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2015 #Themeword: Create

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2015 #Themeword: Create

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10631241_10154565044325514_3081052538889921966_o

Welcome 2015. New year. New home. New job.

2014 was quite a year! It started out without too much fuss. Carlos and I spent our first NYE in Toronto, ringing in 2014. By February, I was offered a job at MSLGROUP Canada.

In July, Carlos and I went to Palm Springs where we joined 400 other Digital Utopians at Y&YY. This was a pivotal moment for me. Many of the attendees of Y&YY were old friends of mine from back when I lived in San Francisco. I realized, while reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones, that I had gotten really far away from who I am...who I really want to be.

When we returned home to Toronto after the trip, I took a big step back to look at where I was and where I would like to be. Though I loved working with many of my colleagues and was doing some really interesting work at MSLGROUP, I just didn't see myself settling in there long term. I made the plan to start looking for more suitable work in the next few years. This set the stage for what was to come in the next few months.

In the meantime, we were really starting to settle into Toronto and loved it, so when Carlos suggested we think about buying a place, I only resisted for a few minutes. From August to October, we worked with our amazing real estate agent, Mike, until we found our dream home in our dream neighborhood. (We move in end of January)

totemlogo
totemlogo

In November, I received an email from Patrick Pittman of Totem, describing a reinvention and the need for "non-traditional thinkers who don’t necessarily come from the world of corporate business-as-usual." This sang to my heart. After meeting Patrick and then Louis-Jacques Darveau, I was convinced that I had found my people. On January 5th, I start my new position of Director of Audience Development at Totem.

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Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 12.23.32 AM

#THEMEWORD

For anyone who has followed me for a while, you know that every year, I do a themeword for my goals for the upcoming year. This started back on NYE 2007/08 when Erica Douglas suggested it at a gathering of friends. Here is my history of themewords + how they played out:

2008: TRANSITION - came to represent more transitions than I planned for! 2009: THRIVE - great year with my book being released, a karaoke roadtrip + a move to Montreal! 2010: ACHIEVE - cofounded a startup, raised some money + built the first version of a social app! 2011: REAP - raised our seed round of money, got great press, built an amazing version of Buyosphere! 2012: GIVE'R - gave my heart and soul until the end of Buyosphere. 2013: TRIUMPH - helped lead Justin Trudeau to LPC victory, moved to Toronto, started Lime! 2014: PURPOSE - got back to me again. ------------------------------

creatingyourself
creatingyourself

2015: CREATE

This year, there was no real deliberating over what my themeword would be. I want to create again. My new role at Totem opens up all sorts of creative possibilities and I've already been talking about creating more content for Totem itself (and I have resources and support for it). Moving into our new home will also open up many creative possibilities. Now that we own, we can get more creative with the decor. I've already started gathering ideas on Pinterest!

As well, I've been meaning to do more video and our new place has amazing light and space for us to make this happen. We've already bought a new camera and some lighting, but I'm really looking forward to setting up a consistent set (our dining room will be doubling as the set) to film weekly videos. I'm also going to sign up for NaNoWriMo this year. I have an outline for my second book. This will give me the structure to do it.

I love strategy as much as the next guy, but I love making stuff even more! So that's what 2015 is all about. More video. More photography. More writing. More of everything that I can make!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFqd6L-k4_4[/embed]

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It's Worse Than You Think: or why you should care about poverty, jobs and income inequality

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It's Worse Than You Think: or why you should care about poverty, jobs and income inequality

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[Row of Unemployed from Flickr Commons]

I'm afraid. Truly. I'm afraid of where we're headed.

We live in a world where the basic storyline goes something like this: we are born, we get educated, we go to work, we earn money, we buy a house and get hitched and have babies who are educated...and the cycle goes on. Of course this story varies in order, magnitude and timeline, but you get the drift. We get trained and then we work so we can afford to do it all over again generation after generation.

It's always seemed to me an odd way to exist, but it works well enough and there have been loads of benefits to this structure, including advances in our technology and comfort in general. The market that we work for and buy from gets more efficient and produces better and better outcomes for us. The incentive is comfier living, through income or better/cheaper stuff or whatever, but I certainly appreciate typing on this laptop while sitting in a warm office and having the ability to publish this for the masses to read. I have a comfy chair and a good cup of hot coffee while the winter elements whip around outside without touching me. Life is good.

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povertyline

And yes, I have Capitalism and the free market to thank for my good life. But there is no escaping it. We need to work to afford such luxuries. If I didn't have an income, I wouldn't have all of this. And I suppose I could eschew my current lifestyle and take to the land, but I don't really have the skills to snare rabbits and pick the right berries. I took a survival course when I was 14 that my parents teased me about (they called it "Camp Two Fingers" because I described the limited amount of food I could eat each meal - a two-fingered scoop), but I don't remember much of that. And I've been watching the AMC series The Walking Dead and took the 'How long would you survive' quiz and didn't do so well.Also, I like my laptop and wi-fi and power and heat. I'm quite fond of the ease of life I lead, so I'm willing to pay the piper.

But the story is getting harder and harder for more and more people to follow. The piper has more and more limited space. And we're going to have to write a new one if we want to survive.

DETROIT IS OUR CANARY IN OUR COAL MINE

We are nearing a job crisis of mundane proportions. As Chrystia Freeland outlines in her 2013 TED Global talk, The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich(I know, the irony, right?):

Since the late 1990s, increases in productivity have been decoupled from increases in wages and employment. That means that our countries are getting richer, our companies are getting more efficient, but we're not creating more jobs and we're not paying people, as a whole, more.

During the Industrial Revolution, jobs were created on a massive scale, moving the majority of people into cities to fill positions. But since then, globalization has happened, moving hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas to cut costs, displacing an enormous number of jobs. We've seen the effects this has on cities built around industries who now outsource like Detroit and Baltimore. But what happens when the skilled labor is outsourced? What happens when we don't even need people to do the job AT ALL?

