I am a freelance editor and literary consultant with a background as a book author and scholar of history and publishing studies. Through my business, HelpingYouGetPublished.com, I assist emerging and mid-career authors with the development and publication of their books. My work for clients includes manuscript evaluation, editing, proofreading, book market research, proposal and query preparation, book trailer production, writing press releases, and creating other material for author media kits and websites. I am also writing a book that I believe will be a definitive guide to getting published and distinguish itself from the competition in this genre.
How did you get there?
I have long believed that even when you feel that you are on the wrong career path, the best strategy is to keep moving forward, because one thing leads to another in unpredictable and productive ways. My own career is an example.
I knew that I wanted to go to university and did indeed enrol immediately following high school. But I was about halfway through a degree in education, when I realized that this was not the best career direction for me. The problem was that I did not know what else to do and, in the end, decided that the wrong degree was better than no degree. A brief stint as a high school teacher later confirmed my belief that teaching English was not the right career for me.
In fact, I had always harboured secret ambitions to have a literary or academic career and now, because I had earned one degree, the opportunity was there. I returned to university and, after a few years, earned an MA and PhD. My time in graduate school pointed me in new directions and, while I studied, I found opportunities to write and publish articles and book reviews, and to gain experience editing both books and scholarly articles. Though I occasionally taught writing and publishing in university and adult education programs, I now set my sights mainly on a literary career. I researched the book market carefully, learned how to prepare and submit a manuscript in a professional way, managed to interest a New York agent, and got three books published by major houses in England, the US, and Canada. Through it all, I also did occasional contract book editing.
Meanwhile, the book trade was undergoing major changes, brought on in part by competition from other media, the popularization of the Internet, and the advent of print-on-demand book publishing. I decided that there was a niche for me and that I could help authors understand the business and marketing side, as well as the creative and stylistic aspects, of book writing. I went online with HelpingYouGetPublished.com in 1999 and never looked back. A lot has changed since then, and there are constant challenges in sustaining an online freelance career. I keep moving forward, however, and continue to see the Internet as an open frontier for pursuing innovative business and literary directions. One thing leads to another …
Why do you like it?
I enjoy freelance editing and consulting because of the variety of projects I can undertake, the range of interesting clients that I meet, the freedom to work on my own schedule, and the luxury of working at home instead of wasting time and energy commuting. Above all, I like editorial freelancing because it allows me to help get far more stories, ideas, and information out into the world than I could ever do on my own. As one who is an author and scholar, as well as an editor, I find this to be most gratifying.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was always a bookworm and, at about the age of nine, figured that I should be a novelist. I wrote a couple of chapters of a bad mystery novel, which I illustrated using pencil crayons and water colour paints. The characters had such improbable names as Algernon and Leticia, and luckily for both me and the profession of fiction writing, I soon abandoned both them and the novel. A couple of years later, for reasons that I cannot recall, I decided that it would be a good idea to get a PhD, even though I was vague about what this was and how to acquire it. Sometime in my teen years, I thought of becoming a book editor, because I had the notion that this would get me invited to some glamorous cocktail parties attended by handsome and wealthy men, possibly with names like Algernon.
Not surprisingly, my real career did not exactly follow the course I had mapped out in my childhood and adolescent fantasies. On the other hand, one thing did lead to another.
Everywhere people are grunting and hacking; gripping their chests and throats, glassey-eyed, slothing around town. And everyone else is trying to stay away. Is this the zombie apocalypse?
No, it’s flu season.
So far the sickness has taken down half of the team at Sokanu, including myself. Slowly, we are all recovering. And while there always seems to be an endless amount of emails, meetings, and work, when you are sick, there is only one thing on your list: go home.
1. Nobody Wants What You’ve Got
Let’s face it. You sound terrible. You look awful, and everyone can see it. You’re touching everything and germing up the place. It won’t do anyone any good to get sick from you. I’m sure you are awesome when you’re healthy. So head home, and go get awesome.
2. You’re Brain Wants a Break
Your body is shutting down and your brain is going down with it. When you feel sick, there are constant interruptions in your mind.
"My throat feels awful"….cough….sneeze…..cough….."have to blow my nose"…this hurts…."ok, focus"…COUGH. Your body needs time to heal, and with that, comes the third reason you need to go home:
3. You Know You Want That Nap
It just feels so good. If only for the sweet relief of your magma-burned throat and leaky nose, a nap is a quiet escape from the pain of your sickness. It gives your body the time it needs to fight the raging war in your body. And really, don’t we all really love sneaking in a nap during the day?
