My Three Rules to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

In an age where we are readily able to access our work 24/7 many people are putting in extra hours, and using their smartphones to continue to be “on-call” outside of traditional work hours. I’m guilty as charged and often reach for my phone and answer work emails early in the morning and late at night before getting out of bed. I’ve found a few ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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Here are three ways which have helped me find a little more daily balance within my routine:

Rule 1: Learn to Unplug

Because we are so plugged in and connected it can be a challenge to step away and leave work behind. When I take my vacation days I now unplug and turn off my alerts completely. I leave my team my personal email and cell phone, and they’ll find me if it’s urgent, but by unplugging and not reading emails & listening to voicemails has helped me to enjoy my paid time off.

As long as your clients and vendors are informed of your plans in advance (i.e. through previous correspondence, voicemail or out-of-office messaging) they typically respect your privacy and need to disconnect.
Rule 2: Use Your Vacation Time

While we are on the topic of taking time off and unplugging, it’s important to schedule vacations and personal days to step away from work and relax. Vacations allow us to re-energize and return to our job well rested, and too often we don’t use our time off!

Americans throw away $52.4 billion every year because we won’t take time off from work. (Source: Oxford Economics) Click to Tweet.

Overall, Americans are taking less vacation than they did a decade ago. In 2013, the average worker took 16 vacation days, down from 20.9 in 2000, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, an initiative to encourage more workplace vacation.

It’s important to schedule time off, and use your vacation time.  I’ll admit sometimes I take a “mental health” day and do nothing but lay in bed and relax, and for me, it makes such a difference. However you use your time off is your decision, a lot of people prefer “staycations” but whatever you do, use your time off, don’t throw away hard earned time off, use it and enjoy!

Rule 3: Communicate with Family, Friends, and Coworkers

Having an open line of communication with family, friends, and coworkers can help play a part with your overall happiness and balance. I always let my husband know key events and projects i’m working on so he understands when I’m going to be busy at my office. We’ve synched up our google calendars, and anything important and dates I need to be in early or stay late goes into the calendar. Since we’ve had the baby our time management skills have become thoroughly more efficient as we’ve had to make our days more productive to get home and pick our son up at daycare. We both typically bring home work, but after a certain time try to cut it off and be together as a family and enjoy dinner and a little downtime.

When we have big events at work I try to communicate to my co-workers to ensure all hands are on deck to help ease the workload and understand when longer hours are going to be expected. Ive found that many times issues arise in my work-life balance when I’m not properly communicating. Finding the methods and communication tactics that work best for you will help increase your productivity and overall well-being.

I hope these three tips have helped, what rules do you use to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @MarissaPick.

The Eight Traits Successful People Have In Common

Lecturer Richard St. John met a young girl on a plane on his way to speak at a TED conference in California who asked him a simple question, are you successful? This sparked him to travel the world for years where he conducted face-to-face interviews with a wide array of people to find the common factors with success.  He met people in all fields including comedians, parents, surgeons, nobel prize winners, celebrities such as Bill Gates, Russell Crowe, Peter Max, Seth Godin, and MORE!

He analyzed his 500+ interviews and sorted them line by line mapping out and reviewing over 300+ success factors. After analyzing everything he’d learned, he came up with these eight traits:

  1. Passion: Love what you do.
  2. Work: Really hard.
  3. Focus: On one thing, not everything.
  4. Push: And keep on pushing yourself.
  5. Ideas: Come up with some good ones.
  6. Improve: Keep improving yourself and what you do.
  7. Serve: Serve others something of value.
  8. Persist: Because there is no overnight success.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and Richard St. John found that these eight traits are at the heart of success and within the foundation across any career & field.  You can add in people skills, computer skills, and a wide array of other skills to help you succeed with your specific area of interest, but regardless of what you do, the eight traits above will always be within the heart and key to success.

Social Media is About Reach and Engagement, see past the Dollar-Value Returns — Here’s What Marketers Should Measure Instead

A fantastic article published by John Heggestuen in Business Insider reinforces the idea that Social Media Marketing isn’t always about the dollar value returns, but should be focused toward new metrics that evaluate social media strategies in terms of audience-building, brand awareness, and customer relations. It’s important to have clearly defined business objectives and realistic expectations before launching a social media strategy, and the points below really emphasize the larger picture of what marketers should be measuring.

