How to change the world with simply an Internet connection

Never mind, anywhere in the world? – Even from your deck chair!

Sounds like a science fiction novel, doesn’t it? In reality, it’s fast becoming a business standard of today where Fortune 500 companies and governments are adapting it into their business models every day. This technology you`ll know better as cloud computing.

Collaboration is another popular topic on networking sites. This is the business practice that is helping businesses and government agencies cut costs to improve their profit margin. More importantly, this method reduces the need for companies to either lay off employees or overstretching their Information Technology (IT) Departments.

The smart Fortune 500 companies have practiced collaboration for years. Digital collaboration first came into existence in 2001 when Microsoft released SharePoint.

SharePoint is a good product if:

1.       You are a networking guru
2.       You enjoy overseeing the network to ensure it is running, upgraded and secure 24 hours a day.

Personally,

1.       I’m not
2.       and I don’t!

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is not your answer either. The benefit of VPN is that your team can access your corporate network to work with files while they are away from the office. Unfortunately VPN also needs a Server(s) and IT Department to manage the network security and privileges. Also, VPN is rarely user-friendly. Phone support at login is a frequent happening and poor Internet connections are a constant problem.

Now let’s say you already have SharePoint and VPN and a stellar IT department. But in cases of international teams, what do you do? Have set phone meetings? What about time differences? Or do you regularly fly around the world to touch base? Not cost-effective nor is it effective time management in cases of time sensitive issues.

Your solution is Huddle – “the only true provider of intercompany collaboration in the cloud.” Essentially, the Huddle developers picked up where Microsoft stopped.

I think, Huddle is the most complete, well thought out online work space I have ever seen.

Here’s the link HERE for you to see what I mean.

 

Leave a comment, tell me know what you think.

 

Don’t throw out your old resumes

Record

- Recycle them!

Keep a clean copy of every résumé you have ever written.

Why?

Because résumés are a record of your life

How?

Good résumés clearly list your education, working career, skills and most importantly your successes. Yes, rereading your past successes in old resumes can be inspirational. A particular task, skill, or job success may jog a happy memory that you have forgotten about.  Don’t just look at the Awards section of your résumé inspiration should shine with each job you’ve held.

If you’re not already including a brief summary with a quantifying point to each listing – start now!

How many times have puzzled over the buzz phrase quantify your résumé? They mean you should bottom line it. In plain English, what did you do to help you previous employer make money?

  Were you a top performer?

Did you increase sales?

Did you restructure the method to filing and archiving of records?

Did you streamline overhead?

If you’re newly out of school what was your Grade Point Average (GPA)?

Did you go above and beyond in a project that amazed your teachers?

Regardless, include a quantifiable achievement for each listing on your résumé. Let’s face it resumes are an example of self-promotion. Remember, when your potential employer is reading your résumé his or her primary thought is, What can you do for me?

Employer’s secondary thoughts are, How much will you cost to train? Or will you hit the ground running and not need any training?

As mentioned earlier, résumés are great memory jogs. Rereading your job summaries may trigger other memories that you hadn’t written down earlier but now, they’re relevant to the job you are applying for. Several times my older résumés have reminded me of an obscure skill that is relevant to a potential job.

Reading your old résumés will show you any career trends, strengths and areas where you can improve. Examples of improvement are usually upgrades such as computer skills or job specific licenses. Obvious trend examples on your résumé may be gaps or many job changes. Do you know why? Is the reason briefly explained on your résumé? What are you doing to correct the trends? For actors and consultants many previous jobs looks good on a résumé. But can you show a continuing connection with your previous projects?

Your best reasons for recycling old résumés are you’re not starting with a blank page and it’s faster! Think about it, you did most of the grunt work last time. How much personal, education and job history information will have changed since your last job? So, why cut off your nose to spite your face?

Don’t travel empty-handed

Long Beach, BC

Always carry a notebook with you. You never know when you will come up with an idea. When an idea comes to you your notebook enables you to jot it down. You don’t have to write out a full essay many times a word, phrase or general gist of you idea will suffice. Though, good penmanship is helpful for ease of reading later. That said, the sole purpose of your note is to be a memory jog.

LogoSketch

A rough sketch idea for my logo

As you know, inspiration comes when you least expect it. Then, once back in your working environment the note(s) you jotted down will help recall the idea and you’ll get straight to work. Piece of cake!

If your inspiration is visual a quick sketch would do or, better yet, keep your camera on you always.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Visuals are useful when discussing theories. How many theories can you see, hear, touch or smell? You can’t because theories are ideas not tangible objects.

They are, however, best explained with instantly recognizable inanimate objects- usually irrelevant to the idea too. A classic example is Archimedes’ bathtub! He proved the theory of displacement where the volume of water spilled from the tub was equal to the volume of his body. You likely didn’t need my definition to the theory as you already have a visual of the overflowing tub in your mind. That is the power of visuals to recall your memory.

