Career Exploration and Tribes at Social Media Week 2011

I’ve been plugging along on some serious papers and future blog posts on education and the economy. This work has interested and engaged me, butit’s been intense. Luckily, I had some other experiences this week that were as absorbing, but also lightened things up, all courtesy of social networking.

On Wednesday, I had a great conversation over coffee about the potential that coaching has for Millennials with fellow mission-driven coach Brett Kunsch of Kunbre Life Coaching. We first met online through our active participation on Brazen Careerist. In the afternoon, I met with Alisha Miranda, a fearless marketing and events professional who I connected with on Twitter. We co-worked together in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn for about four hours and our co-working included sharing some uninterrupted writing time and bouncing business questions off of each other. Wednesday made me reflect on how much my life has changed over the last year. In February 2010, I worked for one of the largest organizations in the country, but felt disconnected to people. Today, I officially work alone, but feel 100% more connected because I’ve met my “tribe”- like minded people who want to do both good and well, each on their own path. And I’ve met almost all of them first online.

During our co-working, Alisha told me about a panel she was working on for New York Social Media Week, which is taking place next week (February 7 to 11). I’ve had Social Media Week on my calendar the last two years, but never made it to one event. I am not sure how I almost missed the whole thing this year! Thanks to Alisha’s tip, I registered for some specific career and education related events (listed on my News and Events page and all free). One of the things that struck me the most is the sheer number of opportunities to learn and network about different careers in the Social Media Week schedule. In fact, I don’t think I have seen such a tremendous number of intriguing industry centered workshops in my life! Whether you’re interested in fashion, finance, international relations, government, or nutrition, there’s an event for you. And that’s just Monday’s schedule!

In career management, the most important things we offer are our relationships and knowledge. If you’re not an avid user of social media, and aren’t sure you want to be or are afraid of calling a Tweet by the wrong name, it’s okay. But you still should keep an open mind and take advantage of these opportunities. Only a small percentage of us get to live in an awesome city like New York City that has events like this. More importantly, you have no idea who will be sitting next to you and who they know or what you’ll learn. When we talk about social media, many of us think of it as something superficial, like millions of tweens talking about Justin Bieber, or a great force, like what’s happening in Egypt today. We forget that social networking also carries great personal power for individuals, one exchange at a time. Don’t miss the opportunity to have your version of the exchanges I had and the resulting relationships I built this week.

Want to get one-on-one help with social media and your career? Book Tracy for a Career Consulting Session and learn how to use social networking to find opportunities and build social credibility.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Guest Post: Why I Chose Communications by Aria McLauchlan

Aria McLauchlanI am so, so pleased to feature a guest post today from a client alumna, Aria McLauchlan! Aria is an Australian-turned-New Yorker who brought her business degree, work experience and a suitcase full of dreams to the city mid-2010. She is now settled and working in account service in a growing marketing agency, internationalizing her communications experience, writing her blog, Aria, Intrepid, and looking for little ways to inspire and make a difference. (Tracy’s note: Aria tweets about her commitment to making a difference and I recommend following her for that reason.)

Aria was gracious enough to write a post for me for my Why series. Many of us focus on How or What we do, but knowing your professional Whys are even more critical. People who have clarity about why they do something and can communicate it well get better results and that is something we discussed during our coaching.

So here is Aria McLauchlan on “why the girl who only ever wanted to ‘make a difference’ fell in love with advertising and marketing instead… and why she’s sticking with it.”

If you belong to the communications industry, there’s a very good chance you didn’t grow up wanting to be a ‘digital strategist’, a ‘copy writer’ or a ‘public relations consultant’. Those terms just don’t exist in childhood career aspirations.

But somewhere between childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina or an astronaut, and the glaring realities of an adult life, the idea of advertising as a career choice hit me in a beautiful, lightning-bolt moment of realization.

Watching a ‘chick flick’ at the age of 14 (I was born ten years too early to be able to earn any kudos from citing Mad Men as a source of career aspiration!), I saw two characters birthing a brilliant idea for sports giant, Nike.