The recent Business Insider report, In-Depth Research On What Matters In Digital reviews how social media strategies are involving:

  • The decline of ROI metrics: Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media dropped from 17% to 9%, according to the February 2013 CMO survey. The percentage tracking conversion rates also dropped, from 25% to 21%.
  • Even as the vogue for ROI indicators fades, social media budgets are ballooning. On average, top marketers expect to devote 9% of their budgets to social media spend in 2014, and 16% by 2018, according to the same survey.
  • Exceptions: Of course there are exceptions to the move away from ROI. Some social commerce applications and direct response campaigns will achieve measurable results on Facebook, or other social networks. And the end of the ROI-fever definitely doesn’t mean that all metrics can be thrown out the window.
  • The metrics to watch are audience reach, engagement, and sentiment. On Facebook, it’s always important to remember that due to algorithmic filtering, brand or business posts will only be seen by an average 16% of their fans.
  • Facebook shares are particularly valuable, because normal users’ posts are seen in a relatively high percentage of friends’ news feeds (compared to posts by brand pages); between 29 and 35% according to one study.
  • Improving the most common metrics: Insights, Facebook’s built-in analytics tool, offers great basic data for measuring reach and engagement. We show you how to transform those numbers into richer and more valuable metrics.
  • Post reach is the most fundamental indicator of reach on Facebook, but it’s important to track it relative to number of page fans and enrich it with complementary indicators. We show you how, and include screenshots.

The report also emphasizes the importance of reach and engagement as well as other benefits of social media below.  It’s a great report to reinforce that in order to embrace social media you must see past the immediate revenue and dollar value returns, and see the larger picture!

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Please leave a comment below, or tweet me @Marissapick with feedback, enjoy!

Do You Have a Strategy for Responding to Negative Social Media Posts?

Earlier this month eMarketer posted a great article, Are You Still Missing a Strategy for Negative Social Posts? where they shared that most marketers respond within a day to negative posts.  A staggering 88% of employees will use social media for marketing in 2014 however many still have trouble identifying ROI, but also responding to the negative buzz from the posts. At my current company we’ve had several instances where negative buzz has surfaced online, and we’ve had to quickly escalate to the proper internal resources to mitigate the situation.  In responding quickly, we’ve turned online “ranters” to evangelists within a matter of days by promptly and effectively listening and responding to the issue at hand.

So what about the rest of you, are you responding online to negative posts? the Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) found that fewer than half of US marketing professionals had an effective plan for dealing with negative posts.  The slide below shows the breakdown of where the marketing professionals align when asked in February 2014.

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On top of having a strategy it’s impressive that 52% of marketers respond to a customer complaint on social media within 24 hours, and 18% respond within 1 hour. Click to Tweet this stat. A staggering 1 in 5 respondents said they rarely or never respond to negative social buzz altogether.

Do you have a strategy for responding to negative social media promotions online? If you don’t have a plan in place, I suggest you brainstorm and discuss one immediately.  Connecting and engaging with clients and fans is a great way to deepen trust and loyalty while showing the human side of your brand. No one’s perfect, and mistakes happen and often customers can get upset and complain.  With the growth and ease of social media networks customers now expect to log, share, and get resolutions through social media.

I’m curious to know how your brand deals with negative comments, and if you’ve got a strategy in place.  Please comment below, log your vote in the poll,  or tweet me @MarissaPick.

Ten Tips for Using Social Media to Further Your Career

Ten Tips for Using Social Media to Further Your Career

It’s no surprise that as we enter into 2014 we’ve seen a social media explosion.  Now there’s over 800 million people connecting with each other on social media networks including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and many more. I had the privilege of joining Sarah Lawrence, senior associate, DLA Piper; Lucy McNulty, managing editor, IFLR; and Callum Sinclair, partner, DLA Piper on a webcast run by International Financial Law Review (IFLR) and sponsored by DLA Piper on using social media to further your career. This webcast was the first in IFLR’s Women in Business Law Group’s webinar series.  We each explained our experience and insights into how the rise of social media has fundamentally changed, and how we each communicate within our professional worlds.   At the bottom of this post is the slide share of the powerpoint deck we used during our presentation, and if you would like to access and listen to the webinar broadcast please visit this link.

During the Q&A portion of the webcast, one of the questions directed to me focused on best practice for the use of social media platforms. Below are my top ten tips for utilizing social media to advance your reputation and further your career.. 

