past year than I have my entire four years of high school – sad, isn’t it? Over the last year I did a lot of freelance, worked for a small web agency and now work for a big web agency. I’ve got a pretty good idea on how much certain web projects cost and how long things should take. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over this last year, the good, the bad, the whole bunch!

Lessons-Learned-GreenChalkboard

Business lessons learned this past year:

  1. In order to have successful projects, a company needs project managers
    • There is no two ways about this, someone managing clients and the team need to be between those two entities. A good PM can handle several different projects at once while simultaneously communicating to both the client and the developers. A great PM can do all that plus still find time to teach, luckily, I have a few at my company!
  2. SEO and Analytics is on everyone’s mind
    • In the world of web and everything digital, it pays to know about SEO and Analytics – Google Analytics, WebTrends, ChartBeat, Moz Tools, etc. One can make good money having certifications/knowledge in these areas. Take a little time just to learn the basics and you’ll thank yourself. Knowing about this stuff has been a great sales tool as well!
  3. It’s better to say you don’t know than to lie, especially to a client
    • This just sets you and your company up for failure. If you tell a client you have a developer that can do something (like build something you’re not sure your developer can build) and then you can’t deliver, that’s a huge problem. If a client asks you about some technology you’ve never heard of, it’s better to say “I’m not sure” than to B.S. It’ll make you look smarter in the long run.
  4. Enterprise level companies follow their own set of rules
    • If you’re lucky enough to be in the arena of premium brand names and deal with them on a daily/weekly/or even
      Crazy Bananamonthly basis, then you should be familiar with this. Whether it’s invoicing at certain times or special terminology, each enterprise brings its own bag of crazy – which, honestly, isn’t that difficult to navigate and can be fun half of the time.
  5. Qualify correctly
    • This can make all the difference and save a hell of a lot of time. Ask prospects questions – right questions. Like what their process is for vendor selection and get budgets/timelines/business objectives. The more you do this, the easier it’ll get. The deeper you dig with a prospect is the best way to find out what they need and if you can provide it for them.
  6. Proposals take time
    • The first proposal I wrote in response to an RFP I received wasn’t that great, but the more I learned the better I got. Now I write some pretty awesome proposals, but they’re still difficult and they probably always will be. Why? Because each RFP or project you come into contact with will be different. Some will be similar, but no two are exactly the same. We aren’t the type of company that just churns out proposals, we take the time to write them correctly. I spend a minimum of 40 hours putting together the correct solution to a web challenge.
  7. Tech is easy, business is hard
    • In the words of the great DM (you know who you are), “tech is easy, business is hard.” Tech is the easy part, any company can hire a digital agency to do the WordPress install or build a plugin. It’s the business part that’s challenging. Strategy is an integral part of any digital agency, so hiring developers are great, but you also need strategists.

Now onto non-business lessons learned this past year

  1. Take pride in doing things right
    • This does relate to business, but there are many opportunities to cut corners. Honestly, I always feel better when I don’t. And spending that time doing things correctly, whether it’s writing a proposal or blog post, it’s worth it.
  2. Be friendly, be nice, and be available
    • Don’t go into work with a frown. Place all your problems on that tree that’s standing right outside your office because it’ll be there when you go home for the day – I know this is hard to do, but nobody likes a grump. Get to know your coworkers, they’re cool people. And be there (by there, I mean present in mind as well as body) when someone asks you a question, listen, and respond accordingly.
  3. The clothes people wear are never indicative of wealth
    • Believe or not, the guy in the 3-piece suit usually doesn’t have much money. It’s the guy who wears jeans, boat shoes,
      BusinessManMoney-2014Reflectionand a flannel jacket that’s the loaded one! The general rule of thumb is that the guy who dresses like he doesn’t care, doesn’t care because he doesn’t need to impress, generally because he’s got money – if that makes sense. It’s the guys who dress to impress that need to try to impress. I know, I’ve been that guy!
  4. Developers keep their own hours
    • This one is pretty common, no matter what company you’re with. Coders usually come in late and leave early, but they work hard and are often on the computer cleaning things up at 2am, so back off and give them some space. This is tech not rocket science!
  5. Let things roll off your back
    • This is something I should have learned a long long time ago. Don’t let things get to you. Often times people will totally ignore your emails or requests and the bottom line is, you have no idea why that is. We would all like to suspect that it’s because they’re too embarrassed that you did a whole bunch of work and they’re not going with your company, but you don’t really know. So, let it go, it doesn’t matter and there’s more people out there who need your services.
  6. Walk around
    • Seriously, get up and walk around. Blood flow is essentially to healthy living, so get up from your desk and get some movement in your veins. Stretch, do jumping jacks, and think about getting an exercise ball for a desk chair. One of my coworkers sits on one and it really keeps your back straight. It’s on my to-do list!
  7. Take mental breaks
    • Everyone needs time away, even if that means daydreaming for five minutes a day. Take a break, mentally, for a little while. It resets your brain and helps you focus better. I used to work construction and my body would ache when I got home. Now, my brain hurts when I get home. Those mental vacations during the day help tremendously.

