Book Review: The Power of Habit

Since starting grad school, I haven’t read for pleasure much, but this summer had granted me some much appreciated free time and my boyfriend recommended I read “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. After he shared a bit of what it was about, I knew he was right.

etc_stack12__01inline__202The book somehow blends marketing, sociology and self-help seamlessly into a series of interconnected stories and anecdotes that make this book impossible to put down. Duhigg discusses habits of individuals, organizations and societies. He explains where habits come from, the components of a habit and how to reform them. While the book itself is easy to read, my academic side was satisfied with the abundance of citations! I feel like Duhigg really did his research and if I questioned any of his statements, I could easily flip back and see where he got his information.

Understanding habits isn’t only useful on a personal level (and trust me, you will see habits in every part of your life after this book), but it is also useful for communicators. Duhigg provides helpful insights about how people make decisions, and shares several case studies about how companies use this information.


Telling Your Story With Google Maps

I’m a big fan of Google. They have lots of cool tools that make my life easier, like Google Drive and Google Alerts. Another fun tool that is useful beyond just getting you where you’re going is Google Maps. Did you know you can create your own maps in Google for personal use or for an organization? The possibilities are endless. Map your favorite walk around the city, map and share your favorite beaches, create a map for a loved one with all the important places from your relationship (I dunno, it might be cute?), or map the DrinkAbout route like Sarah Grieco did here.

Recently, I made a Google map for California Sea Grant, where I am currently a communications fellow. CA Sea Grant is celebrating its 40th anniversary and we wanted to show what fellows and trainees from over the  years are up to. If you click “view larger map,” you can see more detail. For instance, I was able color code the markers based on the type of fellowship each alumnus had. This simple, easy-to-make map has not only served as a visual to show Sea Grant’s impact on ocean policy, but also as a tool for former fellows to network with fellow alumni in their area.

For directions on how to make your own map, check out this YouTube video made by Google:

Young Professional Series: Whitney Walsh

For the second installment of our young professional series, we went to our other third, Whitney. Besides being a bestie to both of us, she also does both of our hair. In fact, it was probably fifth grade when she first dyed Nicole’s hair.

Name: Whitney Walsh

Profession: Hair Stylist

Current Position: Stylist/Color Specialist at Sanctuary Salon

What is your favorite thing about being a hair stylist?

My favorite thing about being a hair stylist is that every day is completely different, and with that, brings new challenges to achieve the hair my clients have pictured. It also allows me to be very creative and be hands on with people.

Whitney doing hair for a wedding.

Whitney doing hair for a wedding.

As a hair stylist you don’t simply do hair, but you are also a business owner. What do you do to promote your business?

As a small business owner, I rely mostly on referrals. To encourage my clients to refer me, I offer rewards for each new client they send in. If I’m having a slow day it’s best to hit the streets and meet new people by walking around and passing out business cards and putting my face and name out there.

As a hairstylist, how important is your personal brand?

At the salon we really try to build a whole salon brand, not so much an individual brand because we’re a team and able to reach more people as a unit rather than individual. People often compliment the atmosphere and us being a family and working well together. Clients want to feel welcome and a positive energy from everyone in the salon, not just one person.

Are you allowed to have a bad hair day?

No, I’m not allowed to have a bad hair day. If I’m having trouble with my do one day, luckily I have nine other stylists who can put me together.

Want to make an appointment with Whitney? Call Sanctuary Salon at 951-956-8269 or check out their Facebook Page!

Call Whitney if you want to look at feel great. The drive to Temecula is way worth it (if you are in SD like us) and you can always hit up some wineries after being pampered!

Call Whitney if you want to look and feel great. The drive to Temecula is way worth it (if you are in SD like us) and you can always hit up some wineries after being pampered!

Giving Back to Your Profession

The holidays are supposed to be a season of giving and that is something we really saw at Minglebells San Diego. Minglebells is a huge networking event/holiday party where all types of communication professionals in San Diego get together and have a good time, and yes, we had a great time. We caught up with old friends and met some new ones, but one new friend really stood out. Her name is Carmella and she is the president of the San Diego Ad Club.

Nicole's big raffle win.

Nicole’s big raffle win.

