Podcast Project Write-Up

27.5 hours of content 
Four weeks
Two people
One podcast 

In July, a peer of mine, Austin Taylor, came to me and suggested that we start a blog-type video series based around the content for month four of Praxis. At first, it was going to end with the month, but we had amazing feedback around it, so we decided to change direction with the content, transform it into a full podcast and continue.

We named it Through the Months | Praxis and Beyond.

Before this project, I hadn’t even fully listened to a podcast before, much less try to make one. Through the Months challenged my ability to learn quickly, speak clearly, and make awesome designs. 

What I learned:

  1. Design tools-  Before this project, I was familiar with Canva, but creating the podcast logo and YouTube thumbnails pushed my understanding of the program and helped me with identifying what colors go together and why.
  2. YouTube editors interface– Austin and I used YouTube as the primary website to upload our videos. When we verified our account, I quickly learned how to go in, create playlists, add in our own custom thumbnails, channel art, and I tailored our logo to fit perfectly.
  3. RSS Feeds- When we expanded the places we were uploading our podcast, we learned that RSS feeds are one of the simplest ways to keep all of your podcast platforms up to date by publishing it to one place. Basically, when you update the RSS feed with a new episode, it automatically signals to all the other places to update as well. 
  4. Importance of Planning-  Austin and I did a tremendous amount of planning for this project. We had a planning document for every episode that we tried to have filled out the day before recording, a planning folder for the media (music and logos) and we also stayed in contact pretty much 100% of the time to make sure we were still on the same page about the podcast. 

Our Process:

  • Consuming: The week started out with consuming and understanding as much of the content as we could. We’d ponder the content, come up with our own questions and answer many of the ones provided.
  • Planning: Every episode started with a planning document. The specifics of which changed each week, but they all had the same basic outline. The day before recording, we’d have a Zoom meeting to plan even more. During this time, we’d set up when we’d record and about how long we wanted it to be, then we’d go over our questions, come up with debate questions and wrap the content up.
  • Filming: Then, we’d film! This was one of the easier parts because Austin and I just sat down and talked about the content as well as how our lives relate. 
  • Editing: Austin handled the video/audio editing (he would often condense almost two hours of content into less than an hour), while I took on the editing for the intro, as well as the logo and thumbnail designs. 
  • Uploading: Once everything was put together, Austin would upload the YouTube channel (before the RSS feed), then I’d go through and update the Thumbnail (and title if I needed to).
  • Miscellaneous: This last part is where we did things like setting up the RSS feed, create the iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify accounts, and plan for what the future of our podcast would look like. 

Next Steps:

Now, we want to completely shift the podcasts focus from being a weekly deliverable to being a resource for Praxis participants whether they’re an admin, an advisor, in the Bootcamp, at their apprenticeship, an alum, or just curious to see what Praxis is.  

Our thoughts (taken directly from an informal Slack message):

“We could be like the podcast equivalent of a school newspaper (but better because it’s Praxis)… Have really cool interviews with people (Cameron with what he wants to do now that he’s CEO), find out what updates are coming and give people sneak peaks, do a breaking news thing, have a Q&A, and once a week every month we talk about individual months and what to expect for whatever month and so on (that’s when we pull someone in from the month we’re talking about). We could have a part where an advisor gives advise on some things like social capital, forward tilt, building a network, starting a blog, writing a book, whatever. We’d also be able to interview people who go to the things like FEEcon.
Because there might be a ton in each episode, we could have an outline of the content in the description that says ‘Interview with so&so at 12:55 seconds’ or something and the intro would just be all the cool things we have going on in the episode.”

Austin and I have been building off of these ideas so far. 

We’re still working out the kinks, but we can’t wait to continue this project!

How to Nail the Job Search

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We all get to that point where we’re just tired of our jobs. Maybe it’s becuase you’ve been at yours too long now and need a change of pace, maybe it’s because you’ve just graduated and want to use your degree to start your career. Whatever the reason, here are five steps to kick start that search!

