“Smarter than…” a simple line easily remembered

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START posting meaningful articles, videos, podcasts, or blog posts. Put them on LinkedIn, your blog site, link to them from your FB and Twitter accounts, etc. Again, to qualify as meaningful, in this context, they need to display that you are a good person AND you have valuable professional knowledge and skills that will benefit others.

This message implies that your skills and knowledge will benefit potential employers. Some of your posts may tell stories from your work history where your past employer benefited greatly from your exploits. (Tom Sheppard – Playing Hard to Get, 11/07/19)

Periodically, with alllll the possibilities that doing even a little online surfing can provide, there is a “thank you” moment for tapping a YouTube environmental piece, learning exactly all you need to know about a specific something, maybe reading the rest of what wrapped around the essence of being a better blogger, according to Mr. Sheppard.

If its not ‘Good to Great’ (Collins) or ‘The ONE Thing’ (Gary Keller) management theory writ strong, Sheppard is around my mantra that pretty much everything that goes online or is presented in response to any gig is a small referendum on my abilities.

SEO content writing doesn’t have to be above eighth grade level, but whatever the purpose, my regular job is hitting the voice a potential client wants. Yes,  bloggers will tell historical stories that match well with situations where “fixing” similar pain resulted.  Readers want “meaningful.”

That is elemental marketing – I’ve got what you need. Just lookie here.

A simple line everyone remembers

The last line on my business card is “Smarter than the average bear” writer, and everyone I’ve given it to knows the basics – Yogi stole all the picnic baskets in JellyStone Park. The variety of situations I’ve adapted “writing” to is far less than Matt Damon’s creativeness with technology in ‘The Martian,’ but I’m confident about being ahead of the one-trick bear is the explanation I lock in.

Does everything I do have to glow with imperial splendor? Naaah, but it does represent me. I’ve just recently started working with video, and you can Google how to do anything, right? That’s another line everyone remembers, “You can Google that.” My youngest brother hits sixty this year, over the last three years, he’s relied on that in becoming a damn fine worker on BMWs. Just sayin’…

Capturing the simple makes a difference

In a couple weeks, the second time around with a Communities in Schools program, I’ll be helping high school seniors who have already been accepted to a college write better letters for scholarship money.  This is about passing on the idea of how capturing the simple makes a difference.

We all know people skim instead of read, right?

Readability counts. How shorter paragraphs break up large blocks of print, give the readers eyes a break, that’s easy to impart. “Use periods” is obviously useful to remember, and stopping the 6-comma, train-of-thought-OMG! run-on sentence is ALWAYS better writing.

Yes, one liners and subheads can be effective.

The Communities in Schools program where imparting some nuggets of editing and making things work better word-wise is a Keep It Straight, Simple moment for me. Getting tapped to help goes directly to my expertise, and its a four-hour session with these kids that includes hot breakfast during meet-and-greet. Last year, about two dozen showed up, and there were enough volunteers that we could double up. 

One scholarship my person (Rachel) picked as a possibility was LAWA (Latin Americans Working for Achievement) – and I knew I had the Executive Director’s business card on my desk. Watching my suggestions being immediately incorporated into her standard letter, hearing how this super-smart girl wanted to eventually lead a Doctors Without Borders unit, it was elementary to write a letter of recommendation for her.

That’s how simple things can be. Mr. Sheppard struck a chord for me. If the possibility of volunteering is what you got from this piece, that’s worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Analytics – Site measurables, behavior, politics, environmental activism

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I’ll admit being a little late to the party about website analytics. How measuring what matters – traffic sources, interaction with content (ie. Clicks) signups, purchases, ROI, demographics (age), by channel (YouTube) searches, and the grail of TIME ON PAGE – and how customers use your site and what can be adjusted to increase impact are righteous nuggets.

The time-honored concept this follows is “You have to inspect what you expect,” and that includes surveys, checking yourself against other sites and traffic analysis, KEYWORDS,   website analytics, website terminology, tools, and RANKING.

If you’re not paying attention, or got wrapped up in the necessary creative efforts for business and doing RFPs without actually money-tizing your blogging, take credit for production, that always counts. 

GOP political events in D.C. showing a refusal to entertain actual facts aside, accepting those Google Analytics now is because you should know what you’re looking for in professional blog analytics. 

  • Predictive – Is using statistics and modeling to determine future performance based on current data. After Iowa unscrambles itself from an informational snafu, there will be extrapolating and predicting on the numbers au nauseum. Through Tuesday evening, the (62%) numbers looked like Mayor Pete slightly ahead of Sanders, Klobachar with 13% of the delegates.
  • Behavioral analytics – Geared toward providing insight into actions of humans. The Senate “trial” was brutally bad right off the rip. Activism has been re-engaged. 
  • Site Analytics – to make conclusions about information. What changes can- will move my rank onto Pg.3? What words are peers using in their being selected? 
  • Algorithms – Are a set of instructions for solving problems or accomplishing a task, like assembling the physical elements of ‘dinner for six mac n’ cheese’ recipes. Computer trading relies on algorithms to buy/sell at a pace humans couldn’t process. Users set the parameters and events go to resolution, with desired functional output, when securities meet specified “this AND this AND this…” criteria.

Engagement and what people do NEXT is the #1 measurable.

Reworking my site’s top fifty keywords, upping a click factor or checking what the using public thinks of my professional offerings is more productive in terms of time and effort than tuning in to DJT’s blather. Didn’t watch his or Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ads either.

While this was actually a short – only seven weeks – process from impeachment charge to today’s window on US process, with “four more years” political crowing during State of the Union event, it’s doubtful Trump will have any awareness of having dodged a well laid-out bullet of impeachable facts. Like fixing the environment, any next times will be tougher to deal with.

“Don’t confuse progress with results” is a reminder from my real estate days, and if you’ve signed on as “Blue No Matter Who,” then just keep working the process. Admitting to a measure of interest about “Mayor Pete’s” numbers in Iowa will only require – well,  they’ll be in New Hampshire, and Sanders just became the rhetorical 500 lb. gorilla, so we’ll see what Pete’s got for game.