Self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligent computers that may teach themselves to code, robots that do intricate tasks and smart homes that monitor and fix themselves are just some of the technology that is right around the corner and threatens unskilled AND skilled labor. Why outsource your coders when the computer can do it for you? Who will need cars at all? Forget mass transit. Seamstresses and tailors? Meh. Cooks? Who needs them. Plumbers? Electricians? The list goes on.

In fact, even the people who are BEHIND the technology that is leading us there are afraid of where this is headed:

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google – a company that is working on emerging technologies such as self-driving cars and robots – is worried. “The race is between computers and people and the people need to win ... In this fight, it is very important that we find the things that humans are really good at,” he said. - FT.com, Automation and the Threat to Jobs, January 26, 2014

Sure, every advancement creates a new job and new opportunities to earn, but are the number of jobs and opportunities created enough to replace the ones lost? Are there? Because if there aren't enough new jobs to replace the lost jobs, no matter how much you berate the unemployed for being lazy jerks, there won't be jobs for them to go to. And the time period between unemployed and homelessness will be swift as the number of people living paycheck to paycheck (68% in USA alone) and buried in personal debt is staggering.

I wouldn't be so afraid if there was some sort of plan in place. If this was something we talked about openly and honestly and that economists were discussing in a public forum. But it's really difficult to find anyone talking about this except for a smattering of people here and there who are largely dismissed as paranoid and overreactive.

As an interesting aside, after watching Freeland's TED talk, I went to check out the numbers of people employed by the tech companies we know and love (these are worldwide numbers for the most part):

Amazon - 109,800 ($183B market cap) Microsoft - 100,500 ($305B market cap) Apple - 80,300 ($450B market cap) Google - 46,400 ($380B market cap) Yahoo! - 11,700 ($35B market cap) Facebook - 5,800 ($150B market cap) LinkedIN - 4,800 ($25B market cap) Twitter - 2,300 ($34B market cap)

TOTAL - 361,600 jobs

To put this in a bit of perspective, here are the headcounts for the 8  biggest employers in the US:

Wal-mart - 2,200,000 ($242B market cap) IBM - 435,000 ($192B market cap) McDonald's - 400,000 ($93B market cap) UPS - 400,000 ($89B market cap) Target - 355,000 ($36B market cap) Kroger - 338,000 ($18B market cap) Sears - 312,000 ($4B market cap) General Electric - 287,000 ($25B market cap)

Total - 4,327,000 jobs

Notice something about many of the employers on this list? Many of them hire part-time, minimum wage employees (the working poor), some of them hire unskilled labor (the automate-able - I can see the day when our Big Macs are assembled by robots, can't you?) and some of them are in trouble (Sears anyone?). Here is something to chew on: Target employs roughly the same number of people who Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, LinkedIN and Twitter do COMBINED.

And if you don't understand the connection, the reason why I'm showing the largest employers is that many of them are retailers whose retail outlets are being threatened by technology - when retail outlets get shut down because people are ordering more and more online (just today, Radio Shack announced the closing of 500 stores), where are the new jobs being created to replace them? Certainly not with the new entrants.

[NOTE: Knowing how damned frustrating it is to get support at any of the tech companies listed (even the Genius Bar is backed up for days now and they direct you to the forums), I have some suggestions of where they could hire a few bodies. Am I right?]

THE GOOGLE BUS THING ISN'T REALLY ABOUT THE BUSES

It's about this. It's just a symbol of a much deeper issue. The Bay Area, is the next canary. It's awesome because people are finally taking income inequality seriously...and it's dislodging many heads from many a$$es.

DON'T JUST POINT FINGERS AT THE PLUTOCRATS - YOU ARE TO BLAME, TOO

As consumers, we should take on a big part of the blame here, too. It's not just companies trying to be more efficient and maximize profits. It's also our appetite for a 'deal' and our move to shopping online and on our mobile phones. As we demand lower costs and convenience, we force more human beings out of a livelihood. Hell, I love my Joe Fresh deals, but when the factory collapsed in Bangladesh last spring, I realized what my hunger for good deals was doing to the world. I'm making more of an effort to shop local now and when I get a hankering for some online shopping, I head to Etsy first.

And what about startups like Etsy and Shopify and Chloe + Isabel and all of the other peer-to-peer and home-based business boosting tools that are launching? Isn't there all sorts of money being poured into these pretty commonplace tools to help people grow their own businesses, releasing them from the shackles of traditional employment?

Sure. But just like their analog ancestors (Avon, Amway, Mary Kay and Tupperware to name a few), there will be only so many successful people in each neighborhood. For instance, I live in a pretty tight neighborhood (roughly 15,000 people and we all have dogs so we talk). If EVERYONE in my neighborhood bought $50 worth of Tupperware per MONTH, that would only cover costs of living in this neighborhood ($60k/yr) for 38 people (25% commission based). And that's being generous. NOBODY needs $50 worth of Tupperware a month. Here is a real stat: 65% of Etsy sellers made less than $100 last year. And as a big fan of Etsy, I know for a fact that these sellers are often barely covering the costs of their supplies. They try to remain competitive so they don't pay themselves very much.

Building a business online is the same as building a brick and mortar business. You need buyers. And with buyers going for the cheap and convenient options, there isn't much space for the artisan or hand-crafter. As a friend of mine said, "There is only so much jewelry I can buy!" when referring to Chloe + Isabel.

And speaking of buyers, what happens when unemployment soars? There will be even fewer buyers, which means ANY business trying to make ends meet is going to struggle, which will most likely lead to more layoffs, which will...well you know where this spiral leads.

SO ARE WE EFFED?

Well, if we keep burying our heads in the sand and moving in the general direction we're moving, yes. We're completely effed. Marketing, which happens to be the profession I've made a living at for 15 years now, is a BS job. I can completely admit to that. It's completely necessary in a Capitalist free market economy - because there is a confusing amount of options for customers and somebody needs to point them in the direction of your option - but in the automation and AI boom, it'll be made irrelevant.

In fact, many of the tech giants have already eliminated the marketer's role. Does Google hire marketers? Nope. Sales people and engineers. There are a few 'advocates' and 'futurists', but that's not the same. Does Facebook? Not really. Some people have the title of marketing, but they're role is more sales-driven, too. Microsoft and Amazon have fairly healthy marketing departments, but there are only so many jobs to go around there. Besides, once Google automates it for us (along with those engineering jobs), everybody will follow.

I know I'm a big downer. Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, this whole mess is still a few decades off. The singularity isn't supposed to hit until 2029. (Oh, which also reminds me that the person who invented the idea of singularity is...an employee of Google. Coincidence? You make the call.)

Truthfully, we need to rethink our economy altogether. Maybe the future of work is different? Maybe we don't work for a living anymore? Maybe we actually work on what makes us passionate without pay because we get a stipend? Or we don't need money anymore? Maybe there are different incentives? There are lots of people who have been rethinkingmoney for years and there is even a great crowdsourced currency contender (say that 10x fast!). Today's dollars are really only real because we think they are real. Sort of like Tinkerbell, if we stop believing it's real, it will cease to exist. (This concept has always fascinated me - since I studied the Brazilian Real Crisis in the 90's)

I had a conversation lately with my brilliant friend Heather, who said she read and watched The Hunger Games and didn't feel it was fictional at all. I agree with her. There are all of these showy excesses being waved around arrogantly while so many struggle. There is fear and awe now, but all we need is a Katniss to start the uprisings. I feel for Tom Perkins because, even though his Nazi Germany comparison is incredibly offensive, the Plutocrats are in danger. When wealth inequality is put under a microscope, it will affect him deeply. In actuality, he should have used the French Revolution as the example. But he wouldn't because many still uphold the French Revolution as a necessary balancing of power during a time of...great inequality.

Maybe there are think tanks and groups of people locked up in important secret boardrooms (beyond the lip service of Davos) coming up with awesome ideas. But seriously, folks. This is going to be big. And we can put it off and put it off, but at some point, it's going to catch up with us.

There are so many people out of touch with reality and though we shouldn't live with a cloud over our existence either, we really really need to think practically about our future. The higher we climb, the further we fall. Let's figure out how to prevent free fall in the future.

Let's not wait for those in power to come up with a solution...or we may be sending our children to a fight to the death arena in the near future.

-----

I've taken over the Fuck Poverty Facebook Page to share articles and continue this conversation. It's not much, but it's a start. Any additional suggestions, input, etc is very welcome. I've been thinking about this subject a LOT lately. I think the time is ripe for making it a priority.

I'm also reading The Lights in the Tunnel, recommended by my friend and associate, Lane Becker. Everyone should read it. It's awesome and covers stuff I said here with better examples, data and clarity. ;)

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Confidence and the Cause-Effect Loop

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Confidence and the Cause-Effect Loop

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From Lean In to inspirational messages, the answer to much of inequality seems to be the responsibility of the person on the losing end of the equation. Fair enough, you might say, that person stands to gain the  most. Let me offer up another angle.

I was born a confident person. I'm not sure how or why, but from a young age, I didn't have much humility. My parents, concerned about the reaction to the amount of space I enjoyed taking up, urged me to balance my confidence with some humble pie. Admittedly, I needed that lesson. I saw gatherings of people - no matter what the occasion - as my opportunity to direct attention to my latest talent or idea. What I thought was cute at the time most likely came across as obnoxious after a while. And though some may still accuse me of being an attention hog, I am aware of my boundaries and try my best to leave room for others.

As obnoxious as it can be, confidence has gotten me far in life. My privilege, above everything else (I have other privileges, of course), is confidence.

I should also note that confidence is NOT the same as arrogance. Confidence doesn't compete or dismiss others. Confidence is open to push-back and other ideas (in fact, confident people love it). Confidence has room for empathy. Confidence doesn't know everything. True confidence IS humble.

Confidence gives you an edge over others in most situations. You get the job. You win the contract. People are drawn to you. They want to join your cause, invite you out, promote you, help you and trust you. But the tricky thing about confidence is that, when you need it the most, it fails.

I was born confident, yes, but that doesn't mean I'm unflappable. After my startup ran out of money, I lost my confidence. I know it was obvious. I must have oozed insecurity because people treated me different. I was passed up for contracts and jobs, people stopped reaching out to me, they gave me pep talks instead of wanting to really help me, introductions stopped...nobody had faith in me. It was like a spiral. As I lost faith in myself, others lost faith in me, which led to me losing even more faith in myself.

Until one person who I barely knew said, "I have confidence in you." And that was the beginning of my restoration.

I know that the self-help movement means well. The gurus that are trying to teach motivation and confidence to their readers understand that motivation and confidence are key drivers to success. But what is missing is that success is ALSO a key driver to motivation and confidence. There have actually been studies that show that the more successful a person is, the more confident they become. It's a bit of a vicious circle.

And yes, there are people who can 'fake it till they make it' but I think they have help along the way (and, like me, are born with a certain level of confidence).

So, if messages of affirmation and kicking yourself in the butt aren't the whole answer, what is?

Sponsorship.

Having someone take a leap of faith when your confidence is shaken goes a long way. Some people are going to need more time and patience than others - especially if they haven't tested their skills before. When you see a spark hidden behind a heap of self-doubt or bad experiences, encourage it to ignite.

Don't say, "Believe in yourself," say "I believe in you."

Don't say, "Lean in," say, "I will help you with that presentation" (after putting her in charge of the pitch).

Don't say, "Your success is up to you," say "I think you have what it takes to be successful" and then offer your guidance.

The whole sink or swim mentality isn't just giving naturally confident and privileged types an unfair advantage, it's also passing over some incredible talent. I'm convinced that the more people with privilege that put confidence in those who lack their own, the better our world will be. Arrogance is a zero-sum game, but confidence is not.

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My Aptitude Adjustment (with Latitude by YouScience)

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My Aptitude Adjustment (with Latitude by YouScience)

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I love this stuff, so I just have to share. Sorry if it seems gratuitous or 'braggy'. I don't mean it that way.

This might be the coolest thing I've done for my career in quite sometime. This week, I signed up to try out an Aptitude Test product by YouScience called Latitude. For a quick overview on what they do:

Now, I'm not afraid to reveal that I am 40 years old and have been working in marketing for almost 15 years now, so I'm pretty ingrained in my career. But nevertheless, I was still pretty darn curious to see if I had chosen correctly, so I signed up and sat down to do my testing.

THE TESTING BIT

Let me start out by saying that the testing part is rigorous and a bit grueling. You need to block off a good 2-2.5 hours of uninterrupted focus time. You'll need a few sheets of paper and a pencil with an eraser. You'll need to hide your phone so you aren't distracted by texts, notifications or phonecalls...and so you aren't tempted to use your calculator (I know I was). You'll need to be comfortable. And you should try to refrain from feeling discouraged.

I finished my testing in just under 2 hours because at the end, I didn't want to wait through the breaks (I just wanted to get it over with! That may have been a mistake - my brain was fatiguing!). Most sections were tough, but there were sections that nearly made me cry. My palms were sweaty. My heart was racing. I'm sure I was yelling at my computer loud enough for my neighbors to wonder what I was doing.

At the end of the tests, I got a message saying, "You'll get the results in 24 hours". I'm sure I didn't sleep that night. I was certain the results would tell me I suck at pretty much everything and I should give up on my future.

THE RESULTS BIT

When I received the notification my results were in, I held my breath and opened the report. Though Latitude's FAQ's insist there is no such thing as good or bad aptitudes, I still put a bit of a value on how I did in many of the tests. Not all sections tested skill levels, though. Some were more about personality type or leanings. But for those sections I saw as 'strengths' and 'weaknesses', I assigned a value to them. Here are my overall results:

1. Visual Comparison Speed (weakness) My type: Double Checker

Paperwork or video games are probably more tedious than enjoyable to you and you may need extra time to complete clerical tasks.

Your visual radar moves slowly and deliberately. You probably find clerical work or video games tedious, draining, and boring. You can find fulfillment in the completed product or game, but are more likely to enjoy fields of work or study that are more hands-on, interactive, or auditory.

YUP. Sounds about right. I remember really trying to focus on this test and having to read lines over and over. A 'tip' that made me chortle:

Yes please! :)

2. Vocabulary (strength) My type: Advanced

Your highly developed Vocabulary makes it easy for you to find just the right word to express yourself precisely. Your interests are likely to be many and varied.

You are likely to keep learning about many things because you are in the habit of paying attention to the meanings in words. There are always new interests to explore and new people with whom you can converse.

This one gave me a NICE boost in confidence that helped me breathe a little easier. So, I have a good vocabulary. That's true! I love words. I love learning them and using them (correctly, if possible). I love studying language and understanding which words to use for which audience. Actually, just last night I was having a conversation with someone about the language of corporate culture and how I used to keep a notepad of acronyms with me as a reference when I worked in enterprise software. Here is a little highlight that made me smile:

Oh God yes! It's my favorite bit!

3. Numerical Computation (strength) My type: Advanced Computer

Your high Numerical Computation make mental calculations and learning math skills super easy for you.

What may look like an unfinished puzzle to someone else is a clear picture in your mind. You can keep track of multiple calculations simultaneously even though you may not be aware you're doing it. You can also multitask while making calculations because it is so automatic for you that it takes little conscious attention on your part.

This one was a BIG surprise to me. I thought for sure I had bombed this section. In fact, I think I may have made a few lucky guesses as I went through the testing. Perhaps if I took this one again, I wouldn't be so lucky...but I'll let it be for now (and I *was* excellent at math in high school). This was the only 'tip' I could identify with:

Yes. Yes I can do that. In fact. I can 'eyeball' a teaspoon compared with a tablespoon as well...but that's cause I love cooking.

4. Numerical Reasoning (average) My type: Predictor

You probably enjoy looking for patterns in numbers but don't automatically do so. You have a solid grasp of trends in numbers after they are pointed out and explained.

You strike a balance between analyzing numbers when that is called for and applying existing formulas when that is more appropriate. You're the person who uses the formulas to direct the action.

I was actually quite sad to be average on this exercise, though I wasn't 100% surprised as I ran out of time with 2 problems left. I often play these games online where I guess for the value of n and I think I'm pretty good at it. But I guess I'm just average. Booo. But this does sound about right:

5. Spatial Visualization (strength) My type: 3D Visualizer

Your high Spatial Visualization makes it easy to organize and view your world as a 3D model. You may be able to retrieve books, a specific quotation, or objects quickly, even from a crowded space, because you "see" their location in your mind. People around you may comment that you're "very visual." You like to work and think about physical objects. You are good at using tools, machinery or equipment.

This was a bit of a head-scratcher for me because this exercise was really tough, but I guess I did okay after all! I didn't truly believe it until I read the 'challenges' to having this strength. This one in particular is very true:

I'm always drawing out what I mean and find it incredibly challenging to describe ideas without some sort of mock-up or diagram, which got me to learn Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator early in my career.

6. Inductive Reasoning (strength) My type: diagnostic problem solver

Your high Inductive Reasoning allows you to quickly see the interconnections between things and ideas that may seem unrelated to others.

As a detective, you follow the Sherlock Holmes model. You're likely to observe myriad details that others may deem unrelated or irrelevant. You see a pattern or story develop from these details that is plausible, odd as it may seem to others to whom you have to explain your reasoning process...Accepting that "this is the way it is" does not satisfy you. You're a diagnostician who thrives when there are new facts to correlate. The more facts and the faster they arrive the better. You like making changes that are improvements, small or large, whether they reach your target audience better, save money, promote world peace, heal someone, or fix an engine.

I LOVE that this is a strength and I really liked the inductive reasoning tests. I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes (who isn't?) and always try to solve a case before he does. I'm not always successful, but I'm not too bad. ;) I pride myself on having this as a strength:

If I was to pick one strength I'm most proud of, it is this one. I'm so glad I have it!

7. Sequential Reasoning (strength) My type: Sequential Thinker

Your high Sequential Reasoning ability lets you automatically shuffle and organize large amounts of information in your head and easily organize your thoughts and learned information in a methodical and logically organized way.

Your mental closet comes equipped with hooks, shelves, drawers, and hangers that you use to organize different pieces of information in your head. You may not feel the need to write out your ideas or have your physical surroundings organized in a structured way. In fact, you may have piles of stuff that look random to other people, but you seem to know where everything is.

This was another happy moment for me. And:

...this made perfect sense. I love doing my Keynote presentations.

8. Idea Generation (average) My type: Idea Contributor

You can elaborate easily on things that you have experience with or are knowledgeable about, but you might not come up with multiple ideas by yourself.

While you may not always have a flood of ideas to contribute, you can add to existing scenarios or put a twist on existing plans, approaches, or games. You enjoy sharing your own ideas with others, but you are just as comfortable when others share their ideas with you. You can create or execute ideas equally well and probably enjoy a balance of those two roles.

I thought I would do much better on this section, but after seeing the results and reading the description. It made perfect sense. Especially:

I really admire people who can do this. I have to research and gather my thoughts before I present anything. I also really like collaborating and riffing off of others' ideas and work.

9. Hand-eye Coordination (weakness) My type: Experiential Mover

You can understand movements by watching others, but replicating actions and developing flow takes repetition and consistent practice.

Once you have the sequence of motions down, you'll gain confidence; but remember that the initial learning curve will take you longer than for some other people.

I'm a good freestyle dancer, but it's true, I need to practice a LOT to get a movement down that someone else demonstrates. And I guess I shouldn't dismiss Zumba as exercise after all:

(even if I think it's a bit ridiculous)

10. Associative Memory (average) My type: Conscious Memorizer

You have the ability to memorize terminology with little difficulty; however, you should recognize that you'll need to use that information repeatedly if it is to be transferred into your long-term memory.

When you learn terms, codes, formulas, etc., you don't have to exert a great deal of effort, nor do you need to use memorization tricks. You will, however, have to make a conscious effort and possibly repeat terms a few times before they stay in your memory. Know that this is a conscious act that requires you to focus while learning terms and concepts simultaneously.

I really struggled with these tests. My visual memory is awful. And this is a HUGE weakness for me:

I've been known to forget names of people I've known for years when I've been over-challenged!

11. Visual Memory (average) My type: Data Reviewer

You're able to memorize important numbers and data like dates, codes, or account numbers pretty easily and can hang on to them for some time.

Numbers are a useful tool for you. You don't necessarily seek them out, but you know which ones are important to focus on. You memorize important dates, codes, or accounts easily, but you need to use calendars, notebooks, and other tools to keep track of the less important or frequently used items.

Again, not a surprise. I keep good records of numbers around me at all times because I suck at this:

12. Work Approach (personality type) My type: Generalist

You work best on projects that allow you to explore and exchange ideas and viewpoints with others.

As a Generalist, you prefer that the video lens be wide open so that you are aware of everyone involved. You will work best on projects that allow you to bounce ideas off others and exchange viewpoints and ideas. You will enjoy knowing all of the different perspectives, including the ones that differ from your own. It is usually easy for you to adapt your own perspective based on what you learn from others.

Yep. This is why I really don't like working solo:

13. Time Frame Orientation (personality type) My type: Future Focuser

Your high Time Frame Orientation lets you work toward goals in the distant future. Without something distant you may feel a bit aimless. You are more focused on the actual long-term goal or target than the specific day-to-day steps to success. You prefer to think about the impact of your decisions five to ten years into the future.

You are able to stay focused on a distant target and can work toward goals that may take years to develop or come to fruition...You might find yourself slowing down as you approach completion because you are uncomfortable without a long-range goal.

Exactly how I've been feeling for the past while and why this year is one of purpose:

14. Pattern Memory (average) My type: Map Reviewer

You're comfortable using maps, charts, and blueprints with little effort, but you aren't likely to refer to them from memory.

You're able to notice subtle differences in certain patterns, but might need to compare them side by side to identify specific differences. You don't need a lot of exposure before you memorize patterns, but they don't automatically stay in your memory.

That darned visual memory thing again. I thought for sure this result would be a weakness. I like the advice, though:

15. Interpersonal Style (personality type) My type: Extrovert

The presence of others energizes you. Getting to know people, catching up with old friends, and just laughing with others seems to lighten your day and bring you inner peace. It's nearly impossible for you not to engage with someone around you, even if it's greeting a stranger in a checkout line.

No surprises here! However, as I've grown older, I do need personal, alone recharge time. I'm a little less extroverted now. I'm pretty sure that I still do this, though:

THE CAREER BIT

If you think the aptitude assessment was interesting (as I did!), you are going to enjoy the career exploration even more! Latitude breaks these down into three sections:

Overall fit combines your aptitude testing results with your interests and gives you a list of career suggestions. In this section, I found out that I've actually done pretty well with my chosen path over the years and most of the other careers listed were quite appealing to me. Just the top 15 (I highlighted some of the roles I've played in my career):

  1. Broadcast News Analyst
  2. Architectural Teacher, Postsecondary
  3. Commercial and Industrial Designer
  4. Art Director
  5. Editor
  6. Interior Designer
  7. Director
  8. Instructional Coordinator
  9. Advertising and Promotions Manager
  10. Genetic Counselor
  11. Social and Community Service Manager
  12. Counseling Psychologist
  13. Exercise Physiologist
  14. Creative Writer
  15. Producer

The list of careers that solely suit my aptitude testing, however, were incredibly interesting. Some of the results were on my career path at one point, but I lost interest in them when I looked deeper into them (I began University in Computer Science, for instance):

  1. Energy Engineer
  2. Nuclear Engineer
  3. Computer Systems Engineer/Architect
  4. Petroleum Engineer
  5. Engineering Teacher
  6. Urban and Regional Planner
  7. Mechatronics Engineer
  8. Curator
  9. Advertising and Promotions Manager
  10. Transportation Engineer
  11. Geoscientist
  12. Market Research Analyst & Marketing Specialist
  13. Materials Scientist
  14. Securities and Commodities Sales Agent
  15. Aerospace Engineer

But lo and behold, Advertising and Promotions Manager and Market Research Analyst/Marketing Specialist are both present amongst the engineering heavy list, so yay!

Most of the list of careers based on my interests aren't actually that interesting to me now, but would have probably been VERY interesting when I was setting out in the world:

  1. Art, Drama and Music Teacher, Postsecondary
  2. Interior Designer
  3. Preschool Teacher, Except Special Education
  4. Broadcast News Analyst
  5. Actor
  6. Music Director
  7. Music Composer and Arranger
  8. Architectural Teacher, Postsecondary
  9. Middle School Teacher
  10. Fashion Designer
  11. Theatrical Makeup Artist
  12. Film and Video Editor
  13. Park Naturalist
  14. Creative Writer
  15. Art Director

The way Latitude presents each career is really very cool and thorough, too. Take for instance the Broadcast News Analyst. They break down each career into four categories: A Day in the Life, How You Fit, Education and Salary & Opportunity. The information under each is quite thorough. Here are some screenshots:

US based, but really interesting stats available on where the jobs are at if that matters to you.
US based, but really interesting stats available on where the jobs are at if that matters to you.
You can even break down salaries and projections state by state.
You can even break down salaries and projections state by state.

From what I understand, the future of Latitude will be to match people with college programs and eventually jobs, which is really exciting. It's definitely a tool I could have used when embarking on my career. I may have weighed future salary and opportunities with my aptitude and stuck with that Computer Science degree after all. Who knows?

But what was so magical about doing this testing right now in my career is that I am able to validate my strengths and identify my weaknesses so I can both focus on what I'm good at and work on improving where I'm weak. And in future interviews when I'm asked, "Name three strengths and three weaknesses," I have really great answers with scientific proof behind them. If that doesn't impress HR, I'm not sure what will!

In fact, if I were in Human Resources, I'd be all over Latitude. The testing isn't lightweight and you can't really cheat it (you can't go back and change answers and it's timed pretty tightly, so you can't really beat it by googling stuff - not that I tried, but there wasn't much time to answer each question). And you wouldn't want to cheat it anyway - there is no 'good or bad', just a better way of fitting you with the right career. And cheating the system would work against your own happiness.

But maybe I'm wrong. I know this is a super long post, but if you've gotten to this point and are interested in trying it yourself, I've been told I can give out THREE Latitude Assessments for you to try at home. And just for clarity, this is NOT a sponsored post. I loved my assessment so much I wrote them to ask them if I could write this and offer a few passes to my readers and they said yes. :)

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Meritocracy is Almost as Real as this Unicorn

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Meritocracy is Almost as Real as this Unicorn

While living and working in San Francisco many years back, I learned a new term: Meritocracy.

It sounded like such a lovely thing - the idea that people are celebrated, rewarded and advanced by the merits of their talent and hard work. If I worked hard and produced great stuff, I would benefit the same as anyone else who did the same. And those who weren't getting ahead? They just weren't working hard or smart enough. And the poor saps that lack the talent and skills they need to rise to the top? They would still be recognized for their input.

But as time went on, I noticed that reality didn't quite match this romantic idea of meritocracy. Only a certain type of person seemed to get ahead again and again. And there were plenty of talented, hard-working people who were left behind.

But I still wanted to believe that the system worked. It just sounded so amazing! So I had some theories about the discrepancy between idea and reality:

  1. Those same types of people who kept getting ahead in a meritocracy had more time and resources to hone their skills and contribute. For example, a young single guy from a wealthy family could afford to work more on an open source project than a middle-aged woman with kids.
  2. There was some unchecked bias that was leaking over into this merit-based system. All we needed to do was check our bias at the door.

I was so naive. When I brought up the first theory, I would get the, "So, what are you proposing as the solution? That we reward people differently? That goes against the idea of a meritocratic system!" When I protested that we ARE treating people different by expecting 80 hour work weeks, thereby eliminating anyone with any sort of responsibilities, they accused me of being one of those socialist types that discouraged hard work.

The second theory was harder to prove - the very idea that meritocratic types had bias was offensive and any example I brought up was defensible - but lucky for me, a study came out a few years back (Dec. 2010) that looked into bias and meritocracy and guess what it found?

Not only is bias a factor that renders meritocratic rewards decidedly UN-meritocratic, it actually exacerbates bias!

Let me repeat: BIAS IS EXACERBATED IN A MERITOCRACY!

