This is not a political post, although some stories have been pulled from the political spotlight. You won’t read anything controversial below, and you may learn new ways to show your friends that you respect and appreciate them.
Apparently the Obama daughters attended a state dinner last year. While I’ve heard a lot of criticism of President Obama (and even his wife) over the last eight years, none of it, and I mean none of it, has been focused on their parenting skills. Either they are exemplary parents, or the people I know don't feel comfortable throwing rocks at other parents right now. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. In one article Michelle talks about her girls and explains that she and her husband “tried to normalize their lives as much as possible” while they were living in the White House. I’m guessing that she didn’t think that their attendance at a lot of State Dinners would support that objective. But apparently she did want them to have that experience … once and at the right time. Hold this thought. (Or, speaking of presidential daughters, take a break and watch this 2 min video which is just fun and funny.)
While the Obamas were raising their daughters in the White House, and even before that, Donald Trump was making it clear that he likes to negotiate. I do too! My husband and kids know that my favorite negotiations result in win-win-win outcomes even though I simply promote myself as a “win-win negotiator” on LinkedIn. Few things are as rewarding as getting exactly what I want while making sure that other people get exactly what they want (or more) at the same time. Constructing mutually beneficial outcomes is a challenge I enjoy and my desire to achieve win-win outcomes is why I prefer to attend a “show” over a “big game” and why I volunteer with a Restorative Justice program instead of the Special Olympics. All are interesting and worthwhile activities, I just seek out and appreciate win-win opportunities the most.
These stories provide an introduction to two of my favorite Facebook features; 1) Who should see this? and 2) Edit or delete this. I use both features most days because they make it super easy to precisely control who sees things I share via Facebook, and they let me correct and/or improve my comments if I find errors or improvement opportunities after they're posted.
You may find these features valuable if A) You respect your friends’ and family’s time, B) You value the way you are perceived by other people, and/or C) You want to share your ideas in a way that will be respected by others and may even cause them to see something from a different point of view.
Respect Your Friends
If you think you see everything I post on Facebook, you’re wrong … and lucky :) My mom knows that I recently made her famous Hungarian Mushroom Soup for the first time, but I figured few others would want to hear about it. People who responded to my question about future political posts know what I think about the recent elections, but apparently a number of my close relatives, not to mention good friends, were very happy to be spared the experience of reading my political musings. The Facebook Who should see this? feature makes respecting people's time and interests very easy.
Manage Your Brand
The best collection of career advice I received came from Patty Azzarello who reminds us, “You have a Personal Brand right now whether you know it or not.” She offers lots of good advice to help you ensure that you are perceived the way you want to be perceived. The Facebook Who should see this? feature gives you a lot of control over how you are perceived. And frankly, I wish that some people would use it more often. (Because unfortunately, some things can never be unseen.)
Open People’s Eyes
If you start a conversation with an insult, it’s likely that your friend won't hear anything else you say. It’s even less likely that they’ll respect what you say or that you’ll be able to influence them to see something from a different perspective. If you want to change someone’s mind, you may want to start the conversation in a way that will create, not destroy, trust. This means that you need to customize your messages based on the recipient(s). The Facebook Who should see this? feature will help you do this too.
Since many seem unaware of the Who should see this? and Edit or delete this features, let me show them to you.
Facebook Feature: Who should see this?
Facebook Feature: Edit or delete this
This post opened with the story about the Obamas because it's a great example of people sharing information, or in that case an experience, with others (i.e. their daughters) at the right time ... for the daughters. Donald Trump and I have learned that when you are negotiating with an audience, especially when you strive for win-win or win-win-win outcomes, you need to start by establishing a level of trust ... with the audience.
When you take the time to use the Facebook Who should see this? and Edit or delete this features to share the right message with the right people at the right time you respect your friends, reinforce your image as a careful and considerate communicator, create and maintain trust, and you may even enable people see things in a new way.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Now you know what it means to me.