While I’ve since forgotten the exact wording, the impact of watching an idea with unlimited potential unfold before my very eyes was immeasurable. This fabled idea would go on to win over an important client, glorify the career of these two characters, and inspire my own career path and college choices. Advertising as a job title entered my realm of consciousness. It was at this point that I knew that working with and conveying ideas, amidst the effortless ‘cool’ of the agency world would be the way to go.

Various personality and aptitude tests confirmed my inclination towards the communications industry, while the words Advertising Account Executive, printed casually in the depths of a monstrous high school Career Guide, spurred on a role that would prove to be a perfect fit for me in a field with which I was already enamored.

Despite my obvious alignment for my newfound role, advertising seemed to be at odds with many of my values and wider beliefs for the world; beliefs that were informed and highly influenced by my highly liberal, progressive family background. As my closest mentor has continually, although always gently, attested of our rampant consumerist society, and by extension, the industry which promotes it – why create perceived problems or needs, when so many real problems and needs already exist!?

My answer and rebuttal lies in this:

I’ve since discovered that beyond the perceived world of agency-cool, long lunches and sexy parties, and at the heart of the reality of non-stop 14 hour days whilst earning $30K a year out of college, the ‘glamour’ of communications has a much truer, if not seemingly intangible appeal.

The industry that is grounded in research, planning and insight, and that communicates that insight in the form of an idea that can resonate with all of us, is the same industry that has the resources [read: people], the capital, the capability and the influence to change the way we shop, the decisions we make, the causes or companies we support, the way we think, and ultimately, the way we are.

It is this potential that I see unleashed by a growing number of my counterparts every day. The ability to make a real difference in the corporate world might just be an idea, but I also feel it is a privilege and an opportunity. Now who wants to market that?

—-

Want help getting clarity on figuring out and communicating your Why? Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with me to talk about what I can do for you as a career coach and consultant.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Marketing Case Study of Catfish: Job Seeker Lessons

The 2011 Oscar nominations came out today! I am a movie person, so that excites me. I have waited to see most of the nominated movies because I discovered that AMC hosts two Saturday Manhattan Oscar showcases where they show all the movies (five each day). I did one showcase last year and it was so much fun, I hope to do it again, though with pillows.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been impressed by the Oscar nominated movies I’ve seen so far. I thought The Social Network was on the boring side (Jesse Eisenberg plays the same character in every movie and Andy Samberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is much better), Inception would have been good if the acting hadn’t been so bad (Ellen Page is generally overrated), and Toy Story III wasn’t as good as the others. The Kids Are Alright was just plain annoying. I thought about the 2010 movie I liked the most this morning and I’ve decided it was Catfish.

(Spoiler alert going forward if you haven’t seen Catfish…)

Catfish is a “documentary” (some believe the movie was staged) made by a trio of young New York City filmmakers who became Facebook friends with a family in rural Michigan. One of them, Nev, begins a long-distance flirtation with a daughter named Megan who’s the same age. After some time, the guys begin to believe something is amiss and travel unannounced to Michigan so they can meet the family. They find that most of what they experienced on Facebook, including Megan, was imagined by a woman named Angela who is a lonely mom with a difficult family situation. People had very strong reactions to Catfish. If you didn’t like it, you hated it because you thought it was staged or because these young, arrogant New Yorkers took advantage of old, simple Angela. 
(Yes, I know I am generalizing here.)

Catfish I am not suggesting that Catfish was worthy of an Oscar nomination, but it was definitely the movie I most enjoyed last year. I questioned whether parts were contrived, but I didn’t feel that they exploited Angela. For me, a good movie is one that touches me emotionally and hopefully makes me both laugh and cry and Catfish achieved both. I laughed at the silliness of the main character and I cried at Angela’s humanity. In the photos she stole and chose for her online persona, or in her self-portraits that she painted, you could see reflections of her true self, but with longing and regret. I think we can all relate to feeling stuck, but hoping for “more” at some point in our lives.

