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Make Time to Relax

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Slowing down is just as important as speeding up.

With so much on our to-do lists, taking a quiet moment to yourself can feel counterintuitive. Sitting still—away from your devices and the endless scroll—may at first encourage your mind to wander and count down the minutes until you can get back to work.

But think about this: According to the nonprofit group Mindful, meditation can help us lower stress, improve focus, and connect with others.

When we decide to hit pause, we give our brains a needed vacation. As marketers and social people, the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves is very much needed. Being so busy communicating can wear down some of our most valuable skills.

In an industry where it’s important to build relationships, shouldn’t you watch out for your own relationships and health? When we’re healthy, we’re part of a healthy community—both online and in the real world.

If you need further convincing, check out these three TED Talks for thoughts on the benefits of taking a breath, and what you can do to live a more mindful life.

All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes with Andy Puddicombe

“We live in an incredibly busy world. The pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we’re always doing something,” says mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe in this TED Talk on refreshing your mind. “So with that in mind, I’d like you just to take a moment to think, when did you last take any time to do nothing?”

The Art of Stillness with Pico Iyer

“Some people I know, just before they go to sleep, instead of scrolling through their messages or checking out YouTube, just turn out the lights and listen to some music, and notice that they sleep much better and wake up much refreshed,” says travel writer Pico Iyer in this TED Talk that encourages people to take is slow.

How to Make Stress Your Friend with Kelly McGonigal

“Now I wouldn’t necessarily ask for more stressful experiences in my life, but this science has given me a whole new appreciation for stress,” says psychologist Kelly McGonigal in this TED Talk that turns the concept of stress on its head. “Stress gives us access to our hearts. The compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and yes, your pounding physical heart, working so hard to give you strength and energy.”

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Relax Your Way to Creativity

Image of glass of water being poured with Maya Angelou quote overtop: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

Taking time for yourself can have myriad benefits.

When we rest, we open up our minds to opportunities to be creative and productive.

Although it might look like we are doing one thing, our minds remain hard at work⁠. We are puzzling over problems, thinking creatively, and free-associating.

“The critical thing to recognize is that when we are mind-wandering, when our minds don’t have any particular thing they have to focus on, our brains are pretty darn active,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, tells Scientific American. “When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems.”

Pang, who is also founder of the Restful Company, a consulting company in SIlicon Valley, differentiates between resting and engaging in restorative activity.

Mindlessly binge-watching television may help us wind down, but that’s passive. Active hobbies that help your mind wander are important. That’s why walking can be such great exercise, for both the mind and the body.

Another way to think of this is in terms of helpful distractions.

As Harvard University researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson explains in The Boston Globe, “a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’

When we focus on a problem, we can have trouble finding the solution. This is because we aren’t opening ourselves up to different solutions.

Carson, also the author of Your Creative Brain, argues everyone can benefit from flexing their creativity muscles. It can make us feel more relaxed, fulfilled, and effective. Creativity inspires us.

But taking time for active rest or creating opportunities for helpful distraction can be tough.

This is especially true when, as Geoffrey James points out on Inc.com, we live in a society where people where their stress as a badge of honor.

His advice?

“Be brave enough to give your brain the leisure it needs to carry your ideas, your career or your company to the next level.”

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Put Your Heart In It

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It makes sense why we become attached to our offices, coworkers and clients.

Studies suggest a third of our adult lives are spent at work. We may spend more time with our work colleagues than with our own friends and families.

You may feel you put your heart into your work. But do you put your heart into interactions with coworkers and clients? There is so much being said. Are you sharing and listening effectively?

We’re talking about empathy in the workplace.

This isn’t about being agreeable or creating a pleasant culture. It’s about interacting with others in a thoughtful way. Why? Because it can benefit everyone.

Empathy can be the secret sauce that unleashes productivity and performance.

In Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence, author Minter Dial considers how we can encode empathy into our business practices. Dial suggests empathy can improve our own relationships, as well as help businesses perform better.

When you do what you say and say what you mean, you build trust and followers inside and outside your company.

“Though empathy can be perceived as weakness, especially in a command and control culture, it can also be the secret sauce that unleashes productivity and performance,” Dial writes. “Empathy doesn’t mean being weak. It doesn’t even necessarily mean being nice. It is about understanding the other and, when having to pass along tough orders, can help their reception, even when there’s no choice in the matter.”

