My First Week With A Standing Desk

I have made it, it’s been a full seven- well, five days of working with a standing desk, and its been, in a word, awesome.

First, some background, I have always had pretty bad posture. Between a heavy backpack, playing field hockey and long hours at work, my shoulders seem to have taken up residence right next to my ears. I have spent the last five months working at a sitting desk, in a job where I am required to be alert, focused, communicative, and working on multiple projects at one time.

While I have been managing my workload just fine, it seems as if every project has been like climbing a mountain – it’s alright once I get into it, but extremely difficult to start.

Enter the standing desk.

After seeing some of my co-workers attempt the feat, my original thought was, ‘Are you crazy? I’m at work talking to people for 9+ hours a day, why would I ever want to increase the energy level required by STANDING?” After some further research of the phenomena, however, it suddenly seemed like a good idea. It was supposed to help my posture and my productivity? I took in 30% less oxygen while hunched over my desk? Sitting all day increased my risk of heart disease?

Suddenly my shoulders felt a lot more hunched, my back a lot more achy and my energy level a bit lower. So last friday, on a whim, I bit the bullet and asked for a standing desk.

Now its one week later, and I thought I’d share my observations:

Standing Desk

1) My posture is better.

While it might sound questionable that it could happen that fast, it has. I have realized since I spend less time hunched over my desk, my shoulders have moved to a much more normal position at the base of my neck. My back is straighter, and I’m more aware of its movements.

Standing has also allowed me to spend more time in power poses, and accomplish tasks better, more on that later.

2) My back hurts less.

Coming from someone who’s back hurts a lot (remember that backpack). I find since I am hunching a lot less. My back is much more comfortable, less compressed. When I do occasionally slouch, or hunch myself over my computer, when I do I feel it, and it hurts. I’m then quick to return to my straight-upright position. I also find fewer issues in other areas of my life, such as when I lie down to sleep.

I also find that even if I have to lean on my desk a bit, since I’m still upright, the majority of  my back does stay straight.

3) My stamina has increased.

One of my parents’ favorite things to ask me is whether or not I’m exercising. At their most recent inquiry last weekend, I was able to tell them that not only do I bike two miles each way to work, and live in a fourth floor walkup, but I also stand eight hours a day! That quieted them pretty quickly.

It really is some exercise! I have found that, while it took a bit of getting used to, after pushing myself (a little) the first few days I was easily able to stand for five hours straight, and the more I did it, the better I felt. Not to mention my thighs are getting a pretty great workout. Not that this takes the place of exercising or anything, but I certainly feel more in shape.

SIDE NOTE: When I feel I need to rest, just resting one leg at a time helps a lot. It helps to take off some weight I would otherwise be supporting. I typically do this by resting a leg on something like an armchair or filing cabinet. Haven’t gotten any weird comments about this yet.

4) My Productivity Has Increased Ten-Fold.

I now find I have more energy and power to power through tasks that had previously seemed too daunting to start. I am also accomplishing these things much quicker. No joke, I actually have felt a tad bit bored a few times this week- which is great!

I attribute this newfound productivity to better breathing and power poses, which I will discuss more in future postings.

I have been so much more productive lately, that this blog post was actually started, and finished at work. Don’t worry- it happened on my lunch break- but I still haven’t felt the energy to get writing in months.

NOW, it’s not all rainbows and roses, there have been a few obstacles I have encountered along the way, these have included the following:

1) Gel Insoles were a required purchase.

I found that after hours of standing the soles of my shoes started to feel hard, really hard. I hadn’t gotten to the point of hurting joints, but my heels sure experienced some pain. I went to CVS and bought some gel insoles (with an arch) and that made a HUGE difference.

Some of my co-workers also have been standing on special gel mats to help ease the stress of standing, I’ll have to try one of those soon.

2) Sometimes I have a bit too much energy.

My co-workers have had to bear witness to me dancing around the room, and pacing a bit, because with all my extra energy, and time, I am finding it hard to stand still. Have not decided whether or not this is something that needs to be corrected, but my co-workers seem to find it entertaining.

3) Once you get down, its harder to get back up.

My first day on the standing desk, I think I was just motivated by pure adrenaline. My second and third I was able to push it, but I noticed that the second I sat down, it got much harder to convince myself to stand.