Some people would say Catfish was successful for a first-time documentary, but it initially had more potential. When the movie came out in September, there was internet chatter that this movie could be called the “real Facebook movie” over The Social Network. Obviously that didn’t happen, and that’s partly because the studio and filmmakers made constant mistakes in the marketing, mistakes that are easy to make in job seeking, too. Here are some lessons from Catfish I’ve been reflecting on and how they relate to careers.

One: Make sure you’re marketing yourself authentically.

The studio marketing of Catfish was a textbook case of what NOT to do. I decided to see Catfish based on a small paragraph I’d read in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly and hadn’t seen the trailer. The trailer markets the movie as a thriller- what will these young men find in Angela’s house in the boondocks of Michigan, which they first approach in the dark? Scary, but 5 minutes of the entire move. I am assuming that the studio thought that kind of movie would appeal to young moviegoers, but no one wants to feel cheated about what they’ve paid to see. I wouldn’t have gone to the movie if I’d first seen the trailer, which would have been a loss, based how much I enjoyed the movie.

It’s always best to market yourself authentically when you’re searching for a job, too, so you can find your right audience. If you’re marketing yourself as someone you’re not in your online and written documents, people will find out once they meet you at the interview, anyway. So please disregard bad career articles that tell you to focus on flirting over substance or to botox your resume (anyone notice these articles are always written for women by women? Ugh. That’s a dissertation, not a blog post).

Second, there are implications for your happiness. Say you even fool the hiring manager (unlikely), are you prepared to keep pretending you’re someone you’re not every day once you have the job? Why would you want to keep that up? Even if you’re not job searching because it was your choice, don’t you want something better for your next gig where you’re comfortable, happy, and successful? It’s hard to build success on lies and misrepresentations, just like Catfish, and for that fact, Angela.

Two: Emphasize your likeability.

We’ve talked about the importance of being likeable because above all else, people want to do business with people they like. I read lots of articles about how the filmmakers came off as punks in press tours and interviews. I am sure they felt attacked by the exploitation accusations, but they came off as likeable in the movie and had the opportunity to be that way with the press. No one wants to see a movie with people who seem like jerks and no one wants to hire someone who seems sketchy.

Three: Understand that everyone has preconceived biases and sometimes you can’t change them.

There were lots of people who didn’t like Catfish because they have predetermined notions about social networking and who uses it, as well as people like Angela. Some people were going to believe that Angela was exploited no matter what they saw in the movie. When I read the New York Times review of the movie, I wondered if the critic had seen the same movie. If you read his review, and others, you see opinions about the usefulness of Facebook creeping in and realize that it’s impossible to see a movie like this through an impartial lens. I wasn’t impartial, either. I have first hand experience with people who NEED to use social networking, who are unable to develop in-person relationships due to real phobias and related issues. Without the internet, they’d be unable to relate to anyone because of chemical reasons. While I would never advocate that people lie about their persona like Angela did, or believe her behavior was acceptable, I understand where the overwhelming desire to connect with strangers via the internet comes from for people who are stuck in their worlds. Of course I was going to cry at her story.

As a jobseeker, you have to realize that you only have limited control over people’s opinions on your candidacy because some of it is developed before you step in the room. Sometimes, the hiring manager will not give you a fair chance based on what s/he believes about people of your generation (young and old) or employees who worked for your previous company. Listening for those biases and addressing them is important, but it’s also essential to understand that you don’t have ultimate control over other people’s decision-making process. Your only responsibility is to do your best and accepting that lack of control is powerful. Perhaps the Catfish team could have done more to educate the general public about the different sides of social networking, but it’s likely that people would have brought their own Facebook experiences to the movie anyway.

As a wrap-up, yesterday was my book list and today’s my movie list. Here are my evaluations for the 2011 nominees pre-AMC Oscar Showcase. I am also including my 2010 ratings for reference if you’re trying to figure out my taste.

