Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Personal Branding

In keeping up with the social media scene, the current buzz word seems to be "personal branding." For example, check out this Mashable article by Dan Schawbel. How do you present yourself to the online community? What are your interests, goals, and experiences? More importantly, what is your personal or professional expertise?

This last question is where I struggle. Specifically, I have trouble with the word "expertise." In my mid-20s I don't consider myself an expert on anything---and I don't see this as a weakness. This is the time to explore our interests, goals, dreams, and desires both personally and professionally.

Do I know a lot about my profession? Of course. But, I am nowhere near the level of "expert." In fact, I am learning new things every day. That's one of the things I love about what I do. There's always new authors, new topics, new manuscripts, and new business challenges and I have to treat each task separately. Hardly an "expert" mindset, I'm sure.

Despite this, I think that there are good reasons to network yourself through social media. Am I an expert? No. But am I an intelligent, dedicated, and interesting person? Absolutely. Hopefully this latter part shows through my online portfolio.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Organize Your Writing

From LegalGeekery
I recently edited a friend’s law school admission essay. He would like to pursue business law and wrote a great story about how his current job and experience in growing a fledging business has led him to this field.

Except, when he got to his final paragraph—the most important part of the whole essay!—he lost focus. He wants to be a lawyer so badly and for so many reasons that he tried to spew it out all at once. His confusion was there on paper for us all to see. There were disagreements between subjects and objects; there were run-on sentences; and I think he talked about a blooming flower once or twice.

This is a mistake a lot of writers make. We want something so much that it’s incredibly hard to articulate. “I just want it, okay?”

So, these are the suggestions that I offered to him and, therefore, are offering to you in your own writing projects:

Please delete the flowery writing. There’s a time and a place for this and a law school application is not it. Additionally, flowery statements signal to me that the person is hiding behind metaphors rather than choosing the right word—a sign of a poor writer. If you don’t believe me (or if you want to learn more), check out On Writing Well.

You need to break down the various reasons as to why you want to be a lawyer/doctor/writer/whatever. For example, my friend wants to help people, resolve disputes, develop his business acumen, become a good lawyer, get international experience, and… and… and.... Whew! In one sentence, this is overwhelming. If each point is instead broken down, it appears both possible and admirable. Provide examples and then provide more examples. (Examples and quotes are what got me through my English degree. Worked for my History degree as well. Who'd have thunk it?)

Don’t lose your personal voice. My friend was very good at telling his story, but in the conclusion he switched gears and wrote what he thinks he should say. Yes, he wants to become a lawyer, but the law school committee already knows about lawyers; what they do, what they’re like. They’re more interested in your personal contribution!

I have yet to see my friend’s second draft, but I hope (as all editors do) that he’ll take my comments and at least consider them as an option. Many times, just thinking about a certain sentence can lead to a whole new direction that’s even better than the one I proposed.

I hope this is helpful! And keep writing, y'all—practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Learning New Things About... Myself

Despite the 20-some-odd years of living within my head, I'm still learning new things about myself. My thoughts, emotions, likes and dislikes---you name it. It's all fascinating, and sometimes a little shocking.

Things I've recently learned about myself:

I bought a dress (gasp!). I never wear dresses unless attending a formal event, such as a wedding. I love this dress and I feel like I belong in the show Mad Men while wearing it. Except that it has been sitting in my closet for 3 weeks. For some reason, I can't seem to wear it in public. Sigh.

I don't like coconut milk (or anything coconut flavored, really). I made this great spicy Thai Green Curry recipe. Except that it calls for coconut milk to mix the curry. Coconut is a giant mask that covers the taste of everything surrounding it. It's like crop-dusting your food with coconut-foul. The leftovers are now sitting in my fridge, untouched. Next time, I'm using broth instead of the abomination that is coconut milk.

The Denver Art Museum has free admission on the first Saturday of every month. I need to go more often. I recently killed some time just wandering around their gift shop and it took everything in me to not buy out their print and card collections.

I often pride myself as being a very motivated and hard-working individual. But some days I need a little help getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. (More days than I'd like to admit, actually.) So I took some cornball advice and created a motivational poster. The magazines I clipped from also tells you something about me: Better Homes & Gardens (thanks, Christy!), Runner's World, and Oxygen. There is a lot of blank space because I plan on regularly adding to it. This poster has only been in my life for a couple of days, but I already love it! It's amazing what a few words and a little bit of glue can do for you.

From Eco Street
Moving. Moving is scary, scary shiz. First, though, I need to find a new position that suits both my interests and my skills. I'm excited about the prospect, and a little nervous. But if it isn't hard then it isn't worth doing, right? Right??

In the end it'll work out. It always does.

And I'll have fun learning new tips and tricks about myself along the way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Favorite Websites

From i can has cheezburger

Everyone has their favorite websites. Some are fun, some are educational, and most are downright a waste of time (the best kind!). That's the joy of the internet. That's the joy of communication.