This gets particularly hard after lunch, since I work 5 hours before lunch and 3 after. I also work from 11-8 and take a 4 pm lunch, so that late afternoon slump coincides with my first sitting break of the day. Once I sit down for lunch, I suddenly realize I am tired, and gathering the energy to stand the rest of the day gets much, MUCH harder.

This is particularly difficult because –

4) Normal Chairs Don’t Work.

When I do want to sit, I have to find an object tall enough to sit on, since my chair just doesn’t cut it. I have found my filing cabinet seems to be just the right height. Some of my co-workers have gone out to buy stools or special chairs, but I am trying to avoid that since if I have a usable chair sitting right there, it is harder to push myself.

My filing cabinet, on the other hand, can slide neatly into it’s hiding place under my desk.

There you have it, my lengthy recap of my first week with a standing desk. While my desk and I are still in the infancy of our relationship, and there are certainly still some bumps in the road, I am excited to see what’s next to come.

Landing Your Next Job on LinkedIn

LinkedIn. The most useful social network you absolutely have to be on, but no one (barring my sales and recruiting) ever uses. Right?


LinkedIn often gets a bad wrap from young and mature adults alike since it produces less useful content than Buzzfeed, less stimulation than Twitter and more restrictions than Facebook. Hm. Tricky boat for a social network to be in.

These days, however, LinkedIn is more important than ever. It can help validate a person’s identity, show off projects, and even show potential useful connections- it puts the NETWORKING in social networking.

As a millennial on the career path I have also found LinkedIn incredibly useful in job hunting. I actually found my most recent job via LinkedIn! So, as my gift to you, here are some ways to go about job searching on LinkedIn.

(1) Find the Company.

LinkedIn is, IMO, one of the best places to reach potential employers. Not only can company profiles give you stats like company size, products and job postings, but it also allows you to see similar companies to the ones you are viewing. This comes in a section called “people also viewed” and denotes companies others viewing the profile may also have seen – be it competitors, parallel industries or former companies of employees. This section should give you an idea of other companies you may not have considered coming from the area.

Take for example my company, HubSpot. Other companies viewed include Adobe; LinkedIn; Google – companies my colleagues have worked at, CNBC & Mashable – news sites specialized in content creation, and online media sites like us, and Marketo- a competitor.

How I used it: To come up with a list of companies that piqued my interest to which I could apply.

(2) Find Employees AT the Company.

When I am interested in a company, one of my favorite strategies is to look at employees of that company for:

A. People who attended my alma matter (they might be more willing to help)

B. Recruiters.

When you “see all” connections of a company it brings up a search screen.

LinkedIn Search

When you get to this screen, one of my favorite things to do is search for the words: recruiter, recruiting, hiring, people operations, etc. Then I look at the profiles of the people that show up.

How I used It: by searching for recruiters at HubSpot I was able to find one to whom I could reach out about the positions I wanted.

(3) Find Contact Info.

The job of a recruiter is to find potential candidates to fill a position. They want options, and quality, and this is not easy to find out. That means any recruiter worth their salt should have an easy method of contact on their profile (not InMail).

More realistically, not all recruiters have this info, but the search for the ones that do, even if you have to lick through tons of profiles. Then use it. These are the recruiters that WANT to hear from you! Talking to a real person is 100x better than talking to an Applicant Tracking System – the worst that can happen is they don’t respond!

How I used it: I looked through the profiles of several recruiters on LinkedIn, which brought me to the profiles of one of the head HubSpot recruiters- with her email on it. I sent her an email with my resume, a quick intro and some questions about the jobs I liked- within an hour I was connected with the recruiter at the company responsible for my position, and within 3 weeks I had a job offer in hand – no cover letter or ATS involved!

The bottom line is that LinkedIn is no longer just for recruiters & salespeople and it is no longer about creating a profile so recruiters can find you. Don’t get me wrong, tons of recruiting happens through passive means, but it doesn’t have to!

LinkedIn is a vast vessel of information growing larger every day- knowing where to look and what to look for could be the best way to find your new job. It was for me!

Inbound Marketing Certified!

