Inspiration in the For Dummies Brand

I want to be clear that BoomerangBeat is not “for dummies” and it is not a “dummied down version of the news” but rather accessible news. News for the busy.

Quote pulled from an Entrepreneur Magazine article.

Dummied down describes a deliberate diminution of the intellectual level of education, literature, cinema, news, and culture. Or to “revise as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence”.

Those that don’t fully understand what’s going on in news, or with politics, aren’t stupid. They’re not necessarily any less intelligent than those that can follow, they’ve just chosen to focus on other areas of life.

We live in a world of constant content, “breaking news”, sensationalized stories and headlines, misreporting, and propaganda. We are in the age of information overload and organizational mistrust.

Those of us outside the news industry bubble often lose the context of the story as media continuously caters those that are ready, at any minute, to absorb the latest detail.

The For Dummies Success Story

A short paragraph pulled from their website:

In 1987, new technologies were popping up all over the place. But computer manuals were dull and difficult to understand. A frustrated customer in a computer store, who knew nothing about computers, was looking for a simple, basic book about the difficult DOS operating system. “Something,” he suggested, “like DOS for dummies.” We knew the man’s frustration was shared by many other computer users, and we set out to do something about it. Thus, the For Dummies phenomenon began.

From the start, For Dummies was a simple, yet powerful concept: Relate to the anxiety and frustration that people feel about technology by poking fun at it with books that are insightful and educational and make difficult material interesting and easy.”

Sound familiar?

I re-wrote their story in terms of today’s technology and media landscape:

In the aftermath of the dot-com boom and bust (early 2000s), the web quickly became ubiquitous. New ideas of sharing and exchanging content rapidly gained acceptance in the form of Weblogs, RSS, and later, social networks.

The media’s obsession with 24-hour news coverage was bolstered by the popularization of social networking. This rapid development of messaging soon gave way to “up to the second” updates and a media-wide “first to report” race.

The information overload, continuous “non-news” broadcasts, and misreporting left many frustrated at the missing context and propaganda-driven agendas of major media outlets. So, I’m setting out to do something about it.

BoomerangBeat is a simple, yet powerful concept: Relate to the anxiety and frustration that people feel about the current state of the news industry and make difficult topics interesting and easy to understand.”

The Mission Statement

I’m not exactly sure what the For Dummies mission statement is but there are a few quotes I pulled that directly relate to (and inspire) BoomerangBeat. I rewrote them for my case.

BoomerangBeat is not for dummies. It’s a reference guide to the news for the rest of us.”

“Making everything easier.”

“BoomerangBeat is a website intended to present non-intimidating guides for news consumers new to the various topics covered.”

“BoomerangBeat is a simple, yet powerful concept: Relate to the anxiety and frustration that people feel about the news industry… and make difficult material interesting and easy to understand.”

The For Dummies books are incredibly popular for a reason. And just like I’m hoping to do with BoomerangBeat, their readers outgrow them too.

Creating a Career Vision Board

Creating a Career Vision Board

Consciousness can shape reality and somewhere along my professional path, I let that notion slip away.  Shame aside, I’ve had the same goals for over a year that I’ve done little to work towards and that bothers me. So, while it may not seem logical to some, my first step to moving forward was to create a visual reminder.

A few weeks ago, I took my left-brain chill pill and started creating. I allowed myself to feel silly in my goals. I went with what registered in my heart and gut, instead of my logic. The finished product (above) is, quite literally, my bigger picture.

Through the creation process, I relied heavily on my role models. These ladies are a consistent presence in my every day – whether it’s following them on Twitter, subscribing to their RSS feeds, or reading their biographies/business books. I’m drawn to each one of them because of their voice, work ethic, background and above all, their steadfast stubbornness to do something they believe in. They are also a painful reminder that I haven’t been doing all I can to reach my goals. A reminder I needed.

Though my vision board boasts a few misspellings and plenty of dog hair, I love it and carry it in a notebook that never leaves my side. I understand that it’s no substitute for elbow grease, but it’s purpose is to serve as a good nudge every time red wine and RHOBH call my name. Which is often.