4. Your Job Wants You To
Pushing yourself to suffer through your sickness while working will only cause a kind of resentment that you don’t want associated with your job. A friend of mine told me, “Don’t be a hero. When you are sick, go home. That’s the best thing you can do for your job.” Come back when you are feeling alive again and do your work with energy and passion.
The great thing about a career in librarianship is the range of options for specialization. The major spheres of practice are public, special (corporate, law, medicine), school (K-12) and academic (post-secondary). For the bulk of my career I’ve worked in academic libraries. Within a college or university setting you can further specialize by function and discipline. Some academic librarians work at an information desk or do instruction, support the computer system, and others are involved with content management and yet others focus on rare books or archives. Many have subject expertise.
I’ve worked in many different academic library positions including reference librarian, instruction specialist and library director. My specialty was business research, and I worked at the University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School Library. I’m currently the Associate University Librarian for Research and Instruction at Temple University. As an academic administrator my work involves planning, policy making, developing new services, collaborating with other groups, and providing leadership for our public service operations. I still work a shift at the reference desk and do some instruction; those are skills I like to maintain and it brings me into contact with our students and faculty.
One of the great things about librarianship is that it’s being part of a professional community. There are many professional development opportunities. I’m active in the Association for College & Research Libraries; I currently serve as our president. Like many other academic librarians I’ve published in scholarly and trade journals. I’ve blogged for many years, and I write regular columns for one of our professional publications. You can get deeply involved in your work or you can keep it nine-to-five if that’s your preference.
Librarianship is a helping profession and it’s all about doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s giving them research guidance, helping them become literate, giving them access to the Internet and information, exposing them to great literature or their first storybook, enabling them to explore the past or discover the future. That’s what gives satisfaction to the people who enter this profession.
How did you get here?
Many librarians share a similar theme or story when it comes to answering this question. I’d categorize them as follows:
Love to read/Love books
Love being in libraries
Had relative who was a librarian
Loved my school/public librarian
Didn’t know what else to do with my [advanced] degree
Many librarians enter the profession as a second-career, often coming from fields such as K-12 education, nursing and book store sales. There is clearly something desirable about being around books, reading, serving people or the library environment that is attractive. None of these quite describes how I got here, which I did quite early – right out of undergraduate studies. Many librarians start after having pursued additional degrees or working other jobs. I did not grow up wanting to be a librarian. I knew I didn’t want to do what my father did (auto mechanic). Like many of my peers in the seventies I went to college with no specific plans. I drifted. In my junior year I chose a major that fit my talents – researching and writing and I thrived. When it came time to decide what to do after college, I focused on a graduate program that would prepare me for work in a museum or archive. Then I found out about the Drexel University library program in my own city. Once I looked in to the program, it was a revelation of sorts. You mean I could get paid to do research or help others with their research? I was sold. It was a great time to enter the profession, it being the dawn of electronic research. I’ve seen enormous change in my 35 years in the profession. Librarianship is not a career for those who fear or resist change. It’s the change, the new technologies, the need to adapt to new user expectations that creates the exciting challenges of our work. Librarianship is plagued by career stereotypes: all we do is read books all day – or put them back on shelves; we stamp cards with due dates; we answer simple questions such as “where are the books on psychology”; spinsters with their hair in a bun with a pencil through it, shushing people all day. You see these stereotypes played out in the media all the time. The truth is most laypeople have no idea about the complexity of our work – until they need help with a difficult research question or navigating the world of junk food information in seek of something they value.
Now I see a new generation of young people being attracted to the challenges of librarianship, and their desire to help people and make a difference for them. They like working with technology, and using it to create solutions to information problems. Most of all they are intellectually curious, and they want to keep this profession relevant, timely and useful to their community members. That’s why I’m here – and here to stay. Getting that first professional position can be a challenge though. It takes effort, but that’s true in many professions. I’m constantly amazed that I’ve been able to sustain a career, never being without a job in thirty-five years, being able to achieve vertical mobility by working in a variety of interesting settings and never having to leave a city I enjoy. Librarianship is the kind of profession where that can happen.
Why do you like it?
