Fortify Your Relationships with Value and Authenticity

Whether you work remotely or in the office, the ability to connect well with others is an essential skill. When done effectively, creating authentic relationships allows business to run smoothly. There are a variety of methods to ensure this process is approached in a beneficial way for both parties.

Before meeting: Approach from a place of generosity. While it’s easy to seek out connections because of what the other person can do for you, it’s crucial to have the opposite mindset when building professional relationships. Find something of value you can bring to the other person. Do your due diligence and find their personal, professional, or philanthropic pursuits. Connect them to a potential client or someone who might help leverage their business. Everyone has special interests and it usually doesn’t require much digging to uncover.

While meeting: Instead of starting a conversation by asking for help, pitch an idea or summarize your work experience and lead by asking open-ended questions. Then, sit back and actively listen. Rather than talking about your own interests and what you want, the goal is to get to know the other person as much as possible. Demonstrate you are listening by contributing input when appropriate, but allow the other person to chat as much as they’d like.

We all have an innate ability to sense when someone is putting on a facade, slathering on compliments, or coming from a place of insecurity. When you are present, encouraging, and poised, the other person will feel comfortable as well. Take note of anything they speak about passionately and follow up with thoughtful questions. The conversation will be invigorating and memorable rather than draining or interminable.

After meeting: Follow up and follow through. Sending a handwritten thank you note is a highly effective way to build rapport. Reference something that stood out to you from the conversation; It’s a compliment to know your words stuck with someone. Remember, coming from a place of authenticity is one of the most important aspects of building relationships.

Become the type of person you’d like to meet. Deliver substance and add value as much as possible. Allow others to feel heard and convey appreciation. Being generous with your time, attention, and listening skills will go a long way in cultivating your relationships.

Ideas:
Acknowledge people’s efforts
Thank people
Forget about title and status
Create a foundation
Leverage your relationships with networking
Collaboration is contagious

Reignite the Passion for Your Job

Throughout your career, there will be times that will be exciting and fulfilling, and other times when you may feel you’ve lost your mojo. When you fall into a rut, it can become increasingly difficult to perform at your best. Here are some ways to shake things up and reignite the passion for your job.

Switching up even one aspect of your typical routine can do the trick. If you work remotely, try bringing your laptop somewhere different. Work outside for an hour, scope out a new cafe or utilize a new environment to spark creativity. If you work at an office, try a new route to work. Challenge yourself to notice three landmarks you’ve never noticed on your usual commute. If you dress to music every morning, get ready in silence or vice versa. There are countless ways to freshen up a stale routine and jump-start your creative thinking process.

Another way to shift your mindset is to improve your current perspective. Gratitude reignites the passion for anything in life. Even if it’s only five minutes, set time aside to focus on what you are most thankful for about your job. Put pen to paper, record a voice note or email yourself the aspects you appreciate most. When you’re feeling uninspired, this exercise can seem difficult but all the more reason to put a list together. Your job likely allows you many luxuries and, even if you aren’t enjoying a current assignment, adaptability will further your career.

We also suggest connecting with others who work in your field. If you’re not feeling inspired, seek inspiring people. From conferences and industry events to Facebook groups and meetups, there are many opportunities to unite with others. Plenty of options exist for creating contacts in person, online, or both. Whether you work in office or remotely, it’s beneficial to have a support system. Speaking to an impassioned associate in your field can be a reminder of why you started working in the first place.

The ten-time NCAA championship coach, John Wooden, used to say “Little things make big things happen.” These tips are simple yet powerful and the positive results will speak for themselves.

Quick Writing Tips to Make It Look Like You Know What You’re Doing

Writing is one of the most widely used methods of communication, yet many still find it to be among the most challenging. We constantly participate in various forms of writing: website copy, creative briefs, sales collateral, or even simple, day-to-day emails. Chances are you don’t have the interest or time to take professional writing courses or read the AP Stylebook, so here are a few tips to hone your writing skills with minimal effort.

State key information first.
See what I did there? Like you, people are busy and don’t usually read the entire piece. You’ll attract more readers if you include the most important information in the first paragraph. It’s a common misconception that background information needs to come first to set the stage and validate what’s coming next. Explain background details after you capture the reader’s attention, and they’ll be more inclined to keep reading.

Keep it short.
Wordiness lacks focus. Readers often lack patience and get lost in the details. Delete words that aren’t absolutely essential and don’t presume more information is better. For example, my journalism teacher taught us to remove all instances of “that” which weren’t critical. Try it. You’ll be shocked at how over-used that word is, and even more shocked by how few sentences actually need it.

Use the active voice.
It’s more clear and concise than the passive voice. Make the subject directly perform the action to get your point across. “Tom mailed the letter” is much more effective and succinct than “The letter was mailed by Tom.”

Know your audience.
This is crucial. You wouldn’t talk to your manager the same way you would to your 10-year-old niece—so don’t make that mistake in your writing. Before you start writing, ask yourself these audience-centric questions:

  1. Who is the primary audience?
  2. Do I have multiple audiences to address?
  3. How knowledgeable is my audience about the subject?
  4. What platform am I writing for?

