Thursday, February 23, 2012

Overwhelmed Online?

It seems that as soon as I learn and feel comfortable with one social media venue or kind of software, there’s an update or a different version. Or there’s some new or increasingly popular site I keep hearing about either via a post, article or actual recommendation.

From Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to Pinterest, from LinkedIn to Plaxo to Google+ to Friend Stream, to content sites such as The Huffington Post and Mashable, how can we be everywhere, keep up with everything...from all the messages/articles/posts to changes in how to use the sites? How do we distill the information we really want to know from the vast sea? How often are new features/layouts that valuable or better than what came before?

Case in point: Facebook’s relatively new Timeline. I haven’t heard a single good thing about it. I have heard many complaints, especially that it’s confusing to look at and makes it more difficult to find the bits of info you’re interested in. I’ve checked out a few friends that have, and agree. I hear virtual groans when friends are asked to switch over. Yet I fear I’ll have to succumb in the near future, because I don’t think we can opt out. It’s an encroaching tidal wave, hanging over our heads. Is it really an unimprovement (my word), or will I and others like or even prefer it once we suffer through and complete the learning curve?

Then there’s Pinterest, which I’ve only heard good things about, but after an admittedly brief visit seemed too busy and a probable time suck. I keep hearing more about the importance of making sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and recently more about being sure not to accept every request to Link (but only those of people you truly want to network with). I was surprised to see that one of my clients sends my LinkedIn profile link--instead of a link to my website--when recommending or introducing me to their clients.

On the other hand, if I don’t stay up to date on new technologies, I feel like a left out Luddite, old fashioned and unhip (my word). Like the world is passing me by. Just glancing at Wikipedia’s list of social networking sites is mind boggling. How many have you heard of?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What we need vs. what we want

There's a scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett is at an upscale restaurant with Rhett.  She's stuffing her face with one of the many delicious-looking desserts spread on the table before her.  A waiter passes by carrying a tray heaped with more amazing desserts.  She points eagerly and says something like, "Oooh, I want that one." 

Many of us have so much.  Yet we still desire or must buy the next shiny thing right now, whether it be a new cell phone or other updated electronic or technology item, trendy clothes, or the latest thing in home decor.  We want to be the cool kid on the block by being the first to have the iPad3 or the latest popular app.  The media and advertisers play on this urge via intriguing articles, stellar reviews and tempting ads.  Advances in technology have made purchasing easier than ever...such as's one click. 

Some of us seem to be incapable of saying no to ourselves, of denying or even postponing a purchase until they've saved up or at least can get that item on sale.  Some may not even compare prices to see if there's a better deal.  The immediate gratification of ownership and playing with a new toy prevails over common sense and the size of our bank accounts. Self-control and caution are thrown to the wind. 

Retail therapy may soothe us, make us feel better in the short term.  We may enjoy our new toy(s).  But how many have buyer's remorse, or feel guilty when the bill arrives?  Go deeper into credit card debt or put off home repair or a medical expense?   

So much advice is offered about shopping with care...don't go to the grocery when you're hungry, make a list of what you need, etc.  But in the moment, many don't heed it. 

Do you:
--know how much you've spent in the last month on things you don't really need?  (For example, how much did you spend on coffee, drinks and eating out?  What percent of your monthly income goes to entertainment, and how does that compare to what finacial advisors recommend?)
--hide purchases (or dissemble about the cost) from your significant other? 
--defensively justify spending money? 
--have an emergency account of three to six months of expenses? 

If you answer 'no' to all of the above, consider taking steps to curb your spending. 

5 Tricks to Avoid Impulse Buys

Be Vigilant to Avoid Impulse Purchases

12 Ways to Avoid Impulse Buying  

Purchases Spouses Hide From Each Other


Thursday, February 09, 2012


Whether bosses/managers approve or not, some Gainfully Employed go to work when they're sick.  Even if they have sick days.  Maybe they have an urgent deadline, or maybe they want to show their dedication.  Or maybe they want to save their sick days in case they're so sick they can't get out of bed.

The Gainfully Unemployed don't have sick days, nor in most cases do we want to risk losing a booking.  If the project involves telecommuting, we can sneeze and sniffle without infecting others.  Or we might be able to work for a bit, then nap for a bit.  Unless there's a video conference, no one will care if our noses are red or if we stay in our pajamas and/or bathrobe all day.  

But when a voiceover talent has laryngitis, no work can be done.  Nor is there any way to know how long it will last.  A VO friend said hers lasted two weeks.  So we miss out on auditions, and either lose booking(s), or hope the client is willing to and has time before they have to turn in the finished commercial or narration to reschedule. 
Last Sunday, I woke up with laryngitis.  Not the kind that leaves you sounding sort of sexy and husky, but completely without a voice.  Because I had two VO jobs on Wednesday, I did my best to speed up recovery by following much of the advice I found.  The best remedy is time.  Most importantly, don't talk.  Whispering is worse.  Keep your vocal chords moist, drink a lot of water, partake of throat lozenges.  Tea with honey (though I think some of my tea was caffeinated, against recommendaitons).  I had a friend read what I typed into a Word document so I could participate in a conference call.  I even rested for a couple of days.  I didn't, but probably should have, gargle with salt water.  A couple of sites listed herbal or homeopathic options, but I wasn't too sure about those. 

Tuesday morning, I still didn't have a voice and doubted enough would return in 24 hours.  So I contacted the necessary parties, fully expecting both to move on to another talent and get the job done.  I was quite pleasantly surprised and appreciative when both decided to reschedule for next week.  Now it's Thursday afternoon.  My voice is low and gravelly, and my throat is still scratchy.  I'm sure by the weekend I'll be fine and back to normal. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Day Without Facebook?

Facebook is in the news even more than usual as it prepares for its IPO.  Hard to believe that a service launched only eight years ago now reportedly has more than eight million users and has become an integral part of many of our lives. 

Facebook is an amazing way to stay in touch with long distance friends, to reconnect with peeps from our past.  But more and more, many take the ease of use and 24/7 availablity of FB too far.  Are you one of the people who, whenever anything of note (or not of note) happens, immediately compose a status update in your head and have the urge to post ASAP?  How many times a day do you hop on? 

Can you go a single day without using FB--without catching up with friends and "friends," sharing personal or newsy notes, or commenting or liking?  How about a day without talking about it?  I'd bet most regular users can't go a day without thinking about it. 

Do you know how long you spend on FB?  Or do you get so caught up in watching videos, linking to articles that link to more articles, or commenting on comments you don't even notice how much time has gone by?  Do you get disappointed if a post you think particularly clever or interesting fails to draw enough attention?  If you while away hours on FB, how do you get your work done and make room in your day for personal interaction?

Many people now carry on entire conversations via FB, email or texting.  They'd rather type their thoughts than pick up the phone.  Just planning to meet a friend for coffee results in an extended back and forth that could be resolved in a short call.

Despite the use of emoticons, the printed is unable to capture many elements of communication.  We may feel a surge of validation, gain satisfaction from FB friends' responses.  But what are we losing in terms of personal connection?