What’s on my vision board – a semi-detailed look

Faces at the crest:

Amy Jo Martin – she founded a social media company in her late-20s and tried things that hadn’t been done before. A renegade, as she calls herself. I’m reading her book now and the more I delve into the details of how she believes business should be done, the more my professional girl crush grows. Is that weird?

Martha Stewart – I know what you’re thinking, I don’t care. She may be over the top for the every day lady but this woman knows business. The one thing that really draws me to her though, is her extreme curiosity and tenacity to try so many different things.

Barbara Corcoran – she draws on her background to relate it to who she is as a professional and as a leader. Even early in her career, she never seemed afraid to put something out into the world and see if it worked. It usually did.

Bethenny Frankel – business persona, family, confidence. She’s not just a reality star, she was on the cover of Forbes for shit’s sake.

Erika Napoletano – her analysis of how business relates to life and her raw openness draw me in. We also have a favorite word in common … it’s starts with an F. Her TEDx talk is one of my faves. Oh, and any blog post she’s ever written.

Below their pretty faces is a mash up of all my entities – the ones I’m working on now (Coach Gray, this blog and BoomerangBeat) and the ones for down the road (those I’ve greened out). I matched each one with either a path I admire or where I’d like to see them go.

Who are your professional role models and how do you relate to them in your every day? Would you benefit from a career vision board? 

Two More Reasons to Love this Guy

If you don’t know Seth Godin – get to know him.

Collecting dots vs. connecting dots. Collecting dots are the grades you get and the stuff you put on the resume. Connecting dots are only learned by being in situations where you can fail. Passion and insight happen in reality. Fitting in is a short term strategy, standing out is a long term strategy, but that takes guts.

Revolution’s destroy the perfect and enable the possible. We’re in a revolution.

If you’re not afraid to do something, and you care deeply about it, magic happens.

The Curse of the Listener

I am not a person who can harness hardcore confidence out of thin air … some may call this arrogance.

I gain my confidence through listening and assessing. However, don’t mistake this for trying to figure out what others care about either. It’s about finding what I care about.

I often silence myself when someone challenges me because I have the tendency to think I’m wrong and have something to learn. Knowing I have something teach, that realization takes a bit. This mental tyranny is a catch 22 really. Silence has led me learn that I’m smarter than I give myself credit for. But it’s also shown me that I’m smarter than others give me credit for. My silence is often mistaken … but I know no other way to learn and better myself. 

I guess the real question is – who’s fault is it that I am perceived as less? Mine for not speaking up? Or theirs for assuming? Who wins and who loses? Maybe it’s a case of the quick win vs. the long-term success. What’s more important?

I know I care deeply about what I believe … but I’m also open to learning, hearing what others think are right and wrong and open to being wrong myself. Sometimes that means not speaking up and instead, listening.

I’m 27. I’m still forming my convictions, opinions on career and professionalism, and figuring out who I want to surround myself with. I’m trying to decide what I think it means to be right, to be ignorant and to be wrong.

That ‘figuring it out’ process … well, it’s shitty. And along with it, have come people who think I have nothing to offer. It hurts … sometimes. It pisses me off more than anything. But that pissed off feeling – that just makes me want to prove them wrong instead of change my ways because deep down, I know I’d rather listen and soak it up now than speak and never hear.

Pinterest for Men

Just because the front page of Pinterest is laced with spring fashions, outrageous makeup tips and wedding inspiration … doesn’t mean it’s not a place for the men of the Internet. Dudes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em (and try to keep up). You’d be surprised at the amount of crude humor and plethora of Ron Swanson-isms you can find over there.  If that’s what you’re into.

Point is, Pinterest is not exclusively feminine fluff  as opposed to the opinion of Glen Stanberry, Gentlemint creator. Women do make up 80% of Pinterest users so it’s no surprise we pollute the front page with female-centric prettiness and OCD organizing inspiration. However, that doesn’t mean men can’t build – and unearth – some quality ideas for their manboards.