For example, you don’t want to make your readers feel inept by speaking in jargon if most aren’t familiar with industry terms. But you also don’t want to define every term if your audience already knows them, since your readers will most likely get bored and move on.

Make time to proofread.
Proofreading is an absolute must for even the most experienced writers. You may not need to proofread every email you send, but if your writing has a large audience, will be published, printed, or live online or in various forms of media, you must not skip this step. In fact, not only should you proofread yourself, but you should ideally have at least one other set of eyes on it. Refer to my previous blog entry titled “Tips for Better Proofreading” for ways to improve your editing skills.

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From Playwright to President: A Brief History of CI

I grew up in San Diego and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in English. After college, I moved back to San Diego and started working in Qualcomm’s marketing department. At the time, it was a dynamic start-up company with less than 300 employees. After four years, I decided to pursue some creative writing goals and moved back to Santa Barbara, CA where I wrote and produced a play and had the obligatory day job of waiting tables.

The play was titled “Other People’s Dreams” and was performed at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara. The story was about two struggling playwrights who were so far Off-Broadway they were in Syracuse, NY. After years of not finding success with their artistic theater scripts, one of the writers submitted a very commercially appealing play to a well-known producer who had rejected all of their previous attempts. The producer had artistic aspirations of his own and offered the writers a Faustian bargain to write a new play and tell everyone he wrote it. Everyone got what they deserved in the end.

After the play, I moved back to San Diego where a friend at Qualcomm reasoned that, if I could write a play, I could write a manual. I became a technical writing contractor, which segued into additional copywriting duties. In 1999, we legally incorporated Consistent Image Inc. and also started providing technical writing, graphic design, and project management services for Sprint Wireless. Since then, we have continued to work with Sprint and Qualcomm providing a variety of writing and creative services and have also worked with Sony VAIO, LG, Denso, Swisslog Logistics, Legrand, and other multi-national corporations.

Our current staff includes creative directors, project managers, technical writers, copywriters, and a Ph.D. in biology to work with life science companies. Our future plans include continued, sustainable growth in both the high-tech and life science industries, while retaining our current client roster and building new corporate partnerships.

Tips for Better Proofreading

Remember when you wrote that brilliant – no, life-changing – article you were excited to share with the world, only to discover after it went to press that your argument was undermined by typos? You agonized over your diction, syntax, and tone, while simultaneously composing a natural masterpiece that would cause a flood of single tears to be shed across the nation. Countless hours were spent scrubbing for errors until they were all eradicated…or so you thought.

Continue reading → Tips for Better Proofreading

Morning Jolt: The Pros and Cons of Coffee Addiction

I love coffee. I can’t hide it. My daily obsession started back in college: staying up late, hammering out English papers up against pressing deadlines, trying to keep my eyes open as I studied for exams. For the longest time I hated the smell of it. Growing up I never understood my grandmother’s fondness for Folgers every morning and iced mocha drinks at Starbucks and the Border’s café.

Continue reading → Morning Jolt: The Pros and Cons of Coffee Addiction

The Other Type of Writer’s Block

In general, I tend to think of writer’s block as that time when you’re completely stumped and have no idea how to start writing something. You’re sitting in your comfortable desk chair, your hand-selected tunes queued in a new Spotify playlist, your double latte is hot and fresh in your favorite mug, and then smack! You can’t think of one word to write. If anything, you start a sentence, then erase it. You start another one, then leave it incomplete and start anew. Then you go back and erase that one and so on. To me, this is the standard writer’s block and one that we’ve actually discussed here on our blog several months ago.

Continue reading → The Other Type of Writer’s Block

Spacing Out

When I was younger, I often wrote longhand using pen and paper, and avoided computers for as long as I could. The first computer I ever owned was a hand-me-down Compaq given to me as a birthday gift by my uncle, a tech savant who has a basement that looks like some long forgotten storage bunker in an abandoned Microsoft factory. For some reason he has multiple computer monitors, HP printers, cords, cables, motherboards, diskettes, and more surge guards than the Home Depot.

Continue reading → Spacing Out

Whistle While You Work

One of the most challenging obstacles in the working world is procrastination. Meeting deadlines and assisting co-workers with daily projects can normally help obliterate any spells of lassitude or laziness, but sometimes getting started on a project—or just knowing where to begin in the first place—can be the toughest part (three to five cups of coffee every morning can supply an extra dose of adrenalized motivation, or just an onslaught of heartburn). Establishing everyday routines and communication with colleagues are both useful ways of finding a diligent groove, but in my years of partaking in this great big nine-to-five experiment, I’ve found that the best expediter to those slow-moving, languid mornings is music.

Continue reading → Whistle While You Work

The Curious Case of the Serial Comma

First introduced by the Oxford University Press, the Oxford Comma (better known as the Serial Comma) is used before the word “and” in a list. British English does not use the Oxford comma, though it certainly has a clear purpose in helping to define the separate items mentioned in a list while eliminating confusion. My belief is that the serial comma should be used consistently, even if it doesn’t seem required by the sentence or list. Also known better to Patriots fans and New Englanders as the Harvard Comma, a majority of popular U.S. style guides advise to always use the comma, chiefly for the sake of clarity. Continue reading → The Curious Case of the Serial Comma