Standard Icons

Icons used in Microsoft Word

 

Computer software constantly uses visuals to explain theories. The purpose of the visuals (icons) is to humanize the program for the end user’s ease of use. For example, an icon represents the concept or command to open or close a program or document.

The standard icon used for the open/close command is a familiar inanimate object – an open/closed door or file folder. In reality, the computer “reads” the open or close commands as a Boolean to either start or stop the application.  But the file or door has more meaning to the person using the program.

Eye to eye with an Orca

Unusual light patterns from the sunlight through the water

Sydney Opera House

How many times have you seen an amazing view or sunset that moved you to dream?

Something that caught you by surprise? Take a picture and save it for a  future source of inspiration. The next time you look at the photo your memory of the experience will instantly come back to you.

Trip along the Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostles

Whatever method you choose to record your thoughts or memory don’t criticize yourself as you are taking down the information. Your only focus should be getting the idea down on paper or onto your digital device (computer, phone, etc). As you do this other ideas or questions may pop into your head – record them too. The act of regularly gathering snippets of inspiration should weather you through the tougher times in future projects.

Long Beach, BC

An inspirational location for moods created by natural light effects and textures

 

Get into your comfort zone

Your writing environment is as important as the topic. A place that is comfortable, well-lit and preferably warm is most conducive to happy writing. A set working space is both a luxury and a liability. What happens when you get a block and you feel trapped in your space? Or worse, you’re expected to work away from your space?

Freelance writers are forced to work in many different environments – and rarely are they ideal. Therefore, writers-for-hire must create their space anywhere, instantly.

I use music to create my space. I have programmed several playlists with different music genres on my iPod. The variety is helpful for when I`m writing to different audiences, work environments as well as subject matter. Many times the music will put me straight back into my train of thought. I usually find acoustic or classical the most effective choice as the lyrics can be distracting when focusing on more complex documents.

Other writers choose a photo of their kids or family. While I even know of writers who prefer to write in an all night coffee shop chains. Special objects such as a charm or a special notebook and pen can be your muse.  If you prefer to keep a digital space, however, why not personalize your computer’s desktop? Both Mac and PC’s allow you to customize your desktop.

No more writer’s block

DSC00882

Simply put, writer’s block is FEAR.

Writer’s block can start as early as looking at a blank page or trying to find the right topic. Mid-project blocks usually arrive from not knowing your audience, worrying that your audience won’t like it or you run out of steam because you haven’t researched enough. These latter examples are the self-confidence killers and can rear their ugly heads at any stage of your project.

Many writers feel as though they have hit the wall when a block develops

Regardless, of when your fear begins, from then on your struggle is to complete your thought. Sometimes you have a topic but lack inspiration and the stress from a looming deadline stops you cold. Or you have a multitude of inspiring ideas? This too, can prove just as problematic. Bizarre I know, but when you have many closely related topics you can find this overwhelming and can stymie you from writing. Or with topics already heavily published, finding an original angle to present your information is no easy task. Large projects are an obvious problem. Just by their size and not knowing where to begin the project, never mind managing it to completion.

So what’s the solution?

Relax.

Easily said but it’s true. Participation in sports is the most immediate and effective form of relaxation. Besides, flexing your muscles you also release endorphins. Essentially it’s a group of peptides that are secreted from the pituitary gland in your brain giving you a natural rush or sense of euphoria.

As you know, any physical movement not only makes you look better physically. But exercise is a great mental stress release too thanks to the endorphin’s feel-good-effect. Your mind works most efficiently when in a relaxed state. Therefore once you are out of the state of stress or high anxiety your brain will begin computing solutions again. Most software companies recognize this and provide a gym and playing fields for their employees.

Fennel & Radish Coleslaw

That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon every time you`re stressed because even walking around the block will release some endorphins. A change of scene can also help such as taking an early lunch or doing some small errands. My favorite problem solving environment is the kitchen. I`ll go in and cook or bake something complicated where my focus is purely on the color, smell, texture and taste of the food, resulting in a couple of possible answers as well as a solution to dinner too!

In severe cases of writer`s block begin regular writing exercises to help get you back on track.  As with any pursuit you have to train regularly to improve and make the task easier. Surprisingly, a letter to a friend is your most valuable writing exercise. Your audience is one that you know well. Therefore, you will use a natural tone as if you were talking directly to them. Your fear of the audience is negligible because you know you have a receptive and nonjudgmental reader for whatever you have to say. The best part, is the topic is something you are intimately familiar with – YOU. Writing letters also end naturally.  Other recommended writing exercises are listing out your day in a journal or on a calendar. Alternatively, write out a top ten of something. Putting constraints on your exercise is important because they detract your focus from your fear. Occasionally, heavily constrained tasks can kick in your imagination and bring about something inspiring.

Remember, it is important to keep your writing exercises small where there is a predefined end. That way you know when to stop. You restore your confidence and enjoy the euphoria of completion.

