I recently went through a series of dramatic career changes. While transitioning from one occupation to another, I found myself without a computer, blackberry, or any other means of electronic communication. As someone who checks email so frequently it practically serves as IM, I was in serious withdrawl. So strong was my addiction to give and receive constant updates that I actually waited in line at the Enoch Pratt free library for over an hour just so I could check my Gmail. Sick, right? They ought to consider having tech rehab for people like me, as I know I am not alone.

At any rate, I had to find a solution to my dilemma. I sped like a bat out of hell to my closest Verizon store only to hurry up and wait. While I perused the 10 million phone and PDA choices they had (none of which were particularly awesome) I began to grow very anxious. Just give me my new Blackberry and get me out of here so I can start reading my emails, checking facebook, and online shopping (beads of sweat rolling off my forehead)!!!!  Sheesh!

Finally, a salesperson calls my name and I practically knock him down with the agressive nature by which I respond to my name being called. He looks alarmed; probably because I am wild-eyed and was wearing a bathing suit top and a fedora (just an average outfit for me, FYI). I tell him I need a new Blackberry TODAY and he kindly obliges. The tension in my neck begins to ease and I can feel the anxiety lifting as I near the check out counter. I take the new box up to the counter to pay while being bombarded with the usual rigarmarole they give you each and every time you purchasesomething, change your plan, or even consider entering a Verizon store. At this point I am so crazed I don’t even care.

And then they drop the bomb on me (and not in a fun disco way): the new Blackberry, before the $150 rebate, is close to $350!!!!! What??!! Really?!!!This can’t be happening. I think everyone knows I am a high roller; with my frivolous coupon clipping. I am so close to beingback in touch with the world only to have all my hopes and dreams dashed! So, being the metal giant that I am I tell them I simply won’t do that. So I will be taking my phone number to another carrier. They are fine with that, for a $150 early termination fee, since I am locked into my contract until 2010. Awesome. So when I am almost thirty I might be able to get a new Blackberry with another carrier. In the meantime, my need for instant e-gratification is not being absolved. I finally tell them to forget it and I leave the store. I am furious.

I drive less than a block down the road to the AT&T store. Even though I have been highly resistant to purchasing, or even considering purchasing an iphone, I am highly vulnerable. I am practically in tears because of my frustrating and hopeless situation with Verizon as well as the fact that I STILL do not have a PDA to speak of. I am extremely skeptical of the AT&T store, especially since they didn’t have 8 million people mindlessly mulling around the store like a bunch of zombies. There were 3 people (including me) in the entire store. This made my trepidation about purchasing an iphone even greater, considering the apple store is usually an even greater train wreck where they recommend you make a reservation before you come in. Wow, I guess I didn’t realize that IT was the Ritz Carlton.

Well, the AT&T store was nothing like that. The guy who waited on me (which was instantanious instead of the 45 minute waiting period at Verizon) was SO nice and extremely helpful. There were no hidden costs, and guess what? My iphone and my minutes plan are LESS THAN VERIZON! Yes, you read that correctly.

One downside–I did have to wait almost 2 weeks for my new iphone as there is an ongoing waiting period of between 10 to 21 days for your new phone to arrive. But when it did, it was like Christmas. I love my iphone so much I think it is actually lowering my IQ. It does everything from track the amount of miles I run in a month, to making to-do lists, to creating a miniature virtual bookshelf right at my fingertips. I used to be a capable person; not so much anymore, but I feel comfortable about my slow decline into a two digit brain capacity. I am practically salavating as I write this because the phone is so cool. There are a ton of applications to choose from in a plethora of categories. 

The other positive part of this experience is that AT&T has been absolutely kick-ass. Despite the fact that their company has skyrocketed well beyond Verizon due to the iphone’s popularity, the staff do not even remotely reflect what could/should be a smug company demeanor. They are as nice and attentive as though they were a mom and pop shop. I left my crummy old phone number with verizon (but I refuse to have it disconnected for $150 so it will remain in service, albeit inactive, until 2010). I love my iphone, I have my information fix at all times, and life is good. Verizon, take notes.