I’ve thought about that in the past, and I even wrote an article several years ago in which I tried lay out the primary reasons for my passion for academic librarianship. For me it is a combination of doing the type of work I really enjoy and find challenging, and being able to apply my skills to helping other people through education or direct application of my skill set. I really like the juxtaposition of working with cutting edge technologies and exploring bookshelves for new discoveries. I really like applying the latest learning technologies to educating students to be wise consumers of information. I really like knowing that what I do, the library systems I help build and sustain, help people achieve success. I can imagine that many non-librarians must think our jobs are really boring – what with all that sitting around reading books all day – but I can honestly say I go to work every day looking forward to it, and rarely ever find myself being bored just staring at the clock waiting for the day to end. I just can’t even imagine being in that situation.
It helps that I also enjoy working in the college and university environment. I refer to myself as being a student of higher education, and I earned my doctorate in higher education several years ago because of my passion for being around students and faculty. Thanks to my career in higher education, I’ve been able to take many courses, earn my doctorate (thanks to tuition remission), send my two children to college (thanks to tuition assistance), and been motivated by being around many interesting people and all the social, cultural and intellectual stimulation that accompanies being on a college campus. It also provides other benefits, such as access to a great workout facility and fitness classes.
I also enjoy having the opportunity to be professionally active. As I grew in my career I became less satisfied with the standard nine-to-five existence, and I committed to getting engaged in my profession by being active in associations, writing for publication and challenging myself to become a good presenter (I’ve now delivered over twenty keynote speeches for a variety of library organizations). These are the kinds of opportunities that librarianship offers, and you just need to be willing to take advantage of them – and take some risks in sharing your voice. It’s not a requirement for most librarians, perhaps excepting those who will find themselves on the tenure track at certain academic institutions. But for me it has always generated much greater enthusiasm for my work and for engaging with my colleagues. Librarianship is not for everyone, but it’s been a great career for me. I always encourage students who demonstrate a passion for research to look into the possibilities that it could be a great career for them as well.
Steven Bell is the Associate University Librarian at Temple University. You can find more information about him or his projects at http://stevenbell.info Growing up he really didn’t know what he wanted to be. But it turned out alright anyway.
After graduating from University, I moved back in with my parents, while looking for a full-time job in marketing and advertising, and teaching Pilates on the side. I had always excelled in school and whatever I chose to do, but the move from student to career person was a tough and challenging transition that left me depressed, confused, and lost. During this time, I ended up having an opportunity to travel to Egypt with a friend that worked in the Airline industry. On this trip, he advised me to apply for a job as a flight attendant. Even though I had grown up in a family with an aviation background; dad’s a corporate pilot, brother flies for a cargo company, and I had soloed a private plane when I was 16, I had always thought that I would HATE being a flight attendant. I wanted to do something different, make my own way.
Well, I took my friend’s advice, and applied to all of the airlines that I found to be hiring at the time. I really had no idea what I was getting into, and although I was nervous for my interview, I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I displayed the bubble and outgoingness that is a signature of my personality. And I got the job! I was lucky enough to be based in Southern California, close enough to family, but far enough to be independent. I’ve had the privilege of developing deep friendships with my colleagues, have a schedule that allows me to see many new places and meet incredible people all over the world, and been able to share that through a website that I started, chronicling the tales of a life as a flight attendant.
Why do you like it?
There are so many reasons that I love my job. I love working as a flight attendant because the schedule is always different. I have time to pursue interests outside of work, one being that I am IN LOVE with travel. I like that I am not at a desk, and that I get to meet new people every day. I even like the customer service part of flying, and the job has developed more patience, assertiveness, and communication skills within myself. I have matured as a person, and although I feel that working as a flight attendant is not my life long dream career, as I hope to pursue more in the area of volunteer work writing, and learning languages, I believe that somehow, the universe landed me right where I needed to be, now, and that’s when I didn’t even know that I would like to fly! Because, becoming a flight attendant has been the answer to my lostness, sometimes I promote it as the answer to everyone’s life direction solution, but it’s not for all. It was, and is, my answer to opening a life that is better than I once ever dreamed, and if anyone asks me, I still bubble in delight that I love my job and gush that “I just spent twenty days in Vietnam and Thailand.”
