Life Changing Books: Your Ultimate Reading List

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Looking for some life changing books? This reading list is going to get you on track to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I’m a big believer in the power of books. The answer to any and all of life’s problems lie between the pages of a book, it’s just a matter of finding the right book.

Top Three Life Changing Books

…For Improving Productivity

Life Changing Books - Getting Things done

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity makes productivity as straightforward as the title suggests. Allen’s system is flawless. This book is a must have in your library. Honestly, it’ll be the last book you’ll ever need for getting organized and staying productive.

The principle is simple, breaking those big goals into manageable tasks. Allen teaches how to break tasks down and how to order them so they get done in a neat, convenient way. I swear it’s impossible to fail using the tools outlined in this amazing book.

 

…For Keeping a Clean House

ILife Changing Books - magic of tidying upf you want to see what someone’s mind is like, look at their home.

Is yours cluttered? Messy? Disorganized? Most people want to have a clean home, but we do NOT want to spend our lives CLEANING. Right? That’s where the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing comes in. Kondo explains how to truly get organized once and for all.

Now, Kondo is passionate about tidying. It might take you a second to get past her hippy-dippy, almost spiritual approach to tidying. But there’s no better person to learn from about getting your home in order. Get ready to get your soul on fire about a neat and orderly home.

 

Life Changing Books - How to Win Friends

…For Improving Your Social Know-How

A forever classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People isn’t just for lonely people needing friends. This book will help you improve your connections with people in all areas of your life, from friends and family to business associates. There’s a lot of talk about emotional intelligence or social IQ these days, and this book is the original how-to guide to building those skills. It’s a very practical and intelligent approach to learning those necessary people skills.

Getting a Job Out of College

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Getting a job out of college is notoriously impossible. We live in an era where there are more college graduates than ever, yet entry-level jobs are harder to get. Don’t even get me started on the vicious cycle of employers asking for “experience” for an “entry-level position”. (Does no one see the paradox?!)

job out of college - student in bookshelves

Photo Credit –
Hamza –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/149902454@N08/

With some planning and preparation your can bulletproof your post-college life. There are steps you can take to jumpstart your career and avoid joining the mass of educated and unemployed.

Handy Dandy How to Guide to Getting a Job Out of College

Look at Job Listings for Recent Graduates

What you’re taught in college is often more theoretical than practical. You often learn about the big picture, but not the finer skills that go into an entry-level job. No one is hiring a 21 year old to tell them what direction the company needs to go! What skills are employers looking for? Jump on a few job board sites and research jobs you would like to apply for once you graduate. This will give you an idea of what things you need to make sure you learn to beat out the competition.

I can almost guarantee you’ll be surprised at how few things are taught in your core classes. For example, as a Finance student, I was never taught QuickBooks in any of my classes. Yet, nearly every entry-level position required some knowledge about it. Whoops!

Early on in your college career, I recommend writing up a “dream job description” based on your research. This will help you pick out the right elective classes that will help you reach your goal job out of college.

Internships

Intern, intern, intern. Get internships and apply for internships early on. A lot of students are often tempted to wait until “they know something about the industry” before getting involved. Don’t fall for that! Companies who ofter internships know you’re inexperienced. The point of an internship is to give you that experience. Maybe you don’t land that awesome internship your freshman or sophomore year, but always try. At the very least, it’ll get your name out there and in front of recruiters for later on. A word of warning though…99% of unpaid internships are either illegal or not worth your time. (Read more…)

Be Active On Campus

Get involved in something you can put on your resume. This will give employers something to ask you about other than your coursework and can help you create a resume that stands out from the next recent college graduate who took the same classes. If you can get involved in leadership over an organization on campus all the better. Employers love seeing go-getters.

Another great benefit of being involved on campus is the networking opportunities. Getting involved will give you more opportunities to meet other students, and especially more proactive, ambitious students. These friendships will greatly enrich your college experience and give you a better network to fall on when job searching.

bearded student - Internships

Photo Credit –
mer chau -https://www.flickr.com/photos/merchau/

Using Networking

Networking is THE hardest part of growing a career for a lot of people. Most aren’t even sure how to network. What you might not realize is you’re already networking, you simply aren’t using your network. Are you visiting your professor during office hours to ask questions? Do you go to events on campus? Has your aunt told you about someone who works in your field and suggested maybe you give them a call? All of that is networking.