Thanks for visual of how Iowa caucuses work, Katie

The analytics of how the Iowa caucuses worked was a journalistic gem done by MSNBC’s Katie Tur. She dove deep and enthusiastically with the people sitting courtside in candidate corral areas, showed candidate areas with on-screen balloons, explained ‘not viable’ (less than 15%) and moving to another group, a process that proved problematic in what was supposed to be a three-stage operation of moves. 

Knowing things didn’t work right, owning up to it and keeping the bright lights on the situation, how can there be anything less important, when data security is on everyone not named (insert GOP name) list re: upcoming electoral processes? Had a long time to make sure? Yep, yesterday’s news now. Today isn’t ‘Groundhog Day.’

NOTHING indicates this extended hoo-hah was due to hacking, just a newer, incredibly never stress-tested process. There was-is a paper trail, the results will be accurate, that’s the word from the guy at the mike, repeated again and again. This system was trying to improve over the caucus in 2016, when data from Bernie-Clinton split  49.6% to 49.4%. This time it went seven candidates deep.

Working it slower-right will mean looking hard at what clunked so badly. Fixing gaps and examining alternatives is what legitimately comes from post-event review, and like site reviews, the answers may not always be warm-fuzzies. Yeah, physical site-ing (cinder block basements) could’ve caused trouble, yeah the ‘Pubs will slap that “disorganized, just like…” thing around.

Whatever Dems might’ve put up with for three years, taking lumps your people brought on themselves definitely beats not having any, or just not regular, ‘circular firing squads’ thus far.

Duke Energy rate hike, environmental factor involved witnesses

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Using optical analytics between two events as something measurable and that matters, let’s consider the difference between “the fix is in, with full facial slaps for the Constitution” Senate white-wash, and a simpler, very American event many remember from earlier days – Civil protest against a monopoly regarding environmental badness and corporate economics. 

After going to an environmental meeting led by Sanders people on Sunday, Thursday involved going to a well-attended hearing about a proposed rate hike for Duke Energy and $8 billion in coal ash cleanup costs vs. THEM paying. There was more than a whiff of environmental activism in the air, and just like the first time around, lots of AMERICANS remember fighting for “better” and a fundamental right that might require even more effort this time, because the clock is ticking.  

Why is Sanders favored so heavily by first time voters? He’s got a long term streak of consistency about caring for the world they’re going to get handed. The analytics say they’re the biggest bulge in the snake now, but there were silver foxes aplenty at the Duke hearing, people swearing in about truth in testimony, about the public not getting tagged for previous bad management decisions by Duke being data to pay attention to. 

It seemed inevitable, when those Stoneman-Douglas kids amped a large chunk of America two years ago, to say the demographics of what’s likely a two-issue group – guns and the environment – which still hasn’t been seriously counted, may be announcing itself in Iowa. 

The Senate ‘trial’ chose not to pay attention to massive data about public support for witnesses – safe_image

79% of anything is a HUGE slice of plurality and common cause

in an impeachment trial. Both public knowledge and recognition of some particularly troubling FACTS should have gotten additional comment on. 

Duke rate protestors handled their public duty 

“Think global, act local” isn’t just about recycling, it IS the Bigger Picture

They did it three minutes at a time, as often as not with documentation, filling all the bench space in a room on the 5th floor of the County Courthouse, with cops at the downstairs entrances, a metal scanner, four or five TV vehicles, and directions to the correct room from those polite cops. 

People got there at 6:00 to sign in. I stayed until after 8:30, watching them make their thoughts 100% known in open court, hand on the Bible about the environment and that $8 billion in cleanup Duke Energy should be paying for, not regular people. 

The coal ash situation is big-time costly and un-legal, and people kept testifying after I left. That outside of Washington  we’re *talking* about genuinely BAD events, with a more desirable outcome, it made me feel things should STILL work a certain way in America. 

The audience waved strips of green paper, forty or fifty giving a good shake of approval for certain thoughts expressed  

There was a white-haired woman with a doctorate in Ecology, several had red armbands saying “Extinction Rebellion”; a long-haired and bearded (just a fact) deep-thinking guy had copies of a multi-page document. A gentleman spoke from a Presbyterian minister’s view, noting the taxes on the 100-year old family farm, and solar being an under-utilized asset by Duke Energy.

You had to pay attention to another gentleman, a past chair of the Sierra Club, who used Dicken’s “Best of times, worst of times” intro, and yes, especially to the one who stated straight up that the specific pipe breakage that caused the whole coal ash situation to lay waste along the Dan River when it failed, had been cited every couple years since 1988.

That, to put an extra fine point on it, is hard core “oppo-research” from people who care, and are willing to plant a flag about it. The behavior analysis looked like 100% against the rate increase, as the commissioners occupied the 10-12 seats in the middle of the area and listened.

“Think global, act local,” this is a situation to physically get involved with, especially when it’s a right here effective option. You can’t think one meeting with a five person panel of Sanders people and voting to ban plastic straws constitutes commitment. 130,000 tons of poisonous coal ash went into the Dan River-eastern North Carolina in 2014. 

Shining all possible light on this goes to the core of corporate environmental responsibility.

Practical communication makes a point – for politics, pierogis, poker, and pooches

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While his destroying three sleeping pads by tearing them apart and distributing the insides like this was uncool, getting into my salad bowl required direct messaging.

Perhaps I’m working the P’s a little hard, but historically its one of the things (along with Q’s) we’re supposed to pay attention to.

The point is, whether you’re a communications specialist, content creation writer, blogger, or pet owner, its legitimate to be aware of how any messages are coming through for the intended parties.

While his pushing a bowl around the kitchen like Snoopy, or positioning himself near the front door for immediate petting works for CharlieToo, the swat with a folded newspaper was a simple, hopefully received and understood message I sent yesterday.

