Category Archives: Resume and Work

Story differentiates your body of work

In today’s world of work, which is characterized by abundance, instability, and ingenuity, professionals have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the many others out there who possess the same or similar skills. How does one rise to the top of a mountain of great communicators, strong work ethics, and innovative, effective, responsible workers (these words all come from LinkedIn’s top ten most overused buzzwords of 2013)?

In oder to differentiate yourself and maximize your competitive advantage, you have to tell your story. Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work: Finding the thread that ties your story together, uses story herself to illustrate the resonance an engaging story can have. She tells the story of her father and John Legend among others, and shares her advice via stories of her own experiences as a career coach.  What story does is place your body of work:”…everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created” (Source) into a unique context.

Slim’s book is a great starting point for discovering how to tell your story, but you can also draw much inspiration from the remarkable examples of professional stories on Slideshare.net. One such story is Matt Henshaw’s “How to Rock the Perfect LinkedIn Profile”:

Henshaw’s deck is of course a beautiful example of clean, minimalist design. It’s also one of the best examples of a professional story I’ve seen since David Crandall’s “Anti-Resume Manifesto.” Henshaw tells the story of being “this close” to achieving his dream–being a professional musician–losing a major record contract, redefining himself as a college graduate and computer science sustainability research assistant (phew!), finding his way back to his passion, and articulating a successful plan to pursue this passion as career.

It’s so difficult to tell our own stories at times, especially through a visual medium. Finding the right way to begin a story that for us has very fuzzy beginnings can stop most of us from sharing that story with others (no one tells you to think about how working at a local grocery store is the start of you becoming a teacher 20 years later). Matt’s deck is both inspirational and useful. It shows us that a story can compel viewers, contextualize “failure”, and that careful attention to every version of your story on the web can make a difference. If you want to maximize your competitive advantage, create a body of work and then tell your story.

 

 

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What are your talents?

Two months ago, a student introduced me to one of the most useful resources for developing a professional brand and persona. During a class break, the student pulled up a site called talentoday.com. I saw the student answering a series of questions, then studying a visualization and set of descriptors. All it took was a peek to realize that this could be a wonderful brainstorming and content-building exercise for developing a personal brand.

Talent Today is a free service whose goal is to help users determine their professional personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators. The site is designed for current students and new grads, but the questionnaire and accompanying personality report can be enlightening to veteran professionals as well.

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Many of my questionnaire’s findings aligned with how I already perceive and define myself as a professional–I feel at ease in public and love to meet new people; I find it easy to take on a leadership role and readily volunteer for new initiatives; I believe that innovation is important; I don’t handle stress very well (or as well as I’d like); and I prefer collaboration to competition.

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A few of the findings challenged me to reexamine how I approach work, particularly how low on the motivations scale private/personal life was. I also appreciated the overall analysis of my talents (conscientiousness, responsibility, determination) and my areas of growth (identifying and dealing with sources of stress, remaining loyal to professional ambitions).

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

All in all, my report shows the areas in which I am already excelling (and can continue to grow in) and the areas that need more attention. Such self-analysis is critical for success in Pamela Slim’s “new world of work” (Source).

Take a moment to complete your Talent Today report. What were your talents? Motivators? Areas of growth?

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Data Display of the Day: How to choose the right job

The Professional Communication and Presentation reboot has entered the lesson-building phase; we’ve secured our new course textbook, developed assignments, and rubrics. Now, it’s time to craft lessons to help our students meet the objectives we’ve developed for the course. One of my primary tasks in creating lessons is drawing from and integrating strong sources related to our core outcomes. Today’s data display, courtesy of Daily Infographic and visual.ly, features a very important topic, how to find a job that will help you grow into your career. While this infographic features information you already think about when applying for a job, it puts the most important aspects that lead to career bliss first.

For me, the most of important of these are those that lead to a positive work environment–opportunities, people, and management. From my perspective, a strong leader develops his or her staff, creating worthwhile opportunities for growth, innovation, and fair acknowledgement of above and beyond effort. A strong leader further motivates those he or she leads to actualize their best selves. So, for me, when my students ask me how to choose a target market for their Professional Personal Project, my answer will be look to the leadership.

 

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What’s your key to a job that grows your body of work?