2014 has been an incredible year! With the holidays down and 2015 two days away, I can’t wait to start the new year. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope 2015 brings as much joy to you as I’m sure it will to me. Cheers!!!

The Comfort-Zone Culture Facebook Breeds

December 10, 2014
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People flock to Facebook, right? It’s the most widely used social media platform in the world. I’m sure you’re friends with what….500 people? Me too! But the reality is – we probably only keep in touch with maybe 10 people on there. Facebook breeds this culture of people who can’t interact with one another face-to-face, which is odd because it’s called Facebook!!

For the longest time I swore I would never be on any social media platform – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. But a long while ago, I made the leap into Facebook. I thought it was really cool the way I could reach out to old friends from high school and say hello. I could know more about a co-worker, or a great aunt I met once at a family reunion. It’s an interesting medium. You have this portal into a person’s life. Facebook is like a window into people’s houses. You’re looking from the outside into a person’s life and people sit on the outside and look into your life. It’s up to what to share, how to share it, and who you can share it with. But does it really portray an accurate portrait of someone…..probably not.

Let’s face it, all of us put only the good stuff up there. Some put up the bad, like when they go through a breakup (this is the worst, don’t do this!!), but for the most part we read about someone’s kid getting on the honor’s list, or this person just landed a new job.  And people love sharing things about their pets, houses, cars, etc. People post some bizarre stuff that they find from someone else’s timeline. So really, Facebook is breeding this culture of competition, and plagiarism, and staying inside your comfort zone.

Another thing is the fact that people just friend people to have more friends. I’ve gotten friend requests from several people in my past, I accept and say hello, and nothing. Not a “hey, how’s it going?” or a “been a long time, hope all is well” – I find this sad, really sad. We have the energy to push a few buttons so that someone can get access to our versions of our own worlds, but we don’t have the energy or the decency to type a few short sentences to actually make a personal connection. It’s odd. I’ve seen a few people from the past and have reached out to see how they’ve been and no response. What’s the point of being friends with someone if you can’t say a friendly hello once in awhile?

One more thing, if you’re friends with someone on Facebook, you would think that you could go up to that person and say “hey, how are you?” – but this isn’t entirely true. People are awkward in person, they can’t talk. And I don’t get it, it’s something about having a face-to-face that makes people really uncomfortable. So, for those of you who want to continue hiding behind the skewed portrait of your life called Facebook and not come in front of the counter, then by all means, enjoy your comfort zone (that you will forever be a slave to) and just keep existing.

For those of you who actually care about personal connection and want to laugh, smile, and be in the presence of physical people, I’ll be hanging around outside that comfort zone – because that’s where people grow – beyond their comfort zones. It’s a weird thing, Facebook has brought us all closer together, but has it really brought us farther a part? I’m not sure.

Work/Life Balance

November 8, 2014
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As I sit here on a Saturday morning totally neglecting my life/fun/relationships/and other commitments, it makes sense to quickly talk about work/life balance, of which I have none of!!

Life

Ok, so this is pretty straightforward, right? You should only be working 40 hours (yeah, right) a week, or so that’s what the American government says is fair. Which, I do work 40 hours a week, I just also tack on about another 20 or so hours for events, and meetups, traveling from office to office. I enjoy it, but others in my life tell me it’s always going to be like that unless you find a balance. So, I’m trying to find a balance. And how do I do that? I go back to why I first got into this tech game, to code. I’m starting to learn the command line once again! I haven’t had much time to continue to code ever since my job took ahold of me. But what I’ve learned over the last few years is that I like being in front of my computer. I have a number of digital properties that need my attention and require that I spend some time on it. My idea of adventure (nowadays) is learning, that’s my exploration!

Work

This is where it gets tricky. You want to perform, you want to make things happen for the company you work for, but where do you draw the line between what you do for them and what you do for yourself? I think this answer is pretty simple. When you’re on the clock, you’re on the clock. That time is what you’re getting paid for and for 40 hours a week, it belongs to your company. The other time spent working is not only for your company, but also for you. Network with other companies, get a sense of what’s out there and how you could fit into the landscape as a whole. Think about your career and not your job. Don’t think about that next promotion or title you could get, think about what makes you really happy and healthy in a work environment. Is it running around all over the place and talking with people to try and sell them your company or is it sitting behind a computer and conquering the world of programming languages. What do you want to do??

You

This is where you should focus your time. Do things that further and better your own life. Because in all honesty, life is about you, your life. Not anyone else’s. Not your family’s, not your company’s – yours, and yours alone! At the end of the day, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and thank yourself for following the path you wanted to. Not what someone else wanted you to follow. Be bold, be brave, be you!