This job has made me dream on an entirely different scope, and I’ve been forever changed. Traveling to Haiti, Costa Rica, Istanbul, Slovenia, Portugal, Guatemala, Czech Republic, and the list could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, in the time span of less than four years, will do that to you.
I have never been big on New Year’s Resolutions. As Renee mentioned in her recent post, resolutions are monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrences – I make them when I feel that I need to.
For the last five years, I have been a student, so twice a year I would find myself making a truckload of resolutions: January and September. My first year of university was a shock for me. I was still applying the work ethic I had in high school – that is, pretty much no work ethic at all – and when grades from my first semester rolled in, they were not up to my standards. I quickly set resolutions for the following semester. I would go to every 8AM class! I would do all of my readings before discussion! I would meet with my professors in office hours! Similar to many New Years Resolutions, my behaviour changed for a week before I went back to my old habits. Another set of grades came in April, and again I was unhappy.
I repeated this pattern for two years before deciding to take a year off to figure some things out. Looking back on it, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. I knew something wasn’t working, I knew I was unhappy, but still I found myself unable to make the necessary changes to fix it. I took my time off to ask myself a lot of questions. Was university the right choice for me?
Three months into my gap year, I had the answer: yes, it was, and I had been taking it for granted for two years. I found myself missing school constantly. I missed learning. I missed surrounding myself with smart people who disagreed with me. And instead of setting relatively superficial goals about my behaviour, I tried to get to the root of my problem and change my perspective. Why was I in school? What did I want to get from the experience?
When I went back to school after my year off, I began to approach my classes from a truly groundbreaking perspective: I was in school to learn! For two years, I had perceived school as the means to an end: a degree. Suddenly, school became the end in itself. I started seeing my readings as learning opportunities, instead of words to study and memorize. As soon as I started caring about the material, I started actually learning the material. I thought about it outside of class, I talked about it with my friends, I started connecting it with all of my other subjects. I didn’t need to set an arbitrary goal of speaking to my professors during office hours; I was so engaged with the material that it became a natural thing to do.
This ties in with the Triad of Change: that to fix a problem in your life, you need to make a change to your behavior, your perspective, or your structure. In changing one, the others should more easily follow. Semester after semester, I found myself unable to change my behavior. When I reflected on this, I realized this applied to almost every area of my life: my health, my relationships, my education. The only thing that has worked for me is to change my perspective on each of these areas, and my behavior and life structure followed quickly. I have friends who can snap their fingers and change their behavior: for them, it may be better for them to start by setting behavioral goals, such as creating a study schedule or meeting regularly with professors. Structural changes may include changing your school schedule entirely: taking fewer classes, or starting class later in the day. A lot of change comes from trial and error: but goals are meaningless if you abandon them, so start by making the changes you know are within your capacity.
These are the two attitudes that come up like clockwork every time a new year is celebrated. To me, there seems to be two camps of people that verbalize how they feel about the annual word “resolution.” Those who feel that the time has come back around when we can reflect on choices we’ve made and decide upon a new goal to reach, and those that feel that first of January is as significant a day to make a goal as April 13th, November 25th, or any pick of the 365 days we get in a year.
I recently read an article from zenhabits called "The New Rules of Fitness for 2013." We live most of our lives online; which means that much of the day is spent moving from app, to website, to text, to email. It’s fast, it’s now, and rarely a lengthy process.
Personally, I know that gearing up for a jog is not a habit that will stick with me in the long run (pun delightfully unintended). If you can exercise in a way that works in bursts, just like the way your day moves, that’s a more sustainable way to fit exercise into your life.
Let’s apply this way of goal setting to the everyday. It’s usually expected that New Years resolutions will be dropped.
Not surprisingly, the spikes in the google trends for “resolution” always peak in January.
For some people, it may be a habit to create a beautifully optimistic goal in the New Year only to be dropped by the time Valentine’s chocolates hit the shelves.
Make a goal right now. Just for the day. Hell, maybe even for the next minute. If you create a day full of goal-making, your habits will eventually begin to take over and you won’t know how to stop making goals.
Here are some ideas:
Strike up a conversation with a stranger Organize that junk drawer Floss Call that friend Make a To-Do List
Drink 2 glasses of water Make someone laugh Walk around somewhere new Complete this blog post you’ve started
Sprint to the bus/car Take the stairs over the elevator Help that person with all the bags Jump as high as you can to reach that thing hanging just out of your reach
(As you can see these are all spur-of-the-moment and completely situational)
Make you own lists. Surround your life in post-its (I love ‘em) and make every day the first day of your New Year.