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Slideshare of the Day: 7 Rules for Writing Blog Posts That Get Read and Shared

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As a blogger, one of my main goals is gaining readership through meaningful and worthwhile effort. The blogs I love to read provide me with information I cannot find elsewhere or have conceptualized myself but not articulated.  This year, I committed myself to becoming that type of blogger. My first step was and is consistency–from what I’ve observed, blogging consistently at least three times per week not only grows the amount of relevant content I have to offer readers but also helps me continue to grow my skills as a writer. Blogging consistently has also helped me connect with other like minded professionals. So, consistency is important, but, even more important is relevance and attractiveness. Today’s Slideshare, “7 Rules for Writing Blog Posts That Get Read and Shared” created by author and blogger Michael Hyatt includes some excellent tips for determining the audience relevance of your posts and crafting blog posts that attract readership. Check out the full deck below; three tips I will implement in my next posts are: 1. focus on the reader, 2. create a powerful headline, and 3. make your posts easy to share.

1. Focus on the reader

Audience adaptation, relevance, and a focus on WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) are great guides to follow when creating any type of content. In class, we devote weeks to various forms of audience analysis–audience questions, an audience needs map, Nancy Duarte’s audience questions from Resonate, and audience interviews. But, I’ve not done the same type of in-depth audience research in my blog. To be frank, I’ve taken for granted that the subject is what drives readership, but what if my content isn’t tailored to the audience’s who most often draw inspiration from Tweak Your Slides? Hyatt’s advice is to create an audience survey, distribute it among readers, and then write a followup post with insights and observations. Creating this type of survey can help bloggers create content that is user-centered, not writer-centered.

2. Create a powerful headline

I am sure that by now you are familiar with the types of attention grabbing headlines created by sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed. There’s something about these titles that draws the reader in and helps cut through the cacophony of social media feeds. Much of the success of sites like these comes from the genius of founders like Jonah Peretti, who devote years to studying the anatomy of a sticky idea.  BuzzFeed and Upworthy headlines are often the epitome of the Heath brothers’ sticky concept–attention grabbing, jarring, memorable. A blog post title similarly has to break through the noise to manifest as signal. Hyatt suggests three excellent strategies for blog posts titles that stick: first, create a numbered sequence headline (“Five ways to…”); second, create a provocative question headline (“Are you….”); thirdly, create a how to headline, especially since blog readers often want to learn a new facet of your core subject.

3. Make your posts easy to share

Though I tend to rely on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress to spread word of my posts for me, there are several other useful tools out there that can help you help others share your work. Hyatt introduces viewers to several tools, namely AddThis and ShareThis, that can increase shareability (whether it is other sharing your work or others reading more of your work). I particularly like the content recommendation tools available as they not only lead readers to other content related to a specific post but also allow you to link readers to other awesome blogs on the subject.

What are your tips for writing blog posts? Whose blogs are unbeatable for consistent, relevant, worthwhile content?

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Do you Alltop?

I ran across the site Alltop during my first month of teaching Professional Communication and Presentation as I was gathering a go to list of resources on presenting, communication, and presentation design. It was Alltop that introduced me to the work of Garr Reynolds, Dr. Nick Morgan, and Decker Communications. I recently joined the aggregation engine’s speaking section, speaking.alltop.com, and am proud to say that today,  a Tweak Your Slides post, “Design Smarter: find the best blend for text and image”, was one of the “Most Topular Stories” of the day.

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If you haven’t checked out Alltop, which was created to fill the “where is all the best stuff on the web?” void, you are missing out. The web is a big place, and simple Google searches don’t always yield results for the best and brightest the web has to offer on a plethora of subjects. Alltop takes some of the work out of searching for and curating quality sources of information. For bloggers, writers, students, and teachers, this is an invaluable service. I am proud to have earned the badge below. Go Alltop!

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Slideshare User to Follow: Placester

Are you a blogger, freelancer, or new start up? Looking for free sources to help you as you get your body of work off the ground? Check out today’s Slideshare User to Follow, the first in a new series to join Slideshare of the Day and Data Display of the Day on Tweak Your Slides.

