Category Archives: career

I never stop writing

I have not published much here in recent years. I never stopped writing, I just wouldn’t publish. I was mainly concerned about protecting my husband’s privacy, even when we were merely dating.

One thing my husband has consistently says to me when I ask, “What do you think I should do?” is “write!” Today, I want to write about and actually publish a couple of thoughts that have really improved my outlook lately.

First, in light of the sad passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington this year, I just felt so sad. So much talent wasted. Why would these two artists who I respect and treasure so much feel their only option was suicide?! My friend Lauren expressed how their passing reminds us to find our joy — not happiness in money, fame, or “unbelievable talent” — but the joy that comes from a still, small voice inside. Whatever your joy is, I want you to have it.

Second, my amazing friend Heather called me to tell me that God’s timing is at work in my life. I believe she said, “God’s timing started in this [difficult situation], and He will also finish it.” Whatever you believe should give you hope. I believe that the journey I am on will move next to a hopeful outcome.

My first job out of college was editing a magazine. I remember the issue when we switched production companies from a small time, one-man operation to a slightly larger shop that did all the photo scanning and layout. We had two full-page photos mapped for black and white pages. (Yes, the publisher was too cheap to pay for full-color pages throughout the magazine! Likewise, I was making roughly minimum wage + a dollar, with a college degree.) At some point, someone recognized that the two black and white photos for a particular article were possibly switched during production of this issue. The error could have happened during photography, while the author was writing the article, when I labeled and submitted the content to the production company, or anytime at the production company. I’ve always believed that the mistake was on me — it’s kept me humble since then.

I’ve gone through triumphs and failures. I’ve had highs and lows that were totally circumstantial. A lot of my career has been in the software industry, which hasn’t been super stable outside of the Silicon Valley.

Maybe if I could go back to that first job, I would. I wrote, but I also did so many other things I was not trained or prepared to do. Maybe I’m hoping my next professional journey will be just as scary — I want to embrace new things in light of all my experience while learning from others who have magnificent experiences.

The Great Clean-up of 2016 continues

Some efforts deserve to be documented! After a pretty successful massive purge of my clothes, I knew I’d continue the momentum. My home office became my target this week because my chiropractor suggested that a more ergonomic set up would help alleviate some chronic pain I’ve been having since 2006.

While I was addressing my desk situation with a trip to Ikea, my husband said that while I’m at it what I needed to do was get rid of the janky cabinet the printer is on.

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Here is the janky cabinet, complete with piles of junk on and around it because it was too unorganized and full to put anything else inside.

Here’s my BEFORE shot of the office:

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Here is the AFTER shot, which is much nicer because all the crap is now organized and in its place:

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Similar to my closet clean-up, I ended up with a huge pile of old papers to be recycled. I feel great! I’m not a tidy person, but because I work from home I’m afraid that I’m even less neat or organized! Having a nice office helps morale and reduces distractions. Thinking about how happy I am in this office makes me grateful that I’m not working at a crappy start-up in a tiny cubical. Home sweet home is office sweet office!

What will be next in my year of the purge? The kitchen and my bathroom are tentative options.

 

True or False: Introvert edition

My husband busts on me a little bit about being introverted, but mostly because he, like many people, doesn’t quite understand what introversion is and isn’t. I can’t blame anybody for that, because I didn’t quite get it myself until I was in my mid-20s.

When I take personality tests, I rate right down the middle between introvert and extrovert. I suppose I’m an outgoing introvert. For people who don’t really get what “introvert” means, an “outgoing introvert” must sound like a contradiction, which is the first FALSE I can think of. Being an introvert means that I recharge my battery being alone, or being alone with one person who I’m close enough to that we can either talk or not talk and feel comfortable. I can even recharge with a group of people like my close family or very close friends. Once I had breakfast at a busy restaurant with four friends and felt utterly rejuvenated: At the time I said to my friends that being with them felt like coming home.

I read an interesting article tonight about ways to love an introvert. I agree with a lot of it and would call those points true, but first I have to pick apart what I think is false. I mean, the second sentence is complete rubbish:

Where extroverts are social creatures, introverts are most certainly not.