Step one: Update your Resume 

If you’ve been in the same job for a while, you probably haven’t updated your resume to match that role. Before you do anything, update that resume! Remember to keep it clean, simple and easy to read. Even if you plan on pitching your experience in a different way, job search websites will still ask for it, and it’s nice to have.

Step two: Use as Many Job Search Tools as You Can (Including Your Network)!

Explore sights like Indeed.com, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, and LinkedIn.com. While you’re there, set up your account, upload your resume, and polish your profile, then get to searching! 

When you have free time, let your network know you’re looking for a job, and explore any opportunities that arise from that. 

Step three: Refine your Search 

Use the filter tools on each of the websites to find something specific. Pick Full-time or Part-Time, a position title, and a location. Some sights have an advanced search option, but remember that you’ll get the most results when you’re flexible with title, position, and salary.

If you heard about the job from a friend, find the specific position on the companies website to get some more details. 

Step four: Research the Company

Once you’ve found one (or more!) that you’re interested in, do your research on the type of job and the business. Companies love it when you come into the interview already knowing what they do, but it also helps you determine if the company would be a right fit for you. 

Websites like Glassdoor can help you get a good idea of what you might walk into (it’s basically the job equivalent to ratemyprofessors.com). 

Step Five: Sell Yourself! 

Update your resume, pitches, profiles, and anything else to match the companies values! Then, nail the interview. Remember: it’s not about what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Show them that you can do something anyone else couldn’t!

With these simple steps, you have a strong foundation to finding a solid job! Good Luck!

Operational Role Type Interview

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My time in the Praxis Bootcamp is coming to an end, and while I’m sad to leave this experience, I’m excited to finally start finding a job that will suit my interests in Operations Management.

To make sure this is a field I actually want to go into, I reached out to Jason Burner, a Praxis Alum and Operations Manager at Remine, to ask him a few questions about his job.


Question 1: What does your average work day look like?

It’s funny that you asked that, because honestly there is no real good answer to that question…

I focus mainly on reporting (sales operations) but do other portions of operations, or I like to describe it as getting things done.

My reporting is generally two reports a day, done in Excel for different teams and my suggestions on ways to improve or trends I see.

These can take several hours a poece but leaves me with time for AdHawk reporting requests, which always come.

All of my middle time is filled with making sure other peoples jobs can be successful, whether that is scheduling and negotiating lunches to be delivered, or making sure a new person in setup with the proper software. 

If items need bought or software needs purchased people come to me and I either make the decision or fwd it to the appropriate higher up.

Operations really does cover everything but that combined with being at a startup means you will never be bored. 

Question 2: Besides Excel and AdHawk, what other softwares are crucial to your job?

Question 3: What is the significance of networking in your position, and what does it look like?

Question 4: What type of person would be fit for your position or one similar to it?

Question 5: What suggestions would you give to someone just starting out as an operation manager?

Advice: Blogging for 30 days

In the month of June, I blogged every day for 30 days. At first, it was hard, but if something isn’t difficult, is it even worth doing?

At the end of it all, I compiled everything that I learned into this post. Here, I’ll go over My advice and what I learned about myself this month.  

My Advice:

Forget about the way school taught you to write

Before you start, erase what you know. The traditional five-paragraph essay and thesis statements won’t cut it for this month. Find different ways to capture the reader’s attention and to organize your article so that everything is unique and interesting.

Write for the reader, not yourself.

The second thing to do before you start, forget about journaling. Your goal is to write articles that people will want to consume. If your post is more of a journal, it won’t be as useful to an audience as a ‘how-to’ or listicle will be. Get into the mindset of writing to produce value.

Mix up your writing style.

You’ve started, now, mix it up. This month will get boring if you don’t. Doing the same thing over and over again also isn’t the point of this month. Push yourself to explore new writing styles. You’ll suck at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Do some listicles, a how-to, write about the moral you took from something that happened to you, or do some creative writing.

Inspiration comes in many forms. When it does, write it down.

