Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Locus of Control and Cheerleading

Me and some of my teammates :)
I spent the weekend before last on stage covered in glitter. At my team's first cheerleading competition of the season. If you don't know anything about competitive cheerleading, the concept is really simple: you and your team spend two minutes and thirty seconds doing a whole bunch of tricks that have to be cooler than all of the other teams' tricks, and you have to look cool doing them (read: you can't fall on your face). Whoever has scored the highest (and messed up the least) wins. There is a lot of glitter involved.
That aside, it's a great place to see the theory of locus of control in action. A person's locus of control answers the question "whose fault is it if we lose?" A person with a high internal locus will place blame on themselves; they'll say that they should have practiced harder. Someone with a high external locus believes more in external forces; they might say that it was an off day or that the judges were being tough.
Cheerleaders can be a highly superstitious group, an indicator of a high external locus of control -- common rituals are having to eat the same thing both days of a two-day competition, wearing lucky socks, having to high-five the same person before walking onto the stage, or wearing large amounts of glitter spray. On the other side, some teams (mine included), have a policy that if you mess up on something, you have to do it a certain number of times the next practice so that it doesn't happen again, which caters to an internal locus of control. The girl who walks off the floor crying because her stunt fell out from under her probably is blaming herself -- even though it was a group effort. She probably has an internal locus of control.
So what does this have to do with anything? Simple -- when working with any kind of team, sports or business, it's important to know where your teammates (or employees) stand. The teammate with a high external locus might be less willing to put in extra practice hours for something they see as a fluke, while the teammate with an internal locus might feel defeated more quickly because they place all the blame on themselves. The best way to get along with people is to know where they're coming from and understand why they might act in certain ways.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Argument for Emoticons

Make Any Conversation Creepier!
Image found via Google :) 
I use a lot of smileys. All the time. Sure, I hold back when I'm writing to someone I don't know and want to make it sound official, but most of the time, it's emoticon central. And I think that it should be okay.
Around 90% of communication (ish) is nonverbal. We've created these tools to help compensate for the loss of facial expressions over text communication such as instant messaging, texts, and emails. Consider the difference when you read...

Yeah :)
Yeah ;)
Yeah :(
Yeah -_-

I don't know about you, but I read those all differently -- something is lost without emoticons.
It's also a matter of efficiency. Why should I have to say, "This looks like a fun project and I'll get started right away," when I could say, "I'll start on this right away :)". Same point, more efficient. And business (and Generation X in general) is all about efficiency.
As a writer, I'm not saying you should depend on emoticons. If you have the time to effectively and efficiently convey your emotions and your tone through words, you should. However, I know that I hate receiving novel-length emails, and I especially dislike overly lengthy texts when a point could have been made in a few sentences.
I think we all know enough to avoid these shenanigans: "send pix of ur car!! :) :)" My mom texts like that sometimes, no joke. So aim for the happy medium -- emoticons can add meaning to conversations just like smiling while you're talking can.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Posting Regularly

So, one of the biggest tips for bloggers is to post regularly (or not, depending on who you ask).

Posting regularly here is a bit harder than I thought it would be (although I'm not sure I really gave it a whole lot of thought), so I'm going to do a bit of an experiment to try and find the best way to get me to post once a week. I have 3 weeks of school left, so this part will have to be short term to account for variability in my busyness. I can repeat it after finals/Thanksgiving week with the attempt to make it more long term and a little more accurate.

Strategy #1: Have a set time to post
Monday and Wednesday nights after school/cheer practice, so around 5 and 8 respectively.

Strategy #2: Post whenever I feel like I have time/when inspiration hits.
(Or in between episodes of Torchwood, more likely).

Strategy #3: ...Yeah, I can't think of a 3rd strategy. I'll update when I think of one (or on Monday or Wednesday, depending).

In the mean time, here are some articles I found on the subject!

How to Post Regularly on your Blog…
How Often Should You Update Your Blog?
Why Should You Blog Regularly?