The author wrote a sloppy introduction to an otherwise pretty spot-on article, and if I were his editor I would have red-flagged this and asked for clarification. Saying that extroverts are social and introverts are “most certainly not” is essentially saying that introverts are anti-social. FALSE. I am most certainly social and introverted. In some situations, I feel socially awkward, mostly because these days I worry about not meeting my husband’s expectations. I genuinely enjoy getting to know people; I’m very interested in knowing more about my people. One TRUE thing about the Lifehacker article, in which the author totally contradicts his statement I’ve quoted above is:

If you label introverts as [shy or anti-social], then you obviously don’t understand them …. Most introverts love to meet people. It’s just that while extroverts enjoy small talk, introverts would rather discuss deeper issues in a more intimate setting.

Last weekend, we went to a party … actually we went to two parties in a row! At the first party, I knew exactly four people — the hostess-slash-guest of honor, her husband, my husband, and a guy I’ve met once. At one point, the three guys took off to do something manly or carry heavy things, and I was left alone at a table with a youngster. She was pretty clearly feeling awkward, and I was sitting there telling myself, “You’re the adult, start talking to this kid! Why don’t you know what to say to her? It’s your responsibility to put this girl at ease. What should you say?? Think, think, think … how do you break the ice with an 8-year-old you’ve just met?” Eventually, I had the idea to bring up the universal topic of food! That broke the ice and we were soon friends, but those few minutes have lingered in my mind. With that in mind, I think the following is mostly TRUE:

Don’t leave them hanging at a social event.

Writing this has helped me realize so much about how I need to communicate with my husband! Yay! And I happily call one last point from the article very TRUE:

Explain how you perceive the world differently …. Introverts love to listen, so why don’t you tell us all about it? We would both benefit if we learned from each other.

At the party last weekend, the husband-of-honor told me that he holds back around me because I’m an introvert. FALSE. I’m not scared of people or different personalities or extroverts. I process internally, and perhaps to some slowly, but I still want to know you.

WHAT UP 2015!?!?

I’m doing it: 2014 retrospective! Sorry so sappy, but my blog is nothing but trying to reinforce lessons I’ve learned, process life, and sort my thoughts. Meanwhile, a bit of a show I’m re- re- re- re- re-watching on Netflix struck me as a great theme for the thoughts of last year and aspirations for next! From an episode of Gilmore Girls:

Lorelai: Wait, wait. Look around for a second. Notice?
Rory: Notice what?
Lorelai: It’s not so scary anymore.
Rory: No, it’s not.

Pretty much everything I’ve ever been anxious about worth being anxious about includes that moment of realization that “this isn’t so scary anymore.”

In chronological order of things to be scared of this year:

  • I left a great job for another great job. A few months later, I was laid off.
  • I got engaged!
  • I planned a wedding! Although it wasn’t perfect, it was a blast. I have family and friends who made everything happen, and I love those folks overwhelmingly.
  • I got married!
  • I have an exciting career opportunity!

I wrote a little bit about my wedding, but that was a combination of trying to edit my disappointment while emphasizing the most positive parts. Meanwhile, our experiences and memories were a little different.

I met some fantastic people this year. People who I’ve known and loved had gone above and beyond for me. My husband is a rock star, in more ways than one. 2014 was good for us, but I am convinced 2015 will be much better!

Selling it!

Way too much of my brain has been focused on lead generation for too long! I find myself continuing to struggle with maintaining a branding mindset, which is odd because my passion for marketing is actually more branding than lead gen! I guess shifting between the marketing languages one speaks is like shifting between any other languages one knows.

If I knew of anything I could so easily sell right now, it’s getting a massage. And the power of sound-proofing. And the wonders of clean sheets. And the glee of being engaged.

I had the best massage yesterday. I can’t recommend Julie Burkhart enough! We worked together years ago, and I loved her so much. She was a nail tech with an awesome sense of humor and great attitude, and I was a naive esthetician thinking that every esthetician was in the business for the same reason I was — to help people. Julie has been a massage therapist since then, and wow does she have the touch! Unlike many massage therapists I’ve had, she does not skimp on the reflexology on the hands and feet, nor does she torture the legs with excessive pressure to the shins. She was not afraid to dig into serious problem areas, AKA my softball-sized left shoulder knot that has been festering since the beginning of January. If you ever need excellent help from a genuine therapist, ask me for Julie’s details!