I can’t stress this enough. When I started, I had 30 blog post planned out for 30 days. I used maybe 8 of those topics, and definitely not in order. This is because when I sat down to write about that topic, I didn’t have the inspiration. Continue to expand your list of topics. One day you don’t want to write about the different breeds of dogs, but the next you might.

Write about things that scare you

Put your opinion out there. It’s scary, especially if it’s controversial, but I discovered that people love to read about opposing perspectives. Writing about these types of things also forces you to do more research on it and learn the topic better.

Deliberately try to be better.

You won’t get anything out of this month if you write because you feel like have to. Write because you want to learn. Take the feedback people give you and use it to be better.

Word Vomit

Sorry for the imagery, but it’s the most accurate way to describe it. There were days that I just couldn’t figure out what to write about, so I sat down and started typing out my thoughts. Sometimes, your subconscious has something interesting to say if you let it. Every time I did this, I would have something to write about.

Things I learned about myself:

I’m not nearly as good at writing than I thought I was.
My sentences tend to be lengthy and wordy
I have tons of ideas, but no idea how to execute them.
I really missed writing.
I had no idea what the difference between passive and active voice was. 

This will be a hard month and it will really push you to be productive every day, but it’ll be worth it. Go forward and write something awesome.

The Objectification of Your Relationships

The other night I was giving relationship advice to my younger sister. She came to me worried about how her current relationship was a rebound, but it was obvious that the person she was with wanted more out of the relationship, but she didn’t want to hurt him.

I told her to do the obvious: break up with him before it got to that point. It’ll just hurt him more if she didn’t.

She acknowledged that she needed to, but she couldn’t. She “needed” him for several reasons.

  1. She was still hurt from her last break up
  2. Her relationship with her best friend was not going very well
  3. Home life was inconsistent and rocky

She needed him to fill in a gap caused by adverse conditions in her life. “If everything were okay right now, I wouldn’t need him. But everything is kind of sh*t and I just need someone to rely on.”

We resolved her individual problem, but it got me thinking, don’t all relationships have a specific purpose is a person’s life? Furthermore, don’t they all become absolute once they’ve served that purpose?

It would make sense.

Think about the friends who you completely lost contact with after high school. The purpose of those relationships were to keep each other company in school. Once school ended, you had no use for each other and moved on. Very similar to relationships between coworkers.

In romantic relationships, the purpose can vary, but at a young age, they’re usually for fun or to experience the silly notions of romance that are generally unrealistic. Once the fun and the romance fades, so does the relationship.

However, there are relationships that are more complicated and last a lot longer than that. This, in my opinion, would be because after the relationship served its initial purpose, we’re able to assign it a new one. The relationship we have with our parents is a very extreme version of this.

From birth to about sixteen or seventeen, we need them because we literally cannot live as humans without them. It’s a subconscious dependence that helps us develop into functioning adults. At eighteen the need for that relationship shifts. Now we need them because we can’t afford to pay the basic necessities on top of school, but once we are able to afford that, the need for the relationship goes away and we assign a new one. Instead of “I need them to survive” it’s “I need them to be my roots or a place to go back to if all else fails. Some life advice would be great too.”

Long term romantic partners are almost the same. After the initial purpose of providing fun and romance (the honeymoon phase), it shifts to a type of reliance, whether that’s financial, emotional or physical. For me personally, I rely on my SO to teach me. He lives a lifestyle that I want to live, but don’t know how.

After that most people probably want kids, so you assign each other the purpose of ‘mother’ or ‘father’ to my children. It progresses from there. (Keep in mind that I might have missed several parts of a serious romantic relationship because I’ve never been that deep into one.)

Of course, all of these are assumptions based off of the objectification of very complicated relationships. The relationships don’t feel this obvious because they’re clouded with emotions and feel-good hormones, but if you’re able to look past it and ask yourself “what’s the purpose of this relationship?” you’d probably find the same things.

Objectifying your relationships can help you pinpoint which ones are healthy, which ones are abusive, the ones you need to put more effort in and perhaps some of the ones you need to back away from for a while. 

Landing Page Critique

For this critique, I took a website for a local Albuquerque company and dissected their landing page.