Maybe we should stop calling networking, “networking” and call it “making friends”. That’s really what it’s all about is making connections with people. When you show you care about them, they’ll care about you and when you’re getting a job out of college, they’ll give you that leg up.

College offers especially unique opportunities for networking. You have access to highly educated experts known as professors. Take a little extra time to get to know them. Don’t overlook some of those non-tenured or adjunct professors. Unless you’re going into academia, those younger, non-tenured professors often still have a lot of connections to the (so-called) real-world. They may be able to help get you into that first job, you need only ask.

Many students don’t realize that at some point you will need a letter of recommendation or two, and a letter from a professor can carry a lot of weight in consideration for grad school or jobs. Take some time to discuss the material you’re learning in class with your professor. Unlike your high school basketball coach, who begrudgingly teaches algebra on the side…they’re interested in what they’re teaching. They’re a wealth of knowledge; get to know them.

Get Your Resume in Order and Top Notch

Your resume is often someone’s first introduction to you, so make a good impression. Your university should have a career services center or other department dedicated to helping students find work. See if they offer resume critiques or reviews. Spend time researching resumes for your industry online and apply techniques used to your own resume. If you can find someone in your industry to look at your resume even better.

While you’re in college (and for the rest of your life) review and update your resume and LinkedIn profile every semester or six months. You never know when a recruiter might be by or that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes knocking. Having a fresh, ready-to-go resume will be a lifesaver.

 

Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

Book Review: Lean In

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Lean In has been met with a bizarre amount of controversy. Often criticized as a book for “crazed feminists” or more wealthy or privileged women with advice unusable to those lower on the totem pole of business. But have these people read this book? Answer: Probably not. Let’s discuss.

What is Lean In?

Lean In is partially a memoir and partially a book of advice, it’s much like having advice from a mentor in book form. Sandburg makes her argument that if more women were in higher leadership positions that the workplace would have more gender equality. To do that, Sandberg outlines some of the pitfalls and issues women often come across in their careers and offers advice on how to navigate those challenges.

But I Don’t Have a Nanny or a Business Degree from Harvard!

Let’s address that. As far as the majority of us our concerned, Sandberg is at the top of the food chain. Many may be tempted to say, “Well, sure I’d be more (confident, assertive, influential, etc) if I had the (time, money, power, etc).” However, her advice covers scenarios that are universally faced by working women in any rank. From dealing with sexual harassment to pregnancy to being the only woman the room.

Who Should Read it?

If you are a woman or know a woman, this book is the read for you. While this book wasn’t marketed towards men,  men can gain a lot of insight from this book. Sandberg does a great job touching on the growing stay-at-home dad population and discusses how men as partners to women can help build gender equality in both the workplace and in the home.

Male managers can also glean insights and ideas on how to better promote and encourage women in their organization. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned in business and as Sandberg points out, sometimes organizations unwittingly shut down voices of women. This book ofter advice for both how women can make sure their voices are heard as well as draws attention to some practices that can discourage women.

 

Click to order Lean In off Amazon.com

Foundations of Great Email Marketing

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Ah, email marketing. Even the most die-hard of us marketers cringe a little when we think about email marketing. It has become equated with spam despite the CAN-SPAM act which we all uphold and revere…right?

However, email marketing isn’t completely dead and done. Email marketing is still a great tool that can have great results if applied correctly. Here are the foundations of a great email marketing campaign. Good luck!

Great Email Marketing 101

  1. Let your leads and customers know what they’re getting into
  2. When your lead knows they’re getting an email they’re less likely to have an adverse reaction to it. In your submission forms or really anytime, anywhere you collect email addresses fully inform your subscriber what they’re signing up for. Make sure you stay organized and don’t cross contaminate your lists. If you tell a user you’re going to notify them about events, notify them about events. What you don’t want to do is add them to any or all other subscription lists and start sending them every email you dream up.

  3. Use personalized information
  4. Many marketing email tools allow you to create and use personalizations in your email. The more you can tailor an email to the subscriber the more likely they are to open it. Now, the simplest of personalizations is including your subscribers first name…however there certainly are many more. Get creative, think about what information they want to see and see if you can generate more personal emails.

    A word to the wise, there is such thing as too much personalization. When drafting your emails make sure to consider what information your subscriber knows or remembers giving you and how you word your emails.

