The Case For Gratitude

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Communication, Happiness, Kelly

~ by Kelly Bush ~

Please, sir, I want some more… some more please and thank you, that is.

If there is a buzzword as we transition from 2016 into 2017, I think the case can be made that it is gratitude. For the past few years, discussions about gratitude have infiltrated popular culture. Even the packaging on products such as tea and chocolates exhort us to take a moment and focus on gratitude. Articles proclaim the health benefits of expressing and feeling gratitude, and in recent yoga classes I find my teachers are referencing its role in our well-being more and more.

So if gratitude has become ubiquitous, why then does it seem to remain somewhat elusive in the work environment?

If gratitude helps us thrive in all aspects of our lives – and is even good for our health – then why isn’t it on the rise at work? After all, saying please and thank you to our colleagues costs nothing but a bit of thought and a moment of time. It is essentially free and yet possesses such great value. So why isn’t it being distributed more generously? And what can we do about this?

First, you have to look for it.

Stressed business woman
When I decided a few years ago to change careers, one of the many things that influenced that decision was my frustration with what felt like an almost complete lack of gratitude in my then-profession. There was a pervasive culture of over-work, one-upmanship and unreasonable expectations combined with inadequate reward/recognition that was incongruous with my values and happiness. It left me feeling trod upon and resentful and that is NOT how I thrive.

When employers fail to recognize the value of their employees appreciably – whether in words, with compensation or by giving growth opportunities – they lose talent. Losing talent means losing the resources invested in developing that talent and even if nothing else here resonates, in simple terms it means a hit to the bottom line. If that doesn’t wake people up … well …

While not every role or organization I now pursue will necessarily be a hive of graciousness, I have found that because I now prioritize gratitude, I am better able to find it. For more than a year I recently had the privilege of working for someone who said please and thank you for nearly everything. I knew that when I went the extra mile to achieve a result that my manager saw my efforts and appreciated them because he always said thank you.

When leadership acknowledges your contribution to the organization, it is an incredible motivator to continue to perform at a higher level. It cost him nothing to let me know my work was appreciated, but that had great value to me. (Thank you, Richard.)

So what do I do when gratitude isn’t forthcoming?

A common piece of career advice is to model your hours/style/attire/practices on those of your supervising managers and to look to them as exemplars. If gratitude isn’t a noticeable part of their professional arsenal, and leadership hasn’t incorporated gratitude into their professional practices, then what? I don’t advocate jumping ship straightaway – because gratitude goes both ways – and walking away without a plan isn’t usually commendable. (There can be exceptions.)

Wedding favors
What helps me thrive in these situations is to take back my agency. Because regardless of a manager’s choices, I am free to be gracious and grateful at work. Whether or not other people engage with gratitude, I am always free to do so. That means say please. Say thank you. Say these things when a colleague does something you appreciate or need. Thank your supervisors when they spend an extra minute teaching you something, or give you an opportunity or help expand your skill set.

Literally be the change you wish to see. It may not change how leadership operates, but my experience has been that I feel more satisfaction at work and thrive more professionally when I know I have expressed gratitude to my colleagues. Upholding my own personal code of conduct has little to do with the choices made by others.

Gratitude for the imperfect.

Sometimes it becomes clear that even after bringing your own gratitude to the table and having served it generously, there just isn’t enough to go around. And that may mean that after thoughtful consideration, it is time to look for a new opportunity or to simply leave.

In my experience, this has been a difficult decision and usually involves disappointment, frustration and sometimes, anger. It is at this point that gratitude becomes absolutely necessary. Because whatever the reason for which I chose to part company with an organization, there are things for which I am grateful – and must express gratitude – in order to thrive in my next role.

There are things I learned. There are things I learned to avoid. There are skills I honed and experience on which I expanded. Sometimes learning that something is not right for me is the lesson I take away from something. And while it may not have been pleasant to learn, I find I am grateful for the knowledge afterward.

