Saturday, March 17, 2007


i've been in atlanta this weekend for podcamp atlanta 2007 for the Night Job ... and also to check off one city on my twelve-month list. and cross this one off i shall...

it's not that i hate atlanta. it's that it's too much like the metro area i grew up in - too sprawling, too segregated, too dependent on individualized transportation. and let's not even talk about the traffic. great food, though, which i have eaten way too much of (i'll be paying for that next week). and the trip down here was worth every minute of the car ride. some highlights of my weekend:

1) stepping out of myself for the first time. i wanted to make this conference about networking - learning how to work a crowd, how to get what i want from others, and how to make time to give others what they want from me. and i've done a pretty good job, i think. i successfully sought out and had one-on-one conversations with many many people, and even ended up having a couple of people seek me out by the end of the day. that was weird, lemme tell ya.

2) the best session of the whole day for me was one entitled "removing the ums and ahs from your speech" - a whole session on how to be a more effective speaker. speaking has always been a weak point for me ... put me in front of a crowd and it only gets worse. i'm at a point in my career right now, however, that speaking is what's going to move me forward (up and out). so i wanted to take this opportunity to get that under control. and this one session was so completely worth it, i can't even describe it.

my problem is not that i need to open my mouth more often ... it's that i need to learn to close it. i know it sounds completely backwards, but my problem is that i try to think and speak at the same time, and my mouth tries to keep up with my mind and can't. so what i need to do is wait and think before i respond. what a concept, huh? so, the next couple of weeks i'm going to focus on recording myself and then listening to my conversations and being self-critical, in a positive way.

highlights of being not just at the conference but in atlanta? the colleague i came with has a friend that lives here, and he took us on a driving tour of atlanta. some areas of this town are just beautiful, but this place is just way too big. there are very few 'neighborhoods' - places you can go and do several different types of things while staying within walking distance. if you want to go to a bar, there's one area of town. if you want to see a movie, there's another area. shopping & dining are in a third, and arts & culture reside in a fourth. and nobody i talked to had anything nice to say about public transport. it just doesn't cover the city as one might hope. however the dogwoods are gorgeous, and the weather is nice (if a bit chillier than i had hoped). all in all, i was underwhelmed, and although i might like to visit again i feel no drive to live here or even to spend much more time exploring.

time to do some reading and then hit the hay. i'm exhausted ... i can't believe how much energy it takes to just talk to people all day. we've got more sessions tomorrow, followed by a long car ride home, so i will need all the beauty rest i can get. ciao y'all...

Monday, March 12, 2007

who wants to be soggy and yellow?

just got back from a Night Job staff meeting in which I signed myself up to do a training for one of our clients. nobody asked me to do it, i just said i would ... and oh shit, i'm already nervous. i'll be okay ... i just need to get in touch with the client and find out what they expect of me before i show up.

anxieties: i'll probably be going all by myself, and so i won't have anybody to fall back on if i screw up or totally lose it. also, i'm young (as one of my colleagues likes to point out at every opportunity). are these folks going to take me seriously? positive spin on said anxieties: not having anyone to fall back on means i'll have to work through whatever comes, and will learn much more from the experience. also, being young means that i'll have a little more leeway ... and that it'll just be that much more impressive when i show how well i know what i'm talking about. (heh, look at me pretending to be confident.)

i think i'd really like someone who completely does not know me to be there and to give me feedback (constructive criticism) on my presentation. but it seems unprofessional to ask that of the clients myself. maybe i'll talk with the person who does the scheduling, and will create a feedback form that she can send out?

as for this post's title: i was told to "just be a sponge" during my trip to atlanta. i think i understand what the speaker was trying to get at: that i should go and absorb as much as possible and bring it back to the group. but what my crazy-ass self heard in that instant was "go be passive, learn from everybody else by listening, but don't make too many waves" - which is exactly what i'm tired of doing, both at Day Job and at Night Job. i want to learn, but i want to learn actively by going out, by making mistakes, by falling flat on my face and having to pick myself up again. so although my initial reaction (of defiance - "shit no, i don't wanna be no fucking sponge") was probably unfair ... i'm still not gonna be a sponge. :)

but really, i'm going to hotlanta for two reasons: the only person at this place i'm going to know is Chica, the friend & colleague who's going with me, and if i fall flat on my face and make an ass of myself it won't make a bit of difference. however, if i network well it could open lots of doors for me. and i'm totally fired up about that. reason two: atlanta is on my list, and Chica has good friends there that will be able to answer lots of questions for me. huzzah!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

and in my copious free time

i have only (only!) two goals for this year:
  1. get comfortable with putting myself out in the world, whether it be speaking in front of groups, or just chatting with a stranger in a bar.
  2. find someplace new to live.
Small Midwestern College Town is great for most of its inhabitants ... there's always something cool on campus to see or do. but, for the single recent grads like me that want somewhere to hang out that /isn't/ crawling with students and young families, and that want a little variety, it's far from ideal. i can only eat at the same restaurants, see the same faces on the sidewalk, be on a first-name basis with bank tellers for oh-so-long before it DRIVES ME MAD.

the pros: i love both of my jobs. Day Job pays me less than it should given the work i do, but it's enough to make ends meet and allows me fantastic learning opportunities and a fairly flexible schedule. Night Job, working for a company i helped create, is fun and affords me different learning experiences than Day Job - plus it has the potential to go full-time, and is not tied to a location. it's entirely possible that at some point i will quit Day Job, move to a City of My Choosing, and go full-time with Night Job.

the cons: in order for Night to get to that point, however, i will need to work more hours and possibly travel, which will conflict with Day Job. to make matters more complex, Day Job is at an academic institution and i will soon have to sign on for the next school year. ... which means Night Job might not turn into Day Job for a whole 'nother year, if ever. and, i have a gut feeling that there are some changes coming down the pike that will make it harder, not easier, for me to continue having two jobs.

but i digress. the most important thing for me is goal #2. even goal #1 is primarily intended to allow me to be more employable, so i can focus first on finding a place i want to live, and then second on finding a job that i want in that place. i came to Small Midwestern College Town as a student without ever visiting the place, and though i've somehow stumbled into a world-class first job / support system / surrogate family / living situation, small-town living is not for me. not now, at least. is city living for me? i dunno, i've never tried it. so, i'm going to focus on spending the next twelve months visiting a dozen cities (Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland OR, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto plus two others TBD) so i can begin figuring out what's out there, what i want, and what i don't want.

i'll get to many of these places through the jobs, which will help keep expenses down. as for the rest of them? i'll just have to figure it out. wish me luck ...