Two weeks down at HubSpot and I’m Inbound Marketing Certified on my first try. Not bad for a Saturday’s work, can’t say it was too hard ;)

6 Reasons Why Job Searching Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

I guess it’s time I finally announce that I have accepted a new position with Online Marketing SaaS company HubSpot, and I am totally psyched about the adventure. As it happens, the way start-ups go my previous employer could no longer find the money to fund my position (ouch) and I had to spend a while job searching, but here is why this is the best thing that ever happened to me.

1.I’ve gotten to explore new careers, and places!

WORKOne of the most exciting, and most stressful parts about job searching is figuring out how to narrow down what you want to do. My interests range from higher education to start-ups and technology. I’ve also done some work in television, so my resume is pretty diverse. Exactly what I want to do, however, was a different story. A job interview process is a great chance to really explore different possibilities, imagine yourself in different situations and ask questions that can help you narrow your path or discover what you want to do.

Job searching is also a great excuse to explore different cities. Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs in different locations. If a company likes you enough they will probably fly you out to interview, and you can ask to stay an extra day or two (meals and lodging will be on your dime). Trying to decide between California, Austin and Boston, check out companies in each of those places!

I have been invited out to California at least twice by this process and Boston once through this process.

2. I’ve gotten to learn about different subject areas.

In one of my previous job searches I applied to work at a company that sold SEO optimization software. Part of my interview process was to present to the department how SEO would be important in the mobile space. What is SEO? Great question, I didn’t know either at the time. It stands for Search Engine Optimization, or the idea of optimizing your website to come up higher in search results (on Google, Bing, etc).

Not knowing much about SEO I had to do a lot of research on what on earth this thing was and how it could be useful to companies. Apparently that went well because I was asked to visit the office and to make another presentation on how SEO would be affected by Google+ algorithms. Now, while I did not end up taking the job, the information I learned in pursuit of that job helped me market myself for new jobs (SEO is big for online marketing now) and to apply it to future careers. Pretty cool, right?

3. I’ve become a better writer and editor.

Writing effective cover letters and resumes is not generally enjoyable. I’ve only had one friend who enjoyed this and this is the same friend who got her accounting degree for fun. Writing these materials over and over should, however, give you some practice at expressing yourself and honing your story.

More importantly, the more you work to evolve in this process, the better you will be able to recognize fluff. For me, this meant resume bullet points that didn’t actually add much value, or lines in my cover letter that just sound fun. The more you grow the stronger, more compelling lines you will be able to write.

Getting feedback (especially from a trusted friend in the business world) is also a great way to help you write better, to pull out examples that are relevant to what you’re doing, and to write compellingly about yourself.

NOTE: Writing a cover letter for each new position can be a bit daunting, but I find that if I am inspired enough to write a new color letter, its probably a better than average fit for you.

4. Time to build my online brand.

Online BrandPotential employers WILL Google you. They will definitely look at your LinkedIn profile, any websites or blogs you have. This is actually great news because it is a chance to prove yourself and what you can do. For me it was a great excuse to start blogging about topics I cared about and to connect with industry thought leaders.

It was time for me to discover what I had to offer (based on the things I liked to blog and tweet about) and factor that into what I wanted for my job search process.

Ex. I love the idea of online marketing and social media (which you may be able to see from this blog), so I looked at companies where I could be involved in and learn more about this process.

5. I got to know myself much better.

I have had to ask myself a lot of questions during this job search process. What is it I want to do? What are my strengths and weaknesses? How do I interview? etc. I found that the more interviews I had, the more I told the same story about myself, but the more questions I was asked the more I had to think about how I operated. The more I was also able to gauge people’s reactions to those comments and change answers to those questions.

For example, in one of my interviews I was speaking to the manager of my potential department and he asked me a question about the information science classes I took in college. When I answered I started by putting the department in context and then zooming in on how my classes fit into that. The interviewer was really impressed with my answer and pointed out he was impressed by how I described it. Because the position was going to be in customer support and education, this appealed to him. And while I ended up being offered (and taking), it’s now a piece of self awareness I can use for the future.

Even better, the more I bombed interviews, the more I was forced to ask myself why. For example I was asked by several companies (and people) what I wanted in my next position, and the answer I used was pretty broad, and I think actually sounded quite dumb. I learned to make my answers pretty specific, and to see how I felt giving that answer. In one job specifically, I realized the job I was interviewing for just felt so boring, I knew that was not for me!

