My 30 Day Challenge Results
The last 30 days, I embarked on a 30 day challenge with four goals - here’s what I accomplished and what I learned.
1. No snooze button.
That’s right, 30 days with no snoozing! I have to admit, I agree with all the reports saying not snoozing makes you feel more awake during the day and makes for an easier morning. It’s also less stressful to not be trying to make up for lost time while getting ready or commuting to the office.
I wrote 26 blog posts during this challenge (and had images rounding out to 30+), and as a habit it’s had the effect of making me more conscious of what I think of what’s going on around me, and I also feel like it’s helped me improve my writing skills. As a bonus, as the habit has gotten more ingrained, it’s easier to think of what to write about and faster to write a post.
I’m training for a 5k in November and my first spring triathlon in February. After 30 days of consistent training (not running every day - there were some days my muscles were too sore or needed rest, but consistently making the effort), I am definitely in better shape. I’m not in marathon shape by any stretch, but running has gotten easier and I can run for longer stretches of time.
4. Eat Right
I’d been working on this one for about 3 weeks prior to my 30 day challenge, and now I can say it’s even more of a habit. I think more about what I’m eating and I pace myself more. I also make better swaps - for instance, skipping the burrito wrapper at Chipotle and instead getting a burrito bowl (which saves over 200 calories). I feel much better too, which is an added bonus.
Facebook Apps on Brand Pages Are Dead
Even though social media “gurus” are still pushing for more and more Facebook apps and tabs (and thus more programming fees they can charge), has the marketing tide turned against Facebook Apps?
Facebook apps are feeling a bit like MySpace in 2006… nice idea, but the only people still really trying to do it are just desperate for attention.
Oreo, the social media darling of 2013, has just 10 apps/tabs… nine of which appear to be targeted outside of the United States. Only one is meant for the US, and according to Graph stats, it has approximately 80 daily active users. 80. Our of Oreo’s 34,550,924 “Likes” on Facebook.
Which means that roughly 0.0002% of Oreo’s “Likes” used it (on the Daily Active count. Monthly active users of roughly 1,600 don’t do a better job of telling the story…).
Oreo’s not the only one: Coca-Cola, with over 75,000,000 fans, solicits “fan stories” on a Facebook app - garnering just 200 daily active users.
And with the recent Facebook Promotions Guidelines changes allowing for promotions to be run on updates in the news feed, using “Likes,” the death of Facebook apps seems even more imminent.
Is the problem that consumers aren’t engaging in apps, or that brands aren’t building compelling experiences? Either way, the tide has shifted against the app/tab and on to the news feed.
Six Life Lessons from Allegiant
Yesterday Allegiant came out - it’s the final book in the Divergent trilogy, and it’s fantastic. It’s got a lot of life lessons (thinly veiled, which is great for the demographic) and is an overall nice ending to the trilogy.
(Oh, and this is spoiler free for those who haven’t finished, but there is some definite foreshadowing in here. :) )
1. In the battle of nature vs. nurture, nurture wins.
The characters in Allegiant all find something out about the nature and genetic makeup. But what’s remarkable is that throughout the learnings on their genetic compositions, they stay true to how they were raised. Proving, like Dumbledore once said, “It’s our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
2. Courage comes in many forms, but whatever form it’s in, it’s never disposable.
Sometimes courage is staying where you are and opening your eyes to what’s around you. Or it’s fighting for what’s right. Or it’s taking a huge leap of faith or standing between people in an argument. Sometimes courage is simply continuing to live your life. But whichever form it takes, courage is essential to who we are.
3. Prejudices and stereotypes are incorrect.
Maybe they became stereotypes or prejudices form an ounce of truth, once. But important things, like what people are like, can never be extrapolated to the whole without shades of gray. Who in our world is treated like a GD? Who’s treated like a GP? And is that right? (Probably not)
4. What you know of IS your world.
What you know becomes your world. The more you know, the bigger your world gets. This argues for lots of reading and discovery. If you trap yourself into one city or one way of thinking, your world will be shaken when you discover what else is out there.
