Creatives vs. Technicals: Which Should You Focus On?

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One of life’s greatest conflicts is between the arts and the sciences. The right brain and the left brain. The creatives and the technicals.

In reality, no one thinks that one of these groups is inherently useless. But what’s the right mix? Honestly, it changes depending on what sort of project you’re looking at. A SaaS company would need a larger proportion of technicals rather than creatives, where something like a film project might require more creatives than technicals, and a video game might be split roughly 50/50. I also believe that the greatest competitive advantage here are the people who are focused on training both sides of this dichotomy. If you’re well trained as both a creative and a technical, you can do wide swaths of the work yourself; this not only helps with expenses on projects but can also help in terms of career options.

Everyone is naturally aligned with one of these two. I found from a young age that the creative element aligned with me greatly, but that I had trouble fulling realizing projects due to that missing half. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried honing my technical side by focusing more on programming and engineering projects, in hopes of equalizing both these sides. I’ve found that doing this has helped me greatly, and I’d recommend it to most other people. There’s certainly more technical guides and tutorials out there on the internet – probably because technical knowledge is less ethereal than creative knowledge – but there are still resources out there for things like art, writing, and design.

Overall, the question should not be about being a creative or a technical, but rather a creative and a technical. Some might argue that more focus is better; I’m not saying that you can’t be more focused in one area than another, but I do believe that having at least basic knowledge contained in both fields will do wonders for you long-term.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.

What you Should be Doing Instead of Networking

 

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Networking. There is perhaps no word more overused in the business world, and no word that more serves as the bane to my existence.

Now, there’s clearly an importance to meeting people. Connecting with others can lead to new doors and avenues that were previously out of reach. What I dislike is the commoditizing of connections; of turning the simple act of being with like-minded people into a business meta-game. There is a strict difference between networking in the games people play, and networking in the way it really ought to be. This is the difference between networking and making real connections.

I fell down the networking trap not too long ago. Coming in as an undergraduate to a business school, you are constantly blasted with the call to networking; pelted with the aphorisms such as “It’s not what you know, but who you know” (ironic coming from a university). Caught in the crossfire, I made massive contact lists; I emailed someone the best alumni from the college, got on the phone with them, asked questions, answered questions, and then… nothing. There was no spark. Despite the fact that I was doing exactly what the business world was telling me to do, I got nothing out of it. I decided to stop the charades of sending out 100 emails a week and focus on what the hell this was all about in the first place.

“Networking” isn’t a business game. It’s just a derogatory world for socialization. When I got on the phone, I asked them questions about their path, what they did at their work, and some of their bigger goals. And then, they answered. The problem with this is that this is neither something that inherently interested me, nor something that inherently interested them. It was all cardboard, recycled hundreds of times by both of us. If you really want to make a connection with someone, connect with them. It’s much easier than the networking game sounds; find a topic that interests you, and see if there’s a match.

I’ll take the classic example of programming. If you’re chatting with a senior engineer, don’t ask him how he got there or generic questions about the company. Instead, ask him about what frameworks or languages he likes to use, and see how it connects with what you like to use. If he’s a big React fan, but you prefer Vue, maybe you could go down the path of asking him why he uses React instead? (By the way, I know next to nothing about these, so my deep apologies to WebDevs if this part is cringy). Either way, you get the point. Find some starting point that interests you, and see if the other person bites. If not, pick another topic.

What if the person never bites back? What if they give fairly boring, stale answers? Well then, that’s fine as well. It just turns out that you two don’t connect very well. This happens. Simply move on to the next person, and eventually you’ll find a match.

Huh. Now that I’ve described this, it all seems so familiar. Could this possibly be… the way normal humans communicate? As it turns out, it is; you can in fact use the way you communicate with other people for networking, and vice versa. This seems pretty obvious now that I’ve written it all out, but you’d be surprised; in a world filled to the brim with networking books, networking workshops, and networking mixers, this simple idea can get lost in the mire.

Another note on this; while casting a wide net can still work, it’s not something I’d personally recommend. Especially as an undergraduate student, there’s not much you can really look for in a business contact; maybe for getting an internship or a full-time job at their firm later on, but this is pretty impersonal and also in a way scummy. I personally just like having these connections occur naturally; I go to conferences and get involved with organizations that have similar interests to mine and meet people as I go. This way, there’s much more relevant, short-term things to discuss, and the contact can still carry on into long-term use for both parties involved.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.

5 Ways to Use Automation to Vastly Increase Your Efficiency

 

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With the ongoing growth in automation and machine learning software on the market, I feel it’s important for one to take this technology to its full potential; as others begin to incorporate these automation strategies into their workload, they will begin to outperform you in a variety of ways. Here are five examples of how you can use automation to increase your own performance.