Strangely enough, so far Strategy #2 seems to work better for me, mainly because the week I tried #1, I seemed to be doing stuff during the scheduled time and then felt like I missed my opportunity to post... That being said, it was an inordinately busy week (week 10 at DU, the week before finals, the week everything is due, week of death, etc, etc). More than that though, I don't think I like having a scheduled time. Most of my day is very scheduled, so it's nice to have something that's not, and I think adhering to a strict schedule stifles my creativity (or maybe I'm just not all that inspired most of the time, so the chances of inspiration hitting at any given moment are kind of slim).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stressed? Me too.

Ever have that feeling that you're trying to do six things at once and they all had to be done yesterday? Hint: that was a rhetorical question. Everyone's felt stressed because they were overloaded. Some advice I've gotten is to drop some things -- but I can't. Can't quit working, have to pay rent; can't quit school, it's school; can't quit cheering, I made a commitment to my teams. We've all been there, so here's some helpful advice I've found...

1. Take some time for yourself.

Make sure you're not giving up your "me time". If you're extroverted (you gain energy from being with people), hang out with some good friends or talk on the phone with someone (who won't add to your stress). If you're introverted, like me, and you have to recharge by being alone, take some time to step back from what you're doing and watch some TV or read a book (or some comics)... Take some time and relax. Find something that makes you laugh (laughing makes you healthier, right?).
You could also try these relaxation techniques from the Mayo Clinic. I'm terrible at meditating, so do what works for you.

2. Have a Game Plan

Prioritize which things need to get done when, and when you're going to have time to do them. I procrastinate like crazy, so at 2:00 in the morning when I'm trying to write three different papers I should have started ages ago, I'm really stressed (surprising, right?). Avoid that all together by spacing projects out as much as possible. Easier said than done, I know, but worth it in the end. And, since you have time because you didn't wait until the last minute, you can try the Pomodoro technique so you don't burnt out as fast. You could also check out this list of the top 50 apps for time management.

3. Get help

Professors can be pretty cool people. If you're overbooked and need an extension on something, most of the time it doesn't hurt to ask (as long as you ask reeeaaally nicely and ahead of time).
Because of the way my class schedule is this quarter, I'm supposed to take three finals on the same day. That just wouldn't work out super well, so I'm going to cut myself a break and get one of them moved.

Hope this helps! I'll try to post more tips as I find them.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Think Before You Tweet

This past weekend at DU, all of the students taking Intro to Business Law and Ethics had Ethics Boot Camp  an event that takes place Friday night and most of Saturday. There are speakers and activities to promote teamwork and integrity (like building a bicycle that one of your teammates races on and then it's donated to charity).
It just so happened that one of the professors was also a speaker (his name is Corey Ciocchetti), and on Saturday morning he was talking about excellent decisions. He proceeded to put up a list of tweets about Ethics Bootcamp that were less than flattering. Here's what he said: "It's your first amendment right to tweet what you want. It's my right to print them out and send them to admissions [to the business college]".
And to think, all of that could have been avoided by asking a simple question: "Who might read this?" You can tweet, post, and blog about what you want, but never assume that it is private.
Remember in kindergarden when you learned not to talk about people behind their backs, because everyone always finds out? At least when that happens you could try to deny what you said. On social media, there is a (mostly) public record of what has been said (13 million users said they had never set, or didn’t know about, Facebook’s privacy tools). You can't blame it on a glitch in your privacy settings, either.
Advice here? Keep it positive, vent to your friends and not to your followers, and think before you tweet.
Think Before You Tweet

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week 9/27

Sorry I missed last week's tip -- it's been a bit of a crazy week. Well, crazy month.
This week's tip is more of a guideline... if your computer is kind of old and doesn't have extra memory just hanging around, try and close as many applications and windows as possible before opening a big spreadsheet. From what I've heard, bigger than 10,000 rows is big. The one I was trying to open was 400,000 rows (hint: Excel really doesn't like spreadsheets that big), and I drew that Excel logo sticky note art while it was opening. The main guideline is actually to try and avoid really big spreadsheets; they're not a lot of fun and sometimes they send you nice error messages.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Networking is important, connecting is better.

Pic from the article -- generic, but it gets the point across.
I found this cool article Best Way to Introduce Yourself that I thought fit nicely with my post on meeting people on your first day of classes.
If you don't feel like reading it, the gist of it is that you don't want to introduce yourself with "Hi I'm Jacki, and this is why I'm awesome." It's better to keep it short, keep it in context, and "embrace understatement" -- as in be humble and focus on the other person. It's more fun to learn about people through having a conversation, so don't say everything about yourself upfront. Save that for your blog.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What's up with the new title?