6. I gained more confidence in my abilities.

Focus On Your Goals This is probably counter-intuitive, but this is probably the best thing to come out of my interview process. Partially this happened as some of the earlier points took shape (I knew myself better, I learned about different topics, etc.). The more interviews I went on and the better I knew myself, the better I felt giving bold answers that let my personality shine through.

I once interviewed with a start-up doing marketing and they asked me why I wanted to work at a start-up doing marketing and I told them “I had always told myself I would avoid working at start-ups and community management, but through *knowing myself* I realized that I couldn’t avoid that my personality was actually built for that. I was offered the job the next day!

I was also able to ask dominate interviews by asking a lot of questions, which really impressed hiring managers because it helped me appear confident, well prepared, and self-aware.

The bottom line of this extremely long post is that while the job search process can be scary, it can also be one of the most helpful processes in your life if you take the time to learn. Now, you will likely go through more than one of these processes in your life, but the more you learn, the better they’ll be. Now what are you waiting for, get searchin!

Creating Customer Service with Social Media

American Airlines. The Best I’ve Ever Had.

People often aske me, as someone in the customer business, what’s the best customer service experience I’ve ever had, and why?

Until today I have always been a bit wishy washy about the answer, but now I can finally declare a clear winner, American Airlines.

Now, to give some perspective. My ultimate goal was to redeem a ‘perk’ from Klout the site that rewards you based on your level of social influence. Influence is scored on a scale of 1-100 and is measured by interaction on social networks. The perk was to allow users with scores over 55 a free day pass to the Admirals Club. Sweet, right? Good enough that as an avid travler, I connected all my social networks to raise my score above the minimum threshhold.

Upon realizing yesterday that I was going to make a last-minute trip I was elated. This was only matched by my level of disappointment when, upon trying to redeem my perk I got the message below. Even though it was my first time entering. Womp.

Uh Oh, You have reached the maximum number of entries

Now, being in the online reputation business and acutely aware of a brand’s sensitivity to its online image, I did what any Community Manager would do- tweet about it. To both Klout and American Airlines.

Here’s where it gets good, and worth reading this blog entry (thanks for sticking with me thus far). Within minutes I had tweet reply American Airlines who followed me and asked me to follow them and message them directly about the issue (in order to message someone on twitter, they have to follow you). I also had a message from KloutPerks assuring me my issue was being considered. Meanwhile, all of this is helping improve my klout score, so awesome there. After a small back and forth with whomever was behind the American Airlines twitter, I was ensured they’d do their best to fix it.

Also happening simlutaneously, another Tweep (Twitter person), sees this conversation and chimes in to let American know he is having the same problem. So now American is aware it’s not just me and there might be a problem with the site.

Fast forward to today and I still haven’t received my pass. Bummer, because now I’m sitting at Chicago O’Hare with a 3 hour layover and could really use it. So I casually message this to American and the mysterious Twitter Man (or Woman) again responds promptly. Surprised I still haven’t gotten my pass, they message me my personal link. Yay! I am now able to enjoy 2 hours in the adminrals club with free coffee, apples, WiFi (shame on you O’Hare, even Detroit has free public WiFi these days), and more! It also provides a chance run-in with my uncle, but that’s another awesome story.

Now here’s the moral of the story. What American Airlines did right:

  1. They Noticed.

    American had a flow set up to manage these types of complaints, and used it. This is often the job of a community manager or customer support team member.

  2. They Were Responsive.

    The rule of thumb is that you want to respond to anyone on twitter within at least 10 minutes. After that, effectiveness goes down.

  3. They Responded Publically.

    This way, others’ can see they are responsive (which makes them look good) and if others have a concern, like otther gentleman on Twitter, they can see the avenue to report it.

  4. They Were Personal.

    They met me where I was at (on Twitter) instead of asking me to correspond somewhere else. They used my name in interactions and they used colloquial language. They didn’t make me feel like the interactions were coming from a robot, a formula or an overworked customer service person. Rather, it felt like it came from a proud American Airlines worker who wanted to help.

    Note: the person did not introduce him or herself to me by name, which some brands do. This would have helped me to know if I was speaking to the same person today as yesterday. It’s a branding choice.

