Posts in the ‘community’ Category

Calling All Bloggers! A Roundtable on Mentors

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A couple years ago, I participated in a blogging round table at HoneyAndLance.com and I thought it was one of the coolest ideas I’d seen. So, I hope my friends there won’t mind if I borrow (heavily) from their call-for-posts post. WorkLoveLife is hosting a round table. The subject is mentors. Any blogger can participate, but a few of you I’m contacting directly to make sure you do. Ahem.

How It Works

Write a post on the topic on your blog. I’m not curating the posts, there are no prizes or winners, and all posts are included in no particular order. If you do participate, please drop the link to your post in the comments section of this post. When all is said and done, I’ll post a round-up of everyone who participated with links to your blog posts on the subject. I think the rest of the participating bloggers would appreciate you spreading the link love on your blog, too, after I post the round-up.

I’ll be looking for your post to be up by next Monday, March 1.

Benefits

As my friends at HoneyAndLance pointed out, there are many benefits to participating:

1. Test out your writing chops.

2. By interlinking the posts everyone will pump up their pageranking and take advantage of search engine traffic. Having a keyword like “mentors” or “personal board of directors” could be popular, too, and give your post a long tail.

3. Drive our individual audiences to other blogs.

4. Read interesting and diverse perspectives.

To Get the Ideas Cranking

The mentorship round table topic was spawned from a single tweet I sent out last week.

It got a ton of response – more than I thought one sentence would get, but apparently it rings true for a lot of people. I got a bunch of replies from people who could relate, and it spurred a lot of online (and offline) conversations with friends about the nature of mentorship. I joke that it takes a board of directors to run my life. But you’ll have to read my post to find out more about that.

So, who are your mentors? What do you do when you outgrow a mentor? How do you find your mentors? What value is there in having a mentor? Do any of you think having a mentor is pointless? Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us your story. Again, don’t forget to post your link in the comments!

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

Why I'm starting another blog

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

My life has been an interesting series of transitions, always changing and moving in new directions. Social media seems to mimic our lives, and my life in the virtual world has transformed right alongside my not-so-virtual life (the two are increasingly interwoven… I’m not sure I could separate one from the other anymore).

When I started WorkLoveLife in February 2008, I had no idea it would take me where I am today. What nobody tells you when you start a blog is that you will become a junkie. First, you’ll start devouring other people’s blogs in your genre. Then you start commenting on their blogs, and then you figure out that when you do that you get more readers. Oh that’s neat, you think. I wonder what else I can do to get more readers

It spiraled out from there. As I grew WorkLoveLife, I began to run across concepts that I was already working with in my day job in marketing. And I was intrigued. Here I had been MySpacing, Facebooking (um, anyone else remember being on Friendster? I was there), Flickring, tagging and tweeting, and mixed up in all this craziness was marketing.

I wrote a few posts that really had nothing to do with Work, Love or Life, but had everything to do brand image, marketing, and social media tools. And they were some of my favorite posts to write. And scrolling through my feeds every day, I would star dozens of articles daily that I wanted to blog about… but they just didn’t seem to fit what I was doing with WorkLoveLife.

One night, not long after my day job had a serious sputter, I sat on the phone with Penelope Trunk, trying to figure out my next move when she spits out the most preposterous idea. “You should be doing social media, Holly,” she says matter-of-factly, as if she’s been reading my tea leaves. “You do it all already. Just start a blog and round out your resume with some bullets by offering to do some social media campaigns for local businesses and friends.”

I considered this and found it hard to swallow that I could offer my thoughts to others on this subject. Then I started looking around my community and saw a major hole. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had any clue when it came to social media. I met with the community in San Antonio, and god love ‘em, they encouraged me. “Holly is social media in Corpus Christi,” Luis Sandoval told someone as he introduced me. And the truth of it hit me. If nobody filled the hole, the snake oil salesmen would show up soon, and I couldn’t have that happen – not to my community, not to social media.

That was about a month ago. Voila, blog. Hello, social media marketing portfolio. And you know, I even ended up falling for the guy who was running the political action group I offered to do a Facebook promotion for.

I love social media.

My new blog is HollyHoffman.com. It’s in it’s infancy, so keep checking back for updates – first up, RSS so you don’t need to keep checking up. And WorkLoveLife isn’t going anywhere. Just doubling up the blogging efforts!

How I Found Our Voices

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

It was January 2008. My head was full of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” Robert Kiyosaki and that mother of all Gen Y goals – passive income. I was gonna start a blog.