  1. Stand out within your social media profiles. On twitter you have only 140 characters to tell the world who you are, so make your profile catchy and interesting.  Although this seems basic, many profiles across social media are missing photos, contact information, and other crucial data.  Highlighting your interest, job duties, location and other keywords helps people find out more about you.  In addition, consider cross promoting your other social media platforms as well to boost your digital footprint.  If you want to be taken seriously online, including a link within your profile is encouraged; for example feature your LinkedIn profile within your twitter bio to make easy for people to connect with you. 
  2. Lock It Down. What happens online doesn’t stay online.  We live in a world within limited privacy, so as your setting up your social media profiles make sure to check your privacy settings and ensure they’re set properly. As employees we are a representation of the company which employs us, so remember to think before you post, or you can be held liable.
  3. Transparency is key in building and maintaining a strong reputation.  Be honest, respectful, and mindful across all social media platforms.  It’s important to be open and transparent, this makes people relate to you.  It’s important to align your online persona with your offline personalty to avoid trouble. 
  4. Content is King. The key to any social media strategy whether you’re trying to advance your career or increase your businesses visibility should focus around a solid content marketing plan.  What you share across social media platforms should be interesting and engaging for others to enjoy, read, and share.  All social media platforms are not a one size fits all model, it’s important to craft posts for each social networks to maximize and leverage content.   As a reminder content doesn’t always have to be original.  Test quotes, statistics, and visual content and images across social media and see what works best.
  5. Incorporate Images.  Visual social marketing is the next generation of social media.  90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visually based, and the human brains processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Utilize social media tools Instagram & Vine which let you embed posts and videos easily, and use free apps like Quoter which provide ready to go quotes, or let quickly create a visual image.  Mix it up and create content that is visually pleasing and easily shareable. 
  6. Become an authority and add value. Choose a focus, and share information relevant to your niche career area. Join LinkedIn groups, start discussions and comment on existing discussions, find and engage within Twitter chats, and most importantly always add value.  As you engage more within social media you will gain the trust of others who will follow you to find information.  As you focus and carve our a niche area, you will build trust, and people will begin to share your content and come to you for advice.
  7. Establish Yourself Offline. Establishing yourself as a brand both online and offline allows people to put a face to your name.  Nothing takes the place of face to face interaction, so ideally building a strong online presence can translate to building a stronger and larger network of offline connections.
  8. Stay up on Digital Trends: Demonstrating your proficiency with all things digital shows you’re up on digital trends, which are currently affecting every company.  Employers are increasingly looking for social media and digital proficiency in potential employees.
  9. Make time.  Social Media is easy, but it does take time, carve out an hour a week at a minimum to go in spend within social media platforms.  Setting up a social media profile is a great first step, but as with anything else it takes time and a comfort level to become successful. If you’re going to let your platforms sit and never update them, why bother even setting up a profile?
  10. Have Fun.  Social Media is a great place to have fun and let your corporate hair down.  Whether your using social media to advance your career, or build your business remember to utilize your profiles as an avenue to have fun!

Please share your feedback below in the comments section, or tweet me @MarissaPick.

2014 New Year’s Resolutions, Reflections, and Objectives.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert wrote a great post for the Washington Post titled,Read this if you want to be happy in 2014.” Within the article he outlined a very basic principle, Happiness = Health + Freedom. Scott reminds us that there’s’es a right time and a wrong time for almost every activity from sleep, paying bills, and more.  It’s crucial to match your mood to your activity as a basic requirement to happiness, and equally important to remember that timing is controllable, especially in the long run. The article goes on to outline some of his goals and obstacles, and gives important insight into the power of your mind in making things happen.

Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner wrote a fantastic post titled, “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid.” She included a list compiled by Amy Morin which was shared in LifeHack and reflected on her list including her thoughts on how the items were applicable to entrepreneurs. The 13 reflections touch power, change, success, and so much more with fantastic insights from Cheryl and Amy.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and reflecting upon my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions. The two fantastic articles above from the Washington Post and Forbes helped me craft my below post and insight,  I hope you enjoy!

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1) Expand upon Scott’s reflections and work on finding a better life & work balance to focus & attain the formula: Happiness =Health + Freedom.  We all struggle with finding a balance for everyday life, and we have to really prioritize and focus on what’s important, for me I know where I need to focus, and sometime unplug, so i will work to create more a life balance into 2014.

2) Become more adaptable to change: Cheryl nailed it within the Forbes article saying that mentally strong people embrace change and welcome the challenge.  The biggest “fear” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant.  I need to become more adaptable and take more chances and accept change to further succeed within my work and personal life.

3) Make mistakes & learn: In December, my company held a offsite meeting in London to cover 2013 reflections to help plan for 2014. One of my colleagues brought up an important point, in order to learn we need to make mistakes and reflect and learn from them.  We can’t measure our successes without assessing our failures as well.

4) Dwell on the Past: We all know the saying forgive and forget, well easier said then done.  There is a positive when acknowledging the past and learning from experiences, but we must focus on living in the moment and creating the present and future.

5) Embrace alone time: I’ve really cherished the day’s in 2013 I was able to work from home and enjoy the quiet, meeting-free days.  I’ve learned to embrace the time I spend alone both within work and personal life.  I’ve been able to reflect, plan, and be productive and I find my alone time to spark some of my most creative ideas.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” —Brad Paisley

What are your 2014 resolutions? Please comment below or tweet me @MarissaPick