Carmella likely knew 75 percent of the people in the room (or so we’re guessing), but she took the time to connect with us in a very genuine and helpful manner. She recognized us as young professionals and asked us something that any new professional would want to hear, but may be afraid to ask. “Is there anyone you want to meet?” Sure the chance to be introduced to any of the well-connected professionals that were mingling out there in the abyss was nice, but the fact that she asked was nicer.

We talked about that simple gesture on the way home and how we hope that later in our careers we remember how much something small like that means to a new professional, or someone changing careers, or new to town.

We both have amazing mentors that have helped us throughout our careers, but mentorship doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. It can be a simple word of advice, a strategy sesh over coffee, or an introduction. Is there anyone that has made an impact on your career that you would like to recognize this holiday season? Leave us a comment or connect with us on Twitter (our handles are over there, on the right, see ’em?)!

A Recap of Be Business Awesome

Despite being busy and poor, we’ve been trying to get out on the town to attend fun and informative events and expand our networks. Last week, we attended A Night at the Cotton Club at the San Diego Symphony and on Tuesday, we attended Be Business Awesome: An Evening With Scott Stratten (aka @Unmarketing). The Be Business Awesome Event was put on by Social Media Club San Diego and hosted by San Diego REP.

Going into the event, Blake had an idea of what to expect since she had listened to a couple of Scott’s webinars ( “The Business of UnAwesome: How to Avoid the Flipside of Awesome Business” &  “The Business of Awesome: How to Make Your Business Boom”) and already had his book,  The Book of Business Awesome sitting on her coffee table (even if it was unread). Nicole, on the other hand, was following Blake’s demand that we attend this event and had no idea what to expect.

After getting our complimentary drink, signed books, and forced Scott to get up and take a photo with us, we headed into the event. It was at this point that we noticed Scott was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and mandals that clearly said, “IDGAF” – we even had an intense Twitter debate about the mandals (see the Tweets below).

Here’s a few of our favorite takeaways, in both text and Tweet form:

  • Passion + Knowledge=Profit
  • The best way to improve your bottom line is through your frontline
  • Twitter is a conversation, not a dictation
  • Viral=unconditional sharing
  • Marketing is not a task
  • We don’t define our brand – our customers do
  • Hire based on personality, not only the “experience” on a resume (REJOICE fellow new professionals! Scott’s out there spreading the word!)
  • Ask customers & clients what your business should “Start, Stop, and Continue”
  • It would take 4,500,000 “pigeon craps” to damage a Smart Car’s tridion safety cell*

*Info taken from one of the webinars, see the infographic here

All in all it was a great night and we even got to see our good bud, Katie Rowland!

Must-Haves for New Pros

So, you are embarking on your journey as a PR or marketing professional. You have your education and business attire, but there are a few other things that every new professional must have. While none of these things are particularly expensive, if you don’t have the extra cash, tell mom and dad you’d like a new pro starter kit for Christmas. It’s one gift they’d probably be happy to give!

My handy dandy padfolio containing my generic business cards!

  1. Business cards. When you are first starting your career, there is a good chance you will move from internship to internship for a while. During this time, the organizations you work for probably won’t make business cards for you and if they do, they will be outdated as soon as you are on to your next position. Until you are settled with a company that you know you will stay with for a while, I suggest having some generic business cards made with your name, industry and contact information. There are plenty of online printers that make it cheap and easy like Vistaprint.
  2. A padfolio. These things are great for conferences, interviews and on the job. Great for keeping your resume, business cards, a pen and whatever else you may need all in one spot. Mine is similar to this one at Staples and it has had a ton of use in the last few years.
  3. Thank-you cards and stamps. Never under-estimate the power of a handwritten thank you. Always send a thank you note after an interview, informational interview, the end of an internship, or sometime someone just helps you out. Don’t wait until after one of these events to go buy thank you cards and stamps, keep them on hand (perhaps in your padfolio)! For interviews it is especially important to get your thank you delivered as soon as possible. Write that note in that in the car, stamp it and stick it in the mail before even going home. For the actual cards, you don’t have to spend a lot on them, it’s about the content, not how fancy the card is. I’ve even bought some at the Dollar Tree. My one suggestion is to buy ones that look professional and appropriate regardless of gender.

I’m sure there are other things, but I think these three are biggies. What is your favorite career accessory?

MySpace. Revisited.