2011 Nominations

Loved

Okay

Whatever

Didn’t See

Inception
Toy Story III
The Social Network
The Kids Are Alright (hated) Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
True Grit
Winter’s Bone
127 Hours

2010 Nominations

Loved

Okay

Whatever

Didn’t See

Up
The Hurt Locker
The Blind Side
Precious
An Education
District 9
A Serious Man
Avatar (probably better in 3D)
Up In The Air (hated)
Inglorious Basterds (been on my DVR forever)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

What Books Should I Read in 2011?

One of my goals in 2011 was to read less, but somehow I am reading more! January hasn’t yet finished, but I’ve already read almost 10 books (I did take an unexpected trip so I read some on travel time). After not really loving what I read, I am in a book rut. While I have a list of 70+ books on my nook eBook wish list, none are jumping out at me as the “Next Read.”

I am taking a tip from my Twitter and Brazen Careerist colleague Jessica Malnik who listed 26 books she wants to read in 2011 (she has a great blog so you check out her other content, too). I am not that organized to think that far ahead, but here are 15 I’ve picked out as considerations. Any recommendations on what I should pick next? What I should add or subtract?

(Reminder: I am a Barnes and Noble Affiliate and if you buy a book by clicking to it from my website, I get a small commission. I also have a list of books I’ve already read and highly recommend that you can view).

Non-Fiction List:

1. They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World by Alexandra Levit. I’ve had this book on the shelf for a while (it’s not available as an eBook) and would like to finally read it and decide whether I should  recommend it to clients.

2. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin. I’m a huge fan of Linchpin. I read half of The Dip for free at Barnes and Noble in their cafe and loved it. I haven’t bought it because the eBook is more expensive than the hardcover and more expensive than most eBooks I’d buy. I am not sure how that pricing happens?  As someone who does much of her reading on the subway and is anti-clutter, I don’t want to read hard covers for any reason so I placed this on hold. Since I’ve felt like I’m in The Dip more frequently, I should probably just purchase and finish for insight.

3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Recommended by lots of people and loved the free preview. Seems similar to a lot of other books I’ve read so have put off committing to reading it, but maybe it’s time?

4. How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know by Stacy Kaiser. I want to read this book for client research and for my own benefit.  It may not be reassuring to some that a coach wants to read a book about how to be a grown-up. I like how Kaiser talks about choice as freedom. It’s a concept that I think we all needed to be taught or reminded, no matter what our age or profession is.
5. The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roa. I’m intrigued by this book. I am naturally inclined to draw messy pictures when I am talking about things and am wondering if this book will help me to do this more efficiently and effectively.

6. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim. I have conversations with my fellow coaches about competition quite often. Most of us don’t feel like we are competing with each other as much as we’re competing with our potential client’s desire to spend money on material goods. I still think this book could help me rethink my marketing strategies.

7. Free Agent Nation: the Future of Working for Yourself by Daniel Pink. I love myself some Daniel Pink. Drive rocked.

8. A great book on education. No ideas here, people. Any recommendations?

9. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.  Every productivity or career development book I read mentions this book. It’s probably time to visit the source. Another book where the eBook is priced higher than the hard copy. AGH.

Fiction List:

I try to read a fun fiction book for every two learning or non-fiction books.

10. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler. Not only do I love Chelsea Handler, someone gave it to me as a gift and it’s been sitting on my book shelf for six months. The only thing that has stopped me from reading it is that I’d have to carry it around.

11-13. The Millenium Trilogy. I am probably the last person on the planet that hasn’t read these books. I’ve been terrified that once I start, I won’t be able to put them down and I’ll lose a week of my life. (BTW- gave these as a Christmas gift to my mom. Is it bad form to ask to borrow them when she’s done?)

14. Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. This book was passed around the Fire Island house during the summer of 2009. Maybe it’s time I dig in.