Happy woman meditating in a beautiful setting.
In finding gratitude for what an experience taught me – however imperfectly – I am able to recognize its value and role in my career. I am better able to see what was positive and when moving forward, to see its merit and integrate it into my own professional arsenal. Because as the many articles, advisors, teachers and gurus have been proclaiming, gratitude is good for us. It has become essential for me to thrive at work (and life).

by Kelly Bush | LinkedIn

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The Importance of Craft Time at Work

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Communication, Nonprofit, Planning

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.

Seth and I made this to celebrate 1 year together instead of buying presents for each other. And by Seth and I, I mean Seth did most of it because I was apparently “doing it the wrong way.”
Seth and I made this to celebrate 1 year together instead of buying presents for each other. And by “Seth and I,” I mean Seth did most of it because I apparently was “doing it the wrong way.”

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.

The girls at Girls Inc. making their bracelets.
The girls at Girls Inc. making their 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.

Not only did I have to make all of the bracelets, I had to sort 500 beads by color.
Not only did I have to make all of the bracelets, I had to sort 500 beads by color.

No. 4
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.

 

My coworker Kira and me building a Plinko board for an event CCPE is attending in August.
My coworker Kira and I are building a Plinko board for an event CCPE is attending in August.
I needed to cover my face with a bandana to avoid a contact high from the spray paint. I’m also pretty sure I freaked some people out in our office building by walking around like that.
I needed to cover my face with a bandana to avoid a contact high from the spray paint. I’m also pretty sure I freaked some people out in our office building by walking around like that.

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.

My coworkers April and Kira diligently painting the Plinko board
My coworkers April and Kira diligently painting the Plinko board.

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.

 

 

It still has a long way to go, but it gives us an excuse to have another team craft day down the road.
It still has a long way to go, but it gives us an excuse to have another team craft day down the road.

by Olivia Humphreys | email | LinkedIn | Twitter

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The Better Of Two Goods

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Communication, Experience, Internship, Interview, Job, Nonprofit, Olivia, Public Relations, Success

It was the last semester of my college career, and I found myself in an interesting predicament. I had to decide, quickly, between two dream jobs. But first, let’s back up and figure out how I got to that point.

I started my college career wanting to be a sports broadcaster. I had an extensive background in theater, was an avid sports fan and a great writer. I even created a sports broadcasting club in my high school, the Future Broadcaster’s Initiative, or FBI for short (yes, that was intentional).

After spending the first two years of college getting my feet wet at internships with USA Track & Field and Run-Fast in London, England, I realized the sports life was not for me. My realization of this came after talking with several women in the field who told me, “You give up your weekends, holidays, family, friends and basically life. But I promise it’s all worth it!”

Or not.

I am a relationship-focused person. I learned at an early age that relationships are some of our most valuable assets in life, and I wasn’t about to ruin those just to cover some sweaty guys who chase a ball around a field.

So, I changed my course of action my junior year. Instead of a journalism degree with a specialization in sports and broadcasting, I picked up a specialization in public relations. This switch, amazingly, didn’t force me to graduate any later than I had planned, and I actually could have graduated a semester early if I wanted. But I didn’t, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

By the spring semester of my senior year, I had all but one of my required courses completed, and I was free to take a number of electives that greatly enhanced my skill sets and made me a more competent public relations practitioner.

With only three months left in school, I needed a job. I decided to stay in Bloomington for two reasons. The first is because my boyfriend of two and half years was graduating with a degree in biology, and he decided to stay in Bloomington and take a gap year before grad school and work in a lab on campus. The second is because I love Bloomington as a town and had absolutely no desire to move to a huge city where all of the PR agency jobs are. I’m a country girl, remember? I like clean air and nature.

Me and my boyfriend Seth.
Me and my boyfriend Seth.

So, I began my job search using LinkedIn and a number of other websites, which actually worked surprisingly well. I applied to approximately 10 jobs, heard back a solid no from about five of them, interviewed with three, never heard back from one*, and politely declined another interview because the company’s Glassdoor ratings were absolutely abysmal.**

My first interview went okay, but I definitely didn’t leave feeling super confident about it, and I never heard back from the company. My second and third interviews were much better, which led me to my predicament.