Yes, that set off some loud “messaging” with my brother, but I didn’t need to hear about a beagle’s acute sense of smell (again). I’d left the room for thirty seconds to get a beverage, and returned to find several spinach leaves outside the bowl, left well away from the edge of the kitchen table. My message to both was I wasn’t allowing such behavior with my food, and if the bro needed to get discipline classes for his dog, I could still handle some baseline corrections right then.

Poker night and commitment

Having decided to restart Hold ’em poker nights with two subsets of friends, notices were sent to twenty guys about the timing, BYOB and chili situation, cost ($20 to start, re-buys, and chip-up), and directions embedded. All information, starting three weeks before the event, was sent by e-mail and followed up with by text several times.

Two days after the stated deadline for confirmation, there were only four “can’t make it” responses, which is when my ‘no-go’ decision was made.

One ‘yes’ indicated he’d pick up an outlier (who had bailed), one said (at pierogi dinner Friday) he’d come, but I’d already decided to wait and try again next month. One was upset he’d driven by the house – and left three phone messages – without knowing it was canceled, although he hadn’t confirmed when we worked two nights on the prep and pierogi dinner.

While statistically that’s *about* a 30% response, the reality is most similar events will die without a predetermined level of positive commitment. This was easy to track, doing so with blog results is what makes it a business.

Pierogi pickups, oompah! band, and networking

For the first two hours of our group’s second hugely successful pierogi dinner, I worked the take out table, and unfortunately, once I’d gotten through a first pan of those slathered in butter Polish delicacies filled with cheese and potato, and fried onions aplenty, there was a period when the product didn’t come regularly enough to diminish the line of customers.

Although I sent messages with group members who came by, only drips and drabs came though for about half an hour – and somehow it wasn’t a problem

The great part of communications came with the realization that the 15 people standing in line understood I’d done what I could. Every single one was happy when the pans started flowing regularly and they got hot, tasty containers of food – including sauerkraut, garlic bread, kielbasa – and some had never tried a pierogi before!

Did giving the last cookie to one little girl, just before another tray appeared, work out righteously? Yep, it showed we cared, as did giving a piece of kielbasa to anyone who wanted to munch it waiting in line.

Doing my usual “schmoozing” around the tables a little later, it was great to learn that everyone appreciated the evening at all levels – not a single cross word, even though some had waited in a line around the cafeteria before getting served and seated.

When asked, “Did everyone get enough to eat?” smiles and “Great job, you guys!” and testimonials about how many of our (St. Gabriel Men’s Club) other community feedings they’d attended were gratifyingly glowing. Okay, “free beverages” and dancing to a lederhosen-garbed oompah band might have a little to do with that glow, but a $36 family price works wonders, too.

The best communication for me though? The very last couple I talked with went 20191214_200810exceptionally well. She was a physical therapist, so we discussed my two year old knee replacement, and her husband had done a little knocking around for two years before establishing himself as a management efficiency expert with restaurants. When I gave him my card, and explained some of what CDTalent Enterprises did writing-wise, he asked if I’d tried using a particular agency and recruiter, who had kept him busy during his knock around days.

THAT is the essence of networking, finding a commonality and helping each other with additional contacts. If you’re still worried about just talking to someone at a gathering, networking doesn’t have to be in a suit with your name plastered on a lapel.

POLITICS

For what its worth, Trump’s impeachment trial starts today, and IMHO, a *lot* more people will be dissatisfied with how that’s handled than how my lack of pierogies Friday night affected them. While I heard one of our guys pontificating that, “He’s going to be re-elected, you guys are wrong, case closed!” I’ve learned that its impossible to get a reasonable message through to some people, and walking away from situations is the best way to handle negative communications.

Unfortunately, the option of swatting them with a folded newspaper probably won’t get the intended message through.

“Real Writers” still best option, AI or 1 million chimps on computers creativity aside

 

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Artificial intelligence and computers can do amazing things based on previous analysis, but can they imagine a perfect David without that?

After being fed a trillion-gazillion bytes of previous human blood, sweat, and tears involved in artwork or literature, Artificial Intelligence is becoming/has begun to be judged capable of original production.  Professionally speaking, that sounds more reasonable than a million (or 10 million?) chimpanzees on keyboards knocking out even a couple verses of Bill Shakespeare-worthy prose by accident.

At the current time, I’m a way better Writing alternative.

Without going deeply into whether its a good idea or not, the AI future has been coming almost 70 years,  and the chimps haven’t produced anything noteworthy.  Having read on LinkedIn about AI “knowing” how to make hiring decisions though, that’s another belief I can’t get on board with.

Having a “presence” – Something that might push a magic button for a potential employer of my talents and result in a tah dah! moment HAS to be better, because its worked that way before. Many sites still don’t recognize MSOffice includes Word, or journalism as somehow lacking “media and communications.”

Case in point, the recently concluded series SUITS.

Would the Zen of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross coming together on the basis of – well, a busted drug deal – and Mike’s statistical memory out-dueling Harvey’s ego on trivia be possible based on AI? I think not.

Far above the vast area between accidental genius and synthesized, analytical material becoming heart-breaking romance, discovering the answer to someone’s pain about any number of factors is what INTERVIEWING is about, and where writers of all stripes wear the sales hat.

Sports writing is easier than CBD content creation

Of course there are the numbers, the stats, the win-loss conclusion and opinions of the result, but sports have their own voice, and quotes are usually the most compelling part. If we have or haven’t seen the event, can you appreciate how a journalist presents it, accurately and colorfully?

That’s part of what interviewing does for “client voice.” Putting them together, with the proliferation of websites and blogs that require on-going production, is what long-form informational blogging has become.  Although not as direct as words from a winning coach, corporate voice is THE voice.

From high school journalism on, the need to set the hook with readers in the first paragraph was considered paramount. Now its the click value of the headline, because people scan vs. read.

Relative to value, while Charlotte pays above the national rates (as reported by Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale), its often a case of job title-category being a determinant.