Passion Profile: Holistic Health Practitioner & Aesthetician
What do you do?
I am am award-winning board certified holistic health practitioner and wellness educator. I work with clients individually and in groups in the Philadelphia area, and nationwide via telephone or video conferencing. I am also a holistic aesthetician and I make all-natural skincare products. I teach natural skin care classes in the Philadelphia area, hold free monthly webinars on various health and wellness topics, and write the popular blog www.holisticallyhaute.com. I also write for a well respected aesthetics trade journal, as well as other online publications, and speak at national aesthetics and health-related conferences.
How did you get there?
It’s been a long and winding road—I began my college education as a design major and ultimately graduated from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies with a minor in Humanities. I liked architecture, but I realized that my interest was more in the history and theory behind it rather than the actual design work. I had a sales background from working years of retail jobs through high school and college which helped me land my first job after graduation as an advertising sales rep for a healthcare publishing company.
I moved from sales into marketing and copywriting, and from then I moved more into editorial writing and editing. I continued my writing and editing work on a freelance basis for several years (and still continue) for one of the best known medical publishers in the world. I became a mom in 2004 and again in 2007 and continued to freelance while staying home with my kids. Skincare and makeup were always strong interests of mine (much of the retail sales I did was in the beauty industry), so I decided to go back to school for aesthetics. I realized I needed to set myself apart in the job market to try to find the perfect part-time job, so I used my writing and editorial skills and began writing www.holisticallyhaute.com. My focus within the realm of aesthetics leaned more towards the holistic and more natural approach.
Personally and professionally, I began to see the connection between a healthy diet and having great skin. I decided to go back to school again for nutrition, to enhance my education in this area and open more doors for my career. I started taking health coaching clients and quickly realized that the importance really lies more with overall health and wellness rather than just having healthy skin—but great skin is a bonus you get from taking care of yourself on the inside. I had no idea I’d be doing the work I do now because of it.
Why do you like it?
I love my work for SO many reasons. I help people improve their overall level of health which greatly improves their overall happiness and quality of life. I help people feel great about themselves. I empower people to take control of their own health and their own lives and become educated consumers. I spread the message about the importance of making healthier diet and lifestyle choices as well as choosing skincare products with safe ingredients. My work is incredibly rewarding and I feel that I make a difference in the lives of individual people, and help to broaden the minds of larger audiences with my writing and public speaking.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A model or a performing artist on a Broadway stage…maybe in my next life :)
Going into the new year, it might seem appropriate to talk about the old clichés—your resolutions, new fitness plans, giving up smoking or some similarly bad habit—but that seemed a little, well, cliché. Resolutions can be all well and good, if you go about them realistically, but in all likelihood you’ve probably already been resolutioned close to death by this point. Instead, I thought I’d do some pondering on life transitions, and how to make changes in your life successfully (which is a similar train of thought, but different).
Now, just because a brand new year is just around the corner does not mean your life has to go through some great upheaval. That’s one of the classic pitfalls of resolutions, after all; starting a new calendar page doesn’t necessarily indicate that anything will be any different. That being said, many of us want things to be different, and we often use the New Year as a launching point for our planned life alterations. Maybe you’d like to make changes in your lifestyle, work on some problems you’ve been having, change your outlook on life, or maybe find your dream job (that is why you’re here after all, isn’t it?). Of course, I would encourage you to pursue these things year-round and not just in January, but if you are planning on making some modifications to your life, here are a few useful things I’ve learned about lifestyle transitions.
How to Transition
William Bridges is a transitional guru. Google him, you’ll see. One of the most important things I picked up from his writing was the difference between (how he defines) change and transition. Now, I’m not stuck on semantics, but as he puts it, change is fast and transition is slow. Change is situational, whereas transition is something that runs much deeper. Again, sticking with his definition, I’d feel that most of us would be looking to make meaningful transitions rather than quick-fix changes. I could promise myself to spend 30 minutes a day on a treadmill and change my lifestyle starting tomorrow, but to actually transition into a healthy lifestyle (which would be my ultimate goal) I’d have to see that change take effect over a long period of time and implement other changes in my life to complement it. Slowly, my body would adapt. Eventually I’d stop craving sugar as much I do, start stocking my fridge with healthier options, have more energy (which would make running on the treadmill easier), and generally live better. Of course that makes it sound easy. Anyone who’s tried to transition into a healthy lifestyle knows it isn’t.