  1. Schedule Emails using Templates

This is one of my personal favorite uses of automation, since I find that I send out a lot of emails. Often I’ll schedule about 100 emails to contacts in my data base with Hubspot using a predefined template to send out evenly across the week; this power send usually only takes about 30 minutes. I usually just set up my templates in Word and copy and paste them into Gmail; however, I do know that Hubspot has its own templates system, but I haven’t really inspected it too much. I recommend the Hubspot chrome extension, which you can get here.

  1. Automate content marketing

Most content distribution systems – Youtube, Medium, WordPress – allow you to automatically share your content to social media when it is sent. However, you can additionally set up automation paths using multiple different systems or a service such as IFTTT. For example, for the podcast, I have it shared to WordPress; this then activates WordPress’ sharing, which then sends it to Twitter. When it sends to Twitter, my IFTTT applet gets the tweet automatically retweeted by some of my other Twitter accounts. You can do a lot of different combos like this, and all of them can be very helpful. As I mentioned, I would recommend something like IFTTT for this.

  1. Schedule auto-replies

In addition to scheduling beginning emails, you can set up follow-up emails as well. These systems usually cost money, however, Gmail has added an update that — although doesn’t send follow-ups — does tell you appropriate times to follow-up yourself. If you do want an automatic scheduler, you can use Rebump.

  1. Create a sales pipeline

Getting into more complicated systems, you can combo steps 1 and 3 to create a full on sales pipeline. There are quite a few pieces of software that do both of these things, but most of these cost quite a pretty penny. Rather, I would use the software I mentioned in these two steps, along with (some) manual replying, to create an automated pipeline for dealing with large amounts of contacts.

  1. Automate months worth of content

One of my favorite pieces of automation software is Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to schedule content for your social media, allowing you to no longer worry about being consistent in optimizing your marketing; free users can schedule 30 posts at a time, so this can really help ease your workload.

 

These aren’t the only things you can do with automation, and I recommend that you go out and experiment for the many APIs and software that are out there. Things like this can highly increase the efficiency of you and your business, and give you a bleeding edge over the competition.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff going on. You can subscribe to it here.

The Rise of the Personal Brand

 

 

 

The internet revolution has caused a wide range of massive changes throughout the different industries of the world. From music and movie streaming to e-commerce and grocery delivery, the world is vastly different than it was even a few years before. For this post, I’m primarily interested in one specific section of the industries the internet has changed; the job industry.

People used to work at one company, get promoted a few times, and then retire. Switching companies mid-career, especially to different industries, usually spelled certain doom; provided you could even get the job, you were working at a much lower position for much lower pay. However, things nowadays aren’t quite as simple.

Sure, lateral career switching still is a tricky balancing act. But in a world where companies are focusing more on raw skills than experience, things are a bit different. Numerous success stories have come out of people pulling from a job, learning an entirely new skill set, and getting another high paying job in a separate industry in less than a year or two. Much of this, internet-wise, can be attributed to the rise of educational resource access and easier access to job postings. However, I think that there’s something much bigger at work here too. I think this is a sign of the rise of the personal brand.

One of the biggest advancements have been with social media; I’m not just talking Facebook and Twitter here, I’m talking Youtube, Linkedin, and Medium as well. These last three specifically allow you to post expert-level content about the fields your interested in and share it with a wider world. This, in turn, gives you the ability to have a following; people who are interested specifically in the same sort of topics you post about. Now, call me crazy, but I believe in the future that this following is going to be vital; I believe that those who have the highest quality content with the highest amount of followers will begin to become the most attractive potential recruits to companies.

Let me unpack this a bit. I’ll start off by saying that it’s very likely that the people who are at the absolute top will find some way to become self-employed and not need to take on a job at a company; fair enough. But if I have around ten thousand subscribers on my channel where I make various coding projects and tutorials, I’m going to look better as a software engineer candidate. Why is this? Well, for starters, the way I work and the skill I have is already right there in front of you; there’s no need to go through the work of a formal interview because you can just see the quality of my code in the videos I produce. Secondly, my amount of subscribers – though it may seem modest – shows two things; not only do I have enough of a unique slant for ten thousand people to be interested in following me, but it also shows that I grinded hard enough to get to ten thousand people in the first place. This shows dedication and determination as well; skills that are essential in any career.

In fact, let’s go down a partial list of the most sought out job skills and see what form of media they would coincide to. Written communication? Blog posts. Verbal communication? Youtube videos. Organization? All of the above. Teamwork skills? Podcasts and collaborations. Punctuality? Livestreams. Creativity? All of the above. Emotional Intelligence? Q and A sessions.

Before the internet, all I had was a piece of paper and a thirty-minute conversation to determine whether I was going to hire you. Now, I have a whole wealth of content that you’ve made that can work for (or, to be fair, against) you. And, if you have no content, it makes things a lot harder on me, and so I might not look into your direction as much. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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