The company’s website I choose is called ABQid, and it’s focused on helping Albuquerque startups get recognized and funded. I love this concept because it’s helping companies get noticed and potentially flourish in New Mexicos struggling economy.

Here’s what I critiqued:

  1. First Impressions
  2. What’s unclear?
  3. What impressed or disgusted me?
  4. Did I still have questions?
  5. Do I feel inclined to click their call to actions?
  6. How could this website be better?

As a side note, I’d really like to see a solid logo for ABQid. This is a cool company that deserves recognition, and I think a logo would really help.

How to Build Strong Story Characters

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81% of people in the United States say that they want to write a book (that’s about 200 million people), however, only about 10% of that population actually will. Why? 

There are tons of reasons, most are due to a lack of will power to complete their novel or sit through the tedious process of getting the book published. Some people just lack the skills to do so.

However, you can always learn something new that will improve your writing.

I’ve written two books, hundreds of short stories, three screenplays and a countless number of bad, angsty poems. For everything that I’ve written, I’ve probably read twice that. I’m currently struggling to get one of my books published (this is totally okay, Stephen King’s book Carrie was rejected 30 times), but now I want to share my knowledge on how to create amazing characters.

Tip: If you want a lot of diverse characters, go to a mall or another busy public area and base characters features’ off of people you see. The best way to write about people is to watch them or get to know them- sounds strange, but once you put it into practice it works.

The easiest way to get really good at this is to break your personality down first.

Start with how you identify:

Appearance:

Are you fat or thin? What’s your hair, eye, and skin color? How do you style your hair (including hair dye)? What’s your height and ethnicity? Do you have any birthmarks, moles or deformities? what are your nails like? Do you have any tattoos?  What’s the one part of your body that you’ve never bees self-conscious of? What’s the one part you’ve always been self-conscious of?

Family:

What’s your home life like? How many people live there and how do they treat you? Who’s your favorite parent or sibling? If you can move, why are you still living there? If you already have, what do you miss about living with your family? What don’t you miss? Are you married? If so, why’d you marry them? Do you have kids? Have they moved out? What do you miss about that?  This is a loaded section, but you get the point. What’s your family history like?

School:

What level of education do you have? How do you feel about it? Do you want to keep going once you graduate? Do you have issues with the school systems? Where you a bad kid or a good one? Grades? Where you popular or no? Do you speak a lot of languages?

Sexual orientation/ preference:  

Are you LGBT+, straight, or questioning? How do you feel about it? Is this a large part of your life? How did your family feel about it? If you’re comfortable or doing this exercise for a slightly more adult book, go into your sex life too.

Hobbies:

What do you enjoy doing? List them all out and how they’ve impacted your life or why you enjoy them.

Health:

Are you healthy? What kind of medications are you on and why? Have you had surgery before? Do you go to a doctor regularly? What’s your diet and exercise like?

Religion/philosophy in life:

What do you believe in and why? Did you have religion forced on you as a kid? What led up to you deciding what you believe in? Did you have some opposing force in your life that didn’t like the way you believed?

What’s your philosophy in life and why? What caused you to believe that way? How do you feel about all of this?

Great, the long part is out of the way. Now we get to change our perspective. This might look shorter, but it’ll probably be harder if you haven’t considered these things before.

How people identify you:

Personality:

When you walk into a room, do people immediately notice you, or do you fall into the background? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Where do you spend your free time? Do you tend to go with the crowd or lead it? Are you a pushover? Do you suck up to anyone? Are you nosey or do you not care?

How you talk:

Do you speak in a monotone? How quickly do you speak? Do you use a lot of short, easy words, or a lot of long words that no one understands? Do you use verbal fillers? What about cuss words? What kind of slang do you use? How often do you use slang or cuss words? Do you often use your hands when you talk or say things you immediately regret? Do you think everything out before you say it, or do you just blurt out your thoughts? Is your voice deep or high pitched? Can you sing or rap?