Bridges describes first of the three stages of transition as “Ending” (loosing, letting go), wherein, as you’d imagine, you have to let go of what you’ve been hanging on to. This is difficult, unpleasant, and often painful. You then enter the “Neutral Zone,” which he describes as a period of confusion and distress (which, going back to my analogy, is exactly how I feel whenever I do physical exercise). The advice that follows during this period is to paradoxically go against your natural instincts. He says to go with the flow and stop fighting the change. Let it come to fruition. Ride out the discomfort. The rewards are sure to follow. That doesn’t mean to stop caring about what’s going on, but rather that at times we can be our own worst enemies, fighting against progress.
I think this is pertinent advice to anyone undergoing transition in their own life, be it now or any time of year. Relax. Embrace the transitions you want to happen. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. Don’t just look for quick changes either, but allow things to happen slowly. Be patient with yourself.
Whatever you find yourself doing in the days and months to come, I wish you the best of luck and a very happy new year.
Anyone who has met me for five minutes, regardless of the season, will learn quickly that Christmas is my favourite time of year. I buy in to every aspect of it. I am an advertising executive’s dream. I’m obsessed with the music, the food, the traditions, the shopping, and of course, spending time with the family. Naturally I’d like to share the holiday joy, so here’s a collection of some of my favourite things.
Anyone who says they don’t like Christmas music is probably just looking in the wrong place. This is why, every year, I take it upon myself to make about 5 Christmas playlists so that I can instill Christmas spirit in every Grinch. 8tracks is a particularly great place to find these gems. One of these playlists should do the trick for you: there’s a jazz playlist for a nice relaxing evening by the fireplace; a pop Christmas for those of you who secretly (or not-so-secretly) love Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey; an indie playlist for those of you who are just too hipster for the mainstream; and of course, a classic playlist for all the traditionalists.
TV & MOVIES
My family and I literally have to schedule our time down to the hour sometimes so that we can fit in all the Christmas movies and TV episodes we watch every year. Some of my family’s favourites include It’s A Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and all the Christmas episodes of The West Wing. I also love the abundance of Christmas specials that take over my television.
I don’t mean to brag (except I totally do), but earlier this month I made candy cane brownies for the office and they were pretty much a work of art. For a long time my favourite part about Christmas food was eating the Christmas food, but it turns out making it can be just as much fun. Here are some tasty recipes for you to try over the holidays:
I don’t think a holiday is a holiday without some obscure facts, so here’s some fun information to send you off – Merry Christmas, everyone!
In Canada, Santa Claus has his own postal zip code, H0H 0H0.
Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold. Approximately 30-35 million real (living) Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.
The world’s largest Christmas stocking was made by the Children’s Society in London in 2009, and measured 106 feet and 9 inches long, and 49 feet and 1 inch wide. It weighed as much as five reindeer and held almost 1,000 presents.
In the age of the internet, many new “micro-celebrities” have been created. Just head on over to the Twitter Most Followed list to see the current rankings. What does this list tell us in terms of popularity? Not much - seeing as the top people on the list are all musicians and celebrities that we already know and love. But what becomes more interesting is when we scroll down to the ~50th position, where we can start to see some unknown names. Have you ever heard of Pete Cashmore? If you aren’t in the tech industry, probably not. How about Tony Hsieh? No? Going further down the list, somebody like Gary Vaynerchuk may pop out at you - seeing as a bald guy that tweets a lot has over 800,000 followers. Impressive right?
So is this what we define as influence? Probably not, seeing as we have had influential people since the beginning of man. The bigger question, I believe, is what constitutes influence? And how do we interpret it? Realistically, there are very few influential people on this planet, but we are affected by many more. I believe this is because there are multiple forms of influence upon each person, and we will attempt to take a look at some of them here.
The effect that something or someone has on your cognitive processes. With this broad definition, simply going for a drive every morning results in you being influential to everyone around you. But of course when we talk about influence, we are talking about a person and who they are. The problem I see is that we lump everyone into the same boat. Your teacher may be influential on you, but so is Bill Gates. But do we classify them the same way?
