When I was in second grade I made my acting debut as a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. I used to watch the movie all of the time when I younger. I especially loved the end when Judy Garland’s Dorothy finally made it home and realized she had been having lucid dreams.
As the years went by and my focus shifted away from musical theater and onto school, the Wizard of Oz drifted from my radar.
That is, until the other day, when I learned about the Ruby Slipper Syndrome in Kivi Leroux Miller’s Nonprofit Marketing Guide email newsletter.
The premise is that you seek out what you think you want in life, only to realize you actually want what you’ve had all along. So basically, you’re Dorothy trying to get away from your family and the evil woman who wants to take your dog, only to realize “there’s no place like home.”
Ruby Slipper Syndrome is not to be confused with fearing change. I full heartedly embrace change and strongly encourage you to as well. It will make your life substantially easier, I promise.
Ruby Slipper Syndrome focuses more on realizing you already have what you need in life to be happy. Not that you’re pursuing something because it’s easier and less scary.
To some degree, this is my life in a nutshell. Minus the wicked woman, a dog that bites and all of the lucid dreams.
I started college dead set on being a sports broadcaster. I was going to be the next Erin Andrews or Sage Steele. I had everything going for me and no reason not to follow through.
Until I started learning more about the career. I was told by countless professional women in the field I would have to give up my job, my family, my friends, holidays, weekends, and basically everything I’ve ever cared about.
As I became more immersed, I realized they were right. It forced to step back during my sophomore year of college and think about what I valued most.
I grew up in a close-knit family. My entire immediate family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – live within 30 minutes of my childhood home. My parents worked from 8-5 on the weekdays and half day on Saturday so I always knew I would see them on the weekends. Fishing trips with dad, shopping with mom, watching musicals with my grandparents, and volunteering with my aunt filled my childhood days.
And I loved every minute of it. I’m extremely grateful I had all of those opportunities, because I know most people don’t.
For four years I dreamed of being a sports broadcaster and was so close to actually doing it. I loved sports, writing and acting. It was the perfect combination of all three. But what good would that be if I didn’t have friends or family to come home to every night and share in my success?
In the months leading up to my junior year, I decided to make a career change. I switched to public relations. I knew the lifestyle would be more conducive to my building the life I actually wanted for my future children, which closely mirrors my own childhood.
Now I have an 8-5 job, the weekends off, plenty of friends, a beautiful cat and dog, a fantastic boyfriend and a great relationship with my family, who is only an hour away.
So am I victim of Ruby Slipper Syndrome? Yes, but I’m okay with that because I’m doing what I want to in life.
And doing what you want and surrounding yourself with caring people who love you is how you will thrive in your career, relationships and life.
I love crafting and DIY projects. I have a whole board on Pinterest devoted to projects I want to try.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people that is amazing at crafting. Honestly, I suck at it. Normally, I get bored and stop the project halfway through, only to have my boyfriend take over. Which is totally okay, because it ends up looking better than if I had finished the project myself. But I still love crafting and making things with my hands.
So, imagine my joy when I realized I could do my pseudo-hobby at work.
The first crafting challenge: make 15 bracelets for teenage girls. My team was going to Girls Inc. to implement our Say It Straight evidence-based practice, which builds assertiveness and communication skills using principles of mindfulness, and one of the activities in the training is called “the necklace of resources.” The premise behind it is to identify what resources you have available to you in the event you need help or need to talk to someone.
We decided to tweak it ever so slightly and changed it to a bracelet of resources. We took a piece of yarn and the girls identified a strength within themselves that would help them be able to Say It Straight. They then had one of the other girls in the group hand them a bead and put it on their bracelet. The whole activity was really fun and the girls seemed to love it, even if I did mess up tying off a few bracelets.
But before we got to that point, I had to prepare all of these bracelets. I’m not going to lie, it took a lot longer than it should have, mainly because I cut the strings too short the first time and had to remake the majority of them all.
But as I was making these bracelets, I realized how important craft days at work are to me and how I’ve been having a weekly craft day since my first day on the job.
I’m not just talking about a day to build things like bracelets or a Plinko board.
