Why We Should ALWAYS Make Time For Our Friends

This past week I went to Phoenix on business.

One of my friends from the Disney College Program lives in Phoenix, and this was my chance to see her again after a one-year hiatus.

I did see her in Vegas, but that was like a blur, and we were so busy I didn’t get to talk with her too much.

But not this time.

Despite living an hour away she drove to see me–how lucky am I? We went downtown to Phoenix and while we didn’t even do anything too crazy it was still so much fun to see her again.

We both have this dry sense of humor so around every turn there was yet another hilarious comment being made by either one of us.

It didn’t take long to slip back into our comfort zones. In fact, I was in my comfort zone the whole damn time.

As I walked around the city with her I got this odd feeling that this must be what life is all about. I used to be so shy, so secluded, and never made much effort to see my friends even when I was near them.

I’ve been blessed because I think I’m the only one of the infamous 2909 Disney group that’s been able to visit pretty much everyone over the past year.

My friend in Phoenix and my best friend in San Francisco have a hard time seeing anyone because the rest of us are on the East Coast. That’s definitely understandable.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m so thankful for that. I’ve wanted to put my friends higher on my priority list lately, and it’s nice to see that happening.

Our friends are everything. It’s not easy to find a great friend. Sure, meeting people is easy, but finding a friend that will do anything to see you? That’s rare.

That’s why we should ALWAYS make time to see our friends.

Confessions Of A Recent College Grad: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

I do email marketing for my company’s clients.

I sent out an email yesterday with a massive typo, and now my boss is reaming me out for it. Oh well.

But here’s the bigger probem: I have no freaking clue what I’m doing.

I honestly don’t. I went to college for marketing and now pay god know what back because of it, but many times I feel I don’t know how to actually market.

My belief has always been that marketing, above all else, needs to be awesome, but that’s for another post.

In a broader sense, I many times don’t know what I’m doing, and often feel insecure because of it.

First off, I stumbled into working in IT marketing despite not knowing a damn thing about it. I thought I knew what “IT” was because I worked with a lot of tech companies/startups to write up their marketing materials (copywriting).

But I made the mistake of thinking “IT” was the same as like, say, coding an application or developing the next cool product. And by the time I realized that, I was already knee deep in this job.

Many times when I’m on the phone with our clients I feel clueless as to what to say. Now, you’d never guess this because I’ve developed some pretty good telephone-talking skills, but half the time I’m panicking in my mind.

That’s my shy side coming out.

And don’t even get me started on the emails. I can only write an email that I think would be fun to read, but getting the client to sign off on it is nearly impossible, because the client is still on the train to boredom town.

I’ve begun to sign up for webinars and emails about how to do email marketing, because, once again, I have no clue.

It’s really started to stress me out lately.

Multiply that by the fact that I’m currently on an all-expense(and I mean EXPENSE as in EXPENSIVE)-paid-trip to learn about the software that I use, and you can see that I’m really starting to freak out.

I feel like I can’t keep the facade up for too much longer. Inevitably, they’re going to see that I can’t handle it, and that I don’t have any idea.

This theme has stuck with me since graduating college. I once ran out of a job on the first day (like, quit, without telling him) because I thought that I would most certainly be a waste of his money.

And then I got into writing. I became a journalist at the Inquisitr, where I got let go a few months later because I just wasn’t grasping SEO (I still don’t, that shit is COMPLEX).

How did I get these jobs you say? I wrote well. I turned some heads because of my writing, but the recurring problem is that I have yet to master some of the aspects that come along with writing.

Failures, failures everywhere.

Which gets me back to my original point: I’m floating around a year after graduation with no clue of what I’m doing.

What’s the message here? What’s the happy ending? I’ve written a pretty depressing story, I know.

Well, here it is.

A few years back I worked for a mowing company. We operated big ass machinery, and during my first year I made every mistake in the book.

I burned lawns, scalped hills, broke blowers, blew grass in the mulch, and basically was a general {insert curse word here} up.

I got yelled at, and many times felt insecure.

I always hated making mistakes. I just wanted to do right for my boss, not be a pain in his ass. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

BUT.

I came back the next summer and improved dramatically. I learned that you need to stay away from hitting small bumps in the lawn. I learned that you can put a flap down on the mower to stop grass from blowing everywhere. I learned that you can’t just turn on a dime because the rotation of the wheel will leave a big burn mark in the lawn.

And you thought mowing lawns was easy. It’s really not.

The conclusion is that through our failures we get better. But what about the part of me that freaking hates failure? That cringes every time my boss finds something wrong in what I’m doing?

Just shake it off, I guess. I’m sure many reading this may have felt the same way at one point. Don’t catastrophize (pretty cool word, huh?) it. If they fire you, they fire you. That’s on them.

