Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 10 Benefits of Being on Twitter

So,  maybe you've just joined Twitter and can't for the life of you figure out what all the buzz is about. You sit there, tweet a few gems from your endless goldmine of resources and no one replies. You try the "RT"(retweet) when something looks worth passing on, and still, not many folks have anything to say to you.  As in all "relationships" whether online or in life, Twitter takes time, and if you give it that time, it will surprise you with the depth of the relationships and dialogue you will develop. If you feel the same, please comment in the comment section. If you're still a bit baffled, please read the reasons below and see if any resonate with you.

 Here are my "top 10" benefits of being on Twitter, from me @flourishingkids.

1) A global connection: Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be making close friendships across the globe, from the wonderful folks all over the US and in Canada to the inspiring educators I talk to in Europe and Australia.

2) Affirmation of the hard work of being a passionate educator: I don't know about you, but when I am the lone die-hard at my school site, who cares more about the kids than leaving when the bell rings, it's comforting to know that others are equally committed, even if I have to go online to talk to them!

3) Connecting to higher education: Not only can I talk with elementary and high school teachers and administrators, I can learn from professors and researchers doing current work in my areas of interest. It's thrilling to connect with psychologists and other professionals whose work I admire.

4) A place to share writing: Writing has become a passion of mine, and as my PLN ( Professional Learning Network) grows, my confidence grows. I am no longer shy about sharing my blog posts. I look forward to critical feedback and sharing.

5) A place to think critically: I don't just follow people I agree with all the time. I take the opportunity to reflect when I have an averse reaction to a tweet or blog post. As a "sometimes scientific" thinker, I often get annoyed when bloggers post with the utmost certainty when they are really just giving opinions without backing up or citing their resources.

6) A place to make connections for the future: Not only did I meet up with the wonderful @peoplegogy, who invited me to guest-blog here and his wonderful wife @elle_spanish, but I have met so many inspiring professionals who one day I hope to work with in some capacity.

7) Twitter makes me laugh: From the inane tweets about people wearing things they have no business wearing, to the cute pics of kids and the adorable things they say, I am entertained and uplifted by the humorous tidbits people share. Laughter is an amazingly under-appreciated resource.

8) A place and time to hope: Contrary to what many "non-believers" may say, Twitter is not about the superficial, at least not in the company I keep. The folks I follow and dialogue with are truly concerned with making a difference, living a meaningful life, and giving back to society.

9) Twitter lets me help others: I know what you may be thinking. Help others? Why would I want to take the time to give advice, etc? For me, reaching out to someone asking for help online is a gratifying, renewing gift that I give myself.

10) It makes me want to be a better person: Learning about all of the wonderful, inspiring work others are doing to create change in the world makes me want to play my best game, each and every day.

So, now that you've listened to me ramble on, please share! What are your reasons for being on Twitter?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview with Nicole Williams: Career Expert, Author, and Entrepreneur

If you have been reading this blog, then you already know about my fascination with career development and finding one's niche. Well, a few years ago, I stumbled across this book that had a woman with a great pair of legs on the cover. Naturally, I picked it up and started thumbing through the pages. I eventually stopped on page 104 when I saw the heading All Goals are Not Created Equal. The more I read, the more I was hooked. Filled with a wealth of information and entertaining witticisms, it was the first career development book that spoke to my spirit. The title: Wildly Sophisticated.

That was the author's first book, and she has gone on to write two more. Fellow career enthusiasts, meet Nicole Williams.

Will: Who is Nicole Williams? Did you know you always wanted to be a career expert?

Nicole: As a young girl I realized that work is a critical part of life. My mother was so smart, with so much potential, but by the end of her career she hated work so much that she became depressed. Watching her, I became infinitely curious about what other people did from nine to five, and why. So, to answer your question, I didn’t always know it was my calling—but I always had an interest.

Will: What was your career defining moment?

Nicole: About fifteen years ago I was looking for a career change. I started scouring resources in bookstores to help me manage my switch, and I couldn’t find anything truly meaningful. That’s when I realized the need for honest, relevant career advice for women (and men) who want fulfilling well-rounded lives. And so WORKS by Nicole Williams was born.

Will: Your latest book is titled: Girl on Top. What would you say is the essential pain point of the book? How is this book different from your other two books – Wildly Sophisticated and Earn What You’re Worth.

Nicole: The chapter “Don’t Waste the Pretty” sums it up nicely. It’s all about owning your career—you can’t sit back and let others manage it for you. It’s up to you to make your goals and dreams come to fruition, and in order to do so you need to do continual checks and balances and make sure you’re surrounding yourself by an environment and people who will help you, not hold you back. This book is edgier and more honest than my last two, and focuses on the softer career skills that are so often crucial to success.

Will: What inspired you to become an author? When did you realize that you had ideas for a book? And what is the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself during the writing process?

Nicole: I’ve always loved to write, and when I decided to create a media company around career, writing books was a natural fit. I hear from so many people on a daily basis who are struggling in their jobs and benefit from hearing an outside opinion. The books are an answer to these people, and the millions of others who don’t take the time to write in. The ideas come through them. Through writing them, I’ve learned/ taught myself over and over again that if you have a vision and the drive to see it through, anything is possible.