Copy writers @ $26.38/hr, content writers,  and writers generally are close to $50k (Payscale says $47k is 10% above national avg., Glassdoor pegs avg. @ $55k), while content creation, including editors and social media types, are in the middle-upper teens per hour – Indeed puts these North Carolina rates at 15% below national averages.

Obviously there are ranges.  ‘Freelancers’ is a relative term ($22.46/hr., Payscale), tutors average $23/hr. (I usually bill at $30) and technical writers lead the overall pack at $32/hour. While descriptions for all have terms in common (white papers, blogs, SEO), writers seem to involve more interfacing with other creatives. Content creation is often  list-cicles or amalgamated research and rehashing as a group effort, with the focus on Google positioning.

*Everyone* wants copy/blogs/leadership thought that “meets and exceeds customer expectations.”

Technical Writing

“Leadership Thoughts” style has become a strong part of long-form informational blogging, and contrasting two previous projects with a recent sketchy client description highlights the importance of interviewing.

According to the Thumbtack lead, the client had an ESL (English Second Language) situation, and to his credit, knew he needed some expertise to make a business proposal sound right.

In hearing the project was “between 2-10,000 words” represented an awful lot of territory to offer overall pricing. Informing the client my blogs are often 1200-1500 words, so 10,000 was a lot, is a concrete example of both parties knowing what the project entails. Whether this business plan was going to include enough budget for technical writing was also a consideration.

jensenprocedOn the other hand, writing procedures for Parts Ordering and Returns was for “guys in the pits” using industrial laundry equipment (driers, folders, belted delivery systems, timing), not front office people. The primary point was well-defined, especially how plucking a part off a machine and reading the number was actually the third best option when ordering.

Two pages of specific information only took 1,045 words – and fact it included addressing issue of returns, so extra junk didn’t clog up the back dock area – was gravy.

Interviews as sales calls

Because client-facing verbal understanding is at the core of all successful work interactions, my mantra is that the Q&A to be most effective is always about determining those factors most important to clients, not an interrogation. Good information makes for better decisions.

During several other career stages, interviews were more accurately sales calls, where I was providing the information aspect, and how other people reacted was a measurable outcome.  “Interviewing” with the lawyer of someone whose property had a billboard I represented was another slice of interpretation, most would consider that “negotiation” though.

In scholastic fundraising, there was essentially 40 minutes to build rapport, present information and possibilities, (hopefully) get the green lights and signature that meant putting it on a calendar.  Most interviews focused on “fixing” a sponsor’s group problem in tough economic times.

That (fix some pain) remains the central theme for all kind of ‘gigs’ now, and Writers understand that every RFP (request for proposal) type of content we send should  be intended as a statement of what we bring to the table.

Without denigrating “foreign competition” on the content front – because getting ideas across in writing is not bound by location or time zones – language differences when I’m just trying to make a point with outsourced service operations are multiplied in complexity when clarifying a corporate tone or voice.

ESL clients require extra attention, and grammatically and professionally, it still seems like some corporate material has been put through a Google translator called “English” that comes off as stilted in “American.” That might be where AI can makes inroads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 as Christmas tree volunteer, cheery family event, plenty of sales, Scouts were super

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Yanking a decently big one through the baler was earning your spurs. Its a dang poor job that can’t afford a supervisor, this one has two.

Post-Thanksgiving and upcoming-Christmas have a grand meeting the day after Turkey Day, and beyond super deals on 55″ wide screen splendor, getting the family Christmas tree acquired extra ASAP priority because of the “late start” on that part of the season. We (St. Gabriel MC) had a splendid, even optimal first day – ideal weather and easy to say ‘yes’ to product and pricing, the Scouts and a bunch of HS kids getting service hours were consistently good workers, the families we served excited.

This is our 35th year of selling trees at St. Gabriel, and as a challenge to working your verbal skills and keeping projects moving positively, volunteer activities count. The ‘crew’ spans from 13 to 93 years old, cash table and wreaths and chainsaws. Everyone was on the same page in getting the show on the road, and it turns out, several of those Scouts can actually SELL.

I believe how well things operate goes directly to work-force education programs, giving concise instructions, getting  actions described and checked on (stocking trees, picking up branches), shaking branches to open things up was instilled as best practices. I sold and chainsaw-trimmed the first two customers myself over an hour before we officially opened because people showed up.

Getting young workers filling racks with trees by size was task one, cutting blue string-bound trees (especially junk around the top), and expecting two carriers taking trees to cutting area was procedure. You can’t help smiling when strong young men tell you they can handle the White size themselves.

A sense of humor works great. Scouts were *death* on tying knots for trees on roofs after I reminded customers, “We haven’t lost one in 35 years, nobody wants to be #1 on that list.” 

Cutting loose and having fun, selling Christmas trees is a joyful no-brainer. You KNOW people are there to get that tree *now,* and while mentioning that $$$ raised stays in Charlotte for a variety of community projects, the fact that PRICING barely even registers for the vast majority of Day One customers is a lock. With no hourly wages for our workforce, how much tree you want gets easier to accomplish.

We’ll sell 900-plus trees in less than three weeks, and having an A-1 supplier (I usually say “4-time Grower of the Year” when people ask where we get the trees from) certainly counts. It’s an old school relationship, built on time, and whatever big (9′-10′), big-based trees we received, not everyone else is selling those. Tree size availability goes back to the recession years, when many tree farms going out of business didn’t plant what would now be the popular 7-8 footers.

The last family on Friday, the little girl with her princess dress and lighted sneakers, had brats for dinner and then bought the tree that had the fat bottom Dad liked, with a yellow tag price. Bingo, memories for everyone.

They’re not customers, they’re people and families

Having previously mentioned the opportunity to work your communications skills, we can all become teachers and leaders. On a hustling, eight-hour day, some scenes and ideas stick in my mind.

The collegiate VBer (center hitter) on crutches, three days after surgery, six people had input on how BIG a tree on that. We talked about upcoming therapy because I had a knee replacement two years ago.

