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.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

One young woman’s journey back home

Editor’s Note: This article was guest written by Wisconsin farmer and blogger, Lauren Rudersdorf.

Five months ago, my husband and I bought a home. Our first home. As we sat beside each other signing our closing documents, it felt positively monumental. It was the first time in my young life that I really felt like I had made it. My husband and I had started a small, organic vegetable farm four years prior and it had brought enough hard-earned income that we could afford a home of our own in a beautiful town within commuting distance to both our farm and my off-farm job. We had enough stability in our lives that we felt comfortable committing to a place. The fact that our new home was move-in ready and fully renovated five years ago was just icing on the cake of our late twenties’ lives. I felt mature. I felt settled. I finally felt like maybe I could call myself an adult.

We moved into our home on July 1, 2016 (give or take a few hell-ish weeks of schlepping boxes back and forth from Albany to Evansville in our Ford Ranger and my parents’ minivan). Over the next couple months, we did the new home thing. We unpacked boxes. We hung pictures on the walls. We put a “Rudersdorf” sign on the front porch and bought a lawn mower. Yet despite all the effort I put towards turning our new house into a home, I felt myself continually waiting to be excited about the move. There was no doubt it felt empowering to be a young homeowner, but something about the situation just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t happy. I felt anxious and insecure all the time.

The strange thing about our new home is that it’s located in the town where I grew up. The town where I had spent 13 years of my life in school, sports and community organizations. When I had graduated nine years earlier, I fled my hometown just as fast as I could for a small private school in Ohio and told myself I’d never look back. I wanted big things and was certain that big things didn’t happen in small towns. I expected moves to Europe, New York City and Washington D.C. I envisioned a big flashy career and non-stop travel. I imagined a life nowhere near where I grew up. I was convinced I would leave Wisconsin and become a totally different person. Returning home had baggage and baggage I had not yet dealt with.

How I ended up back home was a long and winding journey. I took a year off from college to travel and experience the world. I had solo trips abroad that were beautiful and transformative. I learned a lot about myself, and also realized, to my own dissatisfaction, that the private school I loved in Ohio was no longer right for me. I moved back home to earn some money and figure out next steps. I got my first apartment in Madison a few months later and by 2010 had transferred to the University of Wisconsin enrolled in an undergraduate program I was passionate about.

In Madison, I quickly fell head over heels for a man who loved soils and nature and wanted to live his life outdoors. We were the perfect compliments to one another and decided to begin an organic farm together. I was fortunate enough to have parents with farmland so we rented four acres and began building our business. Shortly thereafter, we decided to commit our life to one another. We were married in 2014 and began thinking about where we should build our life and home. Taking over the family farm was what made the most sense for us, and suddenly we found ourselves looking for homes in Evansville.

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Life moved fast, as it does, and a journey that began in other states and other countries had suddenly catapulted me back home. As I unpacked boxes and looked out the big windows of my beautiful new house at a community I’d ambled through as a kid and young adult, I felt uncomfortable. It was as if suddenly, I was right back where I started. I felt pathetic, almost like I was moving backwards.

Those first two months in our new home were really difficult for me. I was exhausted from the farming season and trying to process my feelings about being back in Evansville. I was forced to learn some really hard things about myself, like how I never quite escaped the need for validation from other people. Or how for a long time my greatest desires in life weren’t motivated by my own dreams or desires, but by my own obsession with always trying to impress people. Or how I felt like success could never be at home. It had to be somewhere else.

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I could have never imagined that 10 years after fleeing the town where I spent my childhood and adolescent years, I’d be living in a neighborhood with old teachers right next door. But it’s perfect. And I chose it. I chose to leave and I chose to come back. I hadn’t gotten lost, run out of options and returned home because I had to. I chose this. Every decision I’d made since I became an adult led me back here because it’s where I wanted to be. I had traveled and tried new things, and the more I did, the more I felt pulled back to the place where I had been raised. Despite my urge to fight it, my connection to the Midwest was undeniable.

In the end, it turns out moving home was exactly what I needed. It helped me forget and forgive that girl who grew up in Evansville 10 years ago: who could be so naïve and cruel, putting pressure on herself to change because she thought who she was and where she came from was never enough. It helped me stop caring about what other people think and do things for myself instead. It helped me move with confidence as I push my career forward in ways that aren’t always linear to the outside world. It helped me accept the person I have become instead of making apologies or excuses. It helped me shed the weight of expectations and find happiness from within. Moving home helped me finally heal.

And what I learned by removing any self-judgment was one irrefutable truth: I love this place. I understand it. It’s flawed, like anywhere, but its enchanting. The rolling hills. The agricultural and environmental legacies. The pristine farmland and beautiful bodies of water. The historic small towns and colorful main streets. The subtle charm that requires patience to be discovered. The hardworking people and sense of community. I love it here. I love everything about where I’m from. And I couldn’t be happier to build a life here and do what I can to make it better.

Lauren Rudersdorf is a Rock County, Wis. native who loves all things food, farming and Wisconsin life. If she’s not out in the fields of Raleigh’s Hillside Farm or kicking butt at her day job in Madison, you can find her hiking on the Ice Age Trail, testing recipes for her blog The Leek & The Carrot or planning her next vacation. You can find more of her writing at Edible Madison in the Farmer Voices column and Madison Magazine beginning in June 2017.

 

 

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.

On My Mind: 10 Things I’m Grateful For

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Here are just 10 things I’m grateful for. Please share with me what you’re grateful for in the comments below!

  1. My family. A gimmie, I know. But they really are the best!
  2. My friends. Samesies. I don’t know how I got so lucky but from my best friends to my “newest pals,” I have one heck of a crew.
  3. Caffeine. Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a terrible addiction to caffeine, specifically energy drinks. I know, it’s terrible – in fact, I’m not so sure this is something I should be thankful for. Anywho, I’ve tried to quit but as far as I’m aware, they don’t have programs for Monster addicts…yet. 😞
  4. My haterz. Thanks for showin’ me what I don’t want to be. ✌️
  5. Music. If it weren’t for music, I’d never hit the gym. Or find any enjoyment while driving the beltline during my commute home. Thanks music, for being there for me all day, err’day.
  6. Social media. This one may surprise you but I really am grateful for social media. It has introduced me to so many wonderful people and while I may not know them all personally, I think being connected to so many people really is a beautiful thing. Since hosting Discover Wisconsin, I’ve received hundreds of photos from photographers from all over Wisconsin – all over the Midwest actually. They each capture the state in their own talented way. I’ve come to know a handful of these photographers on social media. One of them being William Burdick. I learned yesterday that William passed away in a tractor-trailer accident near Madison. Of course, I was stunned and devastated. I immediately dug up the photos William has sent me over the years. The photo featured at the top of this article was one of my favorites. Although I never met William in person, I am so thankful to have been introduced to him and his talent via social media. Rest in peace, William.
  7. My job…Even when the hours are nuts and I’m all by lonesome in my hotel rooms, I am always quick to remind myself of how good I really have it.
  8. Staycations. Because if it weren’t for staycations, I wouldn’t have the time and motivation to be writing this blog post in the first place.
  9. My health. I’m positive I’ve taken my good health for granted throughout most of my life and so this is me, attempting to show some love to my health. Thanks for being good to me, mind + body.
  10. My happiness. I am a happy person by default and for this, I am eternally grateful for.

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.