15. Room by Emma Donoghue. Great reviews and seems like a great book.

Feedback highly welcome!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Join Me for Speed Mentoring Tonight on Brazen Careerist

Happy Thursday!

Brazen CareeristTonight, I’ll be one of the featured coaches attending Brazen Careerist’s Speed Mentoring Event on Network Roulette. Come meet with me and 13 other career and life coaches and get some quick advice in a virtual chat room tonight (Thursday, January 20, 2011) from 8PM to 9PM ET.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brazen Careerist, you should be. It’s one of the best online communities for people who are trying to be the best they can professionally and personally. On Brazen Careerist, I have exchanged ideas and made mutually beneficial connections, including a key business partner. Brazen Careerist was one of the top sites I mentioned in my career management workshop with Teach for America second year corps members in New York City. The site is great for people of all ages, but the connections and discussions are critical for entry-level professionals.

How does Network Roulette work? During a Network Roulette, you’ll be randomly matched with someone for three minutes where you can chat and determine if you can mutually help each other on a topic. I’ve participated in many Network Roulette events and met fellow entrepreneurs, client leads, and other awesome professionals. During the Speed Mentoring event tonight, you’ll be randomly matched with one of the coaches (hopefully, me!) and you can ask any question you want. You’ll also receive our contact information after you meet us so you can follow-up after the event. Three minutes seems quick, but I’ve learned you can get a lot done in a quick interaction. (However, it’s always a good idea to prepare your career questions before you start.)

Finally, as part of this great event, I am also giving one hour of free coaching to a lucky attendee. So come join us! To register, RSVP directly with Brazen Careerist.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Quick Updates and Intern Superstar Daniel Hernandez

Happy new year! You may have noticed that after a big push for the #Reverb10 writing campaign, blog posts were very light (yes, an understatement) last week. I am working on some updates to my website (both content and design) and am committing to giving this project all my focus. In fact, if you send me an email, you’ll read that in my autoresponder!

In a few of my #Reverb10 posts, I wrote that I am working with a time management coach. While I actually coach other people on time management systems, I needed help getting clarity on scaffolding my work to better impact the bottom line of my business. One immediate win that came from working with my coach was identifying four projects (one being my website) with tasks that are stuck because they were dependent upon each other. I realized if I cleared these tasks out in a certain order, so much other good stuff would begin to flow. Sometimes even if you feel you have the expertise, the time comes to hire a professional thought partner when you’re not moving forward on your own. It’s the same role I play with my clients who are working on career and job-search concerns or figuring out how to carry out exactly what they want in their lives.

Before I go dark, I wanted to comment on Daniel Hernandez, the 20-year old intern who likely saved Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s life on his fifth day on the job during the shooting attack on Saturday. The tragedy in Arizona has been heavy on my mind the last few days as I am sure it has been for you. It seems cheap to find career lessons for interns in this horrific event, though there are many. I immediately thought of when I was recruiting teachers and how the high-achieving and dynamic Latino man who worked his way through school, wanted to dedicate himself to public service, and didn’t mind working weekends was our dream candidate and our purple squirrel. Wow, has this young man set the standard! And I’d be lying if hearing Daniel’s story didn’t make me reflect on all the interviews I had in 2010 with young professionals for my own internship or commission-based positions who told me about all their constraints and what they couldn’t do. I don’t expect an intern to save my life, but I’d love to meet my version of Daniel Hernandez the student leader to work for The Opportunities Project!

Intern lessons aside, whether we’re young or old or in-between, or seeking a new career or satisfied with the jobs we have, I do think all of us can take a lesson from Daniel Hernandez’s story. This is a young man who lives openly and with conviction in a tumultuous state dealing with issues of ethnicity and sexuality in public ways. All the evidence points to someone who lives his life with courage every day, so it was not a surprise that he made the decisions and took the actions he did in a crisis. How often are we faced with situations where we could take a courageous course but choose the easy one? How is that impacting our long-term path to achievement and satisfaction? It’s food for thought for all of us, no?

