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“You’re in Boston?”:The Personal Value of Social Media

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I recently realized the true value of social media. This story isn’t actually about social media. It is about how social media can help you be more social…for real. Let me back up for a moment.

The idea of social media has always been about connecting people. Mark Zuckerberg connected college students with one another, and now Facebook has connected the entire world. Twitter was founded on the premise that individual thoughts are important, and that others will care about what you have to say. The concept of social media was always meant to be just that: social.

But there’s an issue.

The idea of being social has now become more about interacting with screens than with each other.

We’ve become more interested in how many favorites we get than how many eyebrows we raise.

We don’t tell stories because we don’t need to; there’s video for that. We’ve moved toward likes, comments, swipes, and (unfortunately) pokes instead of high fives, hugs, and genuine smiles. While social media has been working to connect the world, I certainly don’t feel more connected when sitting alone in my room reading my Twitter feed.

There is a solution.

I am not anti-social media. On the contrary, I use it every single day. This past weekend, I was given a very clear reminder of the true value social media offers.

While taking a weekend trip to Boston to visit a college friend named Sully, I sent a tweet saying how excited I was to be in the city.

Now, my best friend from high school has done pretty well for himself. His name is Ethan Finlay. He played soccer at Creighton University and was drafted 10th overall in the MLS Superdraft in 2012. He now plays professionally for the Columbus Crew and has worked his way into the starting lineup.

Little did I know that the same day I was visiting Sully, the Columbus Crew was playing the New England Revolution just a stone’s throw away from Boston. Here’s the tweet Ethan sent me:

Not only did I attend the game with Sully, Ethan got us seats in a suite which provided an amazing view for the game-winning goal he scored in the 84th minute. After the game, we were able to meet up with Ethan and his teammates (two of them had played in the World Cup; fun to see them in person).

None of this would have happened without social media. I sent one tweet, got a response, and made it happen. This is the personal value of social media: to help us become truly social.

The next time you are bored, resorting to your Twitter feed for entertainment, use it to make a real connection. Send a tweet that says, “Anyone want to get coffee?” Use social media to build your connections. Use social media to truly get connected.

The real connections that can come from social media just might raise your eyebrows.

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Why Does Everyone Hate Routine?

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I’ve heard it a million times…

“I’m just trying to get out of the day-to-day routine.”

Believe it or not, the routine is not the enemy.

The idea of doing things the same way has gotten an unwarranted negative stigma, especially if the way things are being done is efficient and effective.

There is precision in repetition.

There is a reason a basketball player shoots 50 free-throws in practice, a reason the assembly line revolutionized the auto industry, and a reason establishing a routine in your daily life will prove beneficial.

Routines get a bad reputation because people tend to get stuck in them. If routines are consistently updated, and flexibility and innovation are top priorities, that issue no longer exists.

Everything from managing your work time to organizing the sequence of events you go through to get ready in the morning can benefit from consistency. Routines matter.

So here are three things to consider when looking to set a productive routine:

 

  1. The better you can be at establishing a process, documenting the process, and following the steps each time, the more efficient you will become.
  2. The better you are at setting non-interrupted work times with specific outcomes in mind, the more focused and results-oriented you will become.
  3. And the better you get at planning your spontaneity, the more enjoyable it will be knowing that all your other tasks and timelines are right where they need to be.

As you push yourself to build an effective routine, keep in mind the famous words of Aristotle:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

The Snapchat Effect

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The world is full of people using Snapchat.

While this may be efficient for communication, what it does to our attention span is scary.

The amount of information being thrown at us by the day, hour, and minute has led us to placing such a high value on efficiency that skimming information has basically become hard-wired into our DNA.

But there is an issue with this.

The higher we value efficiency, the less we seem to value information, and as Gordon Gekko says,

“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”

I’m not coming down on the idea of being efficient. I’m simply stating that it is extremely difficult to learn anything new or retain knowledge if we only read or listen to a quarter of the information while only paying half attention.

The next time you read a book, watch a TED Talk, click on an article, peruse your e-mail, or attend an event, here is a quick list of tips:

  1. Give it your full attention. If you need to set it down and come back to it later, fine, but at least you aren’t doing it halfway.
  2. Reflect on what you’ve just read, seen, or experienced. Let it sink in. In this way, you will better be able to remember it at relevant times in the future.
  3. Don’t procrastinate. If you get an e-mail, read it fully, answer it fully, and move on. When things pile up, you’ll need to catch up, and this will suck your time and attention.

So continue to use Snapchat. I don’t mind at all. But also commit to dedicating time and attention when necessary, and if you’ve gotten to this sentence without skimming the post, you’re on the right track.

 

 

How to Get a Job at Google; Takeaways for a High School Student

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This article has made major ripples in the hiring waters recently because Google has stated that GPAs and test scores are “worthless” and that the proportion of people without college degrees working at Google has increased over time.

What should you be taking from this as a high school student about to head to the college level?

1. Take Initiative

One of the biggest criticisms of the Millennial generation is that they always need to be told what to do and how to do it. You will absolutely set yourself apart if you specialize in getting things done. This means that you don’t fear doing things incorrectly and that you’re willing to put yourself out there. The head basketball coach at Marquette, Buzz Williams, said in an interview that he sent hundreds of hand-written letters to coaches around the country before being offered his first position. What will you do that your peers are too scared, lazy, or unprepared to do to get what you desire?

2. Be Willing to Learn

Recognize that you don’t know everything. Some of the most innovative products have come from asking seemingly stupid questions. When you think you’ve learned everything you can, then you start placing blame on those around you when things go wrong. Always be ready to take feedback and improve. The article calls this “Intellectual humility.”

3. Gain Experience

As the relevance of test scores and GPAs decreases, it will be increasingly important that you prove yourself in your field. Get internships or jobs that relate to your area of study, volunteer, network, etc. As a Freshman in college, business professionals will be impressed if you try to set up a lunch meeting simply to pick their brain (this goes back to taking initiative). The more experience you have working on teams, learning from different environments, and excelling at various levels, the more willing a company like Google will be to give you a shot.


At the end of the day, I don’t work at Google, and I can’t give you a perfect blueprint for being hired there. I can, however, promise you that doing the three things above will put you in a better position to get a great job or start your own company after college. Good luck!

FOCUS Training does the Harlem Shake

FOCUS Training decided to do the Harlem Shake in the office, which turned a typical day in the office into a wild scrum of Harlem Shakers!

Kyle’s Typical Work Day

As a young professional, I take pride in my work, as should you. Sometimes it is difficult to work as hard as I do, but hey, if I didn’t work this hard nothing would ever get accomplished around here!

How do you spend your time?

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