A Roadmap to Building Influence

You don’t need a fancy job title to make a positive and powerful impact. Let’s talk influence. First, what is it exactly?  

influence

[in-floo-uh ns] noun

the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior and opinions of others.

Quite simply, it’s “knowing the heart of the person you wish to influence and ordering your words (or more generally, communication) so they’ll act.” What I’d add here is: when they don’t have to.

The interesting thing about influence is you can be influential without being the leader. The old way was: the one with the power had the influence. Now though, the one with the influence has the power.

 

Why should you care about influence, you ask?

You’re influencing people every single day whether you realize it or not: at work, at home and everywhere in between. Employees are influencing their bosses. Parents are influencing their children. If you’re the type of person who is interested in moving the needle, you’re going to want to hone in on how to change others’ behaviors and outlooks.

Cruise through my Keynote presentation below for a deeper dive into some of the themes relevant to building influence – from self-awareness and likability to collaboration and authenticity.

Unlocking Potential #12: Q&A With Mariah Haberman

You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

This article originally appeared on garthbox.com. {Interview by Garth Beyer, @TheGarthBox}

Welcome back to another Q&A with a remarkable marketer as part of the Unlocking Potential series. I heard about a woman named Mariah Haberman when I first moved to Madison, I found out she worked at the PR agency I hope to work at, and then I got to see her speak not too long ago. (Post about impressions and link to her presentation here.)

Mariah has drive, excitement, and more passion that I thought one person could have. It will be clear as you read on. Without further ado, welcome Mariah.

Q: What motivates you to get out of your bed in the morning?

Mariah: Caffeine! And lots of it! I am so not a morning person so the fact that I make it into work before 10 a.m. is a miracle in itself. That said, I can honestly say I have never dreaded a day of work. Getting to discover Wisconsin is a cool gig but I think working alongside amazing and talented people is just the best thing ever. (Also: Free Sprecher root beer :D)

Q: What business would you say you’re in and how did you get there? What’s your story?

Mariah: I have a weird hybrid role: I’m both a television/radio host and a PR and social media marketer.

I always dreamt of working in television. In fact, I can recall writing my sixth grade career report for Mrs. Herbers about my aspirations of becoming a news anchor. In college though, I threw those dreams out the window after coming to the conclusion that a television career in Wisconsin during a recession was a ridiculous dream to have.

So I picked public relations. And upon graduating from UW-Oshkosh, I threw a few suitcases in my tiny ’02 Corolla and with my shiny, new diploma in tow, I made the trek to Chicago. There, I worked as a temporary assistant at an entertainment PR firm. Next, I decided to freelance back in the Madison area and then I worked at a wonderful marketing agency in town.

Meanwhile, I spent three years competing for the title of Miss Wisconsin. That endeavor really reignited my desire to pursue television. So, I reached out to the one contact I had at Discover Mediaworks and asked if, by any chance, they’d ever consider letting me guest host an episode or two. After several months of back-and-forth, the crew finally invited me to come in for an interview and audition. Apparently, they saw something in me, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q: What are four life lessons you’ve learned from following your muse?

1) Make things happen for you.

2) Be nice to people.

3) Own up when you’ve messed up.

4) Never take yourself or your work too seriously.

Q: You’re constantly putting yourself out there. How have you dealt with fear – be it of rejection or failure or even success?

Mariah: I hate to quote the most buzzed about kid flick of all time, but when it comes to being in front of crowds, you really have to just let it go. I’ll get nervous from time to time during the preparation of a big shoot or speaking engagement, but once I am on stage, or those cameras are rolling, I don’t even let myself go to that place of self-doubt. You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

So much of the television business I think is listening to your own gut. You are going to get people who absolutely adore you and your work. And the opposite of those people are Internet trolls :). I take it all with a grain of salt—both the compliments and the critiques.

Q: What do you do to continue growing in your field? Are there a few special practices or habits you think people reading may benefit from doing too?

Mariah: The idea of being stagnant or out of the loop as both a host and marketer downright scares me. I am constantly trying to learn and get better at my craft whether it be through improv classes or online marketing research—you name it. Regardless of how long you’ve been in the biz, learning is essential.