P.S. If you think this article is about you, you may be right, but only a little. Mostly ... it's not you, it's me. This post was inspired by many of my own experiences as well as observations gathered from too much time on Facebook. It's a jungle out there, and I'm simply striving to help you avoid a few Tech Frustrations ... and maybe a few personal frustrations too.
Yesterday I went skiing. For those who've never skied with me, it's probably worth mentioning ... apparently I’m not the best skier on the slopes. In fact, I'm pretty bad. Well, really bad. I know this because almost every person I’ve ever skied with has offered me a steady stream of suggestions for improvement. Repeatedly. Exhaustively. The thing is, when I ski alone, I feel like my technique may be almost as picturesque as those expert skiers, wearing the latest sportswear, who effortlessly and gracefully glide down the mountain as though they were starring in some sort of snow ballet. You know them, they're the people who look happy, healthy, refreshed, and even have great hair when they take off their hats at the end of the day. I skied alone all afternoon and felt like I was really good. It was fun.
I also spent a fair amount of time thinking about why I enjoy skiing given that I’m no good at it. The list was pretty long.
Yesterday was the first mid-week skiing I’ve done outside of a Spring Break in ages, and maybe ever. The crowd is older, the lines are shorter (or non-existent), and the pace is a little slower. I fit in better. Or at least I feel like I do. Yesterday's experience led to a lunch conversation with my husband about perception and reality. If you feel like you ski well (even if you don’t), are you having any less fun than people who really do ski well? Many people must think that the answer is yes, because so many of them are so eager to help me improve. But there is no denying the fact that it is possible to have a great day on the slopes even if you are a pretty bad skier. I have proven this to be true :)
Thinking about ski frustrations and fun, of course got me to thinking about Tech Frustrations. And it had me comparing them with ski frustrations. It made me realize that when I get frustrated with technology, I’m often in a hurry and/or being helped by someone who knows way more than I do about how something works. I’m surrounded by these people, and I can also be one of these people. When I understand something inside and out, I can get so excited about it that I want to share my knowledge (and enjoyment) with others to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. (This must be how skiers feel when they’re around me.)
If you experience a Tech Frustration, and have the time to slow down, I suggest you give yourself permission to explore, learn, and enjoy … at your own pace. I've learned that Google can answer almost as many questions as "the experts". You simply enter your question; for example, “How do I reset the time on my Samsung Galaxy phone?” You'll usually receive a number of pointers to helpful information. YouTube may even provide you with a video showing step-by-step instructions.
The bottom line is that you don’t need to be tech savvy to enjoy tech products. As I mentioned previously, you don’t need to use every feature of a product to put it to good use. Some features may not be designed for a user like you. If you’re able to slow down, go at your own pace, explore functionality on your own terms, and enjoy the view, you may be able to eliminate a lot of Tech Frustrations.
Sometimes everything just works. And quickly too. A friend and fellow Michigan Tech alum made these really cute magnets today and posted a picture of them on a private Facebook page. Another alum suggested she should sell them via Etsy, the online marketplace for vintage and handmade goods. Four hours later the online store was set-up and taking orders. According to Facebook at least one order has already been placed.
That, my friends, is commerce in the age of the Internet! From "idea" to order in less than ten hours. Sometimes there are no Tech Frustrations and everything just works.
The first time I realized that a choice was going to close some doors, I was 17 years old and choosing a college. It seems funny in hindsight because kids today are aware of so many more options than we were “way back when”. My high school class was comprised of more than 500 students, but I only remember three who went out-of-state to continue their education. I was not one of them. And I sure don't remember hearing the term "study abroad" back then. In one way, my choice narrowed my options for the future significantly. I attended Michigan Tech which had (and still has) a strong focus on engineering and STEM majors. If switching my major to history was an option, I wasn't aware of it. In another way, my choice opened more doors than I could have imagined since, at the time, I really had no idea that my degree would provide such a wide variety of opportunities down the road.