OMG, OMG, OMG. Do you remember the “old” MySpace? Ahhhhh, wonder-of-wonders it was my first social networking experience. I was a bit young for all those that came before, I didn’t even have an AIM account. But MySpace, that hit the sweet spot: middle and high school. My early social networking days consisted of trying to figure out how to organize my Top 10 8 Friends*, finding awesome new tunes, and chatting up cute boys.

So, obvi I was naturally curious when I heard that JT (Justin Timberlake for layman) was announcing the “New MySpace.” The announcement also induced strong feelings of nostalgia and I wanted to see how my old account was faring after years of non-use. Unsure if the account would still even be in operation I attempted to access it (I mean, can you imagine how much MySpace play my profile probably received in the 7 years it has lain dormant?). To my great horror I realized I couldn’t remember the email address tied to the account and I will never know what great spam messages await me.

In order to pacify my disappointed heart I decided to watch the New MySpace launch video to see what all the hype was about. Although not very heavy on info, the video is very aesthetically pleasing, with a hipster edge – alluding to the new layout’s clean look with an emphasis on pictures. Of course with MySpace’s historical focus on music (and with JT as an advocate) finding, sharing, and listening to music seems to be a key factor. One aspect I found pretty unique, and possibly fun, is the Venn Diagram of Affinity to see how you relate to various connections.

To tie this all up, how do all of you feel? Answer our poll and let us know! (What I really want to know is did anyone have any luck trying to access their old account, and if so, how many sparkley .gif messages were waiting for you?)

*Change made thanks to Bret’s superior knowledge of MySpace 🙂

Networking for Communicators

If you’re in marketing or PR, you probably already know that networking is an important part of your career. For some people this can be perplexing or intimidating. Who should be in your “network”? How do you go about meeting them or keeping in touch? Here are my best answers to those questions:


  • Peers. People you go to school with or that start their careers at the same time as you are probably the easiest  group of people to get to know and stay in touch with. While they might not be the ones hiring you right away, you never know if someone’s career will take off or if they will start their own agency down the line. Plus, you and your peers can share experiences and learn about opportunities to pursue, or avoid.
  • Those with more experience than yourself. This is probably the most obvious. You want to get to know those senior  communication professionals because they offer great advice, make great references, and of course, they are more likely to be hiring.
  • Non-Communicators. It’s not always PR and marketing people that hire PR and marketing people. This point is really what inspired this post thanks to a conversation I had with social media pro, Sam Afetian, yesterday. Business alumni and entrepreneurs are great connections because you never know when they may need some PR or marketing help, whether it is a full-time job or a side gig.
  • Media. If you’re in PR in particular, you probably work with journalists. It will make both your job and theirs a lot easier if you know one another ahead of time. Get to know them and their interests and see what you can do to make their jobs easier. If they recognize your name and know you won’t send them irrelevant crap, they’ll be more likely to open your pitches.

See? Networking can be fun! This is my buddy Patrick and I at PRSA Summer Social. Photo Credit: Tim King Photography (


  • Get involved in professional organizations. PRSA, IABC, AMA… these are just a few of the many organizations wherecommunication professionals congregate. Get involved in their events, and online communities.
  • Go to events. Besides going to events held by professional organizations, look at alumni groups, general business networking events or even social events where you may have the opportunity to meet new people. Bring your business cards and don’t forget to follow-up later! If you’re meeting a lot of people, make notes on the cards you receive so you know where you met each person and what you talked about.
  • Use social networking sites. This is likely the easiest and least intimidating way to meet or stay in touch with people. Twitter is always a great way to break the ice with particular people and hashtags provide a way to find those in your industry. LinkedIn is also a great place to chat and learn from others in your profession. Don’t just create an online resume and let it sit until you need a job, participate in groups, share information and engage with your connections!
  • Meet in person and one-on-one. This is my favorite way to get to know people and although it takes time, the connections you make are a lot stronger. After meeting someone at an event, or even online, follow-up and simply say, “hey would you like to meet for coffee?” It really is that simple. I’ve had many coffee dates and they always turn a stranger into a solid acquaintance or an acquaintance into a friend.
  • Be consistent/Stay in touch. Networking isn’t just about finding a job. Not only may you end up looking for a job in the future and need those contacts you’ve neglected, but professional networks serve other purposes. You can learn from them! Learn from the successes and failures of others, learn about opportunities for your clients or learn about industry events or awards.
  • Keep your eyes open. You never know where or when you may meet someone so keep your eyes open and a business card in your wallet!
  • Be giving. When meeting new people, don’t think about how they can help you now or later, think about how you can help them. If you have this attitude, it will reward you in the long run.

