Rambling Thoughts from a Wandering Mind


Category: Professional

Working from home during a pandemic

It’s day one of my employer’s work-from-home protocol. Everyone who can do their work from home, outside of certain “essential staff” is to do so.

My spouse started working from home on Monday and our daughter has been home since then, as well, as all the schools and daycares in the province are closed for the foreseeable future (schools will be operating remotely starting sometime after spring break, so the official word is that classes are cancelled for now; the daycares are simply closed, though).

Trying to work from home in an uncertain time, and also keep our child busy with an ad hoc “home school” is certainly an interesting challenge. My wife has been doing it for two days already. Our dining room walls are quickly becoming covered in D’s paintings. We’ll soon run out of space for new art!

Tricks or tips for working remotely while also caring for a child would be much appreciated!

Networking for Introverts

What better way to get back into the work week than with networking tips for introverts?

As an introvert who is often nervous about attending networking events, I find these tips useful, especially the first one:

If networking events make you nervous, don’t psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations. You may not meet 20 new contacts or impress others with your best joke — and that’s okay. One quality conversation is more beneficial than 20 superficial ones.

That’s a key takeaway. You don’t need to meet everyone at the mixer. You just need to meet two or three people, make a meaningful connection, and then nurture that connection after the event is over.

Starting School

I start school on September 3rd. It’ll be my first time in a formal classroom setting since 2005.

The only formal schooling I’ve done since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2005 has been online. Going back to a traditional, bricks-and-mortar school and not working full time is going to be a huge shift. But I’m looking forward to it.

I think, in an effort to get my name out and practice my writing, I’ll start blogging about school — what I’m learning about the theory and practice of public relations and, more importantly, how I’m applying it when I am working.

Likely, I’ll put up a blog over on my personal portfolio site — the blog will be professional in nature so it makes sense to set it up over there — but I’ll keep things going on this site as well. This site will probably continue to be quiet, with just the odd post about my personal life, but it won’t go away.

Don’t Place Your Self-worth in Your Job

A depressingly true comment from a MetaFilter post about this article:

“The truth is that the vast majority of us will not be employed in a job that is both our lifelong passion and a world-changer; that’s just not the way our global economy is.”

The first part is true and very important for people to realize, the latter has absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s never been true, ever, for most people that they were able to be employed in a job that is their “lifelong passion”.

Bottom line is that if your sense of self-actualization and happiness is primarily bound up in your job in the way that “lifelong passion and world-changing” implies — and, yes, that includes business majors and CS majors and engineers as well as humanities majors — then unless you’re among a fortunate minority, you’re not going to be self-actualized and you’re going to be unhappy. Because for most people a job is not that fulfilling intrinsically and if you expect it to be, you’re most likely going to be bitterly disappointed.

We have this whole culture of asking children to think about “what they want to be when they grow up” and it’s revealing and disturbing that this is saying that essential identity is found in career. And we load up kids with these expectations in picking college majors about “who they will be” and then they graduate and leave school with these hopes that they are about to “be who they should be” and it’s mostly a lie. A large number don’t ever find jobs in their chosen field. Most of those who do, eventually change careers anyway.

This isn’t because the economy is shitty, it’s always been this way.

Sometimes Doing Nothing is the Best Option

I’ve been involved with crisis communications more than once in my career. If you work in communications or public relations, it’s inevitable. But sometimes things that look like crises aren’t, and the best response to no response.

It can be hard to tell when that is the case, but using data can make it much easier.

Apply big data to new applications, including highly variable scenarios such as crisis communications. Sever months ago, a global brand found itself under attack by an online pundit, leading one of its agencies to immediately begin advocating for a full-blown response. We instead hit the pause button to see how the data played out over the next 90 minutes. Using real-time monitoring, the trend line soon indicated that the issue would run its course in a few hours—an instance where doing nothing trumped a knee-jerk reaction.

Scott Van Camp – 5 Tips to Get Started With ‘Big Data’

This assumes, of course, that your organization has the resources to collect and analyze the relevant data.

Even when a response is required, it’s important to allow yourself the time necessary to take a measured approach. Give yourself as much time as the situation will allow to decide not only if you should respond, but how.

In January 2013, Covenant Health’s Rayne Kuntz and Salima Bandali gave an excellent presentation on the importance of taking the appropriate time to plan your crisis communications before proceeding.

Covenant Health experienced a significant privacy breach when an unencrypted external back up drive, containing sensitive photos and videos of over 200 patients, went missing. Eight weeks of intense work, driven by organizational values and discernment, lead to patient notification and a news conference. The results were outstanding: patients were understanding, media presented a balanced story and staff were proud to be part of Covenant Health. They recently won an IABC Silver Leaf Award of Merit for their successful response.

IABC Edmonton – How to Communicate in a Crisis

The Prezi presentation Rayne used during the talk is available online and is definitely worth a look. It talks about the importance of planning your communications strategy even (especially!) in a crisis, as well as the importance of being honest and not trying to “spin” the situation.

The outcome of their plan was outstanding and definitely serves as a model to follow.