Be back soon…

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Five Minutes of Memories: Reverb10

There are 4-5 more posts I’d like to do for Reverb10, but I am finally admitting to myself that I won’t finish them in 2010. As the last one that WILL be finished before the new year, I thought the following prompt would be most fitting.

 

December 15 – 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)


Oh my. Setting my alarm for five minutes (excluding some quick editing), here is what I came up with for the last 12 months.

January through March

January 2010: Going to a talk on taking risks in your professional life and signing up with my first coach to help me become an entrepreneur.

February 2010: Battling snow to attend classes on how to start and own a business. Telling the first person in my life that I was going to leave my job at the New York City Department of Education to open The Opportunities Project. Buying my domain.

March 2010: Telling my mentor that I was thinking of starting my business and getting his approval. Putting down $1,500 for my first conference as a career coach. Facilitating the worst professional development session of my career. Going on a retreat with a women’s empowerment group and making two amazing friends. Getting my coach certification.

April through June

April 2010: Going to Boston on my last teacher recruitment trip. Wondering about teacher layoffs and how they would impact all the work we’ve done in New York City to improve teacher quality. What would my legacy be? Buying my first Mac.

May 2010: Attending the AERA conference in Denver, my first time in that city. Seeing one of my dearest friends I hadn’t seen in 3 years there. Traveling for my first weekend at my Fire Island house for the summer. Putting up my website and publishing my first blog post.

June 2010: Attending the NACE conference in Orlando, FL and feeling good about it. Appreciating that I had friends from high school that lived all over the country. Turning 35 at a party that was better than Carrie Bradshaw’s. Getting my headshots in Brooklyn Bridge Park. More Fire Island. Coming back to the Teach for America community, thanks to Peter Rider.

July through September

July 2010: Making my debut as a career coach at the Working NYC Event. Getting my LLC and bank account. Experiencing the return of an amazing friend to New York City.

August 2010: Leaving the DOE as Director of Teacher Recruitment- officially and finally. Networking with Brazen Careerist. Spending days on my website and learning how much I didn’t know.

September 2010: Participating in the Fast Trac Entrepreneurship program. Landing my first paying client. Hosting three networking events and conducting two workshops. Getting my company in the press for the first time. Lots of Fire Island.

October through December

October 2010: Handling one of the most stressful months of my life. Dealing with identity theft, non-paying clients, and a very ill pet. Spending three days on a deserted island writing. Visiting my best childhood friend in Savannah.

November 2010: Taking care of my apartment and nursing my cat back to health. Spending lots of time on my computer. Launching a great business partnership with eBranding Me.

December 2010: Deciding to get serious about my business. Setting up meetings with strategic partners. Cutting back on non-coaching work to make them happen. Meditating on my personal goals for myself, including love and health. Doing my first career management workshop for 250 young professionals. Attending multiple fantastic social events with friends.

(Luckily, in August, I started using OhLife.com to journal daily about my life. Sometimes, I briefly write a sentence about my day, but it’s more than I’ve had in years. And it keeps me honest to what I am doing because it sends me back old entries. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking at my list and determining if they could recite a year in the life in 5 minutes.)

Have a wonderful New Years weekend and I look forward to helping you meet your goals in 2011!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Writing and Action: #Reverb2010

During the holiday break, I watched the movie Julie & Julia with my mom. The movie is about the woman who blogged about making all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year. I actually liked the movie a lot, but it made me think about my new role as a “blogger” that I took on when I started The Opportunities Project. While Julie Powell seemed to experience all love, it’s been equal parts love and hate for me.

Before I actually started blogging, I thought I always wanted to be a blogger and had very romantic fantasies about it. For someone working in a relatively high-level position in a government bureaucracy, writing what you wanted on the Internet for the entire world to see was not an option. But because I couldn’t, it made me really want to do it! Now that I am blogging for my business, it’s not all unicorns and liberation. I can’t keep up with my ideas! In addition to blogging, I am working on other writing projects that I am not making great progress on, including e-courses, workbooks, invited guest posts and articles, my well-outlined book on teacher recruitment with a pitiful 30 pages completed, my dissertation proposal and an academic paper for a conference in April.