  5. Give value
  6. Don’t just send an email for the sake of sending an email. Give your subscriber something. This can be an offer, such as a discount or a free e-book. It can also be information…valuable information make sure the information is pertinent to them.

  7. Have a call-to-action
  8. Any marketer worth his or her bread and butter eats, sleeps and breathes CTAs. That is the true foundation of not only great email marketing, but great marketing period. They’ve opened the email, now what? If your reader doesn’t have a next step to take explicitly laid out within that email, that may be the last click they make on your site and ultimately towards making a purchase with you. Keep leads and customers clicking…always have a call-to-action.


Can I help you with your email marketing campaign? Contact me!

Reviews: Email Marketing Platforms

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Picking an email marketing platform is a heavy commitment. From correctly managing you contacts and list, to important email blasts, to successful lead nurturing…A LOT goes into creating solid email marketing campaigns.

Below are a handful of reviews of email marketing platforms I reviewed. As I tried out these various platforms I was looking for the following.

  • Workflows/Automations
  • Analytics
  • Easy to use and build email templates
  • Support availability

MailChimp

MailChimp is a classic in the email marketing world. It’s been around forever in Internetland. One thing they have gotten down is the WYSIWYG for building emails. It’s beautiful. It’s easy and works seamlessly. Analytics, bam! No problems there. You would think this is a DREAM of a email marketing machine right? These guys have been around long enough to get it right. Right?

All is fine and dandy until you pony up for MailChimp Pro to get access to automations. The automations are weak, confusing, and down right behind the times. Many other platforms have sleek flowcharts that give you a better visual representation of how emails are being directed. MailChimp? You create lists and within those lists you can create segments to then send to…and you have (incredibly) limited filters within the automation itself to help screen out those you don’t want to send to. Don’t even get me started on the confusion between the varying types of segments…it’s utter nonsense.

Support is exclusively email, but responsive. The longest I had to wait for help was a day; usually replies came even quicker.

Bottom line. MailChimp isn’t a total loss…if you’re only needing to do simple, basic automations and are mainly focused on email blasts with minor tailoring this set up is totally doable.

ActiveCampaign

This one was honestly my favorite. Magnificent automations. Quick template building. It had a very nice logical workflow and yes…solid analytics. My marketing team was thrilled at the opportunities and prospects this email marketing platform provided. But things went very, very wrong, very very fast.

Inevitably, we needed help from their support team. That two week period was where I learned a great product can quickly become a terrible product with inadequate support. When I submitted a ticket, it took eight days before I received a response…after I complained on day seven. It was an additional three days before the issue actually got resolved.

What made things scarier is when we tried to work with their API and ran into some issues, their developer support requested unfettered access to our website. Which, in the 21st century and especially for a purely online business…no website, no money. You don’t just hand over those keys to anyone. When we refused to give them access to our website (duh) they refused to help us resolve the issue. Full stop to our work. We ended up canceling the next week.

GetResponse

GetResponse in a word is glitchy. Can it work? Probably? Will you need to exercise some patience with the program. It does have the nice workflows with a flowchart display…but it isn’t very intuitive on how to set them up with the correct email/email templates.

Drafting emails in GetResponse is a delicate art. I found that upon refreshing the screen mid-design (something froze) all of my work on that email was completely gone. Really.

HubSpot

You may have thought there was nothing good to say about HubSpot since Daniel Lyons hates them, but I daresay a lot has changed in the last year. You read that right, within a year. Don’t get me wrong, HubSpot is pretty pricey and to really get the most out of it having a developer that really knows his/her stuff is important. However, their new automation workflows are super slick and it’s super easy to create highly personal emails to potential leads.

HubSpot probably has the largest library of support articles out there and if that isn’t enough, their support team is very responsive and goes the extra mile.

Book Review: Disrupted

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Disrupted is a lightweight exposè on the tech start up world. Lyons, after an unfortunate layoff after years of work as a journalist finds himself work at HubSpot, a marketing software company. Lyons quickly finds himself as a bit on an odd duck as a middle aged man in a sea of Millennials. He has only one question on his first day of work…who is his boss and who’s really running this circus?

Disrupted is mainly a light read of a memoir and turns into a bit of a whine fest halfway through. He hates his job and everyone around him. If you enjoy a good Millennial bashing session, you’ll really love this read.

