Category Archives: Work and Life

A Question of Trust


David Meerman Scott has a great post about why it matters whether an employer lets you use social media at work. One sentence sums it up nicely: “When companies ban social networking, the best employees leave. They sense they are not trusted.”

So, if you’re an employer, here are a few questions for you:

  • Are your employees getting their work done on time?
  • Do you let your employees access social media sites at work?
  • Do you let them check their personal e-mail?
  • Will you find ways to incorporate regular telecommuting on at least a part-time basis?

If you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to any of the others, then I have only one more question for you:

Why did you hire so many people you don’t trust?

Also, you may want to ask yourself if you’re really as good a boss as you think you are.

Photo by Txspiked, via Flickr.


Basics of Business Communication


Guess why no one wants to read this book.

No matter what job we hold, all of us have occasion to share business information with others. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, and forget what the overall purpose is: to make sure that someone gets the information they need. With that in mind, here are a few tips:

1) Know your audience. It’s the first rule of comedy, and it’s the first rule of pretty much everything else. Do not assume that the recipient is going to find your snarky comment funny. And don’t write to a company vice president as if he or she is your co-worker in the next cubicle.

2) Know why you’re writing. Do you want to provide a project summary? Commend a colleague? Point out issues that are arising? Focus on meeting your goals.

3) Keep it short. Everyone is busy, from that VP to that co-worker. Provide necessary context, but get to the point.

4) Check your spelling. Do not rely entirely on Word or Outlook. Get a dictionary, whether it’s in print or online. Use it.

And now, for a few related links:

Write a Complaint Letter Like a Pro: Good for more than complaint letters. (The Consumerist)

E-mail Etiquette 101: Things to keep in mind. (Michael Hyatt)

We’d All Be Better Off if the “Reply All” Button Just Went Away: Seriously, beware. It’s necessary, but it can get you into serious trouble if you don’t remember what “all” means. (Me)

Photo by romana klee, via Flickr.

We’d All Be Better Off if the “Reply All” Button Just Went Away

Seriously, it’s still causing trouble. You’d think by now we’d all have learned to be more careful, but no. Check out this post from Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess (also available at @thebloggess).

I’ve had my own corporate run-ins, although not involving pitches. In the past few years I’ve gone to war with AT&T and TiVo over service and billing issues. I’ve won, and the reason I’ve won is that I was right, and I put social media tools to use. I even told the TiVo supervisor that I was going to do it. Fair warning, I say. So why would anyone broadcast that response regarding a blogger with a huge, devoted audience?

Don’t try to one-up snark with insults. It doesn’t work, and it’ll get out somehow. That’s how it works these days. More of us need to learn that. Yes, we’re all human, and yes, we all make mistakes. But maybe it’s time to retire “Reply All.”

RIP Steve Jobs

Mac Classic Retro

In 1982 or so, we got our first home computer–an Apple II+. It had a dual floppy drive, and we used it to play Zork and write papers for school (dot-matrix printers and pin-feed perforated paper–I don’t miss either of those).

In college I had an IBM clone (one that no one has ever heard of, save the woman I bought it from when she didn’t need it any more) that was portable because it had a handle. It weighed 24 pounds, but it had a handle. But for whatever reason I couldn’t save a paper longer than five pages, so it didn’t last long once I left my undergrad days.

When I got to grad school, I knew I wanted to go back to Apple. The only way to buy one was through the athletic department, and somehow I was able to make that work. But it wasn’t like you went into a store and picked it up–no, you had to order it and wait for it to arrive. So I placed my order for whatever was available at that point, and I waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, the woman in charge of computer orders called me and said, “Sorry it’s taking so long. But I wanted to check and see if you wanted to upgrade to a Mac Classic. It’s got better memory and it’s cheaper.” Sold!

I used that computer for a long time. When I first got Internet access, it took me forever to set up. Between the out-of-date instructions and dial-up (and only one phone line in my apartment), there was a lot of plugging and unplugging the modem to call for support and then re-connect to do what they said. The guys at the ISP said that while they were sorry I was having so much trouble, it was really helping them pinpoint where their instructions needed to be revised. But even so, one of them finally said (during what was probably my 10th call), “Kathy? Why are you at home setting up Internet access at 9 p.m. on a Saturday?) I said, “I had no idea it would take five hours.” And what I thought was, Sheesh, at least he’s at work. I’m doing this on my own time. Oh, and I could only get text-based sites. Fortunately there were a lot of them. I planned an entire out-of-state trip online, using only text-based sites.

But the Web kept developing, and I had to buy a new computer that would display visuals. Naturally, I stuck with Mac. It helped that we had them at work, and that our license allowed me to install Word on my home computer, so that I didn’t have to buy my own copy (I still miss Word 5.1, by the way. Just saying.) for when I needed to work from home. A few computers later, and I was buying the G4 desktop that we still have at home. It’s old, but it works like a charm. My MacBook works, too–it’s just got that old Motorola chip that keeps me from upgrading the OS, which keeps me from upgrading the software, which means that it won’t talk to my iPod Touch any more.

My new laptop isn’t a Mac. Our budget and priorities have changed, and I just couldn’t justify buying a Mac, much as I wanted to.

Much as I enjoy what I can do on the computer, I’m not really a computer person. But I have fond memories of the Macs I’ve owned. They made technology fun. Steve Jobs did that. I never met him, and I never will, but if I did, I’d just say, “Thanks.”

Photo by fuzzz, via Flickr.

Fire Drill

Fire Alarm
My building is having a fire drill this afternoon, sometime between noon and 5. We don’t know exactly when our floor will go; that way, we’re not all in the lobby when the alarm goes off–we’re actually doing normal things.

Except that as one of my suites “wardens,” I’m hyper-aware that it could happen at any moment. Or not. So basically I’m just sitting around, waiting for a fire drill.

That’s not productive. No one is benefiting from this, not even me.

So, what’s your fire drill? And what else could you be doing right now?

Photo by Night Owl City, via Flickr.

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