The middle school kid who was able to explain the difference between 7-point-8 and 7-dash 8 on our size chart (hey, that he spotted it was something to start) – giving him an attaboy, a small, positive affirmation that cost me nothing.  Proud Mom, and maybe her smart kid helps on a future Men’s Club project.

Lead by example

There are always safety concerns at work, but at a tree lot during early set up, I let my experience inform their work efforts, like lying the tree down instead of stretching to cut something at the top of a 7 footer.

Early on, a HS volunteer who took directions about cutting open a tree, getting better all the time.  Telling guys its okay to press into the tree branches enough with a cardboard cutter to pop the strings, going from bottom to top is the most efficient.

Making sure at least one guy in each group had a blade increased efficiency by a ton.

Being able to yank a tree through the baler was a rite of passage. Give the lightweight20191128_144148 freshman credit for turning down the chance to try – he’d seen it wasn’t easy even for a 220 lb. wrestler. Hey, even two guys pulling a tree through qualifies for getting spurs. At some point, the guys want to see you tug a sort of big one through, and that was fine.

Technology. Even, or especially, our oldest members benefited from clear, picture-labeled products in a lightweight unit, like “10” decorated wreath’ and ‘7 ft. tree.” All sales stats could be brought up immediately, and knowing the actual Day 1 totals was affirming. (Yes ma’am, we can do debit cards.)

The first customers arrived about 9:30, we weren’t officially supposed to start until 11:00, but the customer is essentially right – they came to buy a tree, so find the one they want.

About Thanksgiving dinner

It was super successful, especially for Mom, because there were plenty of older women who were willing to talk with her. The funny part was a LOT of North Carolina lovers watching their #6 Tarheels get thumped by unranked Michigan 73-64. They’d all been looking forward to dissing Duke fans after the  Blue Devils lost on a tip in by Stephen F. Austin at the end of overtime the night before.

It was great that a deep-fried drumstick was reserved for me. Ahhh, tradition.

With all the college age kids around, none seemed at all concerned about politics and 2020 elections.

Content collaboration as a successful business model – Pierogi Dinner Study

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Men on a mission: 1200 kolacky cookies.

In the overall success of the internet, the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into the creative flow ranks high, especially for those who are participating in the booming sector called ‘Remote work.’

Beyond the 24/7 foundering and obfuscation on display in Washington, communication should never be lacking with real world clients. Cell phones, laptops, Skype, time-task tracking software, of course, texting, are the norm and eminently useful.

Time zones? Pssshhh! California is always going to be three hours difference.  You signed up for that when you responded to the online Looking For.

Bringing resources together

With content creation, there’s always “The SEO People” who drill managers in must-have markers in getting material created. There’s always a director, a corporate or personal ‘voice’ is determined, ideation becomes a product through a process of submissions from sources tasked to websites, blogging, and media-click counts.

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

Pirogi Dinner Study

Anyway, the Pirogi Dinner Study. A community group I work with does several primarily eating events a year that maximizes our manpower. We also have an annual Christmas Tree Sale that starts the day after Thanksgiving. There are about 85-90 active members, across wide age groups, with most having a significant amount of professional expertise of one kind or another.

Last year, a member originally from Cleveland (Stephen Fogg), suggested a pierogi dinner as a late-January replacement for a less-well attended spaghetti dinner. His pitch was, “Every church in Cleveland does pierogi dinners in Lent, same with Pennsylvania, even New York. It’s relatively cheap, great family event, week before Super Bowl.”

Without any track history in Charlotte, NC on this particular Polish culinary item – a shredded cheese and potato-filled ravioli is the common description – the original goal was 450 paying customers. On the bottom line, it was an exceptional success; people started coming down the steps and into the cafeteria at 5:01, and it was 2 1/2 hours slamming time for our workers.

We served about 800, and not an unhappy camper in the lot. The planned dancing area wound up taking ten more tables instead. We have established a terrific foothold in a dynamic niche market. Our biggest problem might be handling any Year Two increase, a subject for another day perhaps.

The time logistic

The time logistic, from original idea presentation to a client (the club officers) to killer event as a scheduled, documented success was four months. The analogy of how its similar, and possibly even easier, to gain consensus with remote workers on any  creative projects is where I’m going. It’s the software, baby!

The director’s ideation was transmitted to the necessary work group months in advance of the post-Christmas event by an obvious product evaluation: he made the dinner, including slivered sauteed onions, kielbasa, and sauerkraut.  BIG success, everyone buys into the project, its recognized as comfort food from many of their early years.

Sound like where you’d want a project to be on the enthusiasm meter? Right, and the KPI people will be tracking enthusiasm.

The simplest idea became a driving force in the success. The project director’s knowledge and previous expertise (“every church in Cleveland”) was an A-1 asset, the group history in scaling up became an ‘all you can eat’ invitation in area church bulletins, and as noted, huge success on that communication front.

The product itself was exceptional, including 1200 kolacky (jelly filled-folded) cookies. The notion of “too many chefs” in a creative kitchen as a negative still translates, you can only follow one strategy. It’s still a fact, however many workers it takes, the product has to be there when scheduled-necessary.

The empirical A/B  more-most effective way

There was a test-firing of the process a week prior to the event dinner, from outside cookers to grilling and adding trimmings, making the cookie dough with four mixers, the empirical A/B  more-most effective way to get desired outcomes deal techies always go on about.

The steering committee understood how kitchen and service roles needed to be handled, including the facility prep, launch (5:01) and overall capabilities of volunteers, and the addition of secondary support people (middle/high school students doing service hours) ensured downstream reaction and course correction were highly linked.

Our community projects are considered “good duty” service hours by students, fun and fulfilling, a good rep to have.

Its easy to see challenges like garbage removal from tables in any production directly in front of you. The point is that elements of a project are all within a couple clicks and keystrokes of any content coordinating person.

Today’s online collaboration possibilities simplify a project director’s ability to see any and all associated materials, to know what they want changed, and connect with specific vendors about content.