In three separate and controlled studies with 445 participants (pre-screened to have deep managerial experience), they found that time and time again, the participants rewarded male employees significantly higher than their female colleagues (in the same job, with the same supervisor, with the same performance evaluations). And even more interesting was that, when they controlled for a non-meritocratic condition, the female employees were rewarded slightly higher.

Wow, right? So those that strive for this utopic, egalitarian ideal of meritocracy are actually MORE biased. And why was this?

"Uhlmann and Cohen’s (2007) argument that  a sense of personal objectivity moderates the extent to which individuals act on their beliefs, including stereotypical beliefs, would also predict the paradox of meritocracy in employment settings. They showed that when people feel objective, they become more confident that their beliefs are valid, and thus more likely to act on them." p.27 (emphasis mine)

In other words, the more you believe in the soundness of the system, the more likely you are to leave your bias unchecked. It reminds me of when people say, "no offense but," then follow it with something incredibly offensive, believing their initial statement removes the speaker from responsibility for the statement.

The only way that meritocracy could actually work is in a world where:

  1. we are all starting from the same position of advantage. Time, money, ability, education, etc. [bonus: read The Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege]
  2. we had checks and balances on our biases.

In other words, a world in which unicorns and leprechauns exist. In other words, not in this world in 2013.

So let's please stop fooling ourselves that those that get celebrated, rewarded and advanced are the most deserving. We should know better by now.

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Dangerous Data: when it tells the wrong story

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Dangerous Data: when it tells the wrong story

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SVAax5jIVs&w=640&h=480] I opened up my email this morning to see an article from Mashable titled The Anatomy of the World's Top Performing CEOs [INFOGRAPHIC] and then opened the article to see a really depressing infographic that emphasized the maleness and marriedness and even the hairline of the CEO's.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 6.00.09 PM
Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 6.00.09 PM

At first I thought, that's not good for business, but then I looked deeper. It seemed that the creators of the infographic - CEO.com & Domo - had extracted their own 'data' from the HBR.com study that was less about demographics and more about characteristics (that had little to do with hairlines, marital statuses or gender).

This is incredibly irresponsible. Way more people will read and pass along an infographic than will ever see the original source (especially since it costs $6.95 and is behind a login/paywall), so they'll jump to the conclusion that the effect of being a good CEO is caused by these unrelated factors.

I was so moved I decided to make a video to explain it. Would love to jump start a conversation around this.

Original article: http://mashable.com/2013/09/23/top-performing-ceos/ (p.s Mark Zuckerberg isn't one of the top performing CEO's...Mashable is so unreliable for information) HBR report: http://hbr.org/2013/01/the-best-performing-ceos-in-the-world

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The end of my world as I knew it and I (now) feel fine...[a retrospective on startup grief]

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The end of my world as I knew it and I (now) feel fine...[a retrospective on startup grief]

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 6.48.44 PM
Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 6.48.44 PM

(from the cover of How To Survive the End of the World as we Know it by James Rawles]

Today, at the urging of a friend, I told the story of the past year of my life in a private forum for women entrepreneurs that I avoided for that period of time. The women on the list urged that I share this story more publicly, so here it is.

THE END WAS NIGH

For those of you who are new to this story, I am one of the founders of Buyosphere, a website for helping people search for fashion by using real people instead of algorithms to uncover gems and interesting ideas. Going to a 1920's party and don't know where to find a cool flapper dress that is in your price range and won't make your arms look like sausages? Post a question on Buyosphere and there will probably be someone in the community that knows of an affordable, adorable, flattering dress that has your name on it.

I'm fiercely proud of what we built, though we made lots of mistakes and wrong turns to get there, which cost 3 years of my life and over $525,000 in angel and friends and family money (plus lots of our own...I lost count). By the time we course-corrected, the money was gone and there wasn't really any runway left for the newly launched (September 2012) awesome 1.0 version of the site. Instead, we needed to find jobs and move on.

THE FALL

Moving on was incredibly painful. My dream was dashed. I was broke. I felt like a joke. I disappointed the friends and family who had invested in me. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life anymore. I hadn't made a fall-back plan. I had no idea how to operate in this new paradigm.

Just when I thought I couldn't feel lower, I took a job that I ended up despising for a wage that was worse than wat I made when I was in my 20's for a company who didn't value my experience or ideas...who fired me after the trial period because "I didn't fit in." I went from feeling like a failure to wanting to disappear altogether.

I really didn't know who I was anymore. And I certainly didn't know how to express that. I felt numb. I was in a state of numb for 6 months. I tuned out everything. I didn't want to hear about struggle or success or anything that was going on in the startup world or tech community. I unsubscribed from everything. Every group, every list, every newsletter. I stopped talking to people who mattered in my life during my startup/tech days. I gave a talk during this period at a conference. Frankly, I don't know how I did it. I barely remember it.

THE DISTRACTION

I needed a BIG change. Luckily a friend turned me onto a job on a political campaign (Justin Trudeau) and I was able to throw myself into a completely different world. It was awesome and exactly what I needed, but I eventually had to come out of it. I'm passionate about politics, but I didn't want to make a career out of it.

And I also had 'my win'. Justin won the Leadership race with 80% of the popular vote and the social media plan and content I came up with brought in a big part of the new votes. I remember thinking at one point, "Yep. I still have it." And that was the kind of confidence boost I needed to get out of my slump.

THE RECOVERY

Recovery is a funny thing. It was so gradual that I didn't even realize I was getting better. The myth persists that you wake up one day and - poof - you feel better again. But that wasn't my experience. Slowly but surely, I just started to get my mojo back and I really didn't even notice it. Not until today when Melinda asked me to talk about my 'absence' from the group.