AddThis Feed Button

Add to Technorati Favorites

I am driving down Cathedral Street the other day, on my way to work, rocking out to some Black Crowes, and I stop at Saratoga. Then Lombard. Then Pratt. By the time I am passing the Baltimore Convention Center I am in utter disgust. I truly cannot believe my eyes, and here’s why:

I live about a mile or so from the Baltimore’s banking Mecca. A place, I consider, the ultimate in “making it” per se. The type of companies that make you feel more successful just by being in their presence. When I think of working in a “real” office the companies that nestle in the Pratt Street corridor immediately come to mind: T. Rowe Price, Legg Mason, Wachovia, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and so many others. Along with this respect I have for the companies, also applies to the folks who work there. You see people in three piece suits casually tossing their $600 caramel colored, calf skin messenger bags in to the trunk of their E-class Mercedes and you think. All this romantic sophistication is about to make me want to quit my job and go to law school and then, FLAP, FLAP, FLAP, FLAP, FLAP. No, I didn’t just pop a tire. Someone is walking down the street in a Banana Republic tan moleskin skirt suit, carefully paired with a cream colored summer cashmere shell, and FLIP FLOPS!!!!!!! Really?? Come on.

The sound of flip flips is the unofficial anthem of the modern day slob. But, the flip, flop is not alone in its endeavors. It has many friends including: the visible tattoo(s), the nose /lip /tongue /other body piercing, cleavage, low-rise pants, Hawaiian shirts, the short-sleeved button down shirt (pocket protector optional), jeans, white dress socks, too much cologne/perfume, flashy jewelry, underwear as outerwear, shorts, etc. This motley crew should never enter the professional office under ANY circumstances. Period.

 

Professional dress seems to be a thing of the past. Admittedly, I didn’t even buy my first suit until I was 25, but that was because I wanted to be taken seriously. I was applying for jobs and despite my penchant for stilettos and boldly colored clothing, it simply wouldn’t cut the mustard in a serious interview. Is it better to feel good than to look good? Because I have always heard the opposite. How good are you going to feel when you don’t get promoted? You may sweat less now in those breezy shorts, but you might sweat more in the future when you can’t seem to find anyone who will hire you.

I do not think it’s too far a leap to say that a lack of professional appearance can lead to a lack of professional behavior. Casual Fridays turn into slacker Fridays. Even though the concept here is to make work more “fun” this lackadaisical attitude seems to follow many back to work on Mondays, and Tuesdays. Work is a place to do just that. Work. Someone is paying you to accomplish specific professional goals. And many employers may not take too kindly to your dress code if it includes any of the above offenses. Companies may even see unprofessional attire as an insult; you don’t respect the mission of your organization enough to even follow simple attire expectations. It’s not as though an employer is trying to limit your personal expression–they just don’t want it to be on their dollar!

 If employees are not even willing to wear a full shoe to work, are they capable of making prudent professional decisions? How do you feel when you are in a meeting and have very carefully dressed to look your most elegant and then the person across the table from you has on jeans? It seems like the prospect really doesn’t really even care. Your choice of clothing can speak volumes about your attitude about your company, your self, and even your industry. Professional dress is not actually about fashion. Essentially, it is the uniform of the working world. Some occupations may lend some flexibility (I have found in my past career there is a bit more leniency, but there are limits– a purple velour jogging suit is not a suit for the office (or anywhere public for that matter; icky!) Unless you are in a profession of explicit personal expression (i.e. an artist), the office is not really a place to be creative when it comes to wardrobe. This advice is coming from someone who HAS taken serious fashion risks. Unfortunately, I don’t work at YSL, so my choices in attire were mistakes I have since learned from.



AddThis Feed Button

Add to Technorati Favorites

Technology permeates so much of our daily lives; and our love lives are no exception. However, I am seeing a trend more and more; one that I really  dislike. Technology is replacing dating. Substitute the first call with a first text message. Substitute the blind date set up by friends with a Facebook friend invitation. Stir briskly, and you have a recipe for a virtual disaster.

It’s the time of year where everyone makes a mad dash to get into a relationship. Awesome. Every time I turn around I am bombarded with happy couples sharing an afternoon in the park, walking the dog together, enjoying an outdoor meal. And I have to say, I’m a bit dumbfounded, albeit a little nauseated.  The nature of dating in this day and age is so casual, how do you ever meet anyone? Much less, maintain a relationship with any semblance of quality? Or are we substituting quality for quantity? You can likely meet more people than ever faster than before because of websites like match.com and e-harmony. You don’t even have to leave your apartment, much less wash last night’s makeup off, to meet Mr. or Ms. right(now). You don’t even have to make that much of an investment of your time or money, you can simply text one of the 9 zillion companies they now have to meet “hot young singles near you“. Essentially, the modernized 1-900 number.