5. Forgiveness is a blessing you give yourself when you give it to others.
Some acts seem unforgivable. But when you forgive the person who committed the act, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities that would not have been there if you hadn’t forgiven the other person.
6. Be wary of anyone who thinks they know what’s best for everyone else.
Don’t trust anyone who believes that through one act, or through power being concentrated in the hands of one person, everything will be better for everyone else. It’s a small-scale dictatorship when it gets off the ground, and it’s not good for anyone.
October 22, 2013 at 8:04am
The Biggest Marketing Con of 2013
Marketing is known for deceptive practices, and perhaps the most despicable con job this year goes to:
AT&T and T-Mobile
Way to go, phone companies, way to go. Pats on the back all around. You have managed to position and market something that consumers ALREADY HAD!
What is this you ask?
Using these programs, they will finance the FULL COST of a device in nice, equal installments, so you feel like you’re getting a deal. Guess what? You can have a contract AND upgrade your phone at any time… if you pay full price.
So what these companies have managed to do is get you to pay more for the phone (and $10 more a month, in T-Mobile’s case) for what you used to get subsidized (on the cost of the first phone) and an activation fee (for the new phone).
The marketing genius of this is that consumers are now excited to pay more and generate more revenue for the companies. This is definitely the coup of the year, if not the coup of the century.
It also illustrates the power of positioning in marketing. When you tell people they can upgrade any time they want - they just have to pay full price for the device and then some fees, everyone feels “locked down.” But when you change the proposition to “not locking down” and “easy monthly payments” people are now happy to pay MORE than they previously were.
Well played, marketing. Well played.
What Gets Measured Gets Done
Want to change your life? Measure it.
Humans are innately data hungry - with all of the data surrounding us, we’re constantly looking at data for work and looking for feedback on all that we do. More and more tools are being developed to help monitor behavior and then make adjustments off of it.
So what to measure?
Fitbit helps measure steps and activity - and just the action of realizing how much (or how little) activity you’re undertaking, you can make changes to walk more. And Fitbit reinforces the small changes that slowly add up - like taking the more distant parking spot and walking.
Want to lose weight? Measure your caloric intake by keeping a food diary. Even just a week of tracking food intake can change your perspective on what a portion looks like and what you ingest on a normal day.
Look at other elements that can be measured, and then make goals to measure them. Just the act of monitoring and measuring can increase awareness and change behavior.
How to Get a Recruiter to Read Your Resume
You’ve applied to hundreds of job listings but not gotten any call backs. What’s going wrong? And what can you change to make things go right?
1. Use keywords from the job listing
More and more recruiters are using programmatic solutions for sifting through the multitudes of resumes. These programs are great for recruiters, but have limits when it comes to your resume. They can’t discern synonyms as well. So make sure to use some of the keywords from the job listing in the bullet points describing your past work experience.
2. Don’t overdo it on the keywords from job listings
It’s important to use the keywords to get past the first test of the computerized sorts, but recruiters are much better at telling when you’re essentially keyword-stuffing your resume. So make sure that everything is in moderation.
3. Be consistent with your bullet point structure
If you start each bullet point with a past-tense active verb, make sure to keep it that way. One bullet that starts with “Developed..” and the next one that says “Making” makes it look like less care was taken with writing the bullets.
4. Quantify everything
How many projects did you lead? What key points can you turn into stats without compromising confidential data? If a project was completed early, can you quantify the percent early it was? Or quantify an increased value to the company by having it done earlier? What else have you done? Stats give credibility to bullets and are essentially the “proof” of your bullets. Make sure you have the stats to tell the story.
5. (For students) Put your education history at the bottom
For most jobs these days, a college degree is table stakes. It’s important to note that you have one, but not so important it should be the first thing a potential employer notices about you.
6. Keep it to one page
You might have amazing accomplishments. But a one-page resume is an accomplishment of prioritization and understanding what is most important for a potential employer to know.
7. Avoid the fluff
Recruiters can spot fluff a mile away. So don’t waste their time by listing verbose career objectives that don’t actually mean anything. Quantify your bullets or even consider quantifying your objectives to make sure it’s not just business jargon in a Word doc.