One job was with Centerstone working on a grant. I’ll honestly admit that the night before the interview, I was looking over the job description again and turned to my boyfriend and told him I had made a terrible mistake and didn’t think I was right for the job because it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to do. In retrospect this is really funny. But I’ll save that whole story for another blog post.

The interview turned out to be fantastic, it was just the job description that was bad, and I was told I would hear back in about a week. I interviewed on a Friday and was called back on Tuesday with an offer.

Which was great, except it also wasn’t.

You see, I had interviewed with another nonprofit organization on Monday that I knew would be a great opportunity, but I was still waiting to hear back from them. I asked the guy at Centerstone for a week to think about things, and then panicked and emailed my Career Success in PR professor, Maria Heslin, for advice on what to do. I was still waiting to hear back from the other organization, and didn’t expect an answer for a few days.

To make a long story short, the other organization finally emailed me on Thursday asking for a second interview, but by then I had made up my mind thanks to my handy pros and cons list. I decided to work for Centerstone on the Community Capacity for Prevention and Education (CCPE) Grant, because the only con I could come up with was that I may not have a window in my office. Obviously, as the picture below points out, I was so very wrong.

: I have four full length windows in my office! Just look at all that natural light!
I have four full length windows in my office! Just look at all that natural light!

In a situation where there was no wrong choice, I know I made the better one for me personally because I absolutely love coming to work. Every single day.

My first day of work photo I took for my mom.
My first day of work photo I took for my mom.

* If you are a hiring manager, at least have the decency to email those you interview and tell them if you want them or not. It’s the polite thing to do. Also, kudos to Cook and Oliver Winery for doing that already.

** If you’re a hiring manager and not checking your company’s Glassdoor rating, you’re making a huge mistake, because people take those reviews seriously.

 

by Olivia Humphreys | oliviahumphreys4@gmail.com | LinkedIn | @ohumphreys4

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To The Recent College Grad Or Rising Senior: Go Get Some Skin In The Game!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Advertising, Communication, Experience, Internship, Interview, Job, Public Relations, Skills, Tibet

Nothing, and I mean absolutely no-thing, can prepare you for what happens after college.

If you have your act at least somewhat together (which kudos to you, friend — you can stop reading now) hopefully you have some sort of income lined up for your post grad situation. If you REALLY have your act together, then you’ve scored that stellar first job or internship and you are charging hard right out of the blocks, and you can also stop reading this post right here (major kudos).

But if perchance you’re like most of us, which I’m thinking you are because you haven’t stopped reading, you probably don’t have that dream position lined up. Heck you might not have any employment lined up at all.

Well I’m here to tell you it’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and recite after me, “I’m 20-something years old and I have a college degree—I’m going to be okay.” There. Feel better?

So if that worked, great. You also can stop reading here.

Ah so you’re still with me. Okay, I can tell you are going to need a little more convincing.

I want to talk about a little thing that I believe holds far more value and potential than any paycheck will offer you, and right now you are at the perfect time in your life to dive head first into this great thing called, wait for it, experience.

That last little word carries a lot of baggage. It comes in all shapes and sizes, big and small, bad and good.

It peaks its head out of your suitcase as it rolls up the conveyor belt into the belly of a 747 heading to Australia while you board a plane to Ireland, forced to spend the next two weeks of your Eurotrip wearing the same two T-shirts and few pair of undies you stuffed in your carry-on.

And oh does experience show itself in that post-grad job the first time you speak up in a staff meeting and immediately insert your own foot directly into your mouth. Yeah, that’s experience alright.

But experience isn’t just fumbling around and making mistakes waiting for the smoke to clear and then proclaiming, “Ah! I’ve learned something.”

No, it’s a little more complex than that. Experience is this wonderful little thing that allows you to take chances and risks while investing in yourself. It allows you to validate what might seem to others like a foolhardy decision, but to you it is a step toward fulfilling your dreams and accomplishing your goals.