I’m wearing my Fitbit again after losing the case for it that clips onto my clothes. If I could sell a pedometer to anyone, I would tell you how informative it is to at least know how much you move around and, likewise, how much you don’t. The sleep tracking of the Fitbit is also really informative.

Parenthetically, one of the great things about having a fiancé is that he reaches all the tall stuff for me! Seriously though, I love coming home to him every day. I enjoy being engaged more than I thought possible! Everything is different, but I can’t explain it.  Perhaps it’s our new home, or learning new communication techniques, or just spending more time together. Note to self: Get engaged to Jeff every time you can. He is endearing.

This week in my Year of Life Changes

This week, I left a great job with people I really loved. I really meant to be cool, but I got emotional saying goodbye. People I really respect and admire made effort to compliment me or wish me well, and that overwhelmed me a little bit.

Then I started a new job! I’m so jazzed about this job, I literally can’t sleep for the buzz in my brain about it. I’d been having anxiety dreams about showing up to the new gig and them not knowing who I am. Luckily, I showed up and they said, “Hi, Ashley! We’re so happy you’re here!” I work with several very nice people, and I’m thrilled to be there. I am excited — out of my head excited — for this opportunity.

Packing for a move

Packing for a move

To round out my Year of Life Changes, I started packing today for my move in early March. My boyfriend took me to Sam’s Club so he could get gas and I could order new tires for my  car (even more changes!). He didn’t get gas, and we ended up not ordering tires from the store, but he ordered the  tires on his iPhone app. Not to waste a trip, I managed to find several things I couldn’t live without. I found moving boxes to get me started. Then I found a bunch of other stuff that I couldn’t live without. And a sweater.

Parenthetically, Sam’s Club offers a Soda Stream starter kit for $60 with two 2-liter containers. The same kit goes for $113 at Macy’s, which was on sale last weekend for $99. Should future Ashley still be in the market for a Soda Stream, go to Sam’s!

Packing. Ugh, I don’t love it. I’ve been covered in dust for hours, but I have cleared a good chunk of my bookshelves. I have a ton of breakables that I question moving or giving away. I have a ton of clothes and DVDs that need the same examination.

My mom offered to help pack, which would be awesome, but she isn’t supposed to lift more than five pounds or bend over. I worry about her pushing her boundaries if she’s packing my stuff all alone. Although, I have a lot of breakables, and if I had constructed boxes and packing material, perhaps she could wrap up the breakables. I could keep at the boxes and clothes, and maybe Mom could do the delicates!

Just today’s thoughts.

photo credit: Betsssssy via photopin cc

Why I write

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”

― Joss Whedon

I write for an audience of one: Me. OK, professionally, I write for the audience that I’m paid to write for, but the most rewarding stuff to write is my own blog. If anything I write encourages, edifies, or blesses you, I’m blessed to be a blessing. But I write for and about my own edification. It gives me strength. It helps me explore what I’m afraid of. It helps me articulate thoughts and feelings to myself. I’m best served by being honest with myself, and writing helps me do that.

These days, I’m writing to help me explore all the things I’m afraid of, and hopefully, to give myself strength! Also, I’m slightly hoping that Hogwarts will finally get wind of me and send me an owl with registration information.

I’ve been writing about change a lot lately. So much change! I’m moving. I’m starting a really exciting new job and leaving a job I really love. In the romance department, I think it’s fair to say some changes are coming. According to a report from my Pookie, my hand has been formally requested in marriage. That’s a pretty big change, right?! Also, I’m moving.

I’m tired just writing about it.

I had a big philosophical post in mind with an analogy that explains my recent career journey, but I was lucky enough to talk it through with my Mister, and I feel pretty okay about it without writing about. For now.

At the end of the day, the voice in my head is my college roommate’s: She told me not to believe the lies I tell myself. These lies are ones that other people — who don’t know me — have told me that I eventually accepted. A great career lesson is to explain your experience and clearly identify the career you want. Taking a job because you like the people isn’t enough. The greatest opportunity for success is when your employer knows your experience and expertise, and you know what your employer wants and needs.

Change is so scary for me that even writing about it has been terrifying. But I must write. I publish a small fraction of what I write, but in my recent experience, I write to give myself strength.