So, how can you encourage empathy in the office?

Explore empathy in your company’s culture.

Ask clients, “Are you being listened to?” Ask coworkers, “Do you feel valued in the company?” Listen thoughtfully, put yourself in their shoes, and consider what changes might be beneficial for everyone.

Create an environment where exercising empathy is accepted.

Make it OK to have conversations, explore professional development, and access learning opportunities. This doesn’t have to be formal. It can be as simple as chatting with others while waiting in line.

Do what you can to make this an easy, natural process.

Don’t force change. Share an article. Invite others on a coffee break. Ask for other opinions. Little steps and practices can go a long way to encourage thoughtful actions.

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Tweet Your Way Happy

Series of positive emojis: thumbs up, smiling face, sparkling heart, clapping hands, heart eyes

Positivity can lead to more positivity.

For anyone who has ever felt a smile spread across their face after seeing a good friend, it should be no surprise to hear.

We’ve heard before that feelings are contagious. Pass a grumpy colleague in the hallway and you may find yourself frowning too. Exchange a pleasant “good morning” with someone and you may find the day suddenly brighter. We’re guessing you’d rather see yourself surrounded with happy people if you had the choice—we would too!

So here’s another layer to this phenomenon: social media interactions can shape our feelings too. Surprised? Probably not. From personal experience, you know that your mood can change when you see a negative tweet or post.

Think about the kind of message you’d like to be spreading. How can you make your clients and connections live in a more positive community? A few ideas of how you can encourage happiness online:

Take action.

If you see a post the moves you or a pic you admire, like and comment. The person behind it will appreciate hearing from you. You may find they return the favor by becoming more vocal and supportive of your work as well.

Connect with others.

It’s not uncommon for bloggers to build communities of fellow bloggers. They can turn to each other for support and advice, while also lifting up one another’s work. Create or join a private group with others pursuing similar goals or working in a similar field.

Be honest.

When we don’t tell the whole story, gloss over the facts, or concentrate on the negative, we miss out on opportunities to be ourselves. You will have good days and bad days, but if you share them honestly, you may find your friends and followers understand you better.

If choosing to smile can trick your brain into thinking all sorts of positive things and improve your mood, why not fake it till you make it to a happier mood?

Let’s take that same positive energy online. Like, comment, share, and retweet your way happy.

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Growth Is Hard! Here’s Our Advice

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It’s scary to put yourself out there.

All too often, we might know in our hearts what we want, but be afraid of the path to get there.

Perhaps you are the person in your office who is always intrigued by the latest gadgets and reports. Do you have an idea for a new way to do things? Do you think your audience could benefit from finding you on a different platform?

Maybe you are thinking about changing jobs. Is what you dream about doing the complete opposite of your current path? Is another position calling your name?

Possibly you are worried about taking a stand. Where do you find the confidence to speak up and become a leader?

Expert advice can be a wonderful help, and so often ultimately reminds us to follow our guts and do what we believe to be best. If you are thinking of trying a new path, experimenting with an idea, or exploring a fresh direction, remember you are in control.

“I describe my career path as a zigzag—not a ladder with a straight trajectory up.”

When asked on the Simmons Leadership blog if there was a turning point in her career, Denise Morrison, who served as CEO of Campbell Soup Company from 2011 to 2018 (and was the first woman to do so), responded that she’s “jumped the curve to seek new experiences.” When life served her an unexpected move to California, she took it as an opportunity to take on a new challenge and gain experience.

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’

In his well-known self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shares that we have the power to control our paths by the way we respond to situations around us. If you lead your life with emotional strength and integrity, Covey believes we can shape better lives for ourselves.

“I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color, but my roots are the same.”

Athlete Rose Namajunas reminded her fans that we remain ourselves at our core. We may win or lose, gain insights or skills, but experience and knowledge only add on to who we are. When we think this way, we have the freedom to change our leaves. We can still be ourselves even if we try on a different set of colors to see how they work for us.

So feel motivated to get out there, be yourself, and work hard to chart your own course!

And remember: “He who never makes an effort, never risks a failure.”

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Everything Is Shareable Online. Or Is It?

Text of "all rights reserved?" in typewriter font overtop three red question marks

Let’s take this back to the college lecture halls: Do you understand copyright law?