As an outreach coordinator, I need an entire block of time set aside every week to craft the things I’ll need for the entire week — my social media messages, flyers, posters, blog posts, etc. Knowing I have a set time every week or day to work on these tasks helps me stay focused, calm and organized. Plus, it allows me to be creative and build a stronger team environment with my coworkers because I ask for their feedback. Or in the instance of the Plinko board, they help me with the project.
Here’s a quick overview of how I craft every week and every month. At the beginning of each month I create a social media calendar for the following month, so I’m always one month ahead. So this month I will create one for August. I find a day I can block off a solid two hours to do this, because it actually takes a considerable amount of time to research what is going on in the community, what special days occur in the month, and what my own team has going on.
At the beginning of each week, I look at my social media calendar and identify what blog posts I will need to write for the following week. Again, I like to work about one week in advance for my blog posts so I have enough time to write a few drafts.
At the end of the week, I look at my social media calendar to see what Facebook messages I will need to schedule for the following week. I like to work a few days out for Facebook, the only social media platform CCPE has, in order to adjust to unforeseen events that occur in the world.
Every day, I monitor our social media and blog posts and also check Yik Yak to see if people have any questions about sex or drugs I can address (I’ll talk about my experiences using Yik Yak as a social media marketing tool in another post).
If you find yourself stressed out at work often, I encourage you to devote a day or a block of time each week to craft. Even if you don’t have a job that is remotely similar to mine, take some time to craft an agenda for yourself and prioritize your projects. Or take some time to make something with your hands your office may need, like a Plinko board.
When I wrote this, it was July 4th weekend, which meant I have only three weeks left in my internship at IndieWire. And now only two!!
How is that possible?
Time here has flown by, mostly in part to really loving my work and the people I work with. I started my second month here with a slight change in routine, as IndieWire hired a new TV editor and therefore ran out of room for us on the sixth floor of the PMC building. We started last week on the eighth floor, which is the primary one for Variety Magazine.
I was a little nervous about getting to know a whole new group of people, but it helped that I had already made some Variety friends at a networking event the weekend before.
And by networking event, I mean the company beach volleyball team. I’ve been looking for reasons to get outside and be active, and when I heard PMC had organized a weekly beach volleyball team for all interested employees, I signed right up! I played volleyball in high school and still play recreationally at IU, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to get to know people.
After a decisive victory on Sunday at Santa Monica beach, I had no trouble getting settled on the Variety floor last week. I’m also working closely with one of my beach volleyball teammates on a project concerning the recent additions to the Academy voters index.
Even though I’m enjoying getting to know people at Variety, I do miss my IndieWire friends, and I’ve tried to use any opportunity to go back down to the sixth floor and visit.
PMC has provided various opportunities in the past week to get employees together, from free food truck days to the last round of Emmy campaigns, so it’s been fairly easy to hang out with IndieWire people at work despite the change in location.
As the last few weeks of my internship approach, I’m doing my best to learn about the ins and outs of interviewing celebrities and covering events. My boss is working on setting up an interview for me with Walton Goggins of HBO’s “Vice Principals” (you probably know him from basically every Tarantino movie ever or “Justified” on FX), so hopefully that will happen in the next week or so.
For the project on Academy members that I mentioned above, I also have been given access to contact information for all AMPAS members, and we have to add contact information for all the new additions. It’s the weirdest thing — I now have a spreadsheet of contact information for everyone from Brad Pitt to Cate Blanchett.
Granted, about 75% of the numbers and emails are just for their publicists, but about a quarter of the AMPAS members on the list have their home or cell numbers listed, along with personal email addresses. And it’s not just the B-list celebs that have their home numbers on there: people like Ben Affleck and Will Smith have their personal cell phone numbers listed!
So yeah, that was a weird day at work.
I currently have 45 bylines for IndieWire in the 5 weeks I’ve worked for them, which is way more than I expected. I’m looking forward to adding to that list and starting some new projects in the time I have left here.
I’ll keep you all posted on all the new, hopefully exciting things that happen at work before I head back home to Indiana.
So today I had a meeting with the chairperson of my dissertation committee. This person has guided me for the past 2½ years, and boy, am I glad. When pursuing a doctorate, I’ve learned that your chairperson (aka your advisor) is key.