Hope these help! And if anyone wants to get coffee, let Blake and I know!

My 1st Work Conference

This post may be making it up a bit late today but I’m still in a New Orleans-work-conference-hangover-daze. Basically, this is the first week back from a week stay in NOLA, exciting right?

The backdrop for our conference.

To say the least, I was pretty stoked. This was the first time I was invited as part of a job to leave the state (AND BE PAID FOR IT!). So, off I went to the ASBDC 2012 Conference in New Orleans to learn about all things marketing and how to apply it to help my organization. While attending various sessions (and getting tons of free swag) I learned a few things about conference attendance:

1). Make your presentation INTERESTING!

Especially if your session is scheduled for 8 hours (*Ahem*, Google Training Day, *cough*) no matter how cool your swag is, I will fall asleep and resort to scanning my social media channels if your resonation is not interesting! If I can learn more about how to apply your product by Googling you, you’ve failed.

Free food and swag can keep me interested for a while but not forever!

However, I will give shout-outs to Eric Spellmann (@ericspellmann) for his fantastic presentation on the “12 Mistakes on Small Business Websites” and to Herb Lawrence (from @asbtdc_asu) who presented on how to utilize social media to engage both consumers and businesses.

2). Don’t bring up the main competitor.

If you are presenting to a national organization don’t use their main compeitor as an example…I would’ve thought that was common sense.

3). Network!

The entire time. I met a new co-worker that is stationed at one of my office’s satellite centers who I connected with and had so much fun with – I even gave her a mini Twitter schooling (follow @katienino and get her up to speed on all things Twitter!). I met incredibly helpful people that I will be in contact with regularly.

Networking even allowed me to be mentioned on a different blog, check out my little mention here and as a plug for Jimdo and their SmallBizRocket initiative, if you need a website, these boys can help you out!

4). Get out of the “Conference Mode”

Of course I had to hit Bourbon street and go on a few tours! This is the time where I really connected with coworkers and met a few nice people along the way (some of which even invited me back to visit their home in the future).

Baby alligators are somewhat squishy. Hold one if you have the chance!

Yes, there was a baby goat on the street that I got to hold. This is the face you make when the baby goat you’re holding tries to jump from your hands.

Stop These Social Media Practices! (PLEASE)

Being young professionals in the PR and marketing worlds, we are basically FORCED to keep a constant eye on social media and the emerging trends. With our continuous scanning of various social media platforms we have developed our “social media pet peeves.” This post is to plead all of you out there in the online world to help us lead the charge to stamp out the following social media practices:

  • Om Nom Nom, #OmNomNom: I don’t care how you insert this, you don’t say it in real-life (Oh God, please don’t tell me you say it in real-life), so don’t put it online. All I can imagine when I read this is that you are currently shoveling that meal you just shot with the Toaster filter in Instagram into your face and are talking with your mouth open.
  • Linking posts to all your outlets: (Thanks to LinkedIn for already doing their part to stop this!) All social media outlets are different, people! I don’t want to see your hashtag on Facebook. Write different content and stop announcing to the world that you’re social-media-lazy.
  • YOLO: Give it up people, this trend has outlived its welcome.
  • Notes to self: I am not your virtual post-it note. I will not keep your diet on track or give you kudos for your 1,590 mile run that you completed in 1.5 hours.
  • Rambling multi-part tweets: I’m following hundreds of peeps, your first segment probably got lost as I’m scrolling through my feed and now I think you are spurting out incomplete thoughts. If you must do this, PLEASE include some indication that the Tweet is either the first or second or third part.
  • #FF: Really, we’re not over this yet? If I can’t figure out how to follow interesting people through their interesting connections, I don’t deserve their insights.
  • Linking to your blog…that’s about a year old, with no new relevancy or reason: If I didn’t read a year ago, I don’t want this old info now! Update! Make it applicable to a current trend or at least tell me why you are sharing it now!
  • Liking every picture someone posts on Facebook:  You have the ability to like the album. I don’t need 1,000,084 notifications on my Newsfeed that you like Stan’s last trip to Vegas.

If you do any of these, we don’t hate you. Some of the things we do on social media might be just as annoying to some people. What are some of the social media practices you think must end?