I don’t know if I’m cynical and bitter about dating and relationships because I have been burned by romantic “technicalities” or if I’m only technically cynical and bitter. Either way, it seems that romance is virtually dead. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think that communicating via email, text message, and IM counts as “dating”. Not all aspects of technology have killed romance, don’t get me wrong. I have googled many fellows in an attempt to find out a back story before I ever met them for drinks. But, for the most part, I think technology is making the dating game a thing of the past.

It seems that technology has become this barricade behind which we are able to shield our “true” selves. Whatever happened to heartbreak? We are required to invest so little physically and emotionally into dating that a person can sail through life without getting hurt romantically, presumably. When asking someone on a date via text message, or subsequently breaking up with them via email, is considered completely acceptable, what does the future hold for relationships? If men and women don’t even have to try all that hard to “win” a partner, they are going to put an equal amount of effort and thought into ending it.

So, what does this tech trend indicate? Well, I think this is an instance where technology is hurting us more than it is helping us. It’s ironic; we are at a point in society where we are more in touch with more people more frequently than any other time in history. Anyone can get in touch with you at least 3 different ways any time they need to. We are so connected, and yet, this seems to be the cause for our emotional separation. This virtual intimacy has replaced actually spending time with someone to get to know them. The other part of this double-edged sword is that fact that you lose tone and inflectionwith IM’s, emails, and text messages. Something that might seem like hearted could be taken as threatening or confrontational such as “Where were you?” That could go a lot of ways…. (more…)

We are in a very sticky predicament in the United States right now. The economy stinks, the real estate market bubble has burst, the job market is terrible, gas costs a fortune, the value of the dollar is sinking, food is becoming more expensive, the planet is cooking itself like a fried egg, social security is becoming as mythical as a unicorn, what else could go wrong? Not much, really, which is actually a great thing. Once you are at the bottom, the only place you can go is up. Despite the fact that the outlook for things to come is rather doom and gloom, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, what is the magic answer to this conundrum? Well, I don’t have have a great answer. If I did, I don’t think the recession would be hitting my pocketbook as hard as it has been so far. Really just more of a thought; in times like these, where everything seems to be going south, people almost have to re-learn what really matters. What do I mean by this? Well, when we are not in an overspending coma, we actually pay attention to where out money goes. I am trying to prioritize my budget and so I have been examining where the hell all my money goes, because I never seem to have any. For me, sadly, the majority of my money three places (besides basic necessities and bills): clothing, eating out/ bars, and Starbucks. Pretty sad huh? But, it is in no way disproportionate to the rest of Americans. Look at where your money goes; I would be that at least half goes towards non-essential, disposable items and activities. (more…)

social-media-picture.png 

 Social media keeps creeping back into many of my postings. But, I can’t help it. I use it each and everyday for a variety of purposes. I am a sales person I know how incredibly important networking is. But, the face of networking is changing rapidly with the introduction of social networking media crossing over from the consumer world to the business world.  This means that professional relationships will be created and explored in a whole new way.

Just in the last 6 months I have noticed an exponential growth in the number of people I know using Facebook and LinkedIn. I think both of these are excellent resources to combine the business and social world. But they are changing the way we network in positive and negative ways.

I can use LinkedIn to display my resume, current job title, and other accolades. I can also use it to connect to other professionals I have met in person at various networking events and other occasions. It’s a great way to keep an online roster of clients, friends, colleagues, business partners, and more.

 Linked in is fabulous for virtual networking because you can see who your connections are connected to. You can search by company name and find people in various roles in a company, you can search by geographic area, you can pick a specific job field; all of these aspects are incredibly helpful when you are trying to build a back-story about a potential client. Plus, you may find a person you would like to connect to, but don’t want to make a cold call. You can look at your connections and see if anyone you know had any relationship with this person and then get introduced via email.

In many of the same ways, Facebook holds a tremendous amount of merit as well. Facebook originated as a networking site exclusive to college students and has grown into a social networking site open to anyone. Facebook is, in many ways, a dressed up version of  MySpacewith a dash of LinkedIn.