It’s really important to select someone with whom you get along, someone knowledgeable and experienced, someone with a little pull in the department, and someone who is willing to spend a lot of time with you. Finding such a person isn’t always easy, and it’s partly a matter of luck. Well, I got lucky.
My advisor is known to be tough and rather difficult; she delights in asking you hard questions. She is a challenging and rigorous thinker, and expects you to be the same. We’ve had one meeting (last summer) where I was brought to tears—tears of frustration and — okay, I’ll say it — humiliation. Our average meeting lasts between two and three hours, during which she doesn’t let up.
Sometimes my head swims and I think I just can’t concentrate anymore — but then I do. She has taught me so much, not only about health behavior, but about how to be a role model and mentor in this field. I’m not done with my PhD yet, but I am very grateful to her and to the process which I’ve been so lucky to experience.
I chose the field of health behavior for my PhD because I’m SO interested in what motivates people. Why, with all the unequivocal scientific evidence and public health messaging in our faces, do some people still smoke?
Why do so many people choose to remain sedentary and inactive? More importantly, HOW can people be motivated to adopt healthier behaviors? What is the magic formula for touching people deeply and helping them to increase their intention to change for the better?
After 30+ years in fitness, I’ve come to realize that most of the fitness industry is missing the boat. Anyone can see that is true just by looking at the statistics on obesity and sedentariness in the US and around the world.
A vastly increasing majority of people are not making healthy choices, and are choosing to sit at work and sit some more at home. These same people are not joining fitness facilities, nor are they paying attention to all the recommendations for physical activity. Why is that?
Well, I will stop before I really get on my soapbox, but at this point in my life I feel it’s much more important to learn about behavior change than to continue with exercise science. What good is it to constantly preach about what to do, if no one is actually going to do it? Instead of focusing on the what, I’m interested in the whys and the hows of behavior change.
So back to today’s meeting. We got into the nitty gritty of my follow-up survey, which, like the initial survey, will be delivered online to about 195 participants. As an example of our discussion, she and I immersed ourselves in debate about whether I’m measuring regular physical activity or total physical activity in my survey. It turns out that there is a difference between these two concepts! Duh.
I hadn’t clarified this distinction in my mind. Being clear about what I’m measuring is critical when writing the survey questions. I’ve also learned that it all goes back to the main research questions — what am I trying to find out? What is the overall purpose of the study? Why do people do what they do, and how can they increase their intention to make healthier choices?
Another personal issue related to making progress on my dissertation: I’ve been accused of being a knowledge junkie. Example: once, when I was serving on an international fitness certification committee that was writing and evaluating test questions, a fellow committee member joked that my last name (Yoke) stood for You Oughta Know Everything!
This joke was in response to my continued (and undoubtedly annoying) insistence that we had to keep a large number of test questions on the exam — fitness instructors needed to know the answers to all of them! I was not in favor of eliminating anything!
The idea of having to know everything is not necessarily a good quality when trying to focus on a specific research agenda. For me, a big lesson is to keep a narrow, precise and steady focus — particularly if I want to finish in a timely manner. Fortunately, my advisor keeps reminding me to rein myself in. If she didn’t, I’d keep coming up with more and more questions that need answers.
Suggestions. If any readers of this blog are students, and particularly graduate students, do take the time to ask about various faculty members in your department. When you’re trying to decide on your advisor/mentor/chairperson, it’s a good idea to schedule meetings with a few different individuals. That way you can get a sense of whether or not you click.
You also will want to have some idea about your course of study. What are you interested in? If you’re thinking of a doctorate, then what might your research agenda be? If you’re in the social sciences, are you interested in studying a specific group of people? Who, or what, is the target of your interest? You will want to find a faculty member with similar interests to your own, and who, ideally, has already done research in your chosen area.
OK, I know today’s post is all about being a doctoral candidate. If you’re not a student (and even if you are), stay tuned for a wide variety of juicy topics coming up! Meanwhile, let’s go forth and THRIVE! There’s so very much to learn! 🙂
Learning is important. It’s why we spend 12 or more years of our lives in classrooms. It’s why we go into debt to get that college degree. It’s why we re-enter debt to get another degree, and so on and so forth.