Like the little description thing says, this blog is still under construction -- and I'm not gonna lie, its main purpose is to hold the domain name until I really need it. Well, that and so I don't have to put a free email address on my fancy awesome business cards (it looks unprofessional).
So I hadn't decided on a title that I'd intended to stick with (bad pun, sorry), and I was looking around my desk/cube at work, and I took a second to wonder just how many sticky notes and junior legal pads I've gone through. I'm the sort of person who makes lists, and writes down everything that I don't want to forget. In addition to that, I use sticky notes as little doodle pads. They've become decoration to personalize this little space that I call my own. I write on them. I draw on them. I cover them with bright highlighter colors. They represent a coalescence of creativity and practicality, of the organized and the imaginative, of the right brain and the left. Am I reading too much into this? Probably, but there you have it.

Fact of the day: Post-it notes were invented by Art Fry.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week 9/13

Excel Tips & Tricks

Quick tip: to adjust the size of a sell to fit the text, double click the right edge of the column label letter or the bottom of the row label number (your mouse should look like a little + with arrows).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Your First Day of Classes...

Meeting new people on the first day of school is always a trying experience... here are some tips on how to avoid talking to anyone on those first days of classes to ensure that no one bothers you for the rest of the term!
It's okay, these aren't real college kids anyway.
Fraternizing: to be avoided at all costs.
(photo found by googling)
1. Stare intently at your laptop screen before class starts. Whenever anyone comes near, close it slightly so that no one can tell that you're really on Facebook. Shifty eyes are recommended but optional.
2. Sit at the end of the row and put your bag in the seat next to you. If you're in a lecture hall, make sure to give dirty looks to anyone who tries to move past you.
3. Sit in the back corner and avoid eye contact at all costs. Using the aforementioned computer technique can be substituted for texting everyone on your contact list how bored you are or playing Angry Birds.
4. Make sure to never raise your hand. The professor might get the mistaken impression that you enjoy their class.
5. Make sure to not even look like you're raising your hand -- fixing your hair or stretching can easily be mistaken for wanting to communicate.

But seriously, one of the best things about college is meeting new people and making friends from different places. If you don't like meeting people for the sake of meeting people, think about the benefits. Networking in class might help you get a job someday, and it will certainly help you find people to study (or take group exams) with. Studies show that students tend to retain material more effectively when surrounded by peers, and here are 6 benefits of study groups. Plus, finding out that you have a group project due mid-quarter and realizing that you have no one to do it with is not fun.
mmmm coffee
My solution for everything
Start with not doing any of those 5 things above (except playing Angry Birds is okay). I like to wear something that says something about me -- "I love your Batman shirt/backpack/hat/merch" is a great conversation starter because I either learn something about the other person or share something about myself. (Well, that and I happen to own large quantities of Batman shirts and sometimes it's harder if I don't want to wear one). If you don't end up becoming BFFs with your new acquaintance, at least you had a great conversation about the new episode of Doctor Who, right?
If you're like me and you're not a morning person but have early morning classes, I recommend coffee (lots and lots of coffee). And who knows, you might meet someone to complain about Monday mornings with.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week - 9/5

I've noticed that a lot of people have some difficulties with Excel, and even people who have been using it for a while don't know everything about it (myself included). I have a nice little certificate that says I'm certified in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, but mostly I've just picked up a few things that I think are worth sharing.
Most of the time when I'm using Excel, I'm at work, and my work computer runs Windows (super up-to-date... Windows XP) that has Excel 2007. Most things carry over to Excel 2010, which is the version I used for my Excel certification test, and I'll try and include tips for the Mac version because that's what I use at home.
Today's tip is a short and easy one that I use all the time.

