Feb 17

What does it mean to be CURIOUS?

Last week I wrote a post on LinkedIn about What Skills Are In Demand For Grads. I used survey results from a recent “WorkForce Prepardeness” report compiled by PayScale and highlighted the top hard and soft skills employers are looking for.

To be honest there weren’t too many surprises, but there was one “soft skill” in particular that I believe requires some more discussion.

According to the survey 16% of Hiring Managers believe that new grads lack curiosity.

I thought that was very interesting. What is it about curiosity that would land it on a soft skills for employees list? To be curious means that you wonder about things. You want to know more. You seek out knowledge. And, you are excited to do that. As I considered the importance of curiosity to hiring managers I realized that it isn’t that different from what I look for in an engaged student.

Curiosity Definition from Google

When I have a student with a strong desire to know or learn something it is an exciting moment — they question, they engage, they bring in more information. They seek out other sources. Their excitement is invigorating and challenges me to be a better teacher. So why wouldn’t this be an important skill that employers need in their employees, especially now?

Technology continues to drive change in so many ways that no one can “rest on their laurels” at work anymore. Platforms get updated, new tools come out, technology enables us to do things faster, more efficient and more effectively. Naturally it makes sense that employers need employees who are CURIOUS.

So how can a college student foster curiosity and even more importantly prove it on a resume or LinkedIn profile?

Step 1: Practice

As a college student the easiest way to foster your curiosity is to practice it! Take the extra step in your classes to bring the professor outside readings, or ask questions outside of class about a topic of interest. Seek out new sources of information that will help deepen your exposure to a topic.

Step 2: Share

Share your knowledge with professors and with friends. Consider writing about what you are learning on a blog or on a platform like Medium or as long form posts on LinkedIn. As you share what you are learning or questions you have, others outside of your university experience will connect with you and answer questions and provide further resources.

One great tool to help students find information about different topics is Twitter. It is no secret that I am a supporter of Twitter and have been for a very long time. If you follow the right people it is a great platform to expose yourself to new ideas, current events, and points of view different from your own. Hashtags can be very helpful as well.

I recommend to my students who are in Marketing and Digital Marketing to follow a group of individuals I’ve been connected to for a very long time. They continue to keep me current and allow me to be on top of my game as I bring current marketing trends and information into the classroom.

Here are several of my Twitter Lists of people to follow:

So students how about you practice being curious? Start your own Twitter list and see how it works out for you. Consider following organizations, associations and people in your discipline who are on Twitter. Then, take information you learn from them and talk with your professors.

Challenge yourself to become that “curious student” and start a habit that will benefit you for a lifetime.


Apr 14

Evaluating a New Technology Tool for your Family

Tuned-In FamilyWhat follows is an excerpt from my new book: Tuned in Family: How to Cope, Communicate, and Connect in a Digital World

One of the biggest challenges parents face when it comes to digital communication technologies is knowing which tools are the most appropriate for their children and for themselves.


Because the tools themselves change every day. New advances bring new conveniences and greater ease of use and sharing. Your children’s schools may introduce a new learning management system that allows you access to grades and information, a new video game entices your child, an upgraded cell phone operating system adds more bells and whistles. Keeping up is hard enough for yourself, but add in the responsibility of your children and it becomes even more complex.


A simple way to assess the appropriateness of a digital communication technology for your family is to run it through the following test which I call “PAVER”. Think of it as paving your way to technology success.

  • Purpose: First determine the purpose of the tool. Is it a word processing software? Is it an application that helps you check the weather? Is it a console game? Is it a social network?
  • Age Appropriateness: Then, is it age appropriate? Is your child mature enough to handle the environment and user interface? Can they manage the responsibility of the tool?
  • Value: Next, assess the value of the tool for the family. Does it provide entertainment? Is it educational? Does it allow for ease of connection for your family?
  • EULA: Then be sure to read the End User License Agreement (EULA). This is where the company that makes the product lays out the legal implications for use of their product/service and they tell you limitations as well as what they do with content. Be sure you agree with EULA and are willing to conform to requirements.
  • Reviews/Resources: Finally, take some time to read reviews, view videos, and utilize resources to learn more about the tool so you are educated.