What We Learn About the Start Up Tech Industry

As he discovers, college students and recent college graduates are the slave cheap labor of the tech start up world. They supply their labor force with unpaid interns and underpaid college graduates. The hope is among the masses of starving young adults they’ll find a handful of “stars” or undiscovered geniuses. In the mean time, keep the placated with promises of good things to come and make them feel special and important.

…and HubSpot

No question, HubSpot as depicted is an absolute zoo. In a twisted way this is kind of inspiring, because if a company can grow that much running as efficiently as a chicken with it’s head cut off, then anyone can grow up to be the CEO of a tech company.

Final Thoughts

Overall the book is mainly for entertainment purposes…and excels. You may even see a little of a company you once worked at (or are currently working at…poor you) in his narrative. If you’re looking for a chance to sit down with a beer and a friend and have a “one time I had this boss…” story exchange this book definitely fits the bill. The drama and issues presented in this book will likely resonate with anyone that’s come within a 20 mile radius of a tech company.

 
Click to order Disrupted from Amazon.com
 

 

The Power of YOU in Marketing Content

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Rule numero uno in marketing…don’t talk about yourself. Drop all and any words like, “I” and “me” and “myself”. Why?

When you’re blogging as a marketer, you want your visitor (or potential lead) to see THEMSELVES carrying out an action. You want to them to see themselves participating in this interaction with you or your business. “I” and “me” language comes off as you being a solo act. They’re simply an observer and far less likely to click further through your website. Using “you” language puts your potential lead right in the driver’s seat.

Let’s read some samples. Pay careful attention to how you feel about each section.

When I am cooking chicken, I find that using a lower heat and covering my pan helps keep the moisture in and helps me to be sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Next section, using YOU.

As you cook chicken, you’ll find that using a lower heat and a covered pan will help you keep moisture in and help you to be sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Something about that second section was a lot more pleasant right? You might have noticed yourself being a lot more interested in what was being said in the second section. Why? Because YOU were a participant in story being told. Reading things like “I” and “me” will leaves you standing awkwardly as an outsider. It’s a lot like getting stuck having to listen to someone talk about their lovely vacation that you didn’t go on.

When Marketing Gone Wrong…Goes Right

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When you were a kid…were you more the type that was in awe of the brilliance of a marketing campaign than what the campaign actually advertised? Well, Reese’s made me feel all that warm, giggly admiration all over again…and it started with a little faux pas.

Reese’s has their annual Christmas tree-shaped candy…except it doesn’t look like a tree. At all. Quite frankly you might be wondering if it is a turd…(see the pictures.)

Reese’s response? Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

 

There are many more of these images kind of images, but in short, if you’ve ever had to wade through as many body-positive messages and images as I have…you have to admit this was a pretty funny take on it and a pretty good jab at those people so distraught by the lack of ideal tree shapeliness that they took to social media to share their #firstworldproblems.

Well done Reese’s PR and marketing teams. Well done.

A Day in the Life of a Professional Blogger

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Me: Here’s that blog post you ordered!

Client: Great! *reads post* Now make it funny. Come up with something funny.

Me: *bangs head against wall* something funny…something funny…something funny…

This is probably the hardest part about being a writer, saying something funny on demand. It’s so easy to be clever and creative when no one is looking…

Now you’re looking.

I can’t think of anything to write.

*stares awkwardly*

See you all next week!

The Fearless Idiot

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How did you like the title of this post? I’m thinking about using it for my autobiography one day.

There’s a lot of life that is about “getting ready” or “preparing”. There’s a lot of “getting ready” to be done. However, at some point you need to jump in.

I realized that was a big issue with my goals right now. I stare at a goal, and say, “Almost…but I’m not ready to doBook Pages it yet.” You need more experience. You need more practice. You need to read one more book on the subject…

The fact is, you’re NEVER ready. You never know everything you ever need to know before you take on your first job in a new career. You never know everything you need to know before you get married. When you’re handed your college diploma you are not the most education, most experienced individual on that subject. That’s just the start of it all.

Learning and gaining experience can only be achieved by doing. At some point you just have to stick your neck out and go for it. We’re just not born with that much inherit knowledge.

Do you have something you’re shying away from doing? How are you conquering the uncertainty? Let’s hear it!