All you can do is try to spot the wave and catch it. Learn. Improve. Grow. That’s it. If you didn’t grow fast enough, then get another job, and now you have all these failures and learning experiences to take into the next one. You’re better.

Something remarkable happens when you start thinking this way. It takes your mind off of failure and things oddly start to work out.

You’re going to fail. You’re going to have shitty days. Things are going to backfire. They may backfire every day. Just learn. We’re not a good or bad person because of what happens at work.

Thanks for reading guys, and don’t afraid to be clueless, like me.

How To Avoid Burnout As A Freelancer (Or In General)

If you’re like me, your mind never stops working.

My brain bounces from thought to thought like a game of pinball. First it’s about work, then it’s about my dire hunger, then it’s about that time I messed up a handshake with that one guy.

Couple my scattered mind with the fact that I spend copious hours staring at a computer screen all day, and you have a pretty severe case of burnout-opia just waiting to pounce.

There’s just always something waiting in the queue of my mind for my subconscious to mull over next. It’s like a conveyor belt for thoughts.

Luckily I’ve learned a few tricks for stopping burnout in its tracks, and trust me–they’re revo-freaking-lutionary.

Step 1 – Excercise, darn it

Yeah, this is a simple one, but oh boy can it change a bad day to a good one quick. Imagine fifteen minutes of your day where you aren’t staring at a screen. Imagine giving your eyes a break to gaze at trees, nice houses, and smiling neighbors on a quick run? You don’t even need to kill yourself on the run either, just make it enjoyable.

Step 2 – Leave work at work

As a freelancer it’s tough to not check my emails 24/7. This is my biggest flaw, and it’s also the biggest culprit of burnout. Stick to a schedule, and don’t worry about work–even if you feel like the world is going to burn down while you’re off.

Step 3 – Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Taking on too much work will stress you out. You don’t need to be working 12 hour days. You don’t need to take on so many things. If you need to, just tell a few of your clients that you can’t work with them anymore. They’ll understand, and they’ll appreciate the transparency.

Step 4 – Get around people

Hanging out with friends–even for 30 minutes–is like hitting the reset button on your thoughts. The goal is to get your brain to forget about work, and being around people will accomplish this easily.

Step 5 – Don’t feel guilty for relaxing

I feel guilty when I watch movies sometimes. I feel I could be doing so many other, more productive things. Get in the habit of saying “screw it” when these thoughts come up. Not everyone might have a problem with this, but for those that do, keep this in mind.

I hope these tips can help you whether you’re a freelancer or just someone who feels a little stressed. Thanks for reading guys! If you liked the post, comment below so I can meet you!

 

Post-Grad Survival Guide: Don’t Limit Yourself

When I graduated school I had one goal in mind: To make $15/hour.

That’s $600/week, and $31,200/year. Before taxes. Just to be clear with ya’ll, my degree must’ve cost me twice that amount of money.

I make that amount now through freelancing, and it just dawned on me that I’m making that because I put a limit on myself. Why didn’t I think bigger? It’s probably because I didn’t think I was worth $20/hour or something. My bar was $15/hour, and I’ve reached it.

One of the things I’ve learned is that whatever you think your worth is what you’ll make. Whatever position you think your worth, you’ll get. It’s that simple.

So don’t be sheepish.

Dream big, work hard, and you’ll end up getting exactly what you want.

Don’t limit yourself.

How To Write Words: A Comprehensive Guide For Those Who Don’t Have A Clue

There’s no secret to writing. Get rid of words you don’t need, talk like a human being, and think about what you’re writing beforehand.

It’s literally that simple. Write like you talk. Use active verbs. Get rid of adverbs and adjectives. Short, succinct sentences are king in this land.

That’s it people. Stop looking at writing like this lost art that only a select few have mastered. There was no ancient scroll passed down from the Gods to men. Capiche?

On another note, let’s take a look at why contractions are awesome.

Ahem.

Which one would you say to your friends?

“Let us go to the swimming pool because it is too hot and we should not stay inside all day.”

“Let’s go to the swimming pool because it’s too hot and we shouln’t stay inside all day.”

My goodness. If robots do takeover, and there’s strong evidence suggesting that’ll happen, then the first sentence is a likely representation of how they might communicate.

Lifeless. Boring. Not fun to read.

Isn’t that one of the point of words in the first place? To be FUN?

Words can either be the salt and pepper to our lives or the cold, dry piece of minced meat your blind grandmother gives you at dinner. It breaks my heart just thinking about it.

As writers, we should be excited to sit down and write words. It’s fun. The paper doesn’t fight back. The paper doesn’t tell you that you shouldn’t use contractions. The paper doesn’t give a flying falafel who the target audience is.

For God’s sakes people, be yourself, okay? That’s how you write. You don’t write by making sure every comma is in its place, and that there is there’s no contractions. You’re focusing on the wrong things.

Focus on how it makes you feel. I don’t care if it’s a jumbled mess of letters, fragments, and god-awful penalties of grammar. Make me feel something. That’s how you write.