Pinterest doesn’t discriminate. And I know you, men, are a little bit interested, right? You’re welcome for ignoring that obvious pun, too.

Think of all the possibilities for manboards. Examples can showcase a slew of poker tips and matching cigars, microbrew recipes and small batch moonshine, your favorite steak joints up the California coast or the various breweries you’d like to tap. Perhaps you prefer a sports angle and create a board with moronic slow-mo mishaps for a mid-day laugh or photos detailing the Apple Cup saga, complete with Husky domination. Or maybe, for the BBQ masters in the family, you pin rub recipes and marinating advice. Surely the handymen can find top notch ideas floating freely in the Pinterest universe. I’m predicting it’s only a matter of time before Bobby Flay and Holmes hit the boards … unless Gentlemint is smart enough to get them first.

Hopefully you can see the possibilities of  manboards on Pinterest. Here are some great examples of Pinterest men and their boards I dig:

Timothy Carter – Social Media Infographics

Ryan Hodgson – My Photography, Rock Climbing and Jimmy

The Family Handyman – All of them are awesome

Dan Gordon – Watches

David Hoang – Design Tools and Inspirational Campaigns

Chris Pirillo – Storm Troopers

Gary Vaynerchuck – Wine

Really, Pinterest is ideal for the do-it-yourself renovators, repairmen, gadgeteers, world travelers, business men, gym rats and the list goes on. There is a whole ecosystem of forums, blogs, social networks and videos catering to all of these cultures — Pinterest allows you to transfer those online tips, manuals and inspiration into your own, organized forum.

For all the men who do use Pinterest, what was your reason?

Ellen DeGeneres, J.C. Penney and the Social Protester

Going viral is no longer reserved for cute kittens and babies biting fingers. The Internet – and its playground – aren’t just for techies anymore.

The recent uproar by Ellen DeGeneres and Gay Rights advocates to keep the talk show host as J.C. Penney’s spokeswoman has been acknowledged by many as a victory for the exhilarating influence of the Internet. The Stand Up for Ellen campaign, sponsored by GLAAD,  has attracted some 39,000 signatures and gained several more supporters who have voiced their opinion elsewhere online. The flood of virtual support has, no doubt played a huge role in reassuring the retailer to stand by their decision.

The boycott against J.C. Penney, staged by hate family group, comes on the heels of other Internet-driven successes, such as the Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood reversal last week, Bank of America’s $5 debit card fee turnaround late last year and the prevention of the overcritical Stop Online Privacy Act in January.  Hell, even Bill O’Reilly (he – the man who claimed Jennifer Aniston was ‘destructive to our society‘) is uncharacteristically leaning to the left in support of Ellen by likening the campaign to McCarthyism. Go, Bill.

While some may contend that the  power of social media isn’t the most significant element at play, I have to disagree. I understand that it’s ultimately the people who believe in the cause that spark the voices and actions. However, social media intensifies and accelerates the issues and the voices against the change. Everyday Joe’s are now able to use the power of the Internet as their outlet to procure a voice in mainstream media. How are decision makers, politicians and established power players taking this? Well, just ask Karen Handel. I think shocked might be an understatement.

Yes, some of these causes may have transpired into real-life protests in the past, but that’s not a style that suits everyone.  I would rather send a tweet or sign an Internet petition than take a day off work to shout on a sidewalk. And even though some may choose to take the “virtual route”, their opinions are still as important. Social media provides a vehicle for the social protester.

Make your haters, your motivators” – Ellen DeGeneres

What I Learned in 2011

I hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I believe in holding yourself to standards and goals but only when you’re ready, not when the calendar says you should be. The start of the new year is very refreshing, a new way to mark your accomplishments and plan ahead. But it’s all to often the bright shiny object that loses its luster too quickly.

Instead of hanging all my hope on the year ahead, I like to look back and see what I learned from the year passed and how I can grow with the lessons – fortunate or not – that life threw my way. If you aren’t learning, how do you expect to change yourself? Life is about moving forward, not covering it up and starting over.