It’s enough to say AGH! I am glad for these Reverb10 prompts to get me focused.

#Reverb10 Prompts 

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

December 25 – Photo. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

Writing

The number one thing I can eliminate that doesn’t contribute to my writing is procrastination. While there is some fear involved as to whether what I have to say is worth it, a major struggle I have is switching from task to task- meaning it’s very hard for me to switch from writing my book to answering emails at a designated time. I have a hard time letting go of a task in-progress when I am in a groove, even if there is a more pressing (um, clients) issue to tackle. I also seem to face difficulty going back to unfinished writing projects because other demands come up. Both habits often prevent me from really starting writing projects at all. The only way I am going to make it as a solo-preneur with income streams based on writing is to establish the focus this task switching requires.

Action

I need to take action to get my writing to the next level. I’ve hired a time management coach for the first three months of March and addressing my issues with procrastination and writing is my first priority. Even without her guidance, I am writing all my ideas for blog posts on index cards with notes, putting them in some order, and making sense of them so they become doable.

Photo

One of my favorite blog posts that I did write this year involved a picture, the headshot I am using for The Opportunities Project. During the summer, I was interviewed for The Los Angeles Times about my experiences with curly hair and my thoughts about how you present your identity in the business world. I wrote about my experience taking the picture on my blog and facilitated a great discussion about it in the LinkedIn Career Explorer group. I love how my headshot truly reflects me and the love that my friend Wendy Glickman used to take the pictures that day, as well as do all the necessary editing. If you’d like to read how the picture was taken, please read the post and let me know what you think. Here are other fun pictures from that day, too.

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Letters Between My Future, Present and Past #Reverb10

Here is a great and hard #Reverb10 prompt from Jenny Blake of Life After College.  Unrelated, this was a #genychat topic this week and I liked reading everyone else’s reflections.

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

So let’s start talking to my 25 year-old self first. It’s sad that I don’t remember how I spent my New Year’s Eve that far back…

The Present Is Calling…

Hey Past Tracy!

The new year is already upon us so I am going to be concise as possible to you in bullets. I really wish I could go back and give you a hug… and then smack you silly. Here are my notes for you.
– You have a great instinct about people. Trust it and act on it when those moments come.

– Time is not infinite. You will be sad about time you wasted.

– There are many ways to achieve your sense of mission. All of the friends you’re close to now in the year 2000 will take different paths from yours to do that. Pay better attention to their examples.

– You think dignity is overrated. You’re generally right. That being said, be pickier about who you get involved with from the beginning.

– Some girlfriends will last and some will not. Who lasts and who doesn’t will likely surprise you.

– You never know who is going to step into your life. It will always be when you least expect it so don’t shut yourself down when you feel disappointed.

– Don’t cancel your job interview in Washington, DC on September 13, 2001. I am tired of telling people that I regret that.

– You’re so much stronger than you think. I really wish you would know that between the ages 27-30. When your biggest fears come to be real a few years later, you’ll stare them down and never be the same. Better, I think, but definitely not the same.

– Be nicer to your parents. Take care of yourself. Save more money.

– Journal- my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.

Hugs and Smacks,
Tracy

And Now From 2015…

My Dear Rocking Superstar Tracy,

Congratulations on making big changes in your life the past year. It took a lot of courage to do what you did. I know as you begin 2011, you realize this change was just the beginning and now the fun and hard work starts. The next year is going to exciting and hard. As you meet your goals for your company’s impact. I just have a few bullets of advice as you get going with 2011.

– Your current self told your past self that you have a great instinct. Now your future self (confused yet?) is going to remind you of that. When in doubt, ask yourself how you really feel.