  5. They stuck with me.

    The story did not end as soon as the problem was resolved. American continued to message and tweet at me even after the ideal. They even messaged me the next day to make sure I had a good experience. This made me feel they generally cared about me as a person. They even referenced the coffee in the picture (below) I sent them in appreciation.

Me with Admirals Club Coffee

If you have heard the sentimant a happy customer might tell two people, but an unhappy one will tell ten, you should hear a very happy one might tell thousands, or however many read this blog ;) The advantage of using social media as a customer service tool is you are able to meet customers where they’re at, and you can do it publically.

It’s also important to make sure customers feel heard (CoughCoughUnitedAirlinesCoughCough) as this frustration is where most bad memories can be avoided/are actually created. You never know what that happy customer (or unhappy one) can do for you later. Now, not only am an AA Advantage miles member (okay, I have been for 23 years), but a loyal custoemr for life, or as long as AA keeps offering great customer service.

Now, if only we could do something about that boring safety demonstration…

3 Resume Types to Have On Hand

I have spent many years searching for various internships, jobs and the like. I have submitted many resumes successfully, some not, but the other day I came across something completely new to me. I came across a posting asking for a text (ASCII) resume and I was a bit thrown off. Text seemed logical, but from my experience with CS I always ASCII thought ASCII to be more of a coded language. After doing a bit of research, I realized they were simply looking for a plain text resume, and it actually made complete sense!

In order to help you save time in your job search, I have come up with the 3 types of resumes I think everyone should be sure to have ready to go!

Editable Document (MS Word / OpenOffice / Adobe InDesign) 

Most people already have this resume type. This is the first one you put together, usually its done with a pre-formatted template either on a word processor like Microsoft Word, Open Office or Pages. If you are adventurous, or graphically inclined, you might also consider creating a resume in a design software such as Adobe InDesign. The reason you create a this kind of document is because it is easy to edit as your create new versions, but you will almost never actually submit this version. Word processors tend to format word documents differently depending on your type of word processor, age of software and specific settings. There is no way to predict or guarantee that your computer will read the document the same as a recruiter’s computer, so what might look beautiful to you might look like a formatting nightmare to me.

PDF Document 

PDFs are the type of resumes everyone should use, but far too people do. PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and its just that -portable! The reason to submit a PDF document is because it reads more like an image file than a word file, which means that your computer will read it the same as mine. If you ever e-mail a document, do it this way. Creating a PDF is also incredibly easy, you simply hit “Save As” in a word processor, but you change the ‘format’ from .doc, .docx, .pages, .rtf etc. to “pdf”.

NOTE: If you have the ability to do so, you can also create links on your resume using software Adobe Acrobat. For example, I like to make my e-mail, LinkedIn and portfolio sites clickable, because it gives recruiters more to explore!

Plain Text or ASCII

Have you ever been to a corporate-type job application site where they ask you to put your resume in that little box? This is called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and its built for simple text. Even if it takes text from an uploaded .doc or .pdf the formatting probably still looks wrong. If you are smart, you then spend a while editing that text to make it ATS friendly, but its really a pain.

That box is attempting to create a plan text or ascii resume, that is one that does not use any fancy formatting or characters. When you create a document in a word processor, though you can’t see it, the document contains some extra lines of code that can make it difficult for other software to read (don’t believe me, try downloading a text editor like Notepad, SublimeText 2 or Word wrangler and paste your resume in there).

Creating a text or ASCII document beforehand can save you a lot of time when applying to these jobs. You can do it by taking your resume from a word processor and saving it as .txt. You can also create a document in a text editor. Be sure when doing this to read over your resume and eliminate any characters that may cause confusion (such as bullet points or tabs) and insert easy to read spaces instead (like “-“, “*” and spaces). Yes, it’s incredibly annoying, but imagine creating this document once and being able to copy and paste it instead of having to change it every time. For more tips on creating a text or ASCII resume check here.

Bonus: Visual or Creative Resume

Phillippe Dubst 'Amazon' ResumeMany companies these days are clamoring for something a bit more out-of-the box. When candidates try to sell themselves. If you are feeling creative, or applying to a job that requires creative resumes, you might consider making something a bit more visual, like an infographic or website. See some examples here.