In no particular order, here are the websites that I have bookmarked and check regularly:

First of all, Twitter. I love and adore Twitter---10 times more than Facebook. Fb is incredibly narcissistic. Admit it, we all develop and stress over our perfect profiles and posted pictures. Twitter, on the other hand, is about the conversation. I've learned sooooo many things from 'listening' to everyone. Life is about learning and growing---and sometimes kvetching---and this online community will get you through it.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich (also check out Ramit's book)
   Steller information with great, accessible writing---saving, earning, investing... everything. Also, he makes me feel better with links about why it's better to be a poor renter.
Ms. Career Girl
   A great little blog from another 20-something career girl just trying to make it in the world.
   Instead of checking every separate bank/credit card site, I log into this little gem. It also shows my IRA account and my earnings vs. spending for the month.

Girly Things (a.k.a. websites that prove I have no taste or skill)
Fab Finds Under 50
   This woman, Kimberly, can make clothes from Wal-Mart look good. Incredible!
  The clothes featured are a rather expensive, but I like seeing the combinations and possibilities.
New Dress A Day
   I can't even sew on a button. This girl rocks. You have to check out the level of inspiration and creativity here.
The Pioneer Woman
  Every woman I know and love can't get enough of this site. It's a nation-wide phenomenon. Everything about this site rocks. Everything.

Fitness and Health
Athlete Creator
  From Dave, someone I now call a friend. His rants can be entertaining.
Stretch Exercise Eat
  From another friend, Adam. He's a lawyer based in Korea who can hold a conversation about anything and everything . I'm proud to say that I've introduced him to the awesome that is Sons of Anarchy---thus the "Opie" hat featured in TXP.
Fit Day
  A great site for tracking your daily calories and exercise. When it comes to losing weight, it really does come down to calories in versus calories out. This helps to quickly and easily track everything---especially if you stick with it. Like any diet, I go back and forth with using this site consistently.

The "Breaking News" feed in Twitter is the bomb-diggity.
New York Times
  Fascinating in-depth articles and great writing. If you want quick and easy stories, this is not the place to go. Otherwise, it's my top news source.
  This site, however, is quick and easy. All the top news in the world. Oftentimes, scanning headlines will give me the lay of the land for the day.
  This site a little more eye-catching with pictures and slideshows, but I often get frustrated with how many videos they post online. If I wanted to watch videos, I'd turn on the TV.
Drudge Report
  Not exactly unbiased, but Matt Drudge is well-known for spotting the biggest stories.
The Denver Post
   I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. Even your website is terrible.

  I mean, really. It's TMZ. It's fun and keeps me up-to-date with my Lindsay Lohan obsession.
The Oatmeal
  The comics are HI-to the-LARIOUS! Two of my recent favorites are Juicy Fruit and Email.

What are your favorite sites? What am I missing? I'm sure there's a site---or five---that need to be added to my list.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Like Food

I have to admit, this learning-to-cook thing is fun. A lot of fun! Of course, I have a loooooong way to go, but every time I try a new recipe I feel slightly more confident in the kitchen.

After eating my heart out at Lake Powell, I need to start watching my calories. My jeans are a little too tight for comfort.

Nonetheless, I am displaying some of the recipes I've conquered over the past month or so. Food porn. Enjoy!

Rice Crispy Treats with Peanut M&Ms
I made these for our most recent Guns & Garters extravaganza. Shooting guns is shockingly fun. I like it. Be scared. Be very scared.

The peanut M&M addition was compliments of my roommate---and a stellar idea it was.

Baked Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
The recipe said four servings. Obviously, there are seven burritos here. Luckily they're quick and easy to freeze and I can pull one out for a quick dinner at any time.

 The yummy stuffing: monterey jack cheese, brown rice, spicy black beans, mashed sweet potatoes.

 The spicy black beans were a particular favorite. I'll have to remember this mix and include it in anything and everything. Yum!

Banana Crumb Muffins, a popular recipe from All Recipes
These were good, but I like my other recipe for banana bread better.

Pioneer Woman's Artichoke Dip

Also yummy, but not one of my favorites. I'm a cheese and queso person. :)

Addditionally, I have been smart enough to beg for lessons from some of my amazing friends.

Here's Emily on one of our girl's/baking nights where we gossip, make new recipes, and eat our creations while watching chick flicks. She is making an amazing chocolate and peanut butter dessert---waaaay better than Reese's peanut butter cups!

Breakfast Casserole
Here's a breakfast casserole recipe I got from a friend and took to Lake Powell with me.

It's a mixture of eggs, milk, sauteed veggies, spicy sausage, and lots o' cheese. A new favorite!!!

Chocolate Pots du Creme
And, here are some absolutely decadent Chocolate Pots du Creme. The one and only time I've watched the Food Network, they were making this and I had to have it. I even tracked down the recipe online.


I had my aspiring chef friend, Matt, help me with these. Too bad I didn't get his picture. In any case, any type of souffle is very hard to get right, and without Matt being there I would've messed up the recipe countless times!

I also learned that I'm ungodly slow at cooking. I knew that I was slow in the first place, but it truly came to light while watching Matt. For example, I slowly and carefully beat eggs. He just picks up the bowl and whisks the hell out of them. I mean, really, they're beaten eggs. Why be a perfectionist here? So many things to learn... I love it.

I get by with a little help from my friends.