Stagnation: The Enemy Of Success

One of my life philosophies is that you will always have success, and never be bored in the pursuit of knowledge. The key is to attack your subject matter from many angles and to apply your knowledge.

Still

We’ve all seen the videos of people standing still in a crowd. The world of digital is especially fast paced, which is part of what makes it so exciting. As a part of my role here at Blitz I have been developing my knowledge base in Facebook Advertising, so my most recent endeavor has been tackling some courses in the Facebook Blueprint LMS.

It’s a great learning interface and I even received some certificates to show for it:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 6.14.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.43.43 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.16.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.21.00 PM

 

If you are involved in any Facebook marketing or ads, make sure you aren’t throwing your money away with broadly targeted groups and and ads that contain low quality content.

I strongly recommend taking a look at the “Boost Your Posts” and “Ads Manager” courses for some helpful information about how to optimize your posts and make sure that you are getting the most out of Ads Manager.

Personal Efficiency: Do, Delegate, Delete

Through my experience with blitz, so far, I have recognized how invaluable personal efficiency will be.

Here’s an interesting statistic. According to a recent study, young adults spend, on average, (drum roll) 5 hours a day on their phones. That is nearly a 3rd of their waking hours. Or should I say our waking hours. After all I am still a young adult. Doing the math, with 7 days in a week that quickly adds up to 35 hours a week, so over a full day per week of phone usage and that is just the average.

I am definitely guilty of falling down the digital hole. We’ve probably all been there, and we dig ourselves deeper with every link or new video we click on.

Hours are spent looking at pictures, reading articles, and most often watching videos. One time I fell down the hole, starting from an innocent video that a friend shared about sky diving, and ended up 45 minutes later, without even noticing, still on FB, reading an article about the top 10 actors who didn’t age well.

This is precisely why the personal efficiency triangle spoke to me the most. Wasting my time, will pretty soon mean wasting the time of my co-workers and even worse, clients that are trusting me with their time, and this simply doesn’t work, so here is my plan:

In order to actually execute Do, Delegate, Delete, I need to have time to do that work and will have to stay on top of it. In order to do that I will drop Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other time wasting applications during the work, which I will allot a discrete segment of my day to.

After cutting out big time wasters, I will have an 8 hour work period to schedule into my day. Since I don’t want to be up late doing work, I will have to schedule the start of my work day earlier, which will mean becoming more efficient with all day to day tasks (morning routine, eating, etc.).

Upon starting my work, I will employ the DDD method. This will apply in all facets of my work day. Specifically, I plan on being very responsive to emails (Do) and will need to make sure that I am taking little frequent stabs at my work spread out over time as opposed to trying to do it all at once and having a lot of errors.

For now, my biggest responsibility will be getting up to speed (SEO, AdWords, Excel, White Sands) and that will take diligence and effort. My plan moving forward will be to voraciously learn and to start contributing.

My goal is to master personal efficiency and to be able to progressively do more in less time. This means more MAA and faster CID, while upholding the same quality of work, thus moving projects along quickly, and being able to teaching others (LDT) how to be more efficient.

Eventually, I hope this translates into being able to complete more than just my work goals efficiently. I hope to be able to fit in as much as I can into my daily life, so that I am always tired at the end of the day and can build a life full of enriching experiences for myself and others.

Last Night Bon Iver’s Drummer Called Me A Hack

Back in my home town of Aliso Viejo, a testament to suburbia, exists a flourishing DIY music scene. Most of our local bands (Pedestrian, Ridgeway, Evary) could fall into the categories of pop punk/emo, psychedelic, or post rock music inspired by bands like Modern Baseball, Tame Impala, and Explosions In The Sky. It’s not what I expected from the palm tree decorated, coastal city, but we all love and promote it.

I currently live in the Provo/Orem area where the DIY music scene isn’t very unified, and I admit, I really miss the sense of community back home. I have a few friends that promote their shows out here, but the events are fairly sporadic and dispersed. Interestingly enough, however, my roommate discovered a house show through bandsintown, but it wasn’t just any indie rock band…

S. Carey, the brainchild of Bon Iver’s drummer and supporting vocalist Sean Carey, played a show last night in a Salt Lake City residence.  I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if this was just going to be Sean with an acoustic guitar, if there was going to be any amplification, where they would be playing in the house…regardless, I couldn’t wait to find out.