Bottom line is that creating a resume takes a lot of work, but with the right preparation, it can be a bit easier. Now that you know what kind of resumes you need, time to figure out what to put on them- a post for another day…

What You Missed Last Night [Media on Watertown]

That Awkward Moment

It’s 2 am and I’m lying awake in bed for the third time this week. And not because of the Redbull I had tonight. For the third time this week I am glued to police scanner feed, this time from Watertown, MA.

I am also consistently refreshing twitter and have CNN on with closed captioning in the background.

But tonight rings significant not only because of the events in Massachusetts (though they are again, horrifying), but because it shows the rise in dominance of new media (Twitter & Reddit) over the older of television. As a former TV producer, turned community manger this both saddens and excites me, but here’s why I think it’s happening:

People want instant gratification and they want to know everything.

Producing television is an art. It requires hours of preparation, on a bad day, simply minutes on an epic day, but putting something on television requires many senses to be engaged, quickly and continuously. People expect to see, hear and learn things of interest- and one station, even of brilliant reporters, cannot report that fast. As much as they’d want to, traditional news outlets cannot overload you with information and provide you with the instant gratification that a simpler medium can. They also don’t have the dynamic ability of a digital property.

Twitter List of Reporters

Traditional media is trying TOO HARD to keep up and in the process they are slipping and following all over themselves trying to keep us updated. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been driven nuts this week by media outlets misreporting –


– or for showing unnecessary and unhelpful interviews by victims –

(asking a victim of the West Texas Factory Explosion, “What was in her heart” after a near-death-experience via falling sheetrock in West, Texas).

All because they are trying to get viewers new, relevant, content quickly. They’re also not working fast enough to bring us what we want, everything. It’s not entirely news station’s fault, though, they just aren’t built to handle the news that way.

This tripping and falling wouldn’t have been so bad, had people not discovered quicker alternatives.

Twitter "End of Old Media"

Enter new media like Twitter and Reddit.

Twitter is a has become a popular media because:

  1. It can be instantly updated
  2. It can be updated by by multiple people (citizen journalism, croudsourcing info, many reporters – one medium)
  3. Updates are only 140 characters of text

Twitter, lots of tweeters

Twitter for Updates

Mediums like Twitter and Reddit are inherently more satisfying for breaking news, because they don’t have to spend so much time research and funneling. Tweeters don’t have to wait for multiple sources to confirm, or for b-roll to appear, they just post.

Twitter is full of multiple people providing updates to the same place, and those updates are first person sources, which is exactly what news stations are trying to do when they interview people. It’s also a lot more effective than one person delivering the news. And its a lot quicker. Twitter also allows people to get that instant gratification they lose when they let news stations be the aggregator or the gate keeper to information.

Traditional news, in this case, can do a great job of providing well-rounded coverage, and streaming from the scene, but they can’t break details as quickly as Twitter can.

Note: the police scanner has also proved a very trusty tool. While older than television, it follows similar guidelines, to a reddit or twitter: it provides instant gratification and first hand accounts, it’s also only auditory. When I first opened it 36,000 people were listening, and now it’s over 79,000!

Twitter "Boston Police Scanner"

So, are traditional news sources going to go away completely? Of course not. Not nearly half of the American public uses twitter and Reddit, or wants to put in the effort. Plus it’s extremely nice to have someone do the work of aggregation, fact-checking and analysis for you, and people love watching the news. On a personal note, there’s nothing like the pure adrenaline high or producing a breaking live newscast and doing it well.

I believe, however, the way people consume news, the way outlets report news, and the accuracy we should demand from news, will be changed forever.

***One more thought of note, and something of which we are reminded this week, the importance of local news outlets, and reporters. In each of the last few nights, the people who have been able to get us any information are not reporters in the big, highly-rated, highly-coveted, metro area spots. This week, the people getting us the news, on the ground, whether it’s on Twitter, television or otherwise. Local reporters, who risk their lives and lose nights’ sleep getting the details are hugely important to the news ecosystem. To my friends in Idaho, Northern Michigan and the rest of middle-of-nowhere, keep up all that great work you’re doing! **

Twitter Local News

UPDATE: This article was written to show the progression of News journalism, but not to suggest that Twitter or Reddit is, in fact, a better way to follow the news, simply more satisfying. For a great article on why “Breaking News is Broken” there is a great article on that deserves a read.


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