Excel Tips & Tricks
To select consecutive cells that have data in them, start at one side and use the keyboard shortcut ctrl, shift, arrow key (in whichever direction the rest of the text is). On a Mac, I think it's command, shift, arrow. It will select everything in that row or column until it comes to a blank cell.
I also found this cool site that's like a wiki for keyboard shortcuts,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Timer
(photo found by googling)
I'm testing out the Pomodoro Technique today in an effort to be more efficient... which seems counter-intuitive, because the technique is to work for 25 minutes (a "pomodoro") and then take a 5 minute break. Every four pomodoros you take a 15 minute break. There's this great timer that I've been using (and it works well with Chrome, always an added bonus). The idea is that you're more productive when you get breaks, which is why the reports that things like Google's Pac-Man doodle wasted 4.7 billion hours aren't super accurate. And that Pac-Man doodle is fantastic.
According to Wikipedia, the technique is named for the Italian word for tomato because of the shape of creator Francesco Cirillo's timer. (Why would anyone have a tomato-shaped timer? My best guess is that it was because it was the eighties.)
So far, it's been kind of difficult sticking to the timer. It's not that I just want the breaks longer; I have a hard time stopping in the middle of whatever Excel spreadsheet or report I'm doing. I really just like to finish what I'm doing before I move on to something else. 
However, it's almost 2:00 and I have to say, I think I'm a little less burned out than I usually am by this time. (You know that 2:30 feeling?)
Fred the Dinosaur
I also drew a dinosaur. I think I'll name him Fred.
What did I do for my 5 minute breaks? Well, I was trying to use Google's Web Lab because it seemed pretty cool, but the loading time used up like half of my 5 minutes. So instead, I checked my news feed on Facebook, wrote this, played Pac-Man, read a few articles, watched The Dark Knight Meets the Avengers, and checked out what Shakespeare's plays would look like with cats instead of people (which is just what you'd expect). And some other stuff, but it must have been pretty mindless because I don't remember exactly what it was.
And, in case you were wondering, I got through my entire to-do list.

Update: I definitely just had one of those "Whoa, it's already 4:45?" moments. I'd call today a success.

Friday, August 24, 2012

11 Reasons a 19-Year-Old Intern Can Run Your Social Media

So, as I mentioned in my "About Me" post, I'm an intern. Specifically an e-marketing intern at a B2B company. I run their corporate social media accounts, so when I came across this article on, titled “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media”, I was a little cross. It makes some good points – for instance, putting your “best friend’s sister-in-law’s kid” in charge of branding your company just because they can use Instagram is probably not a good idea. The author even took the time to point out that there are young people out there capable of managing social media responsibilities. But I think she might have missed a couple good things, so here's my response to people who are thinking about putting an intern in charge of their pages.