– You were right- there is much more to life than being the New York City single girl. You’ve identified the obstacles and the ways you can overcome them. Just like leaving your old job to start The Opportunities Project, it’s not going to fall in your lap. Schedule those obstacles and get them out of the way.

– Stop reading so much and just do it.

– Start going back to Yankee Stadium. They miss you.

– The mother on How I Met Your Mother turns out to be…. Just kidding. :)

– I know you hate spending so much time at home on your computer right now, but focus and the written word is going to get you closer to your professional and financial goals. You’ll be glad you spent the time.

Life is great here. Be strong and join me,
Future Tracy

If you’re not totally confused, do you relate to my future and past lessons?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Pleasures of Life: Party, Travel, and Food for #Reverb10

This is an easy blog post for #Reverb10- just some quick hits on pleasures that I enjoyed when it comes to parties, travel, and food. While it is a simple list, it did make me realize how important all three are and how I need to actively plan these things in 2011.

(And for those of you who found yourself here wondering what this #Reverb10 stuff is about, I joined a campaign of bloggers- 3,320 to be exact- who have dedicated their December blog posts to reflecting on 2010 in the hopes of manifesting even more greatness in 2011. This is my 7th post for the campaign. Check the rest out!)

December 9 – Party: What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

There were three types of parties in 2010 that “rocked my socks.” The first was the kind where you can’t run fast enough to your computer to untag yourself from Facebook photos. Hello, Eve’s birthday in July! As a “grown-up,” I fortunately only had one of those types of parties this year. The second type of party was the type where I led its direction. What can I say- I always feel more comfortable in charge of things. The last weekend on Fire Island, my friend and I went to a bar to have one drink and the next thing you know, I just happen to lead people in a dance to Thriller and then dancing my way home eight hours later. Like the first type, pictures are hard to come by my conscious and deliberate design.

AERA Conference But the third type were my favorite parties in 2010 and they were with my colleagues and dear friends from my doctoral program at New York University. I went to three parties that involved Adriana, Kadidja, Angus, Mike, and/or Rosa- one in Denver, one in Brooklyn, and one in Queens. When I am around these people, I feel a tremendous sense of peace, love, intimacy and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in the world. While the dissertation is still hanging out there (working on it!), I am just so happy that the program brought these wonderful people into my life.

December 22 – Travel: How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)

Other than my Fire Island weekends, I didn’t do a lot of travel this year because I was saving money to launch The Opportunities Project. Among the places I did travel were Denver, Colorado and Savannah, Georgia, cities in two states I’d never been to before 2010. Both were great! I also took some business trips, including my first business trip for The Opportunities Project when I went to the annual conference for the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE) in Orlando. The conference overlapped with my 35th birthday so I was very lucky that a friend from high school, Jeff, lived there and helped me celebrate. When I wasn’t networking at the conference, we had a lot of fun meeting some very interesting characters!

December 26 – Soul Food: What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

I feel like I am forgetting a really good meal, but two stand out right away. One was a fantastic dinner at Turner Fisheries in Boston on a teacher recruitment trip with my colleagues Marsha and Lauren. It was the kind of meal you take a picture of with your phone (I’ve since deleted it). Growing up in a Massachusetts fishing town, I love seafood but am particular and barely eat it in NYC. Shellfish and white fish are what I want- none of this salmon and sea bass nonsense. At Turner Fisheries, I had amazing oysters and a baked haddock with a creamy lemon caper sauce and it was perfect, as well as the company.

The second best food experience I had in 2010 was on Fire Island. I should start by saying EVERY meal I have ever participated in  on Fire Island is great. Our meals are communal and the manager of my house is an amazing chef. But there was one weekend where it was all girls and we had some fantastic conversation that only women in their mid and late 30s can have. More than anything, the dessert is what I remember. We all shared one piece of cake from Rachel’s Bake Shop for dessert with a little ice cream and Godiva liqueur on the side. It was the epitome of awesome woman bonding and I thank all the women who shared it with me.

Here’s to more parties, travel, and food in 2011. :)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog