Tag Archives: Branding

Changes Afoot to My Blogs

There is so much that I didn’t know when I started this blog on a Saturday morning last December.  I had been thinking about blogging for some time, but the actual start was a bit on impulse.  This means that there were a lot of details that I didn’t understand.  (Well, if we waited to understand everything perfectly before we acted, we would rarely act, yes?)


I’ve learned more about blogging by actually doing it than I would have in reading about it or asking bloggers vague questions.  (That’s the thing about learning, half the battle is knowing what questions to ask.)  But in learning, and formulating a better idea of what I wanted to do, I ended up with a couple of blogs.  One of which is branded (http://bareedwriting.com/).


public domain image

public domain image

I’ve made the decision to merge my blogging efforts to my branded URL.  I hope that all of you wonderful readers who have been following me here will come over and follow me at http://bareedwriting.com/.


Starting on Monday September 16th, I will move these essays from Practical Business over to my BAReed Writing blog and I do hope that you come over and follow me there.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations, All rights reserved


Filed under Work Life

When did Built to Last become Planned Obsolescence?

I could do a bit of research and find out the actual answer to my question from a marketing or product development standpoint, but that isn’t my objective.  (If you know, please do share.)  I’m more interested in this question in an esoteric manner; we seem to have started this idea with products, quietly and slowly (washers and dryers used to be built for 15-20 years, now 8 seems to be the norm yet they cost comparatively more!) and the idea has spread to other parts of business and life.

End of Child Labor is Progress (Cotton mill workers,1909.Lewis Hines, National Child Labor Collection-Library of Congress.)

End of Child Labor is Progress (Cotton mill workers,1909.Lewis Hines, National Child Labor Collection-Library of Congress.)


Now progress is different than planned obsolescence – I learned to type on an old manual typewriter (my pinky fingers will never forget the force exerted to depress those keys was nearly beyond their power) and am thrilled to now use Word on my laptop to create.  That is progress, new inventions to improve upon old process.  Calligraphy and quill pens are now lovely in living history settings and used for artistic expression, but we will stick with our gel pens, thanks.


And as for applying the concept of obsolete to people, well skills might get a little stale, but not a person.  A person who has learned how to navigate a changing world always has something to offer.  We might have to slow down our hurry just a bit, sit down and have a chat, and then cull through the conversation for the good stuff.  But there will be good stuff; solid knowledge on making a life, earning a living, solving problems.


Older people might not know their way around all of these devices, but should your GPS break most would be capable and happy to show you how to read a map.  To tell you a story or two about the area where you find yourself.  How it once was, how it came to be what you see before you.  Sometimes this means a place quite different as the story progresses, but since nature is cyclical sometimes it means returning to something similar to what it was before.


One of the answers to my question might be, ‘that’s progress’.  Hmmm.  It seems to be more about pure commerce to me, which is what it is; but then we should carefully consider what parts of the world to apply the concept.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations



Filed under Job Search, Personal Growth, Work Life

Some Random Thoughts on Networking… Please Add Yours

I went to a networking event recently, held quarterly by a LinkedIn contact.  It was my first time in attendance because I am putting pressure on myself to network more, and farther outside of my comfort zone.  I will benefit, but it does take energy.


My thoughts:

  • It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, you don’t live in a box so you need to figure out how to keep your contacts fresh.
  • Most people have as many and possibly the same reservations that you have about going.
  • Follow up matters – but is also dependent upon your intent for starting the contact in the first place.
    • How many people do you know that just go through motions because they have been told that they must?
    • One person I know went to coffee with a new contact and was frustrated when the new contact didn’t seem to understand the point of the coffee meeting follow up.  (Hint: it isn’t a coffee klatch.)
  • You need to spend a couple of moments before the event getting your thoughts together about your own expectations for the event.
    • If it is your first event, your objective can be as simple as getting through the event.  Be yourself – your most vivacious self that you can muster.
  • Some people will be there just to collect cards – these are probably the folks who had the most yearbook signatures in high school and a lot of trophies.  Don’t spend too much time with them.
  • This is social, so have some fun.  But remember appropriate behavior for the occasion.


Ultimately, networking should help each of us to find people to expand our community.  What do you have to say?


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations, All rights reserved

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What’s in Your Closet? Casual Friday, the Office Dress Code

Want to have a frothy conversation at the office, but keep it away from the hot buttons of politics and religion – start talking about the dress code.  This works better if your office has a mix of ages and business backgrounds.  An office full of 20 something designers or 40 something CPAs probably won’t lead to a lively talk.


What does business casual really mean?  Wear hose, don’t wear hose.  Capris, shorts, jeans in the office?  To tuck or not to tuck – and if men must tuck, why don’t the women have to?  T-shirts with logos, oh my.  And flip-flops, duck if you bring these up.


I grew up in the age when one still dressed up for church, celebrations of any kind, really any notable occasion.  (And I loved the authoritative click that my first dress shoes with a little bit of a heel made on tile!)  Putting some effort into getting dressed meant that something special was about to happen.  Both of my parents had sections in their closets for professional clothing – and I understood that to be taken seriously at work I should dress for the role that I wanted.


Now I am not stylish at all and I gravitate toward simple, comfortable clothing; and I like color as people who tend to too much black will tell you.  I don’t read style magazines, but I have studied how certain people seem to be nicely put together – it seems to come down to coordinating items and accessories; which I hope to master one day.


dressLeft to my own devices, I will dress neatly for work in my own uniform of sorts – a colorful top and a pair of Docker-like pants.  A blouse or unconstructed jacket will take it up a notch for client meetings.  I’ll wear jeans on casual Friday to show unity, but I’m not fond of jeans and office chairs – I prefer to wear my jeans when I can put my feet up.


Recently there was a discussion on one of my LinkedIn groups (Linked N Chicago-LiNC) that carried on for almost a full month having been started with the question Dress code at the office: Has it become TOO relaxed?.  Here is a quote that I think sums up the discussion succinctly:


“How you dress is a marketing decision. You should make that decision yourself and not be bound by a rule.”

~David M Patt CAE

See the full LinkedIn discussion here.


We each must figure out how to balance personal expression with the needs/wants of the groups to which we belong.  If you decide to get your office mates going on this topic, let me know the outcome.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Making a Personal Plea for LinkedIn Profile Pictures

I know, I know that you’ve heard all the reasons why you should have a profile picture – people don’t want to hire ghosts, blah-blah-blah.  Please keep reading, this isn’t about that at all, I promise.  And let me just add that while I am an avid recorder of life in pictures, you will infrequently find one of me in my own archives because I’m not fond of my own image.


profile pleaBut look me up, I have a profile picture.  It took a month of nearly daily photo sessions to get one that I liked (and that was on a haircut day, so I didn’t do my own hair), but there is an acceptable picture of me out there attached to my social media persona.  (By the way, I use the same picture for all social media – which helps me to show that if you find someone out there doing something untoward and that person has my name but not my image it is not me.)


I have been busy meeting many new and interesting people in the last few months and I have connected to quite a few of them on LinkedIn, even some that I have yet to meet in person.  I love expanding my circle and I’m pretty good at remembering faces.  I’m working on being better at associating the faces to the names.  (It’s a work in progress, we won’t count how long this has been an active project.)


About 2/3 of my current connections on LinkedIn have pictures and I thank you sincerely.  It helps me with my name to face association project.  If I know that I am going to see someone that I haven’t seen in a little while, I go to LinkedIn to refresh the association.  And I am occasionally disappointed when I get that ghost staring back at me.


Also, if I am to meet someone new, someone that I’ve only spoken to via email or phone, I do the same.  I was recently in a coffee shop waiting to meet a new contact in person and looking forlorn, I’m sure, because she was a ghost on LinkedIn.  Luckily it wasn’t a busy time of day or I would have had to approach every woman who walked in.


So for me, and all those potential new and useful contacts you might make out there, please add a clear picture of yourself to your profile.  My name to face association project thanks you.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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The Components of Your Comportment

comportmentComportment is a word that pretty much went out of favor with debutantes, coming out and walking around with a book on your head to improve your posture.  It means your manner, the way that you carry yourself, present yourself.  We still make decisions about how to comport ourselves every day, and in different situations, we just don’t think in these terms, and maybe we should – maybe the idea of comportment would help us to distinguish our most professional behavior.

Behaving professionally at work is quite important, regardless of your level within the organization, but what does this really mean?  Reintroduction of this formal word, comportment, might help us to crisply define what we mean by professional demeanor.

Comportment doesn’t mean a lack of humor, nor is it dry and stiff.  On the other end of the definition of a professional comportment spectrum, we know that it means that we should avoid using any of the words that shocked us or made us giggle as preteens.

When my own boys were at the preteen stage, I knew that they were under a certain social pressure to be part of the group.  I let them know that they should be conscious of their surroundings; when in a group of their close male friends they could speak in whatever manner helped them to feel part of the group.  If there were small children, girls, or grownups anywhere in ear shot, I expected them to behave in a most civilized manner.

“Every choice moves us closer to or farther away from something. Where are your choices taking your life? What do your behaviors demonstrate that you are saying yes or no to in life?”

~Eric Allenbaugh

Other specific components of appropriate comportment in your particular office might seem out of place or inappropriate in another setting.

“Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability.”

~J. William Galbraith

What components should make up your best work comportment?

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


Filed under Personal Growth, Work Life

The Data Paradox (Or Why Professionals Benefit from a Successful LinkedIn, While Using the Freemium Option)

Few of us are fond of being boiled down to just a set of statistics and yet our interest in something is often sparked by the statistics that are offered (read Charles Seife’s Proofiness) by a company, in an article, etc.  Business is driven by data – what data to collect, how to collect it, how to best utilize it and on and on.  We humans are fascinated by quantification, but skeptical of being lumped into the underlying statistics.


Marketing companies that design successful rewards cards or programs have found a way into our data paradox sweet spot – offer something that we want or need, don’t sell the resulting data directly tied to our personal info and we will be more likely to sign up and give the company access to our volume of purchase data.  Don’t make our direct benefit clear, or make your data needs too obvious and death to your marketing effort.


Being someone who is fascinated by process, I often like to pull back the covers to see if I can figure out how something is a sustainable business – look at how Facebook is making various money grabs now that they have gone public.  (I used to wonder how they could afford all the employees and sweet digs…)  Unlike many, I don’t resent a company’s ability to make money from their interactions with me, as long as my benefit is equal or greater than the one I perceive they are receiving.  Someday I might be able to reverse that dynamic and gain some business advantage of my own from the relationship.


I think that it is this perceived benefit that is at the bottom of the social media opinion that many people hold.  It is their skepticism of the benefit they will receive versus their sketchy understanding of the value of their appearance on social media.  In my opinion, there is plenty of benefit to professionals to put moderate effort into creating and maintaining a profile on the LinkedIn site.  But the reactions of folks I talk to range from strong agreement to vitriolic dislike of the pull of social media in general and LinkedIn particularly.


These people in the strong dislike category usually object based on their skepticism of putting their personal information online.  When I have the opportunity to delve further with them I like to find out if they have other social media presence, if they hold a credit card or any participate in any rewards programs, do online banking.  More often than not they do many of these other things, but have not associated these activities with the data mining that occurs in these arenas as well.  Hmmm.


I was first introduced to LinkedIn in 2009 by a co-worker.  I wasn’t on any social media site at that point and I am not an early adopter of anything.  So I thought about it and she mentioned it a couple more times and then sent an invitation through LinkedIn to join.  A forum for professionals, interesting – so I created a basic profile and mostly left it to its own devises and accepted invitations to connect from folks.


It has only been in the last few months that I have become a proponent of the site and the benefits.  In my opinion, LinkedIn offers solid benefits in exchange for data mining my business information for their own purposes.  Where do you stand?


Related Data Filled Article:

LinkedIn Connection-Obsession on http://knogimmicks.com


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


Filed under Job Search, Personal Growth, Work Life

Reinvention Implies Original Invention

If you are one of those people who created a life plan in childhood and have been able to stick to it, then this post doesn’t apply to you.  (Or maybe not, you might want to keep reading.)


I follow Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn, he is one of LI’s ‘influencers’, and he made a comment in a post a few weeks ago that has bubbled back up to my mental surface.  His comment was about reinventing yourself professionally.  I believe that the context was within changing careers.


Inventing something means to create a finite object or complete idea.  The first radio was invented, manufactured, marketed, sold – and has been taken over by all sorts of new inventions.  And so on for all the myriad items that have been invented since the wheel.   These follow up items are reinventions of the radio, rather new inventions that improve upon it or use its invention as a starting point to create something completely different.


If you carry over this idea to a person, then how do you really define when the person is completely ‘invented’?  At the outset of adulthood?  First professional job?  Creation of a family?  Standing on our own two feet financially?


I could keep going, but you get the picture.  Our life is a trajectory with many pauses and course changes but only one point of completion.  I am, then, still in the process of inventing me.  A career change isn’t a reinvention, just a new part of the invention that is me.


What do you think?


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Office Survival, the Chameleon

The chameleon has come to represent the ultimate flip-flopper; one who has no real self-definition or internalized characteristics, instead one who takes on the best characteristic of the moment.  We are confusing the visual as the whole, instead of just an outward appearance which may or may not completely reflect the chameleon’s true nature.  Maybe we have it all wrong and should consider the positive aspects of this creature.


What if the chameleon is just really good at marketing those of its existing characteristics that suit the current model?  The chameleon takes on the colors of its surroundings – the texture of its skin doesn’t change, nor does its size, and it certainly doesn’t stop being in the amphibian family.  If it were sentient, it wouldn’t change its thought process, likes/dislikes, its work ethic and so on.  It is just using tools developed over history to best advantage to survive its current environment.  Clever, perhaps even enviable.


We are in a period of rapid change on so many levels of our environment, and we can be forgiven – indeed should be – if we find it tiring in the extreme.  I wrote this early on in my blogging experience, Embrace it or Resist it Change Happens and feel the need to update my thoughts on change because I have changed in these short months.  (For one thing, I’ve learned how to imbed hyperlinks like this one – which I think is a pretty cool trick because I am easily amused.)


I could probably decide to write once a month about change and not have to repeat myself.  (This is true about a lot of seemingly simple topics, really.)  I won’t because that would be boring and predictable which would negate the qualities of survival that I’m thinking about right now.


The chameleon uses a fear response to decide to activate its skill of blending, so it becomes a prompt to do something instead of a paralyzing occasion.  I think that is admirable, the chameleon is helping itself to get through the current situation by using learned and innate skills.  It is adapting, at least temporarily to its environment.


This ability to adapt has allowed survival and can be a boost into the next level of existence, which is to thrive in the environment.  Grow where you are planted – look for the familiar and even features to appreciate where you find yourself, while you work to find a more suitable environment for the future.


You don’t have to like something to see its merit – while I don’t like math, I am savvy enough to know I need to apply it to my money management so that I don’t become a target.


Chameleons show us the possibility in taking advantage of our skills to turn a potential danger environment into an asset.  Calling someone a chameleon is quite the compliment.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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Getting Ahead and Being Successful are Very Different Propositions

Most of us, when we think about these phrases at all, see getting ahead and being successful as synonymous to each other.  But once we scratch the surface of each and get into the meaning behind them it becomes clear that there are differences.


Getting ahead means being first, winning – so getting ahead of our debt would be a good thing, but what might each of us have to do to get ahead in our business dealings?  I am competitive, mostly with myself, and if I can gain in understanding and knowledge and skill in some way or another from where I was at previously, then I am getting ahead of my own curve.  I used to be more generally competitive and found that I therefore sometimes had cause to promote characteristics in myself that I don’t care for, like pointing out someone’s else’s flaws in an effort to trump up my own position.  As I gained in wisdom, I decided that getting ahead isn’t for me.


Being successful could be limited to monetary gains – in some way narrowly defined materially.  Or it could be much more richly and broadly defined – success should have a very personal definition for each of us.  Success should include a moral and ethical component, should encompass our work and our personal self.


We could attempt to get ahead by cheating in some way, but since that is damaging to our ethics (for the majority of us) then cheating could not lead to success.


The question of how someone defines success is one that I included when I provided answers to some behavioral interview questions in an earlier series of posts.  The answers can be very telling to understand if the interviewee will fit into your group dynamic.  The answer can be very telling in the way that we each approach life in general.  How do you define success?


I recently saw an article, sorry I didn’t save the link, which suggested that 20 and 30 somethings have little interest in getting ahead.  Good for them.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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