EDIT: I cancelled an upcoming face-to-face interview for Monday. When an employer doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want to hire, you don’t have a clear path to success.

Embrace

Change — even change for the good — is challenging. I face a lot of exciting, terrifying, thrilling, scary, happy, major change this year. Respectively, I am excited, terrified, thrilled, scared, happy, and out-of-my-mind anxious about it all. A friend of mine used to tell me to “surrender” to difficult situations, but recently a friend suggested a motto for 2014: Embrace.

The change in attitude may be subtle, but “embrace” is so much more positive than “surrender.” I get that we all experience situations in which change feels like ocean waves that roll over us. Those are experiences for surrender — hold your breath and duck. But some, if not many, situations are better when we don’t merely duck, but instead plant our feet, turn toward the tide, and lean in.

“Lean in” or “embrace” is a motto I want to adopt this year, but my initial challenge is choosing the particular wave to embrace or lean into. I’m trying to get my proverbial ducks in a row, but I find myself quite distracted by Downton Abbey. 🙂

I’m working on a new website with a new portfolio. My personal blog will have to stay personal — I have to stay true to my audience of one: Future Ashley. But I will incorporate a new design and new portfolio into the new site.

Doing the unimaginable

During the last 18 months or so, I’ve really enjoyed a new professional challenge that I’ve nicknamed “Think Big.” After four years at a technology startup, I’m still retraining myself to think big instead of focusing on finding free resources. The difference in the mindset probably seems subtle, but I try to approach everything the way my friend, who was part of an improv group, told me they think: Always say yes! Actually, she told me “always say ‘yes, and…'” Instead of worrying about how to get by with a little, I push myself to think big! I want to do the unimaginable!

I think I was late to realize that Baylor football coach Art Briles was great inspiration for a Think Big campaign. To me, Baylor football started to turn around, and that was fun and exciting. And then we won. And then our quarterback won a Heisman trophy! I went from a casual Internet score checker, to a partial watcher of the few games that were televised, to a sit-up-wait-what?! fan. Historically, I’ve followed women’s soccer and basketball more closely than football since I graduated. But Coach Briles joined the Baylor nation and said he wanted a Big 12 championship and to bring Baylor football back to campus. Saturday night, he did.

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I had tickets to the game against University of Texas, but I didn’t know it was the Big 12 championship game! I knew it was the last game in Floyd Casey stadium, and I have so many memories of games in that stadium! I’ve been more sad to see it go than excited for a new one, but that’s just nostalgia and habit talking. I need to think big here, too!

I expect to see a lot of big things next year. I plan to make a lot of big things happen next year.

Twitter and Brand Management. It’s a Real Thing.

In 2008, I was trying to convince my boss that social media was a valuable marketing tool. By 2010, that boss still viewed Facebook as primarily a way for his ex-girlfriends to get in touch with him, and Twitter as fairly useless. Fair enough, if that’s your experience. I remember trying to convince him that social media was (and is) a powerful marketing and branding tool.  I must have said a thousand times: “People are already talking about your brand online!” I passionately believed that everywhere people were hanging out is where they were also talking about their experiences, and marketers, brand managers, and people in charge of customer service could and should pay attention to those conversations.

I’ve read crazy stories about effective ways consumers have mounted Twitter and Facebook campaigns to grab the attention of corporate brands, but last week I had my own!

After my AT&T Uverse spontaneously locked up while I was watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance, I spent hours troubleshooting my two DVRs. All the AT&T Uverse materials say support is available 24/7, but after fighting my way through the automated support line, I got no support. In my late night frustration, I took to Twitter.

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Later, after even more troubleshooting, I got even crankier:
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Eventually, I heard from AT&T’s customer service:
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Alas, I was unable to connect with dear Andy, of AT&T’s customer service:
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Darling Andy was silent for a while, and I spent yet another evening rebooting, downloading, troubleshooting with no luck. However, I finally noticed that  DirecTV had jumped into the fray with an offer!

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I finally got a direct message from the dear Andy at AT&T:
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Somehow, magically, my DVRs reset themselves after several hours over the course of three days of resetting the DVRs. Thanks, AT&T!

Thanks, DirecTV for re-affirming my belief that customers have some power again!

Tell me marketing doesn’t work!