I ran across Placester while perusing Slideshare presentations on my dashboard. The company, whose main focus is assisting real estate professionals in marketing themselves and growing their businesses through web hosting, custom sites, and infoproduct, has several infographic and presentation resources budding freelancers can use to grow their brand. I particularly found their latest offering, “The Content Wranglers Guide to Ebook Marketing” to be particularly useful, as I have been advised my several folks that creating infoproducts, specifically an e-book based on Tweak Your Slides is a great way to market my brand and also reach new readers (while at the same time eradicating bullet-riddled death by PowerPoint visuals and presentations). The infographic not only provides the why of self-published e-books but also a succinct how-to. Check out the deck below and all of Placester’s decks at http://www.slideshare.net/Placester.

 

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Body of Work: Spring Projects

March marks the beginning of the creative leg of this year’s Body of Work development. I am working on creating assignments for the reboot of Professional Communication and Presentation online, designing the course calendar, and planning lessons. The launch is in April and I cannot wait!

In addition, I am working on a new deck that will debut in March. The subject of this deck is content development and is based on my content development series from 2013. Below is a preview of the deck. I am working on blending photography and iconography, and trying to find a balance between the two has been particularly rewarding. Creating consistency and unity when using two types of visual support can be a challenge, but using iconography from the Noun Project has helped me better represent ideas for which I cannot find photographs. I’ve also been creating my own icons for this project and drawing out ideas for icons I cannot find and must create.

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by  NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

In choosing a color scheme, I wanted to blend the calm productivity and creativity-generating blue with some vibrancy and positivity. To achieve that, I chose both orange and yellow-toned gold as my contrast color. Gold also represents wisdom and knowledge and the sharing of these ideas with others. In choosing typefaces for the project, I’d initially used District Pro Thin by Garage Fonts alone. But, since this is the only weight of that font available for use  and it’s important for me to create some type contrast, I am balancing out the lightness and sleekness of District Pro Thin with Intro by FontFabric. I love the geometric simplicity and impact of this typeface. It looks particularly good with a small bit of text and a large image behind.

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This is the current title slide; I’d love to keep working to find something with even more visual pop

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This is my favorite slide so far. I am using it to represent that one idea that is a game changer in the creative process, the idea that can change the world.

Finally, in April, I plan on creating my first “slidedoc” using Nancy Duarte’s new infoproduct, Slidedocs. I created a course structure document to inform others of the changes PCP is undergoing. However, the document is extremely text-heavy and dense. Most readers are unsure what to look at first, which is of course not what I am going for. So, I am going to use the principles learned in Slidedocs to recreate the document in Keynote. I will then use this document to train instructors on how to teach the new PCP.

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February: The Month of Unprecedented Growth

February has been an amazing month for myself, my significant other, my superteacher bff, and my superstar friend, writing center coordinator, freelance writer, and Younique consultant, Nicole Chapman. Nicole has been growing her body of work since graduating with her MFA in creating writing and earning the PROPS Excellence Award for outstanding service to Full Sail University. Her growth has expanded to her actualizing one of her natural talents and gifts–makeup and image consulting. Check out her teaching portfolio here for more information on this superconsultant and future superteacher. I am inspired to see someone talented take on the initiative of growing and evolving her skills!

I am participating in a tech networking event next month, Trucks and Tech III: Truckpocalypse. In preparation, I created business cards for myself and Jason, who is a freelance video editor. This has definitely helped me overcome my designer’s block and I am hard at work on my next Slideshare offering, based on my content development series.

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In designing my card, I used the colors and style in my TYS logo to help reinforce continuity in my brand.

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In designing the back, I wanted to convey the three core principles that drive my services as presentation consultant–developing ideas, designing visuals, and delivering an engaging message.

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I chose to keep the front of Jason’s card very simple; you’ll see why when you see the back of the card!

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I was inspired by other video editor business cards and chose the clapper as an iconic representative in designing this card.

I also met with David Morillo, a colleague, trainer, and former student, whose leadership presentation was positively incredible–a lovely blend of storytelling, audience engagement, and motivational ideas. Finally, Alex and I learned we will now be teaching a new set of students from the Sports Marketing Bachelor of Science.

There’s something in the air readers, something that has sparked an incredible amount of creative growth and opportunity in my network. I am taking a blogging break for the weekend to finish the PCP course reboot, participate in a 5k, and consult with my students, but I wondered if anyone else out there had felt or experience a similar spark of growth and opportunity?