Since school got out, ahem, I mean since I um, graduated (it’s still weird saying that), I have found myself having the same conversation over and over with a few of my close friends. We reminisce about our alma mater, the memories still fresh in our heads, and then we sort of take pause and ask ourselves, “Uh, did we learn anything during all that? Why did we just devote the last four years of our lives to a little piece of paper that says ‘Yay! You did it. Now get a job.’”
I’ve mulled over these questions off and on since mid-way through my freshman year. There were moments when I was close to cashing in my chips, throwing in the towel and giving up on college. I’d tell myself it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t cut out for it, it’s not worth it. Plenty of people had dropped out and made it just fine. I began to idolize the dropouts.
But then I would have moments of clarity, briefly, where the stars would align and I would think, “Okay, yeah, this sort of makes sense. I know some of these words my professor is using.”
Those moments of clarity usually happened during, or in proximity to something I enjoyed — possibly a class I liked (those were few and far between) or a pastime I really dug.
The conclusions my friends and I have slowly drawn, the reason we did all that stuff the past four years — the chaotic study habits, the attempt at a social life, a sport, girlfriends, boyfriends, school — the reason we pulled all nighters, blew off class, took class really seriously, stayed out too late, woke up too early — well it taught us how to think, and it taught us how to learn. It let us explore the world through a journey inward, as well as a journey outward. We found out what we liked and we found out what we didn’t like. We strove for (and sometimes stumbled upon) success just as we occasionally fell into failure.
You might be thinking, hey pal, I’ve heard this bit before. “College is about learning how to think and learning how to learn, yada yada yada.” But it’s true. I myself was a nonbeliever for a very long time. Heck, there were nights I was one beer away from dropping out (sorry Mom). But now in hindsight, it all served a greater purpose. Every little piece of it. I didn’t realize it at the time (none of us ever does), but it all happened just the way it was supposed to.
But now here’s the kicker. A lot of us are done with school. We’ve got this tremendous and priceless education under our belts that’s just begging to be built upon. Some of us are already working and not even entertaining the thought of ever again stepping foot into a classroom. Ever. Again.
And then there are some of us who have maybe thought about it, or have already made the plans to go back and get some more learning in.
The folks who fall into the latter group are the ones who are going to keep climbing and climbing. That’s not to say that the people in the first group are doomed to plateau as an Assistant to the Regional Manager; no not at all. But the people in the second group have declared that they are not done learning, and they will slowly start to leave everyone else behind — that is unless everyone else takes on the mindset: “I’m not done learning.”
That’s the biggie. How are you going to keep acquiring knowledge now that you don’t necessarily have to?
There’s a great quote from a bullet journal that I write in every day. It goes like this, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re most likely moving backwards. There is no standing still in life.”
The first time I read that, it scared the hell out of me. And it also excited me. I thought, “How can I better myself every single day?” How can we all better ourselves every single day?
How can we all better ourselves every single day?
I’m not saying we all have to go back to school and grab our PhDs to get the most out of life. For some that is the right path. For others, not so much.
I am saying that we all must continue to learn. We must continue to stay interested and find things that stimulate us. We must dig in wholeheartedly to what lies before us and always maintain a curious, inquisitive outlook that drives us to seek what lies around the bend. We must not get comfortable, but rather always question what we don’t understand, and always seek the truth in what we find.
Forever want more for your mind, and in turn for your life — and find the ways to get it.
Read the news every morning, midday and evening. Subscribe to podcasts and play them on the commute. Grab a book and get through a few pages every day while you eat lunch. Pursue fresh experiences. Break out of your routine. Don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time to learn. We live in a world where information and media is thrown around so readily, that to say you can’t find something to listen to or read is absurd.
Be a student of the world. Keep learning every single day.
To help you get started, here are a few of my favorite pieces of media right now. I listen to a lot of podcasts because I spend a good amount of time commuting every week. I read the news periodically throughout the day — usually first thing in the morning, at lunch and then at the end of the day. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to delve into many good books lately, but I’m working on Thinking, Fast and Slow — an exploration of the two systems that drive humans’ thoughts and actions. Good stuff.