Strange/annoying habits or beliefs:

You might have to ask around for the answer to this one, but you can make them up for a character. Some tap their foot no matter what they’re doing. Others never put away their phone, some wear sunglasses indoors. Some people are anti-vaxers or don’t believe in the moon landing. I personally have to have music or background noise, or I’ll lose my mind. I talk about my boyfriend and my Hydro Flask way too often, and I have an annoying habit of asking ‘why’ about anything and everything.

What are things that annoy you about yourself? List them here.

What do people see in this person that they don’t see in themselves? Good or bad.

Another thing to ask the people around you. Use the things they say and the things you notice about other people as examples for your characters. This is honestly the best way to do it. Write something for a parent, a coworker and someone you met once or twice.

Other things to consider:

Who are you friends with? Who are you dating? Why?

What do you regret the most about your childhood? About school or the way your life is right now?

Do you have a giant personality flaw? Do you know about it or are you oblivious to it? (you’ll have to ask someone for this)

What’s your favorite…? Drink from Starbucks, color, food, type of shoe/clothing, book to read, show to watch, way to take notes, person, pet, place, parent, sibling, way of life or celebrity?

Do you prefer rice or over pasta, soup over salad or Netflix over Hulu?

What’s the biggest thing in your past that’s traumatized you? What caused your mental illnesses?

Do you long for something that you can’t have, or don’t know how to get? This could be fitness or health. Maybe it’s money. Why?

The fact is that people are complicated. When you’re making a (main) character, you want them to be just as complicated as you, which is why this exercise works. After you’ve done this for yourself, do it for someone you know, then create your own character from scratch. Just remember that everything is connected. If your character were physically abused as a child, but they aren’t afraid of sudden movements as an adult, then you might not be building your character properly.

Tip: When writing a character, consider them their own entity. Don’t mess with their personality once you start writing your story, even if it convenient for the plot (unless you plan on redesigning your character). That’s lazy writing. Build your characters first, then build your plot and leave them alone.  You can’t change another person just because it’s convenient for you, so don’t do it to your characters.

Copywriting Exercise: Self Help vs. Free Coffee

In an attempt to develop my own style of copywriting, I took a look at a successful copy, broke it down into a formula then mimicked it with something of my own.

For this exercise, I decided to use John Lee’s Dumas’ ad for his newsletter “Fire Nation”

At First Glance:

This is a well thought out ad.

In terms of design, it’s well balanced, not too busy and easy on the eyes. I also like that they used the Fire Nations logo right behind John. It’s a noticeable logo and it helps draw your eyes back towards the text- that was clever.

The first thing you see is the “Welcome, Fire Nation!” across the top. For me, this immediately piques my interest because of two reasons: 1) I watched Avatar the Last Airbender religiously as a child (and if you did too, you understand why I wanted to keep reading) and 2) He’s calling out a very specific type of person and welcoming them in.

Then, your eyes are drawn to John, who puts a face to the ad. Physiologically, you’re not more likely to sign up because you know there’s an actual person involved.

After that, you move to a small chunk of text that gets you curious, “Are you ready for financial and lifestyle freedom?” Uh, who isn’t?!

Immediately after, the call to action. Join the newsletter and he’ll help you prepare to ‘ignite’. A clever play on words.

The Formula:

Explains How the Product can Bring Value

In a short and simple paragraph, this ad identifies something everyone wants, and then immediately offers a solution with an intriguing call to action.

Putting a Face to the Brand

By putting his image, he’s building trust and implying that he used his own tips to bring financial and lifestyle freedom to himself.

Clean Design and Constant Theme

The minimalistic design helps build credibility and eliminates all other distractions so that it’s very clear what the purpose is. The theme helps bring a feeling of unity to the ad.

Using Logos as a Design Element

Using a Logo like this is just plain smart. It helps users to remember it the next time they see it while keeping the focus on John.  

Other Things I Noticed:

The lighting! If you look closely, the left side of the ad is better illuminated than the right side, again setting into his theme of ‘fire’ and bringing more attention to the advertisement part of his ad.