Fast forward to 2017, and it seems like high school grads can easily become overwhelmed by all of the opportunities available to them as they begin to create their futures. Some appear to handle the choices with ease, while others understandably struggle to make next-step decisions. When I wanted to learn more about a college, I had to write and request information, stop in and talk with a school counselor, or wait for the recruiter to visit my school and make a pitch. Students today can comb through more university options than I can count by reading info online, watching videos, and even interacting with current and future students on social media sites. The options are mind-boggling and navigating the large volume of info can even become a Tech Frustration.
Last week I encountered one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever seen. It was a job description that stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t think I was looking for work, but honestly, this opportunity piqued my interest. Unfortunately I don’t have the personality to ensure consistent success in the role, but boy do I wish I did. I wish I was flexible, fun, and adventurous enough to succeed in this position! Well, there are my personality short comings and then there’s the fact that I have no desire to re-locate without my spouse ... and I doubt I'm really what they have in mind.
But ... if you are flexible, fun, adventurous, and able to re-locate for a while, I suggestion you check out this opportunity of a lifetime! (<- Seriously, you have to click that link.)
Do you have any Tech Frustrations? If so, tell me about them on the Tech Frustrations web site.
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A while back I was given a big stack of sheet music, most of it copyrighted between 1920 and 1950. Originally it belonged to a relative who was friendly, fun, and entertaining, so when it was offered to me, I gladly accepted it along with some happy memories. But now, as I am progressing through the deep clean of my home, I find myself wondering what I thought I was going to do with this collection. Seriously, what was I thinking? Stacked in a dark corner of the basement, it’s definitely not providing enjoyment for anyone. So I decided to try and get it into the hands of people who would appreciate it, enjoy it, and maybe even use it. After much thought, and a little research, I decided that the best way to accomplish this goal was to sell it on eBay. And it wouldn’t hurt that I’d make bank in the process.
Because I’m an optimist by nature, I launched the process with the purchase of 100 large envelopes. The “big box” offered the lowest price per unit, and I knew those savings would go right to the bottom line over time. Next, I listed what I thought would be the hottest sellers. It was a time consuming process, but as my eBay skills improved, I became more efficient.
Imagine my surprise when only a few of the items listed received any bids at all. The bidding wars I had been imagining just didn’t occur. I had experienced another Tech Frustration. So I did a little more research and learned that most of the music in my stack was produced in such massive quantities, and sold for such low prices, that it isn’t rare at all. In fact, anyone who owned a piano in 1950 is likely to have a similar collection.
But, I didn’t give up. And now, after three months and ~40 listings, I’ve managed to sell eight pieces of the music. The payments I’ve received don't yet cover the cost of the big box of envelopes and the postage charges incurred to date. But I’m happy to report that the “low sales” cloud has a silver lining; two of the people who purchased the music have taken the time to write and tell me how they will use it. That has made the experience worth the effort and keeps me motivated to continue the quest to get this music into the hands of people who will enjoy it.
One of the eBay buyers is the great-niece of one of the composers of one of the pieces I had listed. The music was from back in the Ziegfeld Follies days. Apparently, as the self-proclaimed “family historian”, she is trying to collect “one of everything” for each of her cousins. That piece went for a whopping $5.00.
The other woman who wrote to me lives in "senior housing" and is the resident pianist for all of their sing-a-long and musical programs. She told me that many years ago, one of her neighbors attended an event featuring Al Jolson singing one of the songs I had listed for sale. Her neighbor attended the event along with her mother, who apparently loved singing the song right until her final days. The woman who purchased the music (for another large sum; $3.00) planned to use it to surprise the neighbor during their next musical program.
These are the stories that keep me from tossing the pile of music into the recycle bin.
In addition to trying to hit the big time on eBay, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m giving lots of stuff away by using the sites trash nothing!, freecycle and craigslist. These tend to be things that can't be tossed into a 10"x12" envelope and mailed for $1.36.
If you think you could put some old sheet music to good use, just send me a note via the Contact page on this web site. I’d be happy to send you photos of the music I have so that you can let me know if you want any of it. If you find something you want, I will send it you for the cost of shipping … or less!
Do you have any Tech Frustrations? If so, tell me about them on the Tech Frustrations web site.
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