How to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Overwhelming Data, Technology and Clutter

April 5, 2012

We live in a cluttered, confusing world of technology, tools and gadgets. We are drowning in data, and the systems we hoped would keep us afloat are actually dragging us down.

I may have found my lifesaver, though. My absolute favorite tool for productivity helps me to be more creative, organized and effective. My one-word solution for the confusion, chaos and clutter in my world is…

Evernote

Evernote is a blend of software and services where I can capture, organize and store everything in my busy world. It is a free service, with an option to upgrade to a premium level. I’ve used Evernote for three years, but only within the past three months have I become a “power user” and moved to the premium level.

In case you’re wondering, the glowing endorsement that follows yields me no compensation. Nor do I benefit in any way except in knowing that my friends and colleagues are living life more abundantly by joining me in using this service.

With that disclaimer, here are three reasons I love Evernote: Read the rest of this entry »

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To Be Findable, Expand Your Digital Footprint

February 1, 2012

Google your name. The search results represent your digital footprint.

Do you like what you see?

Does your online presence help someone understand 1) who you are professionally, 2) who you are personally and 3) how you see the world around you? Does your digital footprint contain enough information for a prospective employer to “know” you before he or she calls you for a first interview?

When you look at your digital footprint, ask yourself how much of it you actually created? How much it was created by others? Do you have control over your personal brand?

You can expand your digital footprint and actually shape your online image by being findable on at least three social media platforms. I recommend LinkedIn, Facebook and a blog as the basics for building your online image. You can then connect your social media platforms by linking them together. For example, you can put a link in your Twitter profile directing people to your blog. Then, in the “About Me” tab of your blog, you can include links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

To be findable in a competitive job market, deliberately look for ways to expand your online presence. You really can create and control the size and shape of your digital footprint, so make it impressive.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


To Be Findable, You Must Want to Be Found

January 31, 2012

When looking for a job, the first step in being found is actually wanting to be found.

That sounds simple enough, but too many job seekers have anxiety about what a prospective employer might find when Googling their names, even when they have nothing to hide.

Many well-intentioned (and misguided) individuals try to instill in us a fear that social media is a window where people on the other side are voyeurs. That advice seems to fit with warnings we’ve received since childhood about “stranger danger.”

Consequently, too many job seekers overreact when trying to protect their privacy. Somehow they have been programmed to think that having their personal information “out there on the Internet” is bad. That mindset does not work in today’s competitive job market.

Even if you are inherently shy and guard your privacy, you must recognize that being too secretive will work against your best interests. Being too cautious and private only erodes your efforts to brand yourself and to find your ideal job.

The best job seekers want to be found. They want to be discovered. Therefore, they deliberately leave “bread crumbs” along the pathway that will lead a prospective employer to find them. They create a presence on numerous online platforms, knowing that each platform gives a different perspective of their multifaceted brands.

In a job search, transparency should be your mantra. You cannot simultaneously hide your brand and look for a job. You want to be seen. You want to be findable. You actually want people—even strangers—to Google your name.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


Being Organized in the New Era of Google

February 8, 2011

Seldom do I read every page of a book, but I just devoured every page of Getting Organized in the Google Era, an excellent book written by Douglas C. Merrill, the former chief information officer of Google.

Don’t be put off by its title—it’s not as nerdy as it sounds. My advice: Do yourself a huge favor and read this if you are still old-fashioned enough to:

  1. Use Microsoft Outlook to send and receive e-mail.
  2. Keep your appointments in an Outlook calendar.
  3. Store most of your important documents on the hard drive of your computer.
  4. Fear using “the cloud” for e-mail, calendar and document storage.
  5. Have no clue what is meant by the term “in the cloud.”

The very next book you should read. Trust me!

I don’t mean to be melodramatic or condescending, but I strongly believe we are veering towards obsolescence if we are still anchored to Outlook or to a Franklin-Covey planner for either our personal or work calendars. I also think we are seriously outmoded if we believe that the best way to organize our e-mails is to drag them from our inboxes into a hierarchy of folders and subfolders. In our globally-connected world, I can’t imagine anyone being unable to access his or her calendar, e-mail or documents from a smartphone or a computer.

To change ingrained habits we must start thinking differently. This exceptionally insightful book will help to change the way we think about the world. Just so you’ll know, this is not merely a book adulating the wonders of Google. Rather, the author describes ways to handle the blurring of our personal & professional lives. He talks about letting strategy drive our day-to-day decisions around tactics. He provides useful tips for customizing any organizational system to fit our personal needs, readily admitting that one size does not fit all.

To tease you into buying the book today, allow me to share these brief excerpts:

  1. In an era of widespread, inexpensive communications, knowledge simply spreads too rapidly for it to hold power for long. So there’s no point in trying to cram a ton of it into your head. A much better strategy is to have a system for storing and organizing knowledge so you can access or recall it when you need it.
  2. Because of search, you no longer have to neatly organize all your information the way you would with physical files, with a place for everything and everything in its place. Search is the foundation of the organizational systems we need today.
  3. The best e-mail system is the one that lets me quickly sort and search through years of messages. It’s accessible from any computer or any Internet-connect phone. It’s the one that’s easiest to use and has a huge amount of free storage, so I never have to delete old messages to make room for new ones. It excels at filtering out spam. That’s Gmail.

Your next steps are:  a) buy and read the book, b) underline key points and c) let me know what you think.


The Hidden Value of Job Hunting During the Holidays

December 10, 2009

It’s tough looking for a job in December. I’ve been there, and I know it’s not fun being in a job search during the holidays.

Right now, I personally know at least three dozen people who are between jobs. Though they’ve remained positive during these stressful times, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with fear and negativity. Few employers are hiring in December. The economy is still bad and who knows what the future holds. On top of that, personal finances are likely strained during this season of materialism and consumerism.

On the other side of the coin, though, the holiday season can actually be a deeply meaningful time for job hunting. Done rightly, December can be a time of renewal and rejuvenation as you anticipate all the good things awaiting you in the coming new year.

Here’s my advice to anyone feeling trapped in a holiday job search:

  1. Spend quality time with family and friends. A stressful career transition can refocus you on life’s true priorities—family and friends. Surround yourself with people who truly care about you and your well-being. Let them know how important they are to you.
  2. Reconnect with your existing network. Update your professional contacts on the progress (or lack of) you are making. Remind them what you’re looking for. Suggest simple ways they can help. Look for ways to express gratitude for things they have already done.
  3. Make new friends. The holidays are a good time to network and meet new people at parties, religious services or other social events.
  4. Rethink your strategy. From time to time, we all need to think about what we’re doing and why. For me, nothing works quite like sitting alone in a coffee shop. I can clear the clutter in my mind, filter out distractions and experience a surge of creativity. The change of venue gives me a fresh perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

How Does Marketing Do It?

November 12, 2009

The mission of my marketing department, as described in a previous post, is to 1) build interactive relationships, 2) increase community support and 3) generate revenue. How do we actually do that?

My marketing team here at the American Red Cross accomplishes its work in these three steps: Read the rest of this entry »


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