#1 Grandpas getting sick doesn’t get any easier to handle the older they get.

#2 Just ask if you don’t know – there is no such thing as soup cream. Realizing there could be a texting error in your grocery list could potentially save you several minutes wandering aimlessly down the soup aisle.

#3 I found a great escape . . . a small dose of sunshine that reminds me how sane I actually am.  Jersey Shore and Real Housewives will never get old. And that’s okay.

#4 I rediscovered books this year and gained more confidence in my professional self. I learned the importance of self-reliance and becoming a tireless seeker of knowledge. Reading is knowledge. Knowledge is confidence. It’s just what I needed.

#5 I was burned by an employer I trusted too much and I promised to never let it happen again. I am amazed at how much others will take advantage, but I won’t forget.

#6 I understand that old people die. But you will never be ready to lose your grandparent, no matter how long they’re sick or how many birthdays they’ve had. Judging by my mother’s loss in her sense of self and identity, losing a parent will only be harder. I’m so thankful he was at my wedding. And cry that he’ll never see my babies.

#7 Connecting with like-minded women has been one of the most important things I’ve found in my 20s. Refreshing, inspiring and exciting for the soul and the mind.

#8 Fifth place will never feel good enough. I hurt for him when he loses. He loves it so much.

#9 “We all bleed red. We all taste rain. We all fall down and lose our way. We’re all the same.” Sometimes people don’t see this and you can try your damnedest to show them but they don’t. It’s never easy to give up. But I’ve learned sometimes, you have to.

#10 This year my parents went through more pain than I have ever seen them in. I learned they are human beings, destructible, sometimes they second guess themselves, other times, they need reassurance. Sometimes you need to take care of them, initiate the phone call, tell them you love them and offer them a hand. They want compliments, love and to be bragged about just as much as you do as their child.

#11 We did a deviled egg toast and missed him dearly.

#12 Holidays are hard when you get married and make a home far away. As much as I love and miss my old traditions, I know things will never be the same. The old life is fading – some pieces are holding on and some have long gone. I look back with sadness that they’re no more but I also know, that new traditions are starting and I’m so excited for them. The transition period is shitty, hard and beautiful all at once.  I have to remember to focus on the beauty of the “new door”.

#13 Losing a pet . . . that one is hard to swallow but something I have to understand. It tears me up.

#14 Job hunting tested my character and self confidence. I had to really dig down and figure out just how freaking awesome I really am.

#15 Oklahoma Thunder was NOT inaugurated in 1967. Sonics were. This kind of pissed off will never go away.

#16 I learned to like my coffee black, eat sushi and make gravy from scratch. I also learned to care about reading and watching the news every day.

#17 I finally understood I had to let some friends go. You can grow a part from your childhood and still be fond of the people and things that made it what it was. While this scared me at how far away childhood has become, something changed in me. I saw myself let a little piece of that go. It’s scary and amazing all at the same time. It’s nice to talk about where you’ve been but nothing will ever beat talking about where you are going.

#18 All the things I thought my parents “just knew”, aren’t intuitive. You have to make an effort to learn the basics in life. Like what you should really get done when you change your oil, how to make chicken soup when your husband is sick or what medicine is best for the current ailment. And you know what, it’s okay to be proud after each small feat you do on your own.

(I had to text mom this picture because I was so proud of myself)

#19 At 26, I still love birthday presents like a little girl. I just don’t enjoy the number that comes with them.

#20 Chesney’s belly is indestructible – dark chocolate, Swedish fish and face wipes are nothing. I’ve learned to call the vet and freak out a lot less this year.

#21 I realized my choice in souvenirs are a great insight into where I am in life and how far I’ve come. I’ve gone from key chains to shot glasses to coffee mugs. . .

#22 Cancer will forever chill me to the bone – no matter who, no matter when, no matter where. It will never make sense.

#23 I learned that if you wear a pretty red bow in your hair when you are forced to play in your husband’s flag football game, you get yelled at a lot less.