After all, the people who were writing Employee Evolution, Modite and TwentySet were freaking kids compared to me. Why couldn’t I do it? Didn’t I have something to say?

So, February 2, 2008 I pushed the button. That big old publish button. And…

Nothing happened.

Well, not nothing. My family read it, old coworkers, friends, a guy I was dating. But that was about it. My first few posts bounced around.

I’m not sure when it first happened, but it came. A message from someone who said I had helped. Then another. And after a while, another. When I decided to be open about my sobriety in a very public fashion, my inbox was flooded. The comments section burst not just with congratulations, but with thank yous. Privately, I replied to emails from people who wondered if they had a problem, where they might find some help, for a variety of addictions and problems, not just alcoholism.

It’s not easy to put yourself out there; it’s not easy for me to put myself out there. While I’ve received a lot of support and praise for my candor and honesty, I’ve also been attacked at my most vulnerable point. And to be honest, there are times when it makes me not want to blog anymore. It hurts, and I’ve watched my fellow bloggers go through it, too, in the comments sections of posts they were probably already nervous to publish.

Because each time we publish, we offer a piece of ourselves to the community. Sometimes the community accepts it, maybe they even love it, but sometimes it loves to hate us. Maybe the comments affect us so much because we know the power of words. Every time we post a new entry, we’re calling on the power of those words to do something, whether it’s to address a growing problem, sway people to our political beliefs, or to simply get something off our chest.

For me, the power of my words is used to share what little I’ve learned, and more often than not, to show what I haven’t. That’s the amazing thing about blogging, this global broadcast of words – it reminds me each and every day that I’m not alone, that my situation isn’t unique. And as long as my readers keep telling me that my honesty about where I am in my life helps them, just to know that someone else is going through it too, then I’m going to keep blogging.  

Oh, and passive income? Yeah, right. To both income and passive. Blogging hasn’t earned me any money, it hasn’t gotten me a job, and it definitely hasn’t landed me a relationship, and there are days where I feel a little beaten down. But I love it. And some days, it loves me back. And that was unexpected.

Photo credit: Ashe-Villain via Flickr.

Welcome 2Sense Online Readers!

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

WorkLoveLife and I were recently profiled by 2Sense Online for their Meet a Blogger series. If you’re already a regular reader, check out the article over at 2Sense Online.

If you are new to WorkLoveLife, then welcome! Here’s a round-up of some of the most popular posts and some of my personal favorites as well.

Work
Want Better Networking Skills? Be a Player
Gen Y Isn’t Unique; We’re Just a Bunch of Bursty Workers
My Bohemian Self Versus My Corporate Self

Love
You Can Land a Job but You Can’t Land a Man: Successful Women Remain Single
Me and the Great Online Dating Experiment
Good Work Life=Good Sex Life

Life
Young, Professional, Alcoholic
Questioning the Quarter-Life Crisis
Coffee Makes My Life Better

You can keep up with WorkLoveLife by either subscribing by email or RSS.

Office celebrations: Unity or unprofessionalism?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

There is a particular department in my company that seems to be in perpetual celebration. There are banners, work tables draped in flimsy paper tablecloths, and an endless parade of cookies, cakes, and potluck lunches. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that department undecorated.

I try to figure out each time the decorations change what the new celebration is. Is it someone’s birthday? A new season? Canadian national holiday? The vernal equinox? Daylight savings? Sally’s cousin’s granddaughter turned 2? Perhaps it’s jealousy that I don’t seem to be in the crowd that gets invited despite not being part of that department. More than anything, I find it humorous that it’s the department that is always trying the latest diet fad, which is a whole new level of irony given the confections that department rolls through there.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a raucous company holiday party as much as the next 20-something, and I enjoy the free food that comes along with early morning meetings, lunch meetings and the occasional birthday. When I worked at a start-up that had about 7 employees, we had a grand time one-upping each other when it came time to throw the birthday celebrations. But that was a small office, and at a start-up, you practically have to celebrate your birthday with your coworkers because you’re with them so much.

I understand that office celebrations can provide a sense of unity and community among employees. Some people work 40, 50, sometimes 60 hours a week at their jobs; it can inspire a little goodwill among workers and serve the utilitarian purpose of not losing productivity by keeping employees well fed and happy.