8. Don’t highlight qualities you don’t want to do
Potential employers look at your previous qualifications and see opportunities to make use of your skills in their organizations. If there are responsibilities or projects you don’t want to be associated with again, don’t highlight it on your resume. Even if it’s not on the job description, things change and past experience could lead to new responsibilities.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to getting your resume off the reject pile! Good luck and happy job hunting!
October 16, 2013 at 8:03am
Humans vs. Computers: Securing Job Security
In Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise, he talks about chess and the ability of machines to make predictions against human abilities to make predictions, referencing Claude Shannon’s thoughts on programmatic needs for computer intelligence to beat humans.
Shannon saw four main advantages for computers:
1. The are very fast at making calculations.
2. They won’t make errors, unless the errors are encoded in the program.
3. They won’t get lazy and fail to fully analyze a position or all the possible moves.
4. They won’t play emotionally and become overconfident in an apparent winning position that might be squandered or grow despondent in a difficult one that might be salvaged.
This is a case where these four advantages of computers can turn into four diagnostics for jobs getting shipped overseas or sourced to a computer:
Does your job depend on making calculations quickly, with little room for judgement? If not already, in just a few years, there will undoubtedly be a machine that can make more calculations more quickly and more accurately than you.
In your work, are the options clear enough to have a computer easily compute a range of possible outcomes, along with the probability of each outcome coming to fruition? If so, it’s likely to become automated. After all, that is a key strength of computing.
Silver went on to cite Shannon’s thoughts on the advantages humans enjoy over computers.
Four distinctly human advantages:
1. Our minds are flexible, able to shift gears to solve a problem rather than follow a set of code.
2. We have the capacity for imagination.
3. We have the ability to reason.
4. We have the ability to learn.
Jobs that require the ability to quickly shift gears to problem solve will not be easily shipped to a computer. The same goes for imagination.
Reasoning is an interesting one. As artificial intelligence advances, so advances the ability for computers to probabilistically reason through a range of scenarios, meaning that reasoning left to humans will become increasingly complex and multi-faceted.
And finally, the ability to learn is more important than ever. Mental flexibility and the ability to pull from a wide range of sources and quickly reason through possible scenarios to pick the one to pursue is not a skill easily set to a machine. So if you’re looking for job security, look for what the machines can’t do.
When Analytics Go Wrong: Projecting Missing Data
It happens… the best laid plans of mice and men. You made an update to your analytics suite, and suddenly, your data is not coming through at all, or it’s not coming through accurately.
It’s fixed, but now you have a data gap. So what are the best ways of projecting the missing data?
If it’s a short time period for consistent data over a time period, projecting can be done by linear estimation - or simply drawing a line between the two points, adjusting so it fits the period of time that’s missing (hours or weeks or even months).
If the data collection is inaccurate but consistently inaccurate, normalize the data to match the pre (and/or) post inaccuracy data. Multiply it up or down by the factor it was off.
If you have some numbers that were consistent and just a few that were off, see if there are consistent conversion rates or ratios between the metrics being tracked. If the conversion rates are consistent, then use those to project back to what the numbers likely were.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to fix historical data when something goes wrong with analytics. But using the techniques above, you can approximate the missing history.
October 14, 2013 at 8:02am
Failure is Unacceptable
Frequently you hear about failure being the stepping stone to success, and that people learn more from their failures than their successes. This is absolutely true, but when is it unacceptable to fail?
It is unacceptable to fail when the failure results from carelessness. What types of failures are these?
- Failure to proofread, resulting in typos
- Failure to finish a task because you got distracted by Facebook or some other time-wasting site
- Failure to take others into consideration before making careless comments
- Failure to be polite
- Failure because the directions were clearly not followed
It’s not that no one ever makes these mistakes, but these are the types of failures that should be unacceptable to organizations and individuals. Success is a habit which comes from attention to detail.
Failure isn’t fatal, nor is it final. But when you fail, fail because you’re taking a chance on something new, or because things out of your control conspired. Don’t waste the lessons of failure on trivial matters.
Spaceship Earth at Epcot