How I mimicked it:

I built an ad for the Starbucks’ rewards program using this formula, (I know I talk about Starbucks a lot, but I’m literally there 40+ hours a week and I usually do homework in the lobby in between shifts. It’s always on my mind).

I actually had a ton of fun doing this, but it was surprisingly challenging to mimic the formula. For one, my design isn’t as simple or clean as Johns is, but if I messed with the formatting a bit more, I bet I could do it. I’ll probably end up doing more of these in the future.

How to Survive Dieting

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For people with mental illnesses, lack of impulse control or a health issue that can cause difficulty in making good decisions (i.e. concussions) eating right doesn’t just require control, it can require an entire mental reset.

I personally struggle with two of those three things and to top it off, I work at a Starbucks, where hyper-palatable drinks and food items are abundant and inescapable. I had basically given up on dieting and simply tried to make better choices occasionally.

That was until my boyfriend decided to do a four-week metabolic reset diet based on the book The Metabolism Reset Diet by Alan Christianson. The diet basically consists of two protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner, a combination of super clean proteins, rice or lentils and a ton of vegetables. I thought he was crazy, but he asked me to support him in the diet by doing some of the harder parts with him (the protein shakes).

So, I bunkered down and just agreed to do the whole thing with him, mostly because he asked me to, partly because I wanted to see if I could do it. We’re a week in, and I’m honestly super surprised that I’ve made it this far.

How?

I Had Someone to Do it With

Having someone to hold you accountable is usually my number one tip when it comes to things like diets and due dates. When you ask someone to help you ‘stick to a diet’ or to do it with you, you’re signaling to your brain that it’s more than a personal commitment and that you’d let another person down if you gave up.

It also provides a sense of support. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that you are already one fourth the way through it, or that there are a ton of health benefits. Other times, you just need to hear that someone you love would probably give up if it wasn’t for you helping them out.

I Stopped Telling Myself “I Deserve This”

At the end of a hard day, I would always tell myself “I deserve this” and then eat a brownie or a cake pop. On days that were especially rough, I might also have a super sweet blended beverage too. The fact is, I probably didn’t deserve it as much as I wanted it, and I was just hurting myself in the long run.

There are plenty of other ways to treat yourself that don’t involve food. Professional massages, bath bombs, getting your eyebrows waxed and threaded, or even buying yourself a new bag to replace the one that keeps falling apart. You’re not a dog, don’t reward yourself with food.

I had to find different ways to treat myself because, in reality, I don’t deserve ‘it’ nearly as much as my body deserves to be healthy.

I Chose to Eat Right

Diets can be especially difficult because you put yourself in a very limited mindset. You can’t have this, or you absolutely must avoid that. While it’s true for the diet to work, telling yourself that you can’t gets exhausting after a while.

It’s easier to tell yourself that you choose not to eat the brownie rather than you can’t. This simple change of words helps our brain build up the ability to choose not to do it on a regular basis so that we can make that decision subconsciously.

I Got Rid of All the Junk

Your will power is limited. Everyone’s is. People who have to make more choices with willpower at the beginning on the day have a harder time doing so later. Limit where you have to make those hard decisions. Because I work at a fast food restaurant, I got rid of all other temptations at home so that I only have to exert my will power at work.

The first few days were hard, but the good news is that your willpower is also like a muscle. The more you exert your willpower, longer it will last through your day.

I Believed in Superstitions

This one is a personal thing I did to help me stick to my diet. On the first day, I pulled something out of a high cupboard and knocked over a glass tincture while food prepping. It rolled, fell to the floor and shattered before I even realized I’d knocked it over.

It sucked having to clean it up, but I was always told that breaking glass means the breaking of a bad habit. I couldn’t help but feel like it was some sort of sign while I picked up little glass shards off the floor.

Even though I’ve been successful for this past week, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been hard, it just means that it’s been more rewarding. Even on the day that I had to go to work on one of our busiest days of the week with three new people for the night. This was after I had two panic attacks that morning. It was hard, and all I wanted to do was to eat something sugary, but I didn’t, and I’m very proud of myself for that.

I still have three weeks to go, but it’ll be worth it in the end.