#24 To be misunderstood is a great tragedy in the face of personal growth. It’s confusing. Trying. Sad. You have to make the  choice to live misunderstood and know you’ll never be able to really get across your hurt, anger, love, care, trust, etc. or live according to others’ threshold for the truth and continue on, painfully unnatural. You have to find a balance or make a choice as to whose feelings you want to live for.

#25 All of us – the strong, weak, talented, smartest, the have-it-all’s – we all want to play the victim in our own way. The “right-to-be” wrong rears its ugly head so easily in human nature. We’re all guilty of it so maybe we just need recognize each other and their contributions more . . . no matter how big or small.

#26 From my parents’ arms to my husband’s arms . . . I’ve learned to trust my heart, let go a little and really enjoy the life I’m building. And that letting go, even that little bit, doesn’t mean I care less. It means I’m finding myself. As an adult, as a family, as a wife.

#27 Closer to 30 than to 20 this year, I’ve realized I’m doing a good job in my 20s. Though I may complain about them, I know I’m using them to learn and grow and find myself and my dreams. To get the job I love and marry the man I want to have babies with. I’ve seen people get stuck in their 20s . . .staying closer to the person they were in college or even high school. I used to feel left out …left out of the fun and left out of important relationships. I’ve come to understand that I’ve moved forward through failure, I didn’t let myself get stuck. All those times of doubt, not knowing myself, feeling left out and friendless…they weren’t all for not. Not even a little.

So, however you chose to ring it in – whether it was making a promise to yourself, setting goals or following a passion – Happy New Year. What were your resolutions?

amazed by the ordinary

Last weekend we took grandma out in Bellevue and Seattle. She’s never been here. Coming from Ellensburg, there were a so many views and ports of creativity spewing from every corner, boat and weirdo that  my grandmother was amazed by everything. I was amazed by her.

Every new fixture and light display was breathtaking to her. Even our iPhones and the Kinect we made her play were marveled at for some time. Whatever it was she was taking in it was fully taken. Not half-assed, not assumingly and not without recognition of it’s beauty . . . even if it was just the ugly Fremont Troll in all it’s grandeur.

There’s a difference between accepting something simply because you understand it and another to feel alive in it’s presence. That’s what grandma allowed to happen this weekend. She got the beauty of it all. My sister and I hung a sign on the Fremont People that weekend, welcoming her to Seattle in true “holiday” fashion – and complete with a shitty hang job and soggy decor. She didn’t care. Or more importantly, maybe she didn’t see it. She cried.

A timely lesson that grandma taught me by just being her – live in the present, and less in the past or the future. When you do, you see the beauty in what is happening around you. You appreciate. You live. You make others feel important.

This holiday season I challenge you to look around – not with critical eyes but with an understanding that everything around you was created through a manifestation of choices, care and love. Whether it is the ugly Fremont Troll or your puppy playing in the snow for the first time.

Can you completely live if you don’t allow yourself to be amazed every once in awhile?


P.S. I’m making a video of the weekend to give to her as a Christmas gift this year. I’m going to shamelessly use an N*Sync song. Afterall, it’s about the words, not Justin Timberlake’s boy-band, tease-worthy braid phase.

Too much listening. Not enough talking.

My career Achilles . . .

I hit the ceiling on mental progress and I blame it on my inability to craft opinions within my industry. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence in my own right to be wrong.

Whatever it is,  I need to start talking, debating, agreeing, disagreeing, calling out, asking questions, admitting confusion and being okay with just plain not knowing – just get it the hell out. It’s the only the remedy.

Does a learning threshold even exist? I hit it, regardless. I can’t seem to organize my thoughts, muster creativity or even remember something stupid like the word you use for a twice yearly event.

It’s as if my brain stopped working. Or maybe it’s just telling me to give it a break. Clean it out before I can index anymore useless social media tips or figure out how to effectively measure RT’s. Enough.

After all, every sponge needs a good ringing before it can soak up more mess, right?