Facebook, unlike LinkedIn, allows users to express more about their personal side but leaves opportunities with endless widgets (you know those fun applications you can add to express your individuality) for the purposes of personal and professional uses.  I have an RSS feeder for this blog as well as news articles from places I like to get news. But I also have silly quotes, pictures, and other non-business elements. I think this could be construed as good and bad. The majority of my Facebook contacts are friends peppered with a growing number of business contacts. The upside: business contacts get a glimpse of me as a real person vs. a sales person. The downside: business contacts get a glimpse of me as a real person vs. a sales person. So one must be conscientious of content. I actually had to admonish a friend for writing inappropriate remarks on my Facebook wall (which is public for any of my contacts to view).

(more…)

I am on my 3rd cup of coffee, I have checked my email inbox 100 times (no new mail, still), read through my proposals, checked voicemails. And then suddenly, I get the urge to go chat with a co-worker, and then I decide to get a snack out of the fridge, and then I figure now is as good a time as any to catch up on the daily news, hmmm I wonder what’s on TV tonight…..

Crap. I have successfully wasted 2 hours doing absolutely nothing. There is certainly no lack of work: I could be making phone calls to follow up with clients, doing research for my newsletter, looking at my first quarter sales, but I’m not. What’s going on? I am trying to get myself motivated, right after I finish watching this hilarious clip my friend sent me from YouTube….

It’s a serious phenomenon happening each and every day right in our very own respective cubicles; we’re lose motivation faster than the polar ice caps are melting.

(more…)

I have noticed a trend. What is the trend you ask?? (with baited breath as always!). The trend is this: when people have finished with formal education, be it high school, college, graduate school, medical school, trade school, or so forth, there seem to be two “schools” of people:

graduate.jpg

-There are the people who say “Hurray”, grab their diploma as fast as they can and run off to the working world, never to set foot in an educational institution again, perhaps until parent teacher conferences at the kids’ school.

OR

-There are the folks who turn learning into a never ending story of certificates, degrees, and various letters after their last names’.

People who choose both tracks are able to find success in many different capacities; so what is the best track to choose after college has ended? There are pros and cons for both scenarios. Let’s take a look…..

People who choose to enter the workforce, directly after receiving a diploma, have a few hurdles to overcome when perusing a career (these are assumptions based on a 4 year college graduate, but are not limited to that experience) . They face the challenges of little experience, few opportunities in their desired field, poor starting salary ($25,000 as a starting salary? Really? Oh before taxes, awesome!), little or no benefits (health care after 90 days– don’t get sick or hurt in that meantime!), long hours, and more often than not, unpleasant tasks (getting the boss, who will take forever to even learn your name, coffee– he likes 3 sugars, not 2!) associated with their potential job.

On the opposing side, despite the fact there may be more sweat equityinvolved in this path, the years of experience are extremely valuable. While others are in graduate school earning their masters’ degrees, you have now accumulated 2-4 years worth of solid experience with a company and, with all luck, have learned some valuable skills in the process. They, on the other-hand, have probably accumulated somewhere between $50,000-$100,000 or more worth of debt that they have to pay off after graduation. Having those years of work experience could prove to be helpful if you are then hired by a company that has tuition reimbursement. Ka-Ching! However, if you are not the type to take advantage of those types of benefits, you will likely have a slow progressive climb up the corporate ladder, which at a certain point, will cease due to your lack of education.

 For the folks who choose the school after school road there are pros and cons as well. For those who decide graduate school is the way to go, you will spend the better part of your twenties living in the library, writing papers, and pulling your hair out. All the while accumulating that $50,00 to $100,000 and more in school loans (unless you are truly blessed and grandma left you a heft hunk of money in the will, most people have to get loans). Plus, depending on the type of graduate program you are in, you are required to do unpaid internships etc that take up about 90% of your time, so working to pay bills such as rent and water (much less trying to balance a social life, family, shower and 3 square meals a day) can be a challenge to say the least.

However, when the graduate student finishes they are often able to bypass their working-for-the-weekend peers, with great speed, in both salary and corporate rank because of their academic credentials. However, the recent grads need to do this so they can pay off those gnarly loans…

(more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.