The only way to survive writer’s block is to push your way through your fear. Combining regular physical and written exercises are your first steps to overcoming your writer’s block.

Have you ever had a block? Leave a comment, tell me how you over came it.

 

3 Easy Fixes for Resumes & Curriculum Vitae

MyScribe

Recently finding myself beginning the job hunt again I began by updating my résumé. While writing I did a little research on the Internet to find the latest resume writing trends. Surprisingly, the “advice” I found online amounted to fluff as the information I found was of little value or simply linked to yet another site. This explains the poor quality of resumes that have passed my desk recently.

As you know, few can afford to be jobless during a recession.  So ensuring you have as perfect a résumé as possible is key.

Spelling & Grammatical Errors

I cannot stress enough how important this is to ensure your document is error free. To be honest, I discard a résumé as soon as I see one. Tough, yes, but think about it – you have taken the time to write your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) but you don’t have the time to proofread it?  Will you have time to proofread your work in a busy office? Having an error free resume or CV is proof that you are detail oriented! Detail oriented, how many times have you read that on a job requirement?

Recently, professionally printed portfolios have passed my desk. Complete with beautiful architectural drawings, but this means nothing as they’ve misspelled a basic common word on page one.  In this circumstance, the spelling error looks even worse as it’s more noticeable. How many times have you found a spelling error on the menu? Once spotted, you’ll laugh but that instance has distracted you from the food and experience of the restaurant. Your next visit you’ll likely look to see if there are new errors instead of focusing on what you will order – not the point of going to a restaurant is it? Same story happens with a résumé. The reader (your potential employer) sees a spelling error, chuckles or sighs, and looks for more. Rarely error riddled resumes get you a job a job interview. Spell Check – use it.

The spelling and grammar checker built into Microsoft (MS) Word is a great start but is far from perfect. Many times the MS spell-check allows the wrong tense or even worse – slang, such as “eh”.  If you’re anti-Microsoft anything Google’s spell check tool bar is a great alternative. It’s set in into your browser’s toolbar so you can spell check everything you add to the Internet including your latest Facebook wall post.

Other spelling and grammar checkers sources are on the Internet. Simply enter free spell and grammar check in your search engine and you should get at least 3 million hits.

Layout

Layout in a résumé is tricky and full of contradictories. Detailed but brief. Easy to read but professional. No more than 2 pages with a balance of white space to ink. These contradictories have a purpose it’s to make your résumé as easy to read as possible. Remember you have 40 seconds to win your potential employer over.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before but have an equal balance of white to ink. This means avoid cramming all your information right across the page. To be honest, this is another reason for your potential employer to turf your résumé. This time, your document is difficult to read. Remember, it’s filled with facts. They are about you and that’s an interesting topic when one knows you. But to a potential employer your résumé or CV is just facts. So make it professional but easy to read. Side margins are for a reason. Yes, you can reduce the margin size but more importantly you need to vary your sentence lengths across the page. By doing so you succeed in a more interesting layout and white space!

Below I’ve included two one page examples. I’ve converted the text to Latin gibberish as I only want you to focus on the layout of the résumé. First, which of the two resumes look easier (faster) to read?

Original Example            Simplified example 

The example named Original where every line is right across the page? It’s so crammed with facts that you can barely pause to take in what you’ve read? Or the example named Simplified, where there is sentence length variation and significantly more white space compared with example Original.

At first glance both examples look professional but the example named Original may look a little better – until you try to read it. Yes, neither document makes any sense because they are in Latin. But, for the 40-second readers crammed resumes will cause their eyes will glaze over similar to how yours just did now.

Other simplification tricks restrict your résumé to one font. You can vary the size to mark sections but keep it consistent. Also don’t misuse the use of bold or italics they are for emphasis. Overuse equals texting in all caps – SHOUTING.

Lines across your résumé for sectioning off areas are both good and bad. Obviously the lines are a fast way to separate sections but it also causes your reader to pause. At which point they may turf your résumé because your resume doesn’t flow. Try not to use the lines right across the page or better yet restrict them to underlining title sections. Again you can compare the flow between the two examples. How far after the first line in the example named Original do you continue? How far down the page to you go in example Simplified?

Proofreading

Lack of or inadequate proofreading is the main reason so many errors slip through on resumes and CVs. Once you have written your document print it. Then go do something else for 20 minutes. Come back and reread your document. The break from working on your résumé will allow you to proofread your work with a fresh set of eyes. The benefit of printing your résumé out from your computer is you will see it from a different view and errors are usually easy to see. The next proofreading trick read it out loud. Does it sound right? Or are you correcting it as you read? Go back make your corrections and then repeat your proofreading process. Better yet find an opinionated friend teacher or parent. Preferably one who is critical and has good spelling habits! Repeat this proofreading method until you are error free.

Spelling, grammar, and layout are three of most common errors in resumes and CVs that I have seen.   Fortunately, they’re the easiest and cheapest to fix!