Anyway, here’s my current personal favorites in no particular order:
Millennials’ answer to “the man” and his old, dusty newspapers, magazines and broadcasts. I’m pretty sure this used to be taken as a joke, but it’s gained a lot of traction as of late. I used to spend hours and hours freshman year pouring over Vice documentaries, now they are a legit news agency. Sort of. “Arts, cultures and news topics.”
Fast Company (fastcompany.com) I read it every day. Sort of a touchy-feely collection of creativity. This publication has turned me on to some of the biggest trends and revolutions going on right now. Heck it’s how I discovered Warby Parker when they were just getting started.
Pro tip 1: Read your local newspaper. Those things are still relevant. I once got an internship/summer job out of the classifieds. Seriously.
Pro tip 2: There are loads of news aggregating apps out there now, and recent versions of iOS have one standard. If you are ever in a hurry, or just want to quickly and easily browse a variety of sources, flip through an aggregator.
Story Corps. (storycorps.org/) “The podcast that makes you cry.” Not kidding. They gather stories from all over the country, told by plain ol’ American citizens. A delightful, heartwarming look into the lives of ordinary folk.
Radio Lab (http://www.radiolab.org/) Long-form feature stories. Topics include: literally everything. The production is fantastic, and even the shows that aren’t that good are still pretty darn good. Definitely worth a listen.
All Songs Considered (npr.org/sections/allsongs/) You don’t have to be a music buff to enjoy this show. I use it to find new tracks and fresh artists. The hosts know music. I mean they KNOW music. And their tastes span the entire spectrum—from Kanye to Icelandic Grunge Metal (which I’m not completely sure is a thing). Get off the top 40 and put some pizzazz into your ears.
I have heard my father say the phrase, “It’s a numbers game” to me countless times throughout my life in reference to everything and anything. Applying to college was a numbers game in that the more schools you applied to, the more acceptance letters you were likely to get. This helps to explain why I applied to 10 schools (with a special shout-out to Indiana University for winning me over).
It was this same numbers game mentality that came into major effect when I was applying for internships for the summer after my junior year. Having growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then attending school in Bloomington, Indiana, I had become a well-seasoned (no pun intended) Midwesterner, prompting me to want to see what else was out there. Aside from my desire to go somewhere new, the delicious tacos and having an older sister living there drew me to Austin, Texas.
During the early spring of my junior year, I was open to anything communications oriented including public relations, advertising, marketing, branding, etc. Although Austin may seem very specific in and of itself, I wound up reaching out to more than 100 companies in search of an internship. Some of the companies said they wanted an intern and had an official application; others I contacted by sending an email to their “info@” or “hello@” addresses saying who I was and what I wanted to do.
After the first batch of applications and emails, I heard back with a yes or no from only about 20% of companies. This was not the most encouraging statistic I have ever achieved, but being the youngest of three daughters, I was not to be ignored. I reached back out and followed up with all of the companies I hadn’t heard back from originally in hopes of getting more replies. I kept track of all of this by creating a document with the name of the company, information about them, the date I contacted them, date of follow up, etc.
I sent yet another email in the form of a reply so that the original email with my resume attached was convenient for the recipient. This email was just a follow up in which I also mentioned that I would be making a trip to Austin in the near future and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with them, even if it was just for the sake of making a connection. To my satisfaction, this sparked more interest and promoted more responses. I guess the fact that I went to school in Indiana also confused some people as I also received several emails making sure I knew their company was based in Austin.
I did wind up making a trip to Austin at the beginning of April and managed to line up 10 meetings throughout the Friday and Monday I was in town. Of those 10, seven were for internship interviews and the other three were simply about networking. By the end of that week, I had four offers of which I wound up choosing two. Neither internship was going to pay me so I figured I might as well get twice the experience and make twice the connections.
As you can see it really is a numbers game. I started off contacting 100+ companies, ultimately received responses, both positive and negative, from about 40, met with 10, got four offers and ended up having two internships in one summer. If you limit the number of people you reach out to, companies you contact, etc., then you in turn are limiting yourself of potential opportunities to thrive!