The beauty of working in the agency world is that you’re surrounded by folks who specialize in all sorts of things that you may not necessarily be an expert in. But making an effort to understand their work inherently makes you better at your own.

Q: What has been a major highlight of your work?

Mariah: A viewer reached out to me on Facebook the other day to tell me that he and his daughter make it a weekly tradition to sit down every Saturday morning and watch Discover Wisconsin together. Hearing things like that – from people who make our show a part of their lives – is the kind of stuff that sticks with me.

Q: What is one characteristic you’ve noticed every successful marketer has? Better yet, what the heck does it take to become a remarkable PR pro or marketer?

Mariah: Great marketers want to learn; they are asking questions. They are paying attention not only to what other brands are doing out there, but more importantly, they’re noticing what people care about, why they do the things they do, buy the things they buy, and hang out with the people they hang out with. I think a marketer has to be easily fascinated by and curious about the world around him or her—and I’d say the same thing applies to great TV/radio hosts.

When you understand why people do the things they do, the ideations, strategizing and executing for brands comes a whole heck of a lot more naturally. (It’s still a tough gig, don’t get me wrong!)

Q: Would you tell us about a time you almost gave up and what you did instead?

Mariah: Interestingly enough, I actually have to tell myself to let go of things more often. (Noticing a theme here?) I get invested too easily. I love to dream big and I think the upshot of dreaming big is that you tend to bite off more than you can chew. So while “giving up” often has a negative connotation, I really have to continue to remind myself the importance of walking away from the stuff I can’t or shouldn’t fix.

Q: How do you try to live your life? Do you have a life motto or a particular quote you stand by?

Mariah: Nah. No life quotes really. I just try to live life to the fullest…you know, find the silver lining in even the crappiest of days!

Q: What is a dream you have or a project you want to create that you haven’t had the time for?

Mariah: Sooooo many. I want to write my own book(s). Open a wine bar. Learn French. And piano. And how to cook (better). And more time for travel would be lovely!

Q: Where can people find you and your work? (Shameless self-promotion here!)

Mariah: Why, you can watch “my work” every weekend on your TV screens (or laptops or tablets or smartphones)! Broadcast guide here: www.bobber.discoverwisconsin.com/broadcast …and because social media is my thang, I’m pretty easy to find on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 🙂

 

Stay Positive & Curiously Alive

 

Garth Beyer is a Madison-based writer and Public Relations Strategist focused on telling stories, running through trend-making PR strategies and trying new things in life.

What I’ve Learned From 13 Jobs in 13 Years

Work work work work work 🎶

There’s a lot I have yet to figure out about life but here’s one thing I know with absolute certainty: having as many varied experiences as you possibly can is a major and direct contributor to personal and professional growth. It is so much of what determines how quickly (or conversely, how slowly) one develops.

Many of the jobs I’ve held seem, at least on the surface, rather unremarkable. Others truly put the “odd” in “odd jobs.” Each – while diverse in the skill-set required – has impacted me in a pretty profound way. First, the super quick rundown:

Skipping the years I spent baby-sitting, my first “big kid” job was as a cashier for Piggly “Shop the Pig!” Wiggly. (I can still recite a handful of PLUs. Bananas: #4011) In high school and early college, I also was a waitress at a few different restaurants. (And subsequently, was quickly made aware of how sucky my multitasking skills were.) Then my dad, who worked at Oscar Mayer for 13 years scored me a stint as an assembly line worker in the factory’s ham slice department. He told me this job would teach me to stay in college. He was right. That same summer, I also worked the p.m. shift as a retail associate at Hollister at West Towne Mall. (Not sure which environment I hated more: 40 degree, smoked ham-smelling basement vs. the “So Cal” cologne-infused teen dungeon.)