Slowly I had ideas. Inspiration. Drive. A desire to do something again. I slowly stopped feeling afraid. I slowly stopped feeling dread. I slowly regained confidence. I slowly stopped asking, "Why would anyone want me?" and started believing in myself again. The question, instead, started to become, "Why would I want to work for anyone else?" more and more. And then I found myself sitting with a couple of potential partners to discuss setting up a new agency.

I think everyone has different ways of dealing with grief. Even the most social of us can be SO devastated that we need some space and time to reflect and get our bearings back. I didn't even know how to talk about it and I certainly didn't have the desire to reach out to anyone. I needed distance from it. A new perspective. I'm not back to my pre-startup chutzpah quite yet, but I do feel okay about everything.

And I'm also feeling hopeful about Buyosphere again. It has at least a few more versions to go to make it a fully functioning, amazing tool, but it's got the basis of it. Nearly a year later, I still love looking at it and I still believe in the core premise. Fashion search is pretty damned broken. I think this is the right approach. Hell, if you know of anyone looking to buy a startup in the fashion space, I have one that is WAY undervalued. ;)

THE CONCLUSION

People will tell you that there is life after your startup fails, but I guarantee you won't feel that way when it happens. And that's cool. Because you need to mourn it. And you probably need to figure out who you are again without the startup. And, like me, you probably won't want to go back to what you were doing before. The pressure will be immense to do something bigger and better and altogether different. Go do that. Or just give yourself as much time as you need. And just fall apart as much as you need to. I recommend a time-consuming distraction that is completely different from what you were doing. I've heard of ex-startup founders getting married, going back to school, climbing a mountain...whatever works.

And for those of you who know someone who is going through this: they don't need/want your advice. They certainly don't need/want your condolences. Don't tell them to look on the bright side. Don't try to fix anything. They probably don't want to talk about it at all. The best thing you can do for them is be normal and let them be normal and give them space. And if they don't want to see you it is because you somehow remind them of their self-loathing pain. Don't take that personally. I know. It's hard not to.

I can honestly say that I'm a much stronger, smarter, more interesting person for going through all of this. And my next venture? It's going to be better for it.

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Where would I be without the internet?

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Where would I be without the internet?

freedomnextexit
freedomnextexit

As Internet Freedom Day approaches once again, I reflect on how this amazing platform has provided me with a voice I couldn't have accessed otherwise. And I wonder, "Where would I be TODAY if it wasn't for the internet and it's openness?"

I was born and raised in a small town. It was a lovely town, but I always felt out of place. It was difficult to connect with like-minded people. The closest friend I had growing up lived a 2 hour drive away and calling her was long distance, so I was limited in my interactions with her. I met her at a summer camp and for years afterwards, our letters back and forth and all-too-brief visits made me feel like I was sane.

It wasn't until I was 19 (it was 1992 - don't do the math!) that I was introduced to the web. I was pregnant and going to night classes to learn some office software skills so I could get a better job after my son was born. A classmate introduced me to IRC and Usenet groups. I was incredibly blown away that there were people all over the world who shared ideas, stories, triumphs and defeats with near-complete strangers. But it felt right for me instantly. I meet dozens of new "friends" online who I felt closer to than most of the people around me.

As the population grew on the web, so did the tools and it became easier and easier for me to find like-minded people as well as people with opposing views who I learned so much from. I learned to do basic coding and built myself web pages. I sent notes of support to people half way around the world. When I started blogging in 2003 (I was late to the game. Most of my friends had started in 1999. I didn't think I had anything interesting to say.), I discovered a whole new level of camaraderie and connection online.

Every time I was lost, the internet found me. Or rather, the people on the internet did, but without the platform, it wouldn't have been possible. Because of the internet, I found a voice, I built a career, I wrote a book, I became a public speaker, I travelled all over the world, I met (and meet) thousands of interesting people I wouldn't have otherwise, I started movements, I joined movements, I met my cofounders, I met the love of my life, I adopted my dog, I keep in touch with my son, I learn and grow every single day...I don't know if I could even imagine a world without the web. My IRL world and my virtual world are interlinked so deeply that there are no clear boundaries.

So where would I be without the internet? Lost. Still looking for my voice. Probably still feeling isolated and somewhat of an oddball. I remember life before the web and, well, it wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't what it became AFTER the web.

So I salute Internet Freedom Day and everyone who fights to keep it open and accessible and makes sure we focus on what it does for people like me. Thank you for finding me and giving me a voice. xo

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2012 in review

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2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 36,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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My #Themeword for 2013: Triump

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My #Themeword for 2013: Triump

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In the past few #themeword years, I've been incredibly cautious when it comes to picking my word. I felt it unwise to take the leap that this year or that would be MY year. It started with Transition in 2008, and Thrive in 2009, then moved along to Achieve in 2010, then Reap in 2011 and finally Give'r in 2012. The thing these #themewords had in common was hard work and growth.

I've worked hard. I've grown. I know I still have lots to learn, but after 5 years of hard work and growth, I'm looking forward to some awesome payoff and 2013 feels like the right year to go bullish on the themeword.

Triumph is an awesome word, too. It's not only amazingly dramatic and bigger than life for a word, it is also the name of an awesome Canadian 80's hair band and a pretty sweet and sporty motorcycle. I feel pretty brazen about this word and I look forward to this awesome year.

I have lots to feel bullish about this year. For many years, I struggled with Buyosphere and, before that, was figuring out who I am and where I wanted to go. These years have been challenging, but in the past half a year, I've re-entered the workforce and taken on some exciting new work that has put my skills to the test. I can now say I finally know what I'm doing and feel professionally solid.

I also have a wonderful relationship with an amazing man, my son is growing up to be a fine young man and I'm happy with who I am and have let go of many of the insecurities of my youth. I turn 40 in 2013 and I'm excited for it. I no longer dread that milestone.

Yep. This year is going to rock. I've fought the good fight, now it's time to rock out and roll on. ;)

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