On the flip side, it seems unprofessional to me. There are the decorations, which recently went well beyond streamers and balloons, which stay up for at least a week following the celebration. Then there are the cooking smells from baking in the company kitchen that linger in the hallways for hours. (Side note: When I managed a basement radio station, I banned popcorn. No joke. Those odors lingered for days without ventilation.) Aside from the things that just plain annoy me, I wonder where they get the money for that stuff. Does it come out of their pockets? Is it part of their budget? Why don’t I get paid to cook on the clock? What if a customer comes in – does that undermine the professionalism of the entire company?

Companies spend a lot of time and money on providing the right environment for their employees and customers, taking into account colors, furnishings, and in some cases even smell (the cafe I part-time at doesn’t allow outside food or drink because the space should be committed to the aroma of coffee). When you do work in such close proximity with others for that long, you ought to take into account what might be offensive to others. I’m not saying you can’t pop popcorn, but enough with the 9 a.m. lasagna baking.

Am I being the office curmudgeon? Is there a point at which office celebrations are taken too far?

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons.

Can social networking exist in a vacuum?

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I read a lot of blogs lately talking about how social networking is single-handedly lowering the real-life social skills of an entire generation, that it hampers effective social change, that it kills productivity. At the same time, I read articles about the miracle of social networking, how it’s keeping people connected and helping form new connections in both our personal and business lives by bringing niches together without geographic constraints. What is undeniable is that connecting is important, that the bonds we form personally can be used to further our business goals, and that the people we meet in the workplace or through business networking can become part of our personal lives.

With all of the hype surrounding social networking, the articles on weak ties, etc. I wonder what good social networking actually is if you don’t have the opportunity to meet any of the people you are connecting with. For example, CoolPeopleCare blogger Sam Davidson recently visited Madison to meet with Modite blogger Rebecca Thorman. Employee Evolution bloggers Ryan Paugh and Ryan Healy moved from New Jersey to Wisconsin to co-found a company with BrazenCareerist author and blogger Penelope Trunk. What is it about the personal contact of meeting someone in person? There is something undeniable about that face-to-face connection solidifying what you’ve built up via social networks.

Perhaps there is a bit of jealousy that runs through me that these groups of bloggers have the opportunity to work in such close proximity to one another, or at least fly to each other. Groups breed creativity and allow ideas to grow. I’ve also blogged about accountability partners and how being around one or a group of like-minded individuals who are striving toward goals as well can keep you moving forward, increasing productivity and helping you meet your goals faster.

I live in mid-sized town in south Texas. For those of you in big cities, mid-sized means about 300,000 people. That’s pretty small. Not being from Texas and not having a lot of the same political, religious or social ideals as most people in my area compounds the problem. It’s near impossible to search out people who have similar goals (OK, any goals) whom I can connect with. Granted, social networking has allowed me to reach out to other people like myself, including those I mentioned above, and to keep up with the ones I meet who move away.

At some point, though, I do see myself meeting with the ones I form stronger-than-weak ties with via social networking, which is what brings to me back to the original question. Can social networking effectively exist in a vacuum? Or, is it necessary at some point in the relationship to make face-to-face contact?

I Get Accountable: A Follow-Up

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I took my own advice this week after blogging about accountability partners. After all, that’s what the post was about. I met with a girlfriend Wednesday to catch up and discuss a book I had loaned to her a few weeks ago, Ladies Who Launch. It was the first book I read when I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur and it eased me into the start-up mindset. So, knowing my friend was feeling uninspired, I loaned it to her. It had such an impact at a pivotal moment in my life, I was anxious to see how it would affect her.

After a great hour-and-a-half long conversation that included brainstorming business ideas, we agreed that it would be nice to do on a regular basis. Earlier that day, at a political rally, I bumped into another one of my girlfriends, an ex-coworker, who in the course of the usual chit-chat off-handedly mentioned that she was thinking of starting her own business. I made a lunch date with her for later in the week, and mentioned the idea of adding her to our weekly meetings to my other friend.

Accountability group accomplished. It’s more than that, though, since we have different interests. We’re all interested in starting our own businesses, but some of us are interested in real estate investing, stocks and inventing. The nice thing is that three people can accomplish more than one can. So, instead of one person trying to research sole proprietorships, limited liability corporations, taxes and bookkeeping, trademarking and copyrighting law, etc., we have three people who can split it up. And where one person has X contacts in her network, our group will multiply that by three.

Besides all of the rational and technical benefits of our group, there is also the more emotional benefit of knowing that there are people who get excited about the same things I do, who are striving toward the lofty goals as well, who are unsatisfied with the status quo and are willing to take action.