Experience is ever changing — that’s what makes it so glorious. It’s not confined or restricted by any set parameters, but rather delicately tied together by a single, bonding, golden thread. Good or bad, grand or modest, that thread — the commonality of all experience — is the notion that it holds value only if you choose to extract the marrow from it, find the benefit or lesson learned, and then tuck it away in your memory bank so that later you can recall it and put it to work. In plain speak: learning from experience is about your perspective, and every situation has a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Take for instance my own circumstances. I decided I wanted to work for a specific ad agency in Indianapolis, so I worked furiously to prepare myself for the interview and hopefully for the offer.

The interviews came and went and I felt that I did well. After the final round I parted ways on good terms, reassured that I had made a solid final impression.

A week or so passed, and the agency got in touch with me.

They regretted to inform me that they had filled the position. I didn’t have enough experience.

But they had another offer for me. They had an internship opening up for the summer, and they thought I would be a perfect candidate for the role.

Well, at first I was pretty put off. In my eyes I was the perfect candidate for the full-time position for which I applied. Plus an internship meant I would be paid hourly, which wouldn’t be enough to pay rent on an apartment in Indy. I would have to commute two hours every day in my old beat up Jeep Wrangler.

My first thought was there’s no way I could say yes to that offer. There had to be other jobs out there for me.

I took a day and thought about it.

I came to the conclusion that hey, this agency is willing to take a chance on me and give me the opportunity not only to prove myself, but also to gain priceless experience in the process. Plus I had wanted so badly to work at this agency, to say no to any offer would be ludicrous at this point.

So I said yes.

Within the week I traded my Wrangler — which just so happened to be my dream car — for a Prius, and began to prepare myself mentally for the early morning drives, long days of work and late evening commutes home.

I am just over four weeks into my 10-week internship, and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be happier. Every day is something new — whether it’s a fresh podcast on the drive up in the morning or a new task at work — nothing is ever stagnant.

Of course there are limits to what you can say yes to and what you must turn down, but I offer you this: those limits are not as restrictive as you might think. There is always a way to get what you want, and trust me, the experiences will be worth it.

by Tibet Spencer | tibetspencer14@gmail.com

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Halliwell In Hollywood: Hello From Los Angeles!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Communication, Entertainment, Internship, Job, Kate

Hello from Los Angeles!

I’ve now been here for two weeks, which thanks to work, have absolutely flown by. This is the first real breather I’ve had, so I wanted to take the opportunity to write my first post and tell you all about my internship.

IndieWire updated its layout on the day I arrived, which I like to think was in my honor. Really it was to celebrate its 20th year, but I like my explanation better.
IndieWire updated its layout on the day I arrived, which I like to think was in my honor. Really it was to celebrate its 20th year, but I like my explanation better.

I’m working for the next two months at IndieWire, which is an entertainment news website that focuses on film and TV news. The name comes from the site’s original focus on independent cinema and television, but its scope has grown in the 20 years that the site has been live. I’ve been a big IndieWire reader for years due to their smart and in-depth take on Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and the opportunity to work here was a dream come true!

My official title for the summer is “Editorial Intern,” which means that I get to do fun things like write and cover events, rather than just do research and fact checking.

It looks pretty boring in this picture, but this is where I work. IndieWire is brand new to the PMC building, so everyone is still in the process of getting settled and moving in.
It looks pretty boring in this picture, but this is where I work. IndieWire is brand new to the PMC building, so everyone is still in the process of getting settled and moving in.

Despite being an unpaid intern, I chose this internship over a paid one with The Hollywood Reporter just for this reason — I think experience and professional skills are way more valuable than being paid minimum wage to sit at a desk and check copy that other people have written. I am loving my job so far, and I haven’t regretted this decision for a second!

My first two weeks at IndieWire have been fast-paced and fun so far, and things have only picked up as I’ve gotten more comfortable with my daily tasks. IndieWire has a fairly small team, smaller than you would think for a site with their kind of reputation, but I really like how close-knit it is. I was allowed to choose between working at the New York or LA office, and chose LA for a few reasons.