We don’t mean to scare you! In fact, learning about the dos and don’ts of copyright might be easier than you think. It’s definitely important.

Online, it can feel like everything is free, accessible, shareable, and oh-so easy to use. But there are times when just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

For example, it’s acceptable to download content for your own personal offline viewing…but it’s not acceptable to do that if you are trying to make money off someone else’s content. It’s also acceptable to add free music to the videos you make…but that music needs to be free of royalties.

Are you following along?

Copyright may seem annoying at times, but it’s here to protect you and people like you—aka creatives.

Think about the last time you worked long hours, trying over and over again to generate something new, something memorable. If you make something, you want to share it, but not at the cost of losing it.

To understand copyright is to be a better creative.

When you have the understanding of something, you can reach new heights in your own work. But you don’t need to go to school and earn a degree to brush up on the meaning of fair use and work for hire.

Check out this series of 12 videos from William W. Fisher III, the WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Harvard University.

Don’t worry! They are free and available for you to access under a Creative Commons license. What’s that? Find out by heading to Fisher’s lectures.

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Generalists Can Excel Too

Single arrow with "specialist" written on it and arrow with multiple heads with "generalist" written on it

As we join different platforms and are tasked with filling in more and more bios (and using fewer and fewer words for each one) it can be difficult to define ourselves. How do we whittle down what we do into a few crisp keywords?

Your social media bios can open doors for you.

They are your virtual handshake, a wave to the world, and your online “hello.” This is your chance at a first impression, and you don’t want to mess it up. If you do, it could mean a missed connection.

The pressure to present yourself in a clear and concise way can be overwhelming. Generalist or specialist? It can be hard to present yourself quickly online if you excel in many fields. But your diverse experience is a strength.

It can feel like a specialist’s world on social media, especially when we see others who so easily and powerfully identify themselves in a handful of characters and handles.

If you’re someone with a range of experience, take comfort in the lessons of David Epstein’s book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.”

You may be familiar with that old adage: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is how generalists can excel over their specialized peers, even while worried they aren’t perfecting a certain skill set or becoming well-known experts in one major field, Epstein argues. That they have different experiences means they can approach problems creatively and seek more opportunities.

As Epstein explains in the book, often through real world examples, we benefit and can ultimately succeed in our careers if we draw on a variety of experiences.

In the first pages of the book, Epstein notes both Tiger Woods and Roger Federer took different paths. Whereas Woods focused on golf from a young age, Federer explored many sports, eventually landing on tennis.

Similarly, Epstein points to Duke Ellington, who took drawing lessons and played baseball as a kid, and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who wanted to become a writer, as examples of people who didn’t necessarily take the path of a specialist to success. We think things worked out anyway!

So, who are you, really? If you’re someone taking the scenic route, don’t fret. Epstein reminds us both generalists and specialists can excel:

“While it is undoubtedly true that there are areas that require individuals with Tiger’s precocity and clarity of purpose…we also need more Rogers: people who start broad and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives while they progress. People with range.”

Embrace all that you do and don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the unexpected yet intriguing opportunities. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Who knows where you will end up if you aren’t afraid to embrace all of who you are.

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Leaders Share Digital Lessons

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Good leaders inspire us. They motivate us and encourage us to be our best selves. Thanks to the connections we can make today online, at any moment we are close to potential mentors and managers who can help us find the right path, answer our needed questions, and consider something anew.

If you have a few minutes and are in need of some leadership, we suggest these TEDTalks themed around leadership in the digital age for inspiration and motivation.

We hope you’ll check them out or explore the leadership topic on your own!

Efficient leadership in the digital era with Charlene Li

According to Charlene Li, “The biggest barrier to digital transformation is culture—and leadership drives culture.” A social media and innovation thinker who encourages leaders to thrive in an age of digital disruption, Li encourages people to rethink what they know.

In this TEDTalk, Li, questions how today’s culture of rapid decision-making and technology has changed leadership. What does it mean to be an effective leader today? For Li, it’s about empowering employees.

How diversity makes teams more innovative with Rocío Lorenzo

Is it true that diverse companies better at creatively pushing the envelope? Media and telecommunications consultant Rocío Lorenzo and her team surveyed 171 companies to find out.