Stand Up and Be Accounted

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Accountability is a word you often hear bounced around your workplace (i.e. being held accountable for your responsibilities) and the big business arena (i.e. corporate accountability). What I’m talking about is a different sort of accountability. Really, the word has come to mean so little to me due to its jargonization from the first two instances that I needed to look it up.

Accountability, according to Merriam-Webster, means the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

I first heard of “accountability groups” from their use as post-rehab groups. Recovering addicts and alcoholics leaving rehab facilities who live in the same area get together regularly to discuss their recent progress and actions, and to accept responsibility for them.

That might sound pretty hard-core, but it’s something that I’ve been able to utilize recently to help me make some life changes I really wanted to achieve. For instance, most recently I decided that it would be better for my life overall if I started waking up earlier. I thought a long time before I mentioned it to anybody because I know myself and I know that waking up earlier is not going to be easy for me. Once I made the decision, I knew that I couldn’t go it alone.

How to get started
My accountability partner happened on accident. When I started my running program, I got so excited about it that I told everyone. One friend in particular made a point of asking me nearly every time I talked to him how my running program was going. I always answered honestly, whether it was going good or bad. When it was good, he was glad to hear it; keep it up, he said. When it was rough, he offered encouraging words; don’t give up, he said, you’ll get there.

The amazing thing, though, is what took place in my head. When I thought about skipping a run, I knew I would have to face my friend with the truth. I was going to be held accountable for my decision. Knowing that made me go through the excuses I would try to get away with, know that no one of them would work and I would sound like an ass, so I went for my run. It’s been 8 weeks since I started that running program and I haven’t missed a day!

So, when it came time to quit coffee and within a few days, begin a new morning routine, I told my accountability partner. Day Six without coffee and Day Two waking up early, and he’s asked me about both. And each time I see a tempting cup of coffee or I feel the desire to hit the snooze button, I imagine having to tell my accountability partner my lame reasons why I made those decisions.

Don’t just take – give accountability!
I realized this morning how much of an accountability monger I’ve been! Spread the love, people. You can be someone’s accountability partner, too. All it takes is a genuine concern and a little bit of effort to remember to ask a friend how he or she is doing on whatever new venture or project they are working on.

The nice thing about accountability is that it does have a whole lot to do with advice. If you know something about their project, great. Offer your experience. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t. The point is that you are there.

Tips for accountability
1. You’re there to give/get support. You don’t need to dish out advice every time you talk to someone. Ask them how it’s going, good or bad. Get details if it’s bad. Let them know if you’re seeing progress. This can be especially important for long-term goals.

2. Don’t be an unsolicited accountability partner. It sucks, but it’s true – sometimes people don’t want to be held accountable. I see it every New Year; people tell you about their new resolution, and when you ask them about it two or three weeks later you get a mumble and a growl. Not everyone wants to really change, and you’ll only piss them off, you busy body know-it-all!

3. Frequency is key. If you’re not being held accountable on a regular basis, then it won’t work. Figure out what the optimal schedule is for the task at hand. If it’s running four times a week, then at least once a week will work. If it’s sticking to a monthly budget, then once a month might work. Figure it out with your accountability partner so that you don’t go too easy or too hard on yourself.

4. Your accountability partner should keep you in line. Dump a doormat accountability partner. They’ll get you nowhere fast and you might not be helping them much either. On the other side of the spectrum, ditch an overbearing partner. You shouldn’t dread calling your accountability partner because you think he or she is going to rail at you. That’s the fastest way to give up.

5. Be honest. Otherwise, there’s no point. Remember, this isn’t forced upon you as a class assignment or as a job duty. It’s supposed to be about a change you really want to make. If you’re not honest, you’re only lying to yourself.

6. Spread the love; start an accountability group. If you are a person in the middle of totally reworking your life from top to bottom, honey, you might be too much for one person! In all seriousness, being an accountability partner is a big responsibility. Consider getting a group of like-minded friends together once a month to discuss your goals, actions and plans and hold each other accountable for them. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that not everyone is perfect 100% of the time. A group can be there to share their experiences with similar goals or projects.


7. Post it on a blog. Hard to admit publicly that your attempt at quitting coffee or waking up early failed miserably because you didn’t have the will power to pull it off. Heh.

Don’t forget the rewards

Providing a friend with support can be a truly amazing experience. My accountability partner told me recently how rewarding it’s been for him to see me achieve the goals he’s helped me with. I hope one day I can experience that kind of reward with many of my friends.

Get accounted.