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Katie and I were recently featured on the CEO Spotlight by Jason Brooks on Kiro-FM 97.3.

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Recycling Is A Good Thing, But Not When Paying Full Price For Fall

I’ve held off on my yearly fall wardrobe purchases this year because, frankly, I’m unimpressed. I’ve been holding out, hoping that with the coming of fall, I might see something that catches my eye.

I planned on delivering to you a “fall primer” buying guide for sometime, but I’ve realized that this is not going to happen. In a last-ditch effort to find something that sparks my attention for a new wardrobe season, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s just nothing new. This pains me deeply, as fall is my absolute favorite time to buy clothes.

Digging through all my favorite stores and websites, I clearly see how the fashion industry is trying to survive this recession: they’ve laid-off their designers. There were plenty of interesting pieces I saw coming down the runway earlier this year for fall 2009, but these do not seem to have translated to the fall collections offered up to us in the masses.

What I see are recycled designs from the past few seasons. Sure there maybe a slight color change here or a little ruffle added there, but by far these are the exact same fashions we’ve seen over the last few years. There is nothing original or interesting and certainly nothing you’d want to splurge your hard earned money on.

This year, my advice is this: sit this one out. Don’t pay top price for recycled designs, when they’re probably already in your closet. Stock up on the basic staples that will get you through the next several seasons and use what you’ve already got. Shorten some of those skirts and dresses (above the knee length), add accessories to update with the colors of the season and round it out with some new shoes if they catch your eye.

Shop the outlets and other discount stores, sales and wait it out until next year. It’s not worth depleting your precious account balance for old designs. You’ll find me at the outlets. Let us cross our fingers that we’ll have some better choices next year.

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Death By Acute PowerPoint Poisoning

While working on a new presentation this week, I’m reminded of a comment a former boss of mine made while I was creating PowerPoint slides for her presentation. As we were discussing the project she asked me to help her avoid “death by acute PowerPoint poisoning.” After we both briefly chuckled, she explained to me that there was nothing more embarrassing she’d witnessed  than someone literally drowning in their own slides.

Before I proceed, let me define the symptoms of Acute PowerPoint Poisoning.

  • The text of some laborious Congressional bill pales in comparison to the information contained on your slides (i.e., if you need paragraph delineations on any one slide, you have too much information).
  • If the graphs or charts on your slides cause people to grimace and squint as they’re trying to decipher their meaning.
  • You end up just reading off the slides because you could not possibly provide as much in-depth information verbally.
  • Not one member of your audience is looking at you. They are looking solely at your slides.
  • You cannot possibly finish this presentation in the time alloted.

When my boss expressed her disdain for this type of information overload I understood what she meant, as both Jon and I have always agreed that when dealing with information processing and design, less is more.

There is only so much information our brains can process at any one point. If you overload an audience with vast quantities of information, what you will ultimately find is not that you look smarter or more informed, but that your message has been totally lost.

The Law of Parsimony
What this all boils down to is what I will call the Law of Parsimony. If you want to get a message across visually or verbally, keeping it simple works best. You want people to digest the information you provide and the visual design standing behind it as a whole package.

It you overload any one audience with a library’s worth of information backed by a jam-packed set of design heavy slides, chances are that the message will not be conveyed as you intended.

Keep it simple, keep it clean. Allow the information you use to support the personal appeal of your presentation. Bear in mind the Law of Parsimony and you will never risk an untimely death by acute PowerPoint poisoning.

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Social Media Can Help You Get Hired

Numbers out today show that 45% of employers surveyed use social media sites as a way to screen job candidates. I’m sure this is true for other types of perspective business relationships as well (i.e., business to business).

When survey results like these are released, it is typical to focus on the negative. Yes, we know people are not hired or fired because they post obnoxious and inappropriate photos or comments. We’ve discussed the repercussions of this type of behavior before.

There is, however, a positive side. Namely, that your social media page can help get you hired. It shows your personality and fills in the gaps left by a resume or an interview.

Use of social networking sites can also increase odds of getting hired, with employers citing a good feel for the candidate’s personality, a profile that supports their qualifications and a candidate who showed creativity as reasons for deciding to hire someone based on their online postings.

Keep posting, don’t let these numbers scare you. If you use common sense while being yourself, your Facebook or Twitter pages just might help you take the next step!

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Pushing Through The Pain & Why I Hate July

Everyone has pain. We have situations in our lives that can make it difficult to function. It varies for all of us. For some it maybe a difficult family situation for others a learning disability or a simple but crippling lack of confidence. Whatever your Achilles Heel is I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. One of my “situations” relates to the month of July.

I absolutely hate July. If we could just skip the entire thing I would be very relieved. July is so difficult for me because it was the month a few years ago when a stroke virtually took away my mother. It’s even hard for me to write this now without feeling myself tense up. I was still a very young adult when this happened. Jon and I were newlyweds and I was about to start graduate school. I’ve had to live with the pain everyday since, but July always becomes almost unbearable.

Still, life goes on and I can’t just lock myself away like a hermit for 30+ days. The world keeps on demanding, so I have to keep going. At times, we all have to carry on when our worlds are crumbling or just with something small that doesn’t feel any less surmountable. We all have to work through the pain.

How do I function through this? Honestly, sometimes I have no idea. If only there were some magic pill that could make it all better. What I do know is pain makes us who we are as people. It defines our characters like nothing else. Pain inherently makes us human and it allows people to connect to us in a way that no other emotion can come even close.

Some would advise you here to just bury the pain, pretend like it’s not there – pain is not professional. I say use the pain. Turn it into passion when you pitch. Use the those strong emotions to show how much you care about the people you’re talking to and business for which you’re presenting. Use it to connect on a personal level that’s more than just business.

In the end I think that’s all we can do. Try to use the pain for something positive. In my experience no matter what we do it’s still there. No matter how much we try to deny or bury it, it’s still there. I’d rather have that pain expressed on my terms instead of coming out in some unintended way that can have negative consequences.

I’m very glad it’s now August and quickly moving into September. I feel better than I did a few weeks ago, but I next year awful July will come again. All I can do is deal with it the best I can and try to convert the most horrible emotions I’ve ever experienced into something I hope would make my mother proud.

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