“My personal experience working with diverse teams had been that while they require a little bit more effort at the beginning, they did bring fresher, more creative ideas,” Lorenzo shares in this TEDTalk. “So I wanted to know: Are diverse organizations really more innovative, and can diversity be more than something to comply with? Can it be a real competitive advantage?”

What I learned from giving up everything I knew as a leader with Jim Whitehurst

Jim Whitehurst, former Chief Operating Officer of Delta, had long looked at leadership one way. “I thought I was the person ultimately responsible for solving the problems facing my organization,” Whitehurst says in this TEDTalk. “I was the one who was supposed to bring order and structure.”

But, when he changed organizations, he got a lesson in leadership. As CEO of Red Hat, an open-source software company, Whitehurst discovered unexpected changes and challenges.

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4 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Habits

Resilience, curiosity, focus and follow through—the skills required to be an entrepreneur are good ones to have no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter whether you own your own business.

Working with an entrepreneurial outlook can be beneficial even if you’ve never considered writing “entrepreneur” as your job description. It means you aren’t afraid to tackle a challenge, won’t easily give up and always ready with an idea.

So, whether you aspire to officially call yourself an entrepreneur or not, there are still a few things to learn from this mindset. Take it from the quotes of the entrepreneurs below and read their stories for inspiration.

What will you be able to do with a little push?

“Being an entrepreneur can be learned, and that is exactly what I have done. You don’t have to be born with it or have had the ‘lemonade stand.’ But, you do need to have the passion, devotion, conviction, and sheer will and drive to make it happen.”

Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, in Entrepreneur

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.”

Naveen Jain, founder of several companies, including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace, in Inc.

“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned how crucial it is to be able to call a spade a spade and avoid falling in love with a particular strategy or product. Instead, you need to let the customer tell you what she needs—and to change her as she changes.”

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, in Fast Company

“Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. You have to see things as opportunities all the time. I like to do interviews. I like to push people on certain topics. I like to dig into the stories where there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.”

Soledad O’Brien, journalist and CEO of Starfish Media Group, in Mediabistro
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3 TEDTalks to Pique Your Social Media Curiosity

As marketers, we love to think about why and how. How can we connect with this group? Why is this connection special? It’s important to stay sharp and remain open so we can absorb all the information and data. At the same time, that overload of content can be a lot to sort through.

When this happens, sometimes it’s important to take a break for yourself. Find an outlet that will excite and motivate you. Checking in with a TEDTalk, especially one that’s only about 10 minutes long, can be a powerful way to recharge without losing focus on your tasks at hand.

The three below caught our attention for the creative ways they delve into social media needs and interests. Sure, you can learn a thing or two while watching, but they’re also simply fun.

What makes something go viral? with Dao Nguyen

From baby goats in the office to exploding watermelons, Buzzfeed publisher Dao Nguyen explores viral videos, which, Nguyen says, is really about understanding what videos do for viewers. Do they want to laugh? Are they looking for affirmation?

“The question I get most frequently is: How do you make something go viral? The question itself is misplaced; it’s not about the something. It’s about what the people doing the something, reading or watching—what are they thinking?” Nguyen shares.

A funny look at the unintended consequences of technology with Chuck Nice

“So are we more connected, or are we just more connected to our devices?” asks comedian Chuck Nice in this TEDTalk. If you’ve ever scratched your head at the thought of designer babies, driverless cars and trolls, Nice has a lighthearted look at how we can navigate the future and remember to laugh at the technology that scares us.

3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand with Tim Leberecht

As more and more companies push to empower their employees through social media and turn their clients and staff into their biggest brand advocates, author and marketer Tim Leberecht’s TEDTalk can only become more applicable.

“I’m a marketer, and as a marketer, I know that I’ve never really been in control,” Leberecht shares. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room, the saying goes. Hyperconnectivity and transparency allow companies to be in that room now, 24/7. They can listen and join the conversation. In fact, they have more control over the loss of control than ever before. They can design for it. But how?”

Surprise campaigns, humble companies and free publicity all come up in this talk.

Remember, TEDTalks are also searchable by topic and length, so you can explore 3,000-plus videos and transcripts for the motivation you need. And, since the talks already happened but remain part of the community online, you can comment and continue the conversation no matter when you watch.

Stay curious, friends!

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