When you go to school or work, you begin to develop a relationship with the people around you. It doesn’t matter if you have passed these people on the street a thousand times beforehand, when you are forced to interact and collaborate with them, a bond is formed. Thus, friendships are a result. I’m sure that everyone reading this still has a close group of friends from high school and university, as well as another set of friends from their workplace or social place (gym, etc…) These people that you know very well are called “strong-ties”, and have a pretty powerful effect on you. In the context of the internet, these are the people on Facebook that you add first and interact with the most.
Whether you think so or not, you have a very strong influence on these people, and vice versa. If one of them moves up the corporate “ladder”, you will begin to feel differently about them. Does someone get better marks than you, yet doesn’t seem to try as hard? This may change your behavioural patterns when it comes to school. And of course in terms of morals and ethics, our strong-link network strongly influences our decisions. But the reality is, zooming out to a 20,000 foot view, is very, very few of these people are influential on anyone but your core group. Do you have a boss that you can’t stand and you complain about to your friends? That’s fine and dandy, but almost 100% of the time that boss has no influence on your friend whatsoever. And this is where we can fall into the “small-minded” trap.
Take the example of a high school. You are a math teacher that does the best job you can every single day. You play by the rules, donate your time after school and genuinely care about your students. But your principal, the boss, is not correctly allocating your budget so that you can purchase new computers. Naturally, you are upset. And so who do you turn to in order to complain? Your co-workers, family and friends. The principal has a massive influence over your life each and every day, which is negative in this case. But once again, zooming out to the 20,000 foot view - that principal is a mere speck in planetary system. To other humans, he is not influential at all. So we can determine that he has a large personal influence, but a very poor global influence.
The next level up the ladder is people that interact with you on a very rare basis. In the case of the teacher, this may be your superintendent or maybe the minister of education in your province. Obviously, this person holds a lot more power, as he or she is responsible for whole batches of school districts. Accordingly, no matter what school you go to in the region, everyone has heard of this person and follows their decisions. Every time they pass a new bill in parliament, you think that it is a massive influence in the world. What if a new bill is proposed to add five minutes to the school day. Does this influence you? Of course! You may join a protest, sign a petition or send an email to the minister himself. This person, while not being a strong-link, is a very powerful industry-link.
The problem with this level of influence is that people believe these people are mini-celebrities. In the land of the technology world, bloggers like Michael Arrington have a lot of influence. But in reality, 99.99% of the world has no clue who Michael Arrington is, and don’t care to know. They don’t care that Yuri Milnar is giving every Y-Combinator team 150k, or that Quora is growing like a weed. In fact, all of that is like space language. But if you are in the technology industry, the Ontario minister of education means nothing to you whatsoever. And the dentists association? They have an association? you might ask. You see, the issue with the internet is that we get trapped in our “worlds” rather than realizing that industry-influence is very limited. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the broader picture.
Weak-Link Influences (Global Power)
The last category of influence is the furthest away from you personally. Going back to the teachers example, a person of global influence may be Michelle Rhee. Is she involved in education? Yes - she is trying to do many great things. Does she influence your career? Probably, seeing as if you are a good teacher you will stand by her philosophies. Do you know her personally? Not even close. But the thing is, not many people do, but many know who she is. Her influence not only extends into the education industry, but also technology, finance, health-care, sports, entertainment, etc… Why? Due to the national media coverage she has gotten (ex. Oprah) and the success of Waiting For Superman - she has transcended her industry.
She is one example of somebody who is influential across the three level. Her actions can determine changes in your day-to-day activities, effect your industry due to changes made and globally influence education leaders. Other examples of global powers can include people like: Bill Gates & Steve Jobs in technology, Michael Jordan & Tiger Woods in sports, Barbara Walters & Oprah Winfrey in media, etc, etc… These are people that have not only reached the top of their industry, but have transcended into all other industries. When this happens, true influence is reached.
World-class individuals are very rare indeed, but very important in the global sphere. They are heavily scrutinized and always in the limelight. Every action is watched and analyzed closely (usually by non-influential people). Books are written about them, websites dedicated to them. All of these are measures of global influence.
Are these people influential to you? Like we mentioned before, probably on some level. They are definitely nowhere near as influential as your strong-link connections, but they still affect how you think and act. The balance is remembering that usually the people that affect you the most are the people that have the least amount of influence. It’s a tough balance, but I believe that we need to learn to balance all three levels in order to continue along the path we need to.
I’m a voice over talent. I read and record scripts for every type of project from documentary narrations to on-hold messages, commercials to training videos and almost everything in between. Video games and cartoon voices are on my project wish list and with deep respect, I don’t narrate audiobooks.
Armed with a quiet, professional studio and an Internet connection, I voice twenty or more projects everyday and send them to clients all over the globe. I’m excited to go to work everyday!
How did you get there?
The biggest misunderstanding about becoming a voice over talent is that simply having a good voice is enough to have a successful career. It’s not. More important than having natural talent is taking the time to learn and practice the skills required to become a professional.
The first time I stepped behind a microphone to record a radio commercial for my employers, it felt like home. I was terrified and my voice cracked, but I knew right then, that becoming a voice talent was what I wanted to do. I quit my job, found a voice over coach and never looked back.
I worked with my coach for two years taking private lessons and weekend workshops. She taught me the fundamentals of voice over including how interpret a script, how to avoid popping my Ps and how to deal with a sore throat. My teacher set the bar high for skill and professionalism making sure I would be ready for any project no matter how complicated or challenging. She taught me the importance of practice both in and out of the studio and pushed me to take more classes in acting and improvisation, along with singing lessons to strengthen my voice.
Becoming a voice talent isn’t about being good at only one thing – it’s about having a variety of skills that have been honed through practice and the ability to put them all together when you need to, like in front of a room of eight casting directors just waiting to be wowed.
After cutting my first demo, I created a marketing strategy to land projects. When I started, it was cassette tapes, outside recording studios and the only available projects I could get were where I lived. Now it’s Mp3s, home studios and a global market. I record from a home studio and email finished audio to my clients around the world. It’s really cool and never ceases to amaze.
Why do you like it?
It’s fun. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard work every single day, but I have such a great time every day I step into the studio and hit record that it’s worth it any struggle to keep going. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a French speaking marine biologist, a la Jacques Cousteau, a family court judge, a dancer, a gymnast and an international business mogul. However, when no one was looking, I read the back of toothpaste tubes out loud and watched British comedies so I could practice my British accent.
A professional voice over talent with more than eighteen years experience, JoJo Jensen has recorded every type of project from short, snappy television commercials to YouTube marketing videos, long form documentary narrations to on hold messages thanking you for your call. With a background in sales and marketing years before ever standing in front of a microphone, JoJo runs her voice over career with a sincere dedication to customer service and satisfaction! Listen to JoJo Voice Over demo samples at www.jojojensen.com!
You’ve likely gathered from my last blog post that food makes up a very important part (or parts) of my day. I’ve found that what I eat really affects the way I feel all day long; there’s nothing worse than being too full from lunch and too sleepy to work, or having a salty lunch and being thirsty all afternoon. As a result I’ve made a point to stick to a food routine for most workdays, and pick foods that will boost my energy and keep me feeling fresh. I’ve found a few things that work, and a few that don’t for workday lunchtimes.
Bring plenty of snacks: snacks keep me going and I always bring an assortment to work. Yogurt, fruit, veggies, and nuts are all great options and they are perfect for in between meals to keep energy levels high
Make extras: something I like to do is make a few things on Sunday to have ready to go for the first few days of the week. One of the easiest recipes is a quinoa salad; they’re easy to make and very filling. You can find one of my go-to recipes here. It keeps for a few days in the fridge and is great cold. The same can be said for dinners; if you add a bit to whatever you’re making for dinner you’re sure to have enough for the next day’s lunch and the work is already done.
Keep spares: I keep some extra granola bars in my desk drawer just in case. It’s a great solution on days where there weren’t any snacks that excited me for lunch at home. It also gives you the opportunity to be a savior for a hungry coworker!
Tomatoes on the side: I absolutely hate soggy sandwiches. When I make my sandwich I pack sliced tomatoes on the side in some tin foil so my sandwich isn’t wet by the time I eat it.
Be adventurous: I often put almost anything I can find in my salad; canned corn, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, tons of vegetables, olives, tabbouleh, and anything else that may be in the fridge. It keeps my meals from getting boring and makes each lunch a little bit different. Don’t be afraid of strange combinations; you might be pleasantly surprised with what you come up with!