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Few things are more satisfying than a project done well, with all the parts contributing as expected. Pierogis were hard core “content creation.”

 

That one, crucial, must-have piece that moves projects forward

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I might have thought I had problems with a camera, but Mike was the boss with heat all around him before Oyster Roast.

Before packing up the laptop  and sending it to Memphis over a camera not functioning – and recognizing I’m sometimes behind the curve tech-wise – there was recently a quantity of angst over getting a specific video off my phone and attached to a Google document that needed to be sent for a proposal.

After performing the operation three times myself – then tapping Librarian #1’s understanding for forty minutes – I’d expected a $99 visit with the Microsoft people would move things from “Does not recognize camera” error message to productive asset again. Being able to move forward because I stayed on the problem until it was resolved, that’s what I call my Matt Damon in “The Martian” moments.

Sweating further delay regarding that proposal made the relief of getting some necessary help a moment worth sharing with others. Anyone who has been on group calls where a certain person – with the element that everyone is gathered to learn about – is late, knows both the feelings of frustration and relief.

Your patience factor definitely counts

Trust me, people who have dealt with someone who gets frantic about a computer snafu and wants to make it *their* problem too, probably won’t be gracious by a third time around. That two different library workers tried their darnedest, and eventually found an effective option, is also a (small) credit to submerging my often squeaky wheel style.

Journalistically and as a content creator, my expectation is that equipment should do what its supposed to – I require a keyboard and access to information. Getting many, many things in-out of electronic media daily, even as a realtor, the message was always, “Make sure your technology works.” The least gratifying thing I hear when enterprising a solution is, “Well, that should’ve worked.”

While “should’ve worked” is an affirmation that my being stymied was perhaps appropriate, it still involves a dammit! because its a sticking point unhandled.

Searching for help works best without extra attitude. Bitching about the inconvenience to you isn’t going to motivate others to provide answers or assistance. Getting to the point is like using your Elevator Speech, or that first paragraph in any article – give potential helpers a reason to keep listening, or maybe point you in a right-er direction.

After a steady extra examination with Librarian #2, the BINGO! moment came with his suggestion to utilize YouTube to download the phone, and copy the link from that into my document instead of Google Pictures/video.

After three previous attempts, bam! that simple option-change was The Right Piece, with the focus on getting a crucial detail handled a very real result. No telling how things roll now that I’ll have to use library for a couple weeks because I don’t have a backup at home, but I’m not scared they’ll consider me a dummy for asking why my machine doesn’t work.

FYI – Backed up and packed up

Sending 99% of everything a potential client asks for with position descriptions might not even be enough, so paying attention to details counts. That video I wanted so bad? It was :58 because the gig description said “No longer than 1:00 video.”

Reviewing the proposal, and recognizing some notes for a social media element hadn’t been turned into specific post samples. While stating the importance of getting that one, crucial piece handled, its always a good idea to check the details one last time.

While this unit goes into the box right after this blog, its contents have been backed up. Tomorrow I’ll go back to that refurbished library in SouthPark and thank Ed again.

Oh yeah, saying Thanks! is still a simple courtesy that makes helpers happy. My tutoring in reading and writing keeps a positive attitude about sharing expertise to carry forward, so there’s no reason not to send that outward when you’ve gotten the necessary results.

This being a political blog aside, today is better than Recession or Kurds situation

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During the Recession, you didn’t sweat talking politics over the grill, we were all worried about the same things, and Trumpies hadn’t been invented.

Back in the early, terrible years of the Recession, I had several opportunities to have a cigar and some scotch with one of my brothers, the high caliber banking guy, while the Thanksgiving turkey was deep frying. He was an excellent person to bounce all the information I’d read and heard off, and I really felt smarter in other conversations after those talks.

If you weren’t trying to learn more then, all you could do was cower in fear that the Economics Gods didn’t body slam you any worse. Between a job I disliked and Trumpies though, I admit the below-my- abilities job was easier to deal with.

There wasn’t any difficulty about the facts of what we were going through then, and those who had jobs were mostly just a little happier than those on – or over – the hairy edge. Neither side was about Good or Bad, we were all struggling. There was an expectation that our government had its hand on the tiller, and nobody was seriously being dissed or crushed just because of their economic situation or heritage.

Sure, people abandoned pricey homes and took lifestyle hits while reducing ten days in an exotic locale to “stay-cations,” taking kids out of private schools with $20,000 a year tabs, holding on to cars “until things get settled a little better,” and not automatically going out to dinner three times a week.

Things aren’t anything like that now

Yes, the world seems stuck on the politics of things in 2019, and if the choices are “Love him or hate him,” LOTS of people – including me – are on the latter side of that with Trump.

Take an analogy of the high school bully-cretin who knocked the books out of your hands every time he saw you. Bet you didn’t think, “But he’s a helluva player when he’s on the court!”

Hell no. The aggravation and humiliation of having to pick up your stuff while others mogged along, maybe kicking your books, trying to get to their class in another wing of the school an over-arching consideration. You probably said, “Yeah, 23 points a game, but he’s still a d**khead” to your buddy.

You might keep your mouth shut after a buzzer-beater against an arch-rival, but day to day, he was a blot on almost any happiness you could imagine being in the same school could bring. No sense telling the cute girl in biology class your opinion, her friend was dating the guy, and Cutie was probably jealous of that.

What has that got to do with any concerns we have about education, immigration, the national debt, torquing the relatively naive President of the Ukraine, or shafting Kurdish allies in Syria in the most obvious and life-threatening way?

Expectations of what America stands for

Unlike back in those dark economic times, you didn’t stop caring about how the people down the street were doing. You didn’t walk away from them, muttering about their character because they rooted for the “wrong” team. It was legitimate to think they weren’t too smart to be a Browns fan, yet poking fun at stuff like that wasn’t taken to the Nth degree of thinking thugs from ICE should haul them away.