Later, my lifelong obsession with gymnastics would draw me to a kids center near my hometown where I worked as a gymnastics assistant. On campus at UW-Oshkosh I worked as a journalism assistant as well as a phonathon caller, where yes, I called and convinced alumni to fork over some cash. (i.e. “I totally understand $50 won’t do but how bout a tax-deductible $5 gift to the UWO annual fund? Every dollar counts!”) And then there was the summer I was an MMA Ring Girl. (It wasn’t as interesting as it sounds but…$$$) I was also a bartender at a couple different golf courses as well as a bar in downtown Oshkosh. And then post-college, came all my recent stuff AKA social media consultant, marketing strategist, TV host and producer, etc.

And now for the analysis.

The thing is, in my early 20s, I was pretty insecure about how many jobs I had already held for my age. I had to defend my ADD-inducing resume at almost every interview I had. Working consistently at the same place for multiple years seemed to be the idyllic route – decided by my peers, my employers and by society. There is something to admire about that, for sure, but as you’ve probably guessed, I’m here to tout the opposite 🙂

For starters, working this many various jobs throws you head first into a lot of weird, wacky, frustrating, challenging, stressful, exhausting and rewarding situations. You’ve gotta buckle up, adapt quickly and brush off the stress when you show up for your waitressing shift, and the only two other scheduled waitresses called in that day and it’s Mother’s Day and you have the ginormous patio all by yourself and oh my God, you just spilt the entire pitcher of ice cold water on THE MOM and it’s MOTHER’S DAY. Shit. She’ll give you a good tip though because she pities you. Not all is lost.

When you work a lot of jobs, you’re never anywhere for too long. This means you’re always the new girl in a foreign land, which is translation for: learn how to have thick skin, especially when the veteran lady line workers at Oscar Mayer gave you major side eye when you stack up 3 feet of ham because sweet jesus, the bubble packages on the line MOVE SO DAMN FAST. Next thing you know, they’re shutting down the entire line because “COLLEGE GIRL CAN’T KEEP UP.” And because you’ve learned how to adapt well in previous roles, you’re able to shamelessly retort, “My dad is the maintenance guy here…just FYI” any time those nasty ol’ ladies get real out of line. Works like a charm!

Working this many jobs as a teen and through my 20s, also helped me weed through what I was looking for in a career and in the team I wanted to surround myself with. I mean, let’s be honest, you don’t have to hold a lot of jobs to know that terrible bosses are a dime a dozen. I’ve certainly got a real vivid depiction of “Manager I Don’t Ever Wanna Be” but unlike a lot of other professionals (so it seems) I’ve also had the good fortune of working for some amazing people. And as much as I learned from the bad eggs, I also eagerly consumed every ounce of leadership lore that I could from the really great ones.

And these are just paid gigs we’re talking about. If job-jumping has you feeling uneasy, there are umpteen other ways to take in a variety of experiences like volunteering, travel and classes, just to name a few. However you decide to weave in and out of your own lane, I think these experiences will make you more sophic, open-minded and perceptive of the big picture.

Speaking of the big picture, here it is: The more people, places and positions you experience, the better you’ll be for it.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think below.

 

Advice for 20-somethings from a 30-something…on Life, Love and Living

After burning my horribly self-defeating H.S. diaries, I am writing again….about what I should have written about 10 years ago.

Editor’s Note: This article was guest written by my smart, lovely and talented stepmom, Amy Haberman.

I recently came across my diaries from high school and early college. Wow! What a trip that was…and then I promptly burned them. Seriously. The timeframe in which I wrote these notes may be similar to where you are in your life, so I want to speak to who I was then and why, if I could do it all over, I’d do it differently.

Despite the popular quote that is circulating on Pinterest and Facebook “Don’t cheat on your future with your past. It’s over.” I propose we take a look back at what I’ve learned in the 10 years that have passed since those rambling diary entries. I am hoping this defies the wisdom of the quote because you will delve into MY past to better YOUR future. I’m willing to take the risk…

I’ll spare you the sad, sad details of my prolific diary entries. But I can tell you the main subject matter never did change: BOYS. Despite successful academic and athletic careers at both the H.S. and college level, I cared more about boys than myself, my future, who I was or wanted to be when I “grew” up. I didn’t come across any diary entries pondering college major decisions, career path choices, life goal ambitions or anything of the sort. I was more interested in whom my next date would be with.

I justified my dating experience (once older) to say that if I had not had these earlier experiences I would not have realized my husband was “the one.” That my ability to quickly dismiss many men from my life gave me the fortitude to know what’s best for me and recognize it when he walked into my life. True. But it also did something else: it left me completely unprepared for real life or life beyond that moment when I found “the one.” And it left me completely unsure of who I really was. I was so busy focusing on all the men around me, I completely ignored the woman inside me (besides her opinion on men of course).

So my advice is simple. Pay attention to that woman inside you who knows deep down there is more to life than men, getting married and having babies. Even when happily married, what determines our happiness is not external, it’s internal. I can’t expect my husband to make me happy – only I can do that. Sure, he can certainly do nice things for me that I appreciate, but he is not responsible for sustaining my happiness. That is a big burden to put onto someone and why, oh why, would we hand over that power to someone else, when only we know, truly, what can make us happy?

I have been married for 12 years, have a college degree, a nine-year-old daughter and have worked a part-time or full-time job for nearly 20 years. But none of these things define who I am. I am trying to figure that out now. And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder to take time for you, when you have a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed, and housework to do, on top of working a full time job that is quite demanding and juggling a business on the side.

So, what I’d do differently and what I recommend you do before you commit yourself to a man, a mortgage or many mouths to feed: LIVE. Do all the things you are scared to do, second guess yourself, screw up, learn and do it all over again. Live life on YOUR terms, no need to hang on someone else’s coattails – wear your own cape!  This will do a few things for you: 1) you’ll learn what you love, what you hate and how to balance the two. 2) you’ll know exactly what you need in your life and you’ll be able to tell the difference between a need (food) and a want (man) 3) you’ll make the task of loving you much, much easier, because you aren’t looking to him to make you happy because you already figured that out (he’ll thank you later).

I’m certainly not saying if you don’t do things in this way your life will suck. Not at all. I overcommitted, I leaped before I looked and I got lucky. Things have turned out alright (well, much better than alright). In part, because I do think I married the best man for me despite my inexperience.

Now I’m taking my 30s to have my first real adventure (moved to Florida three years ago); I started my own business (graphic design on the side), setting career goals much higher than I had imagined (recently attained a director level position at a major university that made me vomit the night before the interview) and in general trying to be a leader by example for a nine-year-old girl who is looking at her mama and saying, “I want to be an artist and a baker and, and, and…” and I can say, “there’s nothing stopping you, sweetie!”

Following one’s dreams take a bit of coordination when you have a family to tend to, that’s why I say do it when there are as few obstacles as possible. I’m very blessed and have an extremely supportive husband, who has realized there is a lot of truth to the statement “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Very cliche, but true, the more I attain my goals and follow my dreams, the more I push my husband to do the same and I know our children can only learn by our example.

So after burning those horribly self-defeating diaries, I am writing again….about what I should have written about 10 years ago, my goals, my dreams, my ambitions, and now, what I can do to nurture the dreams of my family.

How They Got There: Discover Wisconsin’s Mariah Haberman

Everyone wants to play teacher. Be the student.

This article originally appeared on uwoshjournalism.wordpress.com. {Interview by Brenna McDermot, @letterstowomen}

2010 UW Oshkosh and journalism department alumna Mariah Haberman is the host and brand manager of Discover Wisconsin, the nation’s oldest-running travel TV show. After graduation Haberman went on to do agency and consulting work and win the title Miss Wisconsin Central 2012.

When you were in school, did you know that you wanted to work in television? What was your ultimate goal?

My 6th grade career report was about the role of an anchorwoman. So yes, there was always some sort of desire to get into television but by the time high school rolled around, I decided TV was not a realistic career path. I was instead swayed by the challenging, fascinating and exciting world that is PR and marketing.

But during my senior year of college, I somehow found myself on stage competing in the Miss Oshkosh 2010 pageant. This experience sparked a three-year journey to the Miss Wisconsin competition, which ultimately reignited my desire to pursue some sort of public position after all.

My career goal back then was to either become editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine or owner of my own PR firm. I still think both would make for a kickass career but I see myself heading in a slightly different direction these days.

 

When you were a student at UW Oshkosh, what did you do outside of class in order to prepare you for your career? Did you take any radio-TV-film classes or participate in Titan TV?

I didn’t take any radio-TV-film classes or partake in Titan TV but boy, I wish I had—especially considering UW-Oshkosh has a renowned RTF program. I was heavily focused on the journalism side, which I also really loved.

As far as outside involvement, my immersion in the Miss Wisconsin program absolutely prepared me for what I do today but at the time, I didn’t realize it was laying the groundwork for what I now do. Of course, my internships also each played a key role on the marketing side of my position.

 

What were some of your favorite and most useful classes at UW Oshkosh? 

Every journalism class! The UW-Oshkosh J-department does an excellent job arming its students with a solid foundation, particularly so in writing and AP style. I’m always surprised by the number of professionals I encounter today who want so badly to “find the story”…but don’t have the critical writing skills to tell it—and that’s a tragedy for anyone who considers themselves a storyteller, whether they work in journalism, marketing, television or the like.

A few journalism teachers who come to mind include Sara Steffes Hansen. Dr. Julie Henderson, Dana Baumgart, Mike Cowling, Miles Maguire and Barb Benish, among others!

I also took an intro history class when I was a sophomore that left a pretty big impression on me. I had a fabulously passionate professor (Stephen Kercher), who helped me appreciate the excitement in history and politics.

 

What skills do you suggest students who want to go into journalism or public relations work on honing the most while they are in school? 

Write, write, write! Try all different styles of writing: fiction, non-fiction, headline writing, social media, blogging, etc. Then take the initiative to ask others for feedback on your writing. You should always want to grow and that should be the case for anyone at any experience level in any industry.

 

What was it like transitioning from student to public relations professional? How did you get your first job after graduation?

Well, I still consider myself a student in so many ways but my first job out of college was a temporary position as a PR & Social Media Assistant at a firm in Chicago called Carol Fox & Associates. This company specializes in entertainment and the arts, so when I showed my interviewers the campaign portfolio I worked on as a senior for our “client,” the Grand Opera House, I could tell they were impressed. Still, I didn’t get an offer right away…I had to follow up a few times to make sure they remembered meeting me and they finally invited me to work there from September until December in 2010.

 

Was working in an agency what you expected it to be like? 

My very first boss at Carol Fox & Associates made a comment to me that she didn’t think I was cut out for agency work. This stung but what I knew at the time (and she clearly didn’t) was that I just wasn’t cut out for that particular agency. So what I realized straight out of the UWO gates was that every agency is unique and like any career really, it may take a few sloppy attempts before you find the perfect fit.

I consulted shortly after leaving CF&A and later, accepted a position at another agency – this time in downtown Madison at a firm called Hiebing. When I dreamt of the “agency world” as a college kid, I thought of a place like Hiebing, where you may have smart, demanding clients but clever and creative colleagues and inspiring leaders.

Today, I work at Discover Mediaworks in Madison, which is part agency, part production firm. I get challenging work every day and I also get to spend my time with a super awesome team. (Confession: That is one aspect I’ll say I didn’t think much about back in college: the importance of having wonderful colleagues. You can have the most impressive clients and interesting work, but if your co-workers are lame, you’ll be miserable. #Fact.)

 

Why did you decide to do your own consulting, and why did you stop?

I wish I could tell you that after leaving CF&A in Chicago, I was inundated with clients begging to work with me but…ah, not so. Although I knew I wasn’t meant to work at CF&A long-term, I was hoping they’d hire me because, well…because I didn’t have a back-up plan come December. But a full-time job offer never came my way and so, I moved back to Madison and did what any desperate, jobless 23-year-old would do (?) – I scoured Craigslist for clients. Yep. I met with realtors, construction managers, even an owner of a wine shop start-up. It was random and weird but I was ambitious and open-minded and optimistic.

Was it ideal? No. Not in the slightest. I hardly made any money and it felt like I was hustling for nothing. I was living in my aunt’s spare bedroom. And the whole “CEO of my own PR firm” thing sure didn’t feel like how I dreamt it would. But I learned so much and I think it helped me look pretty decent when I went to apply at my next employer (Hiebing), where they happened to be searching for an ambitious account coordinator for their PR team.

My main takeaway during these first couple of years was probably: “This career thing is messy, even downright ugly at times but, if I stick it out, someone will notice my awesomeness! (Right!?).” (ßTotal Millennial ‘tude)

 

Did you enjoy working for yourself? 

Yes and no. The pay was no bueno. But I loved the pressure of having the success of someone else’s marketing efforts on my shoulders—so in a way, it confirmed that I was in the right field. Freelancing may not have been my first choice but looking back, I’m proud that I had the gumption to make up my own job when 2010 had practically nothing to offer college grads like me; I was as determined as I was inexperienced.

 

What were the challenges of having your own consulting business?

You have to have a ton of self-motivation and a fair amount of confidence. The motivation part, I had down. Consulting definitely tested my self-confidence but lucky for me, UW-Oshkosh granted me a strong background in PR  and my pageant days meant I was generally unintimidated by the folks who sat across from me at meetings—no matter how brilliant or smart they were. (If you can answer, “What are the top three biggest threats facing our government today?” in 20 seconds in front of a pageant panel of five distinguished strangers than you can sure as heck spitball marketing ideas with some realtors.)

And as I previously mentioned, I certainly didn’t make millions while consulting but I consider my freelancing gig an investment as I picked up invaluable lessons such as the importance of coming prepared, being open-minded, doing my homework and digging deep to get the job done right.

 

How did you get your job at Discover Wisconsin? 

 

While I held my first and only pageant title, Miss Wisconsin Central 2012, I reached out to someone I kinda, sorta knew who worked at Discover Mediaworks, the production company that produces Discover Wisconsin. I asked him if the team would be willing to let me guest host one episode. He didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no and he did promise to keep in touch and run my idea past the managing director “when the time was right.” I remained optimistic. I also would remain in touch with him – sending messages here and there on Facebook to make sure he knew I was still interested in meeting their team and discussing the possibility of guest hosting a show.

They finally invited me in to “audition.” I should have been pretty darn nervous as I’ve never done any sort of audition in my life – and truthfully, I didn’t think it went all that well. They were originally only going to offer new talent part-time positions as ‘field hosts.’ They ended up offering me a full-time job as the lead host and marketing strategist. It’s been quite the adventure ever since!

 

What are your responsibilities at Discover Wisconsin? 

As a host, I perform voiceovers, improv and scripted material, conduct interviews, dress up in weird costumes, waterski behind planes, eat lots of cheese curds, ATV in -30 degree weather, etc. etc.

As the brand manager, I take part in tradeshows, premiere parties, client meetings and handle media relations and social media efforts. I oversee our radio program, marketing materials and scriptwriting.

 

Would you consider your job at Discover Wisconsin a public relations position?

In part, yes. My job is very strange. I don’t really have a lane. But I tend to get bored easily so this position suits me well!

 

What can a journalism student do to make him or herself a good candidate for television? 

Be eager to learn…forever. You want to learn about other people and you should want to learn about yourself, too. I think sometimes on-camera folks get a weird rap because of the vanity aspect, but I wish I could eloquently describe to others how much I’ve learned about myself by watching what I do and say on camera. It’s so not about whether my hair looks decent but instead about the way I communicate to others and how they communicate back. It’s fascinating and surprising and that is one of the thrills of getting to work on camera.

 

What role has networking played in your professional career? 

If I didn’t make a point to reach out to a Facebook acquaintance I “kinda, sorta knew,” I would not have this job. (And now I consider that guy a good friend of mine – bonus!) Networking is invaluable. I’d say even more generally, just putting yourself out there and not being afraid to say hello to someone or being open to meeting up with someone over coffee is a good thing – you just never know what could come of it.

 

What have you found is the best way to network with the right people not just a lot of people? 

Social media. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of networking events because as your question points out: You do tend to meet a crazy amount of people—and not always the “right people.” With social media, it’s easier to strike a quick, casual conversation with the “right people.”

 

Is social media an important part of your career? If so, how do you use it to enhance your career? Does someone REALLY need to be active on most platforms? 

Social media is a huge part of my career, both for the Discover Wisconsin brand, but also for me as a public figure. I love giving fans a peek behind the “curtain”. That’s also the place I most often receive feedback from viewers. And, when I started, I relied on social media to learn about the state of Wisconsin very quickly. I get inundated with travel recommendations and since I’m still a relative newbie in regard to being an “expert on all things Wisconsin,” I do rely on social media to get answers and ideas from viewers.

I don’t know if I would say someone who wants to be in television absolutely needs to be active on most platforms; I’d say do what you love. For me personally, I have fun on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat so those are the channels I focus my efforts on. For the Discover Wisconsin brand, it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and our blog.

 

It is often said that today’s job seekers need to brand themselves. How did you go about doing that successfully? 

I’m sure that’s true but there is something about calculatingly branding oneself that rubs me the wrong way. Getting your name out there and working hard to differentiate yourself from the competition? Yes and yessss. I suppose that is part of personal branding, but my advice would be to make sure you’re emphasizing your strongest traits while working on your weaknesses. Obviously, don’t shout your weaknesses from the rooftop but take active steps to improve on your flaws – without being disingenuous on- or offline.

 

For many this is a time of self-discovery, so they may not know exactly what they want their brand is or exactly what they want to do. What advice can you give to people like this? 
I think the journey to self-discovery involves as many experiences as possible. I love newand different. Surround yourself with people who maybe have very different interests and take up experiences that you normally wouldn’t.
And don’t lose your authenticity along the way. That’s key.

 

Current students are mostly used to working with people their own age. Is working with people from all generations different? Are there different ways to work with each?

Yes, working with folks from different generations is different – but it’s also better. A healthy work culture is a diverse one. I love learning things from people younger than me and people older than me; people from completely different professional backgrounds and people who worked in similar fields. Humans are generally inclined to connect with people who are most like them, but I would challenge anyone reading this to strike up a conversation with whoever seems the most unlike them at work or in the classroom. I’ll think you’ll be surprised at what you might learn.

General rule of thumb: Approach every work relationship with the “What can I learn from this person?” sort of attitude. Everyone wants to play teacher. Be the student.

 

With all life transitions comes fear: fear of moving, fear of not finding a job, fear of not being prepared, fear of the unknown, etc. What kind of fear did you experience as a student or as a professional and how did you overcome it? 

I’ve experienced all kinds of fear and I’ve come to realize fear is an amazing thing. Use it to your advantage and do not let it cripple you. Overcoming fear is actually quite simple: You just barrel through it. You say yes to every opportunity you possibly can. So when you’re asked to give a presentation at the local boys and girls club, say yes. Better yet, you proactively reach out to the boys and girls club to ask if they’ll let you come in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve introduced myself to an organization and asked if they’d allow me to come in to speak about x, y or z. I do that less and less these days but in my first couple years as I was trying to develop my public speaking skills, you can bet that I was putting myself out there as much as I could. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, it really does come down to facing fear and saying, “Watch me shine.”

 

Is there anything else I should know about you or your career that I didn’t ask?

I believe my career started long before college graduation. People tend to have this weird sort of notion that the “real world” begins when that diploma is handed to you. This is garbage. I’ve had a lot of crazy, part-time and/or temporary odd jobs that played a role in my profession today – from standing on the line at Oscar Mayer to bartending in Oshkosh to being a ring girl at a handful of MMA fights. I always felt a bit self-conscious that I wasn’t one of those college students who worked at the same grocery store for eight years but every single weird, odd job I had made me a bit sharper, a bit more sagacious and a quick(er) study.

My point in sharing this is to reiterate the advantage of partaking in as many varied experiences as possible. It doesn’t need to be in the form of work but just know that the more people you meet, positions you take in and organizations you learn about, the better you’ll get at jumping head first into new experiences sans trepidation.