We pulled up to the address and weren’t sure if we had the right place until we looked in the driveway and saw the big tour van with a Wisconsin license plate, and figured it had to be them. At the front door was a young boy by the merch table featuring the discography of the band, as well as T-shirts and other standards. He politely welcomed us into the house.

Scott (my roommate) and I were the first ones, so it was literally an empty living room and right there the band was warming up Fire-scene. It was a pretty surreal experience to go from watching a video of Sean singing For Emma with Justin Vernon in a Youtube episode of “La Blogothèque” to talking about fishing in the mountains with the whole band only an hour later. He was accompanied by keyboardist Ben Lester, and drummer/guitarist Zach Hanson, both incredibly talented guys.

We stood in the kitchen with the hosts and talked about music and how the tour came about, as the rest of the audience poured in through the door. Some went straight to picking their seats on the living room floor while others adorned the ice bucket with wine or IPA, and joined the conversation.

Maybe we exuded the indie rock aesthetic, or maybe we just looked like we had spent the past week in a van (probably the latter), but those newcomers shuffling in kept asking Scott and me if we were in the band. Keep in mind S. Carey was standing right across from us, so as much as we wanted to say yes, we disappointedly shook our heads no each successive time until someone asked yet again:

“Are you guys in the band too?”, after which Sean took the liberty to clarify…

“No they’re just a couple of hacks.”

I then took a deep hard look into my glass of water, and watched the ripples of a tear drop radiate out from the center of my beverage.

ACTUALLY I laughed, even though it was a joke, I had never been called a hack before, and I can gladly say the first person to do it was Sean Carey.

What a great memory to have! Right?

Maybe not you say? Well…as far as the show went, the band perfectly recreated their lush, ethereal, and layered soundscapes over which their melodies and harmonies floated and whisked the living room away to the misty mountains that the band is so fond of showcasing on their album covers. They even had the audience help out and perform the clapping for the song “In The Dirt”.


 

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 5.13.41 PM Supermoon-580x577

This was definitely one of my favorite and most unique show experiences. I loved the setting and I hope more bands follow suit (and tell us about it).

Thanks S. Carey and thank you to those wonderful kind people who hosted the show!

The Time My Mother Was Michael Phelps

Growing up, I would hear stories of amazing physical feats of motherhood like when a mom would lift a refrigerator to save her impaled child’s life. I actually witnessed my own personal case of maternal super power when I was about 10.

This was in the summer of 2004 and Michael Phelps had won his 8 gold medals in the olympics for various swimming styles. My family had been watching the olympics that year at a little beach house that we rented in Cape Cod, MA. Dad would work in the mornings and the rest of the family (siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles) would stay back and hit the beach.

I would ride my skateboard to the beach, swim, play in the sand, and come home and skateboard until the sun went down. Most of the summer flew by and consisted of the same shenanigans…with the exception of the llama, the hurricane, and the time my mother used her maternal powers to transfigure into Michael Phelps.

Let me explain…

The Llama: 

Someone on our street owned a llama, and when I was skateboarding one day, I heard a loud galloping noise approaching me and getting louder. When I turned around, I was surprised to find a frantic little girl chasing a 7 foot tall llama down the street.

By the time my head had processed what was happening, the llama had run past me and that was the last I saw of it and the girl.

Llama

The Hurricane:

That year, we were hit by the remnants of some classification of extreme weather, and I don’t recall whether it was a hurricane or a tropical storm. The storm brought in some very powerful rip currents, which is information necessary to establish how impressive it was when…

My Mother Was Michael Phelps: 

One day we bought an inflatable life raft (for two), and although waves on the coast of Massachusetts are not famed for their size, the surf was as big as it ever got. This was earlier in the week, prior to the storm, and as an uninformed and overly confident 10 year-old, I thought that I would brave the stormy waters and surf my oversized raft.

The sun was out for the majority of the day, but it wouldn’t be a dramatic story if the clouds didn’t start to roll in as rowed myself out into the ocean. I headed toward a nice wave to take me back, but just rolled right over it as I was pulled slightly farther to the outside of the waves. Upset about my missed effort I gave it another go, but missed the next wave, once again getting pulled farther into the ocean.

