Fall Reflection and Operation 2019

As I’m writing this post on a Sunday morning, the trees are doing a little dance outside since it’s so windy. The last of the leaves that haven’t fallen yet are barely holding on. Do we bother to rake today or wait one more week until all the trees are bare?

Fall in Chicago is my second favorite season (spring is my first love) because it represents hibernation and reflection for me. The frenetic pace of summer comes to a still. The colder weather invites warm blankets, hot tea and cuddling with a warm book. Or more intimate gatherings with friends around hot cocoa or going together to hear author readings.

It’s also a time for me to review what went well through the year, what kind of work I really enjoyed doing, what I didn’t, and what I need to do before the end of this fiscal year since I still have seven weeks. It’s also an opportunity to set up the kind of work I want to be doing in 2019.

Operation 2019

What I’ve realized through this introspection is that I really enjoy working in the environment, sustainability and social justice space. I also love all things food and culture, including everything from architecture, design and history to museums and cultural events. Finally, I also really enjoy teaching. As this latest course I’m teaching at Johns Hopkins University nears the end, I’m reminded at how much my students are really working their butts off to complete the material in the class in addition to working full time or raising families. Next month, I’ll be teaching a new class at University of Chicago’s Graham School on how to prepare and deliver strong visual presentations.

Now my goal is to find clients and editors in those spaces. Operation 2019 has begun! Got any ideas of who to reach? Let me know. Sometimes we forget the obvious.

Podcasts I’m Enjoying Right Now

I’m a bit of a podcast junkie. I edit my podcast library pretty regularly because I want to have a tight and curated list. In addition to #AmWriting, HowSound, and GrottoPod, three podcasts I’ve been listening to for over a year, I’ve added the following to my rotation these last couple of months:

·      Hurry Slowly: a podcast on the importance of thinking through what you’re doing rather than just reacting or doing something for the sake of doing it.

·      WTF Just Happened: thanks for the recommendation, Shannan! If you don’t want to be sucked into the black hole that is online news, this podcast is a nice and quick overview of what’s happening around the world.

·      On Background: similar to WTF Just Happened, this one is focused on the backstory of what’s making headline news in the Chicagoland area. I’d call it beyond the news behind the soundbite…

·      The City by USA Today: and similar to On Background, The City is an investigative podcast on what’s behind the six stories of rubble on Chicago’s west side. Although it’s not really about the rubble. The story is about corruption, environmental racism and incompetence when it comes to our so-called elected leaders. 

·      Last Scene: a riveting series talking about the most valuable and puzzling art heist in history: 13 artworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and 28 years later, the mystery of who stole the pieces has not been solved.

·      The Dream: have someone who is part of the multi-level marketing world? This podcast digs into the model and why it works for the top few at the expense of the thousands of others who almost always lose money. What’s the attraction and why do so many people fall prey, knowing the odds are stacked against them?

I'm Going On A Diet – Here’s Why You Should Join Me


Happy Friday, everyone!

Before you think my diet involves limiting my food intake or increasing my workouts and I’m going to try and sell you something, it’s not that kind of diet. The diet I’ve been trying these past couple of months is a social media diet.

Which is ironic, perhaps, since the class I’m teaching this summer at Johns Hopkins University is on Using Social & Digital Media. But there is a method to the madness and I’m planning on discussing my challenge with my students.

Here’s the thing: I’m drowning in emails and I’m getting frustrated that I’m not as productive as I know I can be. What should be taking me 30 minutes, maybe an hour, is taking me hours. I created this problem by being accessible. Sources reach out to me via Facebook messenger, readers comment on articles I’ve written via Twitter, clients text me when they need to get in touch quickly…the madness needs to stop because I’m not getting any actual work done.

I Like To Be In Control So I Put Myself on a Social Media Diet

This constant being “on” is making me feel out of control. I need to re-gain my time. I took off Facebook from my phone. I only log onto Twitter a few times a day rather than have it open all day on my desktop. I check my email only once an hour unless I’m in pitching mode or working on breaking news, like I was late last week, and I needed to be on email all day on Friday.

I Vow To Go Out More

Because I’m an extrovert and I feed off other people’s energy, I need to be social. Working for yourself and not being in an office can seem isolating for some but I’ve worked it out where I see people all the time so that’s not a problem for me. The picture on this email is of a painting by French painter Jean-Siméon Chardin called The House of Cards that I took when I was in DC a couple of months. Nestled among Renoir, Monet and Degas paintings, I couldn’t take my eyes off this painting. How calm. How quiet. I needed to reclaim my time. I needed to remind myself to take more trips to the museums, walk or take my bike to run errands so I can enjoy the outdoors, block time to talk and see my friends rather than text them that I missed them.

Podcast & Book Love

Perhaps at the right time, my brother texted me about a new book recommendation: Deep Work by Cal Newport. Not 30 minutes later, I was listening to one of my favorite podcast, #AmWriting with Jess & KJ, and KJ mentions it on their episode! I texted my brother that I think it’s a sign I need to read it. He orders it from Amazon to have it delivered to my house and 48 hours later.

If you love podcasts as much as I do, listen to this great interview with Cal Lampert on NPR. You can also watch his TedTalk on why you should quit social media. I should note that I have no intention of quitting social media. Honestly, I can’t. As a marketer and writer, it’s part of my daily work. But I can control how much I consume it, and that’s where my diet is working, albeit slowly.

Speaking of slowly, another great podcast I’ve been enjoying is by Jocelyn K. Glei called Hurry Slowly. She’s also the author of Unsubscribe (which reminds me, I need to get a copy!).

I mentioned I’m teaching a class about using social and digital media and it might seem out of line to be teaching this class if I’m intentionally trying to limit my intake of social media. And, let’s be honest, sending an email like this one is using digital media. I’m not going off social media, I’m just taking control of how I access it and I don’t think I’m alone. As marketing and communication professionals, we need to understand how to best reach our audiences; how they consume social and digital media is crucial to developing effective marketing plans.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a Twitter party. My students and I will be participating in Twitter chats all summer. Have any good ones for us to join? If so, email me and let me know. I may not respond until Monday, but I’ll definitely respond! ;-)

Until next month, my friends…