The question of “What happens after…?” is just as real today as during the Recession years. Yes, impeachment proceedings are going to tear this country up, but like we *knew* back then, the Biblical “This too shall pass” was something to believe in. As I told an Italian lady I tutored, this is still shy of the heart-breaking nastiness that Vietnam was for Americans, mostly because LOTS of (young) people died in those times.

When *every*single*person* that came into the current Administration was placed in a role that gave them the ability to sink an institution they HATED – and it seems many are face-first in the public trough – that sucks though. I often use DeVos – whose “expertise” for Education ends with her $1 million donation to Trump campaign – with her desire to kill public education funds, and Pruitt, the grifter from Oklahoma who opened the sewage gates wide on the environment, as examples. It was depressing to think the next day meant another humiliation, having their books (figuratively) slapped out of their hands, for that piece of America under their boots.

So now there appears to be light in the tunnel that ISN’T another damn train. While not the final word on things many, many, many don’t like – including former allies around the world who think badly of US actions – “we” don’t have to just take it. Walking the other way instead of trying to discuss ANY situation with a Trumpie doesn’t bring any real sense of calm, just that we can see *something* is finally being done that might change this long sled ride towards the bottom of the American soul.

Mostly I write about business, although some of the sports pieces have a lesson to them. Am I doing better than during Recession? Well, yeah, but how much of any piece of anything else in 2019 am I happier about, that seems a valid criteria to judge life on.

Hmmm… That knee replacement (God bless the ACA) at end of 2017 changed life pretty dramatically, I don’t have to skip across the street to avoid getting run over. It’s (finally, after 50 days) raining in Charlotte today, nothing wrong with that. I have a meeting about a next ‘gig,’ using my God-given ability as a “content creation person,” at about twice the $$$ I was making in retail back then is good, as is not being homeless in this rain.

And yes, knowing some real angst is is on the horizon for Trump and his enablers in Congress  – and even the schlubs for voted for him and think he’s doing a great job will have to stay quiet – is okay by me.

A cigar and some scotch at Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to that. Doubt that we’ll be talking politics much though, and there’s nothing wrong with leaving that behind. That brother’s knowledge was superior about negative economics then, but knowing at least *something* is working towards Better Days, 2020 seems like sunshine in America time.

‘Tech writing’ worked when recruiter knew client needs, read ‘experience resume’ as intended

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I recently had three very different chances to interface with recruiters regarding the same possibility with a major Charlotte bank, in this case, for technical writers. While  that’s generically “a club in my bag,” it didn’t get much play until I added a resume on DICE site.

Basic point: Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals.

Two people, who supposedly know how certain skills may fit with work orders, told me Monster and Careerbuilder were places they found most of their placements and possibilities. I’ve never liked those chronologically-oriented sites, and there have been plenty of possibilities on LinkedIn and FlexJobs, including remote options. 

BIG DIFFERENCE

It’s worth noting that early searching for ‘Writer’ roles on LinkedIn often produced more Underwriter and Service writer possibilities than creative positions. Putting ‘content creation’ in the keyword box, that went from barely a handful to nearly 100, and often included marketing and editorial managers. Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search effort.

With non-negotiable factors (like moving), opportunities to contribute from a laptop are frequent – good content can be created any time or place.

This up close and personal situation reinforced operational negatives I’ve held for a long time about recruiters, but also led to an affirmation of  opinions about whether current “talent gaps” could be mitigated if finders of people for positions did a better job of interviewing.

In two of these calls, I admit first contact appointment-getters – with fairly heavy, difficult to understand accents – were a consideration. Repeatedly asking them to slow down, and yes, thinking scams often flourish with confusion, I was on guard. There are dialer-operations that turn over leads that fill client schedules, and we’re all aware that “others” are constantly phishing for data.

I fixed my attitude about totally different groups of people contacting me – because “I saw your resume…” isn’t actually out of the blue, I am out there – just in time.

Key differences in getting what they needed

One caller was totally in left field, because he was trying to work with an online resume from 2015 (Careerbuilder). Trying to steer him to more current information like LinkedIn seemed futile. Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which  represented nothing  I was trying to accomplish in 2019 – just, no. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t a reality.

I admit being less nice to him, but fixing my attitude about totally different groups of people contacting me out of the blue with “I saw your resume…” came through just in time. 

Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years, I was far less confident about success. Maybe he was describing a totally different job – I found out a month later he was actually right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level for previous technical expertise.

There’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way design for multiple layers of starting from scratch tech writing vs. compilation and interpretation of content and “editorial values.”

Recruiter #3 was Goldilocks – just right – a pro out of Philly who interpreted my resume exactly the way I wrote it, and expect it to be read.

#3 had a WHOLE different POV on my matching the client’s  web/content management needs, not what I seemed to lack with #2. Don’t burn bridges with recruiters. Having an above average and realistic interview is still the goal of responding to online-available descriptions. 

He indicated there would be a training period, so that contract people were trained in Open Text, and picking up something on gigs becomes career enhancing expertise for content people. I haven’t been intimidated about using systems listed in job descriptions, and glad to know about up front training, which is nothing but good business.

Recruiter Guy #3 was prepared

He’d seen my LinkedIn profile, knew about my real estate, and made a suggestion about amping the job titles regarding tech writing for two specific jobs. He liked the continuity of  ‘2000 to Current’ – and frankly, side hustle business doesn’t have to pay all the bills to go on your CV.  When its relevant, make sure its known. You’ll rarely get asked about things people don’t know are possibilities.

  • Customer ordering and return procedures, written for “guys in the pits” v. front office personnel, regarding industrial laundry equipment.
  • Editing and formatting of 65 page Monthly Management Report – from 17 contributors.
  • After Hours Care ‘cheat sheet’ of weekend staff procedures

CDTalent Enterprises has produced in a variety of situations that create editorial depth.

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This is an upgraded kronut by Sugarrmann, with an extra blob of flavorful lemon under the glazing, after I reviewed a previous version’s tastefulness.  I’m not a coder.