I kept rowing, but my efforts were thwarted by what I now understand to be a powerful type of current pulling from shore, out to the open ocean known as a “rip current”. As the diagram demonstrates, you swim parallel to the shore to get out of one of these. I didn’t know any of this.


rip-current

 


 

I started panicking after realizing that I was now hundreds of feet off shore and had tired myself out trying to row this boat back against a rip.  My mother, noticed that I was panicking and drifting to sea, and that was when it happened. She turned into Michael Phelps.


Micheal Phelps

 


 

In true supermom, fashion she jumped into the water with a boogie board, used the power of the rip current to swim to me in record time, and grabbed the boat.

My little 5’6″ mom, who didn’t even swim for sport, managed to tow a two person boat with a small child in it through a rip current (yeah she didn’t even swim out of it) all the way back to shore where she then told me to get out, gave me a boogie board, and pushed me into a wave that would carry my exhausted body back to the sandy beach.

That day my mother saved my life. She put her life on the line for me and I think that’s pretty cool.

MOM

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the supermoms out there.

Especially mine <3

Social Media As Your Top News Platform

I have noticed that much of what I see when I log on to Facebook these days consists of video content. A lot of this is news related, and there has been a steady increase of this type of media as we have moved deeper into election season.

I don’t mind this subtle change in the way we use Facebook. I started using it in middle school as the new MySpace, transitioned into using it as an event organization tool, and now it’s a highly effective way for me to spread ideas. When I take a look at my feed, I see a cornucopia of videos and links to articles/blogs ranging from delicious recipes (I shamelessly share these on FB) to Donald Trump celebrating cinco de mayo and eating a “Trump Tower Grill Taco Bowl”.

By the way…they allegedly don’t even have these on the menu.


 

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 2.53.38 PM

 


Social media applications provide people an easy access platform with shareable links to news. Usually, these come in the form of little bites of information, which are less time consuming and more concise than the 24-hour new from networks like CNN, where it feels a little more like drinking from a fire hose.

SOSH

A study by Pew Research Center from just 3 years ago shows that, of all social media sites, Facebook has the highest volume of U.S. adult users, about half of which receive their news directly from the application.

I speculate that this will be the direction that popular news will be moving into. We have seen a surge of digital groups that generate news content such as the Huffington Post, Now This, and BuzzFeed.

The Huffington post has earned its place as #4 in a Pew Research “Top 50 Online News Entity” list above  CBS news. Social media platform Snapchat is allowing CNN and other news networks to create a “story”,  Facebook has created an outlet for groups to rise out of the digital space and own their own niche in news, and I am unsure about the where social media will move next, but I have a feeling that it is becoming the top platform from which people in the U.S. receive news.

 

 

How Do You Define Addiction?

The last time I heard about addiction, I was sitting in a high school classroom being taught the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. I haven’t given much thought to it until recently when a family member of mine was hospitalized by a disease that was directly related to their cigarette addiction. Tobacco products are in my opinion an entirely separate topic of conversation. None the less, I couldn’t stop thinking about how addiction is so infrequently discussed in the news today. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Truth campaigns like this one:


 

Poor Animals

 


 

(No matter what, it’s always worse when they involve the animals.) Aside from these occasional ads, I haven’t seen any other organizations actively trying to expose drug or alcohol related issues. Every once in a while on the news, there’s a piece on some new synthetic, and it’s usually “how they work/where they came from”, but the conversation is rarely about addiction.

Given the lack of coverage, I have never had the impression that there is a U.S “addiction problem”; however, in light of recent events, I ventured down the rabbit hole and discovered some interesting and shocking information.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), a non-profit organization, leads the science-based addiction research and collection of addiction statistics in the United States. The experiments are usually presented in a not so easy to digest scientific report. Luckily, CASA has a web page with the scientific jargon cut out and the facts up front.

When I came upon the CASA addiction webpage, the first thing that caught my attention was a big question asking me -


 

What is addiction?


 

The first thing that popped into my head was lack of self control. I imagined someone who had become involved with substance, and developed a dependency – a consequence of repeated and risky behavior.

Now I would like to ask:

“How do YOU define addiction?”

CASA defines addiction as the following.