Post-script, this week I heard from two of my heroines, Pamela Slim and Nancy Duarte. This is what my face looked like when I opened up my WordPress front page:

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Great Questions Spark Innovation

This week, Alex Rister and I met with a colleague and former student, David Morillo. During our meeting, David, who is an Online Admissions Training Team Leader at Full Sail University and an integral part of leadership training at our institution, led me through an exercise designed to help me isolate my hierarchically based value system. During that exercise, I shuffled through cards with words like “Faith,” “Family,” “Accomplishment,” and “Wealth” on them. After sorting, resorting, and resorting again, I landed on my top two values: “Fairness” and “Creativity/Innovation.” I cannot really pin point the source of my adamant belief in fairness as a guiding principle in life, but when asked why I chose creativity and innovation over other values like “Change” or “Knowledge”, I realized that for me, innovation leads to growth, increased knowledge, and wisdom. My drive to choose paths in life that help further foster creativity leads to growth in these other areas. One way I teach by innovation is to constantly ask my students questions and encourage them to come up with questions of their own. Author and business journalist, Warren Berger recently wrote the book (A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas) on questions as a tool for innovation. More than just asking questions, it’s important to ask the right questions as a path to innovation. In this book and in this INC. article by Leigh Buchanan, Berger describes what makes a great question, what sorts of questions don’t get asked, and how to motivate others to ask questions. Three takeaways from this article I can apply to my own body of work and the work of my students are:

1. A great question is challenging and ambitious

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Great questions force the speaker and listener to content with an idea, make sense of it, and find a solution (or myriad of solutions) to the proposed problem at hand. A PCP Reboot question to consider here is: What if we actualize persuasion by asking students to learn to sell their professional stories?

2. Leaders’ questions help create a culture of inquiry

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Oftentimes as a teacher, I don’t have an answer to a proposed question. I simply want to see where a question takes us. Students can then learn that sometimes the best questions have no immediate or firm answer.

3. A great answer takes time

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I’ve worked on answering the big question for my course–how do we truly reveal the power and importance of a presentation in an accelerated asynchronous medium–for five years. Each time I think I’ve found the answer, a new facet of the question reveals itself that I must contend with, iterate around, and work to solve.

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4 (but really 6) steps to creating a visual resume

This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, the focus is the visual resume, a project I developed several years ago after seeing my friend Christin’s Prezume. I am currently working on a revamp of mine to match the new teaching portfolio and teaching philosophy infographic I worked on last year and this year, and ran across this article from Ethos3’s Scott Schwertly titled “Four Steps to Creating a Visual Resume“. In it, Schwertly shares some tips (six in total) I will be sharing with my students tomorrow. Schwertly advises visual resume creators to remember the importance of that first slide; catching your audience’s attention with that first slide will help set you apart from the crowd and also provide sufficient visual stimulus that makes the audience want to know more. Empowered Presentations, a Honolulu-based presentation design firm tasks each of their associates with creating a visual resume that showcases the individual’s abilities and personality. The first slide of each EP visual resume establishes the tone and feel for the presentation and the presenter’s personality:

Another tip Schwertly shares with readers in this article is brand yourself. This to me is one of the most important lessons to learn about a strong visual resume (and a big area I’m working on in my new version). Consistency in design that communicates and conveys who you are to your audience is key to a strong visual resume. I love love love how David Crandall brands himself as the anti-cog superhero in his Anti-Resume Manifesto:

One final tip I’ll share with you from the article is “Ask for It.” A visual resume is your chance to let a prospective company or client know exactly why they should want to work with you. As Schwertly says, “you need to provide purpose and meaning behind your visual resume.” Not inviting the audience to contact you is akin to closing a presentation with “that’s it.” It simply tells the audience you’ve wasted their time and they can now go about doing something more important. Slideshare user Yuri Artibise ends his presentation with two simple ideas: 1. That’s my story; what’s yours and how can I help? and 2. Here’s how we can connect. This gives the presentation that sense of purpose it needs to propel it forward in the audience’s mind.

Have you built your visual resume yet? If not, Schwertly’s article is a great starting point. Check out the rest here!

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