Will: There are hundreds of thousands career books out there. How did the idea of taking dating tips/rules and comparing them to career development come about? One does not usually associate the two.

Nicole: I was divorced a few years back and a friend came to me with a “get out of your funk” bag filled with all sorts of goodies, including some of the bestselling dating books. As I flipped through them I couldn’t help but notice the parallels to career, and that’s when the light bulb went off… I also love dating just as much as I love the subject of career, so it was fun to put my theories to the test!

Will: Switching gears… People have seen you on the Today Show, TLC’s Real Simple, Donny Deutsch, and a lot of other TV shows. What challenges did you face in becoming such a well know brand? What did you do to overcome them?

Nicole: Self-promotion is not easy, but it’s necessary to any blossoming business. You can’t be shy about putting your name out there and asking others to help you. Utilize your network to its fullest.

Will: What was the genesis for you founding Works by Nicole Williams? For those unaware of what Works is, would you give them a rundown?

Nicole: WORKS is a multi-media company (books, websites, TV, newsletters, a film in the works) that serves to provide career advice to young professional women. As I mentioned, I noticed the need for a company like this when struggling with my own career several years ago.

Will: With the internet being the great equalizer, how is new media guiding your message and how you deliver your message?

Nicole: Twitter and Facebook have been very helpful in allowing us to engage with our existing audience, and also in reaching out to new people who are having discussions about resumes, bosses, jobs, etc, but who haven’t yet heard about my site or books as a resource. It’s allowing us to expand our audience from just young professional women to people of all ages in all career stages.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Leighann Lord: Comedian and Blogger

Often heard and seen on XM Sirius, comedy clubs, and other venues, Leighann Lord is seriously hella funny. Her comedy is the perfect mix of sarcasm and social commentary. More than a one-liner, she's rocked on TV - appearing on ABC (The View), HBO (The Original Def Comedy Jam), Comedy Central (The World Stands Up and Premium Blend), Lifetime (Girl's Night Out), and FoxNews (The Strategy Room). A writer as well, Leighann's views on an array of topics can be read in Stage Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, and on her website: Ladies and gentlemen, meet Leighann Lord.

Will: Who is Leighann Lord? Why comedy?

Leighann: Leighann Lord is a world traveling stand-up comedian, writer, actress, black belt, type A workaholic-perfectionist, and unabashed sci-fi fan. I love writing, performing and making people laugh. It also helps that I hated my day job and being cooped up in a cubicle all day made me itch. And by itch, I mean cry.

Will: How long have you been in the business?

Leighann: I started in 1992. I prefer to say it that way than actually doing the math. Big numbers make me nervous.

Will: What is the process for creating a joke?

Leighann: It helps to start off with a bit of brain damage. Nothing serious, just enough to help you see the world a little differently than other people and feel compelled to tell them about it when they’re drinking.

Seriously, my process starts with something I see, hear or read. I always carry a little notebook, and I write down anything that captures my attention so I can come back to it later and flesh it out. In fleshing it out I ask questions, play with wording, write, rewrite, and get it “ready” to do on stage. Depending on the joke this can take a few minutes or several years.

Will: How does that turn into a set?

Leighann: New jokes are like baby birds. Throw them out of the nest too soon and they crash and die. I try to position them logically and thematically in and around existing material in my set that already works. A new joke about the oil spill (because that’s oh, so hilarious) would probably work best with other topical, political or environmental material. I like to give new jokes a cushion, if they don’t work. There’s something behind it that so the audience doesn’t get restless and storm the stage with torches.

Will: Describe your comedic style?

Leighann: If comedy were music, I’d be jazz. I like to call what I do thinking cap comedy. It’s smart and works best when people bring their brain to the show rather than leaving it in the glove compartment. For comedy fans, I’m George Carlin if he’d been born a black woman.

Will: What makes your comedy yours?

Leighann: I personally and painstakingly write every joke with love and salt it to taste.

Will: Is there really a difference between Black and White comediennes?

Leighann: Yes. Their color and preferred choice of hair products.

Will: Is there still a stigma on female comediennes?

Leighann: Yes, there is still a perception, albeit misguided, that women aren’t funny. We just don’t have the room to fail that male comics do. Truth be told, there are still way more male comics than female comics, and a lot of the guys are quite bad. So statistically I’m surprised anyone thinks male comics are funny at all.

Will: Has comedy become too raunchy? That is, has the cursing and sex stuff diminished the art form of comedy?

Leighann: Comedy has always been raunchy. That’s the nature of the beast. Back in the day our parents and grandparents listened to it surreptitiously on party records in the basement. Redd Foxx, anybody? That said, the problem now is the plethora of comedians doing raunchy humor so poorly. They’re not writing; they’re simply trying to shock the audience sans content. Eventually, the shock wears off.

Will: What makes you laugh?

Leighann: My dog. He’s hilarious! Very raunchy though, go figure. Actually, I love heady humor, comics like George Carlin, Franklyn Ajaye, Dick Gregory.

Will: What is it like when the audience is with you?

Leighann: Heaven.

Will: What is it like when they are not?

Leighann: Hell.

Will: What advice would you or do you give to someone interested in becoming a professional comedienne?

Leighann: Go get therapy instead.

Will: Any final thoughts?

Leighann: Live Long & Prosper.