I appreciated speaking 40 minutes vs. ten – If you’ve gotten jaded hearing about recruiters and eight seconds checking a resume, getting to phone calls is actually the goal. You don’t WIN! because someone responded, and IMHO, getting the right kind of help by better communicating your expertise is its own reward.

Working with better information

As a gig, we’ll see about phone interviews next week, but part of my work system is to keep the professional options hopper productive. While its proof nothing goes away on the Internet AND what it can deliver as results, I’m elementally glad my opinions about how much better recruiters could do with interviewing turned out to be right.

What do Andy Neumann, Trump, you, and Sweltering Charlotteans Have in Common?

Year One, the year Panthers went to the Super Bowl. We'd waited out an ice storm before starting our string of successful oyster roasts, The HedgeHog concept: making $$$ is fine, the community event rocks, and the box burning is an official ending.
Year One, the year Panthers went to the Super Bowl. We’d waited out an ice storm before starting what’s become a string of successful oyster roasts with 2500 oysters – this year its 7000. The HedgeHog concept: Making $$$ is fine, the community event rocks, and the box burning is an official ending.

Answer: Most of those didn’t blow up a $47 billion IPO valuation, get tagged with “nonsensical” about real estate economics, or get kicked to the ”CEO No-longer” curb. Yeah, it sounds a bit snarky, but the razz-berries started early on WeWorks IPO.

The old expression – just ask Biden -“Three on a match” was a tribute to South African Boer (Dutch) farmers accuracy as snipers at the beginning of the last century. It might be elementally bad luck for the last one when English soldiers tried lighting three cigarettes to conserve scarce matches. Neumann walked into that analogy last week, covered in Silly String.

Investors have been memorably slapped silly with Theranos (diabetic testing, aloof and combative executive) and Lyft (yet to make a profit, plenty of corporate drama) as essentially empty bags, and Neumann’s WeWork’s IPO represented, well, “creative content” way beyond my pay grade. With regular mentions in the press about tequila-fueled days, pot smoking on the corporate jet, self-dealing over a corporate trademark, and then submitting shoddy SEC paperwork – that never offered a timeline for the company to turn a profit – failing economic sniff tests made him a stupendous third, bigly.

Personally, from a series of sweaty 4-on-4s at regular Monday night hoops, through about 35 minutes of shooting in 91 degree Charlotte humidity on Saturday, last week involved a lot of real physical heat. It’s just a fact here, 78 days of 90-plus this year (34 is the average), with expectations for more of the same coming. Sunday it was 96 – so while semi-lazy by only doing a pair of videos for proposals – and ballin’-out with a couple cold ones, watching local Panthers play excellent at all levels again, Slye blasted one 55-yards! – here’s betting it was a qualitatively better day than those other guys had.

Neumann and Trump – the Prez, obviously, with an official House impeachment investigation – is experiencing HEAT at a whooooole ‘nother level.

Neumann, who has burned through many SoftBank BILLIONS with WeWork’s concept of premium office rental space – obviously never read or considered leadership thoughts from Jim Collins iconic management book, ‘GOOD TO GREAT.’ Top three reasons that seems true, in no particular order: (not) Facing the brutal facts (of economics), “(not) Getting the right people (lots of relatives though!) on the bus, in the right places,” and ultimately, not deciding on a HedgeHog Concept to work from.

Before finally taking the HedgeHog Concept – doing one thing particularly well, being the best at it – to be the heart of a leadership thought, the bus analogy held a lot of early consideration in my weekend blog writing. There’s no doubt such references will be used soon though, since who’s on, still in, driving, or under any buses in the next week or so in that other “nonsensical” (political) world is going to be worth watching. “Right this way Mr. Guliani; Yessir Mr. Secretary, that seat is definitely meant for you.”

IT WAS EASY TO SEE, RIGHT NOW, IN BLACK AND WHITE

‘Good to Great’ is only 210 pages long (plus appendixes) and Collins labeling of traits and consistencies that statistically created Greatness are often esoteric – which as a management theory staple, such books rarely flow – always makes it incredibly readable. My CDTalent Enterprises business features content creation and community-level projects, and the Hedgehog definition hits a legitimate chord:

To simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything.

Content creation is way not the same as “sound bite” or Tweets, and right now my tone is set for “Leadership Thought.” Those two video projects last weekend – one involves marketing of the legal community – and Leadership Thought (LT) is an arena where ongoing experience in creating a ‘voice’ counts. Although I’ve done that ghosting route before, it could still be a next challenge for wordsmithing.

A Unifying Concept

HedgeHog-wise, CDTalent Enterprises’ unifying concept includes a half-dozen topics I have specific expertise about (including CBD), and proposals for articles is an easily achieved expansion – it already earned a three hour schedule block on Tuesday. That concept allows for nailing down an 8,000 words (with synopsis) book proposal before Thanksgiving, which I have a running start on.

The difference between not actually wishing someone dead, but being glad about the opportunity to read their obituary, is a Mark Twain-ism worth stealing.

Trump’s week was warmly spotlighted politically by Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday, even if  his blowing off a major environmental session at the UN gained a hairy eyeball look from 16-year old super-activist Greta Thurnberg of Sweden.  He wasn’t the guy *I* would want to take handshake pictures with, and his address at the United Nations wasn’t actually newsworthy.

Really, after announcing an impeachment inquiry at what approximated a national level by Pelosi, and setting real, fast-moving Congressional goals, I still wonder how much of the country ie.- FOXers -would know whether Trump spent time at the UN or played golf.

The Twain theory of obit reading seems in line with postmortem sympathy for a crispy ‘baked’ (nyuk nyuk) Adam Neumann, and Trump’s people are really not looking forward to “some grilling time” after vacation. Having three proposals generate additional interest would still make this coming week ‘hot’ on content as business front, but bet on fact us sweltering Charlotteans are waiting to smell what Congress might be cooking over the next couple weeks.

Hey, that’s a good hook for my Oyster Roast on October 19th!