 

Addiction is a complex disease, often chronic in nature, which affects the functioning of the brain and body. It also causes serious damage to families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. The most common symptoms of addiction are severe loss of control, continued use despite serious consequences, preoccupation with using, failed attempts to quit, tolerance and withdrawal. Addiction can be effectively prevented, treated and managed by healthcare professionals in combination with family or peer support.” – CASA

 

So I didn’t have it completely wrong, but I did. Addiction is a disease. Perhaps this lack of understanding is part of why there is no light shed on the fact that 40 million (1 in 7) people in the U.S. ages 12 and older abuse or are addicted to nicotine alcohol or other drugs. This is nearly double the amount of people who suffer from heart conditions, diabetes, or cancer.


 

1 in 7

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.17.54 PM

 


Look again and notice that the statistic includes middle school aged children. Interestingly enough, 25% of Americans under 18 who start using substances are addicted and 9 out of 10 people with addiction started using substances before the age of 18. There is a clear correlation between youth abusing substances and later developing lasting addictions.

The first step necessary to solving the problem, as is often times the case with addiction itself, is to recognize that there is a problem. It is scientifically supported that addiction is more prevalent than some of our most focused on diseases in the U.S., and that it deserves the same amount of attention.

Perhaps we don’t see it as a problem, because our definition of addiction is rooted in the way that addicts are often times portrayed as opposed to the scientific reality of it.

A survey actually proved the prevalence of this misconception when it revealed that 1/3 of Americans still regard addiction as a “…lack of will power or self-control.” Another statistic shows that 47% of Americans would turn to a health professional for help with addiction, but <6% of referrals to treatment come from health professionals, suggesting that there is a lack of communication and recognition as to what addiction is, even among health professionals.


 

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.38.47 PM


Addiction is a disease and it needs to be handled as such. Without recognition, there are no referrals, and without referrals, there are fewer people getting treatment. It is crucial to remember that substances create chemical dependencies, and drain self control. We shouldn’t blame addicts for not having will-power, but rather understanding that they are suffering from a substance-induced disease, which should be treated under recommendation by an informed healthcare professional.

Blitzhacks: The 9 Triangles Module

How Many Triangles


If your mind works like mine, you look at this image, and the first question that comes to mind is: “How many triangles are in this figure?” If you relate, then you now know that there are 13 triangles: 1 large, 3 medium, and of course 9 small (unit) triangles.

After refocusing my lens I realized that this was what I was looking at.


Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.43.34 PM


Now we see the 9 Triangles in the training module. So again, if your mind works like mine, you now ask yourself:

“What is this? How does it work? How will this apply to me?”

For those of you who are about to work your way through the training modules, I will not be answering these questions for you, because that’s what the module is for. Instead I would like to guide you in a way that helped me get the most out of my “9-Triangles” training.

Tip 1: Take It Seriously

Not all jobs, and therefore job trainings are created equally. My first paid job was working for a precision auto-detailing company and my responsibilities were essentially to wash cars. Yeah, the cars were high end, but really there wasn’t anything new about the way the cars were being washed. Coming up through the modules was different though…I had never seen anything like the 9 Triangles before, and made it a point to take them very seriously. I have found that they are referenced and applied often and furthermore compose the machinery that drives successful projects.

Tip 2: Write It All Down

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.49.29 PM

If you are the type of person who can absorb information via photographic memory, absorb on, you are blessed.

If you are the remaining majority looking to commit this to memory, I suggest you write it all down as you move through the training. We all know studies show that writing things down helps us to learn, but it will also be handy to have notes to quickly refer to down the road as you continue learn and hear terms such as MAA and CID, which you will be expected to understand.

Tip 3: Think Conceptually. Think Application.

What good is the information we learn if we don’t see how to apply it right? The triangles are subdivided into groups of 3 letter acronyms all holding their own importance in the process. They are less concrete single word definition and more so flexible terms that hold applications in many circumstance. As you work through each specific triangle and what its constituents represent, think about how they could be applied.

For MAA – (Metrics, Analysis, Action), an example that I considered was a data set for a Facebook ad by Starbucks during the holiday season. We observe metrics and analyze them to find that they point to a higher conversion rate when content contains the words “holiday” and “spice latté” and is targeted to teenage girls who live in the suburbs. We then make these metrics and analytics actionable by throwing more money at these ads leading to a measurable spike in pumpkin spice lattés sold. Have fun with it!