First of all, I had never been to LA and a summer surrounded by sunshine and palm trees sounded pretty great.

The Penske Media Building is between Santa Monica and Westwood, and houses a bunch of different entertainment publications. Since Variety is the major PMC money-maker, they get a sign outside the building.
The Penske Media Building is between Santa Monica and Westwood, and houses a bunch of different entertainment publications. Since Variety is the major PMC money-maker, they get a sign outside the building.

Second of all, the LA office is primarily TV news based, while the NY office is the unofficial film office.

Since the Emmys are coming up later this summer, I chose the LA office because I was assured there would be plenty of Emmys events for me to cover. (This has proven 100% true already, but more on that in my next post!)

My boss here in LA is Liz Shannon-Miller, who is the TV Editor for IndieWire. She’s super nice and helpful, and she shares an office with Ben Travers, who is the Chief TV Critic.

If you’d asked me three weeks ago whether I preferred TV or film reporting, I would have said film, but they’re already converting me to a major TV geek! It’s so fun to be around people who nerd out about TV and movies as much as I do.

Pictures like this one of Berenice Bejo are all around the building, mainly on the floors belonging to Variety.
Pictures like this one of Berenice Bejo are all around the building, mainly on the floors belonging to Variety.

There are quite a few others in the LA office, but Liz and Ben are the two that I’ve been working with most closely. Steve Green, the special projects editor, is also great. I work next to Steve and one other intern, who is a LA native and is majoring in film at UC Berkeley. Since he watches very little TV and has no interest in reporting on the Emmys, we’ve been splitting the TV and film coverage between us.

Excuse the Snapchat format- Amazon brought a trailer full of food, coffee, and free stuff to the office for us and the Variety reporters. It’s pretty common practice for networks to do this around Emmys time, sort of a “Please write about why our shows should be nominated!” bribe. Hey, I’ll take it.
Excuse the Snapchat format — Amazon brought a trailer full of food, coffee, and free stuff to the office for us and the Variety reporters. It’s pretty common practice for networks to do this around Emmys time, sort of a “Please write about why our shows should be nominated!” bribe. Hey, I’ll take it.

Our daily tasks consist of a few general entertainment news stories, usually followed by a transcript or two. For those of you who don’t know, a transcript is a word-for-word document of a recorded interview. Most reporters hate transcribing, and therefore they give it to us to do. While the transcriptions are definitely the worst tasks we have to do, it’s not like we’re working for a general newspaper and transcribing interviews with normal, boring people.

Since we work with entertainment reporters, all of the interviews are with famous people, so it makes the task 100 times more interesting! To date, I’ve transcribed interviews with David Schwimmer (Ross from “Friends”), Viola Davis (an actual queen among women), Jay Duplass (“Transparent”), Michael C. Hall (Everyone’s favorite serial killer on “Dexter”) and many more! The only downside is that usually they’re talking about a show that I haven’t finished yet — so many shows and movies have been spoiled for me in just two weeks at this job!

When my eyes are going blurry from staring at my computer for too long, I tend to nip on down to the cafeteria on the 5th floor for a snack. The IndieWire office is in the Penske Media Building, who also owns Variety Magazine and a few other publications.

I’ve spent way too much time in the Variety cafeteria experimenting with different concoctions from this drink machine.
I’ve spent way too much time in the Variety cafeteria experimenting with different concoctions from this drink machine.

Since Variety is the big dog in the building, they get their own cafeteria that comes fully stocked with a breakfast spread every morning, a cereal bar, constantly changing snacks, and one of those cool drink machines. (Yes, we are allowed to use the cafeteria, although I’m not above stealing free food if it comes to that.)

All in all, I’ve been loving my job so far and genuinely look forward to every day at IndieWire! My further adventures with Emmys events will be documented in an upcoming post — stay tuned!

by Kate Halliwell | @kate__halliwell | khalliwe@umail.iu.edu

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