1.       “They’re not mature enough.”
This one is on you, I have to say… If you think that your intern is too immature to handle your social media, perhaps you hired the wrong intern. Sure, young people would “rather explore who they are and how they can transform their lives,” but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be interested in your business, too. Find someone mature who you think can understand what it is that you’re looking for,  is invested enough to figure out who your audience is and what makes them tick, and is focused enough to do it right.
2.       “They may be focused on their own social-media activity.”
I’m going to refer you back to #1 on this one, specifically the part about finding a focused intern. However, you can’t expect an intern not to check their own Facebook or Twitter once in a while, but this applies to any age of employee. And remember, studies show that employees who are allowed to take breaks to check social feeds and be online actually perform better on subsequent tasks.
Check your Twitter
This one's still important.
3.       “They may not have the same etiquette--or experience.”
This is true – interns may not have the same etiquette and or experience – which is why they’re interns. They’re working to learn that proper etiquette and gain experience. It’s probably not a good idea to give them free reign over your face on the internet on their first day. Start by having them write proofs of their posts and send them to you for approval. Correct their mistakes. Give them advice. Make sure the posts say what you want to convey.  Soon, you intern will figure out what you want and you can stop looking over their shoulder.
4.       “You can't control their friends.”
I was a little confused about this one. The argument was to make sure your intern’s friends “won't post inappropriate content to your company's social-media accounts.” You can’t stop your intern’s friends from commenting/posting inappropriate content to your company’s social media pages. I’m not sure why your intern’s friends would want to post inappropriate content to your accounts, but you couldn’t stop them if they did. That’s why they make it so you can delete comments. If the author meant that the intern’s friends would use a logged-in account to post something inappropriate, you can just ask your intern to logout of your accounts when they aren’t posting on them. Or better yet, advise them that if they have friends who will take advantage of a logged-in account like that, they might want to password-protect their computers to keep their personal accounts safe too.
5.       “No class can replace on-the-job training.”
Again, they’re interning to get experience and on-the-job training. Understanding that up front is very important.
6.       “They may not understand your business.”
A good way to make sure that your intern is representing your company well is to have them look at other marketing you have going on. Do you send out emails? What does your website look like? If you have a physical location, how do you get people in the door? Talk to them about how you like to handle customers when you interact with them and see if they can take that and translate it to social media.
7.       “Communication skills are critical.”
Simple solutions here: make sure any potential intern who might be working with social media can write, and that they can write well. Look at their personal posts and see if they’re remotely understandable, have them submit an example of their writing, or find someone who is majoring or minoring in English.
8.       “Humor is tricky business.”
The argument here is that a young hire might not understand where to draw the line. Do you remember #1 about hiring a mature intern? Yeah. General guideline: tell them that if they wouldn’t say it to someone in person, and that someone was either their grandmother or you, then they shouldn’t post it.
9.       “Social-media savvy is not the same as technical savvy.”
The analytical side of social media can be difficult… or it can be really easy. I would recommend having your intern use Hootsuite to schedule posts and use their simple click reports. I like it because I can see what people click on and what people ignore. In the future, I’ll try and post more of what people click on. Simple, right? It’s pretty great, even if you only use the free version like I do.
10.   “Social-media management can become crisis management.”
This one is tricky. It’s definitely true, but there are ways you can help avoid a social media crisis (like not being McDonalds). This article has a few pointers. On top of that, planning ahead is important. Discuss with your intern ways that both of you can deflect a crisis, and have them do their homework first – there are a lot of articles on how to handle negative social media feedback.
11.   “You need to keep the keys”
Finally, something we agree on. Passwords are important. Emails are too. For Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, you can be the owner of your site page and have your intern be a manager. That way, they can post content and do everything they need to do, but it’s still your page. For Twitter, it’s important to have the account connected to an email that the intern can check regularly so that they can thank new followers, see who is retweeting their posts, and so on. Hire someone you trust with that responsibility. Put the passwords and emails associated with each account in a spreadsheet and keep them so that if you or your intern forgets them they’re saved somewhere for easy access.
So remember, there are young people out there capable of managing social media responsibilities, and it’s your job to find them. If you can’t do that and you don’t trust your interns, you can always go to plan B  –  learn how to use social media sites and do it yourself. I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

About Me

My twitter bio says
"Cheerleader, nerd, marketing major, batman fanatic."
If that doesn't sum me up in 160 characters or less, nothing will.

The Bat-tat.
I have a Batman tattoo. I regret nothing.

I've never really had a blog before, and I have to say, I'm kind of excited about it. And, because becoming a blogging sensation overnight seems grotesquely optimistic, I look forward to the two of you out there reading this. 
I read somewhere that blogs should have a purpose, something focused on one particular subject, same as tweeting about only one or two subjects so you will increase your Klout score. It would so happen, however, that I don't really care all that much, and I will probably have the rest of my life to write about one particular focused thing. 
So, here's the plan. I'm going to write what comes to mind. Hopefully they are helpful tips or funny stories or cool things I've discovered that I think someone somewhere would be better off knowing. Probably tips that I think of for other marketing interns, because I think of a lot of those while I'm working. That being said, this could devolve quickly into random thoughts, ideas, and glimpses into my mind, which is probably more similar to the average 19-year-old girl's than I would care to admit.

Here's a bit about me. With a couple pictures, because while I'm not on total agreement that a picture is worth 1000 words, I'm kinda a visual person. And I like pictures.

Twitter Reminder
I don't have any pictures of me at work. Just pictures of sticky notes that I write for myself. That might say something about how I work, but I'm not entirely sure what.

This particular one is because I do some of the social media for my internship, and I have this bad habit of getting an email from Twitter telling me that someone new is following me and being in a different twitter account when I thank them. Then I have to quickly delete that post, log out, log in, and then thank them in an account they're actually following.

Me and Vader
Me n' Vader.

Oh look! A picture of me and my favorite dark lord. He's more fun than Darkseid and Voldy in a room full of kittens!

On a side note, whoever thinks Walmart is pure evil doesn't fully appreciate the fact that they sell Darth Vader plushies. They had a Mario one too. I'm just saying.