My last piece of advice is for those in school. You know why you aren’t getting A’s on your paper? It’s not just because of your grammar, or because your points don’t exactly line up with your thesis.

Try this. Write it with some passion. I don’t care if you’re writing about the science behind paint drying (ugh, that sounds horrible). You just might reach the human inside your teacher. The human that gets excited when somebody else is excited, and suddenly grades the paper through that perspective instead of a bored, robotic teacher working into the late hours of the night.

Try that. Write to inspire, to excite, to feel alive.

The Story About My Resume Gaff

It was my junior year, I needed to get a job, and I was determined to find one.

I decided I would go to a job fair fifteen minutes away, and being the crazy person I am I researched the hell out of it before. I knew which companies I’d talk to, the story behind those companies, and the contacts I’d see at the event.

I wrote pages of notes.

I was so ready–until I got in my car to drive there. I got nervous, and when I got to the big auditorium I was intimidated. All these other business professionals were in their suits walking around, smiling, networking.

I started walking around the room. “Here’s the one you want, Tom,” I said in my head as I came up to the one company that caught my eye from my research. But, like the awesome networking professional that I am, I walked right past them.

I made more laps around that room than a Nascar driver, and just as the beads of sweat started to fall off my face into my eyes, I left the room.

My goodness, what was wrong with me? “They’re just people!” I thought. I guess I was just scared to get turned down.

The business world always seemed so fake to me, and it was in those moments that I realized the professional atmosphere wasn’t for me. I had gone to school to do something I was now realizing I didn’t want to do. My problem with it wasn’t the work itself–it was the idea that we act like something we’re not in the office all in the name of maintaining “professionalism.” It’s a show.

Whatever. I got back in the room, set my sites on one of the companies I liked, then introduced myself. After handing the woman my resume I saw a sour look shoot across her face. “What is it now?” I thought.

“Umm, I hate to be the one to show this to you, but you have a spelling error on here,” she said.

Literally. The. One. Thing.

I was devastated, obviously. How could I research the heck out of an event and forget to spell check my own resume? I was never one for details.

I walked directly out of the event, got in my car, and swore that I was going to start my own business one day.

Do any of you have any embarrasing professional tales? Feel free to share them below–I doubt it can get any worse than this.

 

 

Why College Is Becoming Obselete

I learn through Google searches. Anything I want to know can easily be found in a matter of seconds. I can become (pretty much) an expert in something overnight. It’s truly an INSANE new world we live in.

Don’t know how to change your oil? Youtube it.

You’ll be getting grease on your hands in ten minutes.

We live in a world where knowledge is just seconds away. Why go to college if this is the case? I was never taught about copywriting, blogging, or journalism in school and yet I get paid to do all three of those things now. Know where I learned how to write? The internet. My own research. Books.

Reading Strunk and White was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as a writer. What I’m saying is that I spent upwards of 60k for a degree and I’m not using it. My own accomplishments thus far are more impressive to clients than a degree.

But what about those who are studying medicine? True, these people do need college, however much of what they learn in school can be learned on the internet and in books. It’s only when they have to learn how to suture or put in an IV that they need to actually be in a classroom setting to experiment.

People probably won’t agree with me, and that’s fine! In a classroom setting you do get to have discussion, be corrected by a teacher who knows what they’re talking about, and physically practice things if that’s typical of your major.

However can’t we do these things on internet forums? There’s plenty of thought leaders on the internet that are even more proficient than a professor in certain topics. Not to mention that half the kids in your class don’t even want to be there. On forums everybody is there because they enjoy it.

I don’t know, I could be extremely naive, but I could’ve learned everything I learned in college about marketing through a google search, and that really sucks, doesn’t it?

I could’ve taken it a step further by constantly looking in the news for new marketing trends and pondering why that certain video went viral.

Here’s my biggest argument, though: we learn by doing. We learn by failing. I’ve learned how to write well by doing it and failing at it day in and day out. Do you think all my clients were happy with my work? I made a lot of mistakes early on that made me a lot better today.

There’s no involvement in college. There’s no DOING.

In college you’re learning by just sitting there most of the time. It’s honestly a horrible way to go about it. Why can’t teachers involve us more?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

There’s a part of me that thinks colleges will never actually go obselete–that there’s always going to be value in that piece of paper you get at graduation. But the reason why it’s valuable is because the job world values it.

It’s difficult to measure how smart someone is if they don’t have something that’s a benchmark for that. A degree shows you’ve gone to school for four years. If you don’t have one it’s tough to show how much you know about something. But why does a degree show you know something? Just because you went to school for four years doesn’t mean you’re valuable. You could’ve been sleeping the whole time.

I don’t know. My main argument is that anything you learn in college you can now learn on your own. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but in my experience I’ve learned way more on the internet than at college.