Tuned-In Family: Technology Evaluation
Consider the different games, devices, and software you use throughout your day. Think about the same things your children use throughout the day. Have you ever really thought about the purpose of it in your life? In your children’s lives? What value does it bring to your life?  And of course, do you understand the End User License Agreement — all that wonderful legal stuff that comes with the apps and software we all use every day? This is what PAVER can help you with.

I highly recommend these resources to help you as you consider different technology tools for your family.


Jan 13

Six Things College Students Should Do Right Now to get Ready for Graph Search

On the 15th of January, Facebook announced Graph Search, an expansion of their search feature. Here’s a three minute intro from some of the folks at Facebook:


Pretty nifty eh?  Now Facebook is not just like a chair…it’s like Oprah or Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Don’t get my “chair” reference?  Take a minute to watch it.

Now that we have that out of the way, Graph Search has had a great deal of news coverage, at least when it was announced. However the average user may not even be aware that it’s slowly rolling out to people each day, and those people are conducting many different searches.  While Facebook has been clear that your privacy settings drive what people can find about you, it has been my experience that many people are not very thoughtful about their privacy settings, or they set them and then forget them, not realizing that as Facebook makes changes, that they should go back in and update them.

In the past it hasn’t really mattered as significantly as it is now going to matter because in the past I could search for people or organizations by name. Now I can search for “People who work at Champlain College” or “Students who go to Champlain College” and I can get a wonderful visual result of all of those people (my friends first and then others). In the view below I am able to see all the profile pictures in a grid format. I can also choose to see the results in list format.

Graph Search REsults

When I mouse over the individual’s picture I get even further information in a helpful pop up:

Facebook Graph Search Results

So you may be wondering what the big deal is.  Well there are two ways to look at this — and I look at it in both of these ways.

Way 1: HOLY CRAP THIS IS AMAZING! No. Really.  The ability to leverage the social graph of people to find places to eat, individuals with similar interests, pictures my friends or family took in different places at different times is super awesome! It’s like, “Hey Facebook…what took you so long!”.  The fact that it has taken this long to pull this together continues to surprise me.

Way 2: HOLY CRAP THIS IS TERRIFYING! Yes. Really.  If your privacy settings aren’t fully updated and you haven’t given careful consideration to the things you have “liked” and your interests, all sorts of craziness can ensue. Just check out some of these great searches that @tomscott has pulled together and posted on a special Tumblr page.

If I were a college student getting ready to apply for an internship or getting ready to graduate, I’d be a little nervous. What I’m finding is that I have students who feel very confident that they’ve locked down their profiles and so far the only person I haven’t been able to actually find on Facebook has been my colleague @jtrajewski who says he has a personal page, but all I can find is his official page. Of course, Jon is in Digital Forensics and those people are very, very careful about content they share with free social media sites…or with any website for that matter.  By the way, you should follow him. Go on. Go do it now. He’s super smart and knows all sorts of security things.

Anyway here are my tips for College Students (and others) who want to be prepared for the full roll out of Graph Search.

  • Only post what you are comfortable with ANYONE seeing. It’s not just about Grandma. It’s about an employer. It’s about law enforcement. It’s a spouse or a partner. Make sure you keep in mind that just because you share it with your friends doesn’t mean it couldn’t show up in search in some way. Remember, the only true privacy setting you have on Facebook is what you choose NOT to post.
  • Update your Privacy settings. Facebook recently made this “easier”. Just click on the little padlock to get some of the basics, or click on the gear and select Privacy Settings.  I’m fairly intentional about mine as I allow followers and I let people find me via my work phone and email as well as have search engines find me.  I do that because of the work I do. If I didn’t do this work, I’d change it. What follows are some screen shots that might help you to find and consider how you might want to address your global privacy settings.

privacy settings part 1


I’m also careful about my Timeline and Tagging.  I don’t let people post on my timeline, which frustrates them on my birthday, but other than that it’s not a big deal. They can still tag me in posts and comment on my posts so it all works out.  I review all posts that I’ve been tagged in before I allow them on my timeline as well. I use custom settings for “only me” for many things as well.

privacy settings part 2


Take a few minutes to review the help section on Facebook on Privacy with Graph Search: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch/privacy

  • Clean up your photos. This is no easy task. Facebook is not making it easy to do a global switch on the visibility of your images. Remember that cover photos are always public.  Each photo has it’s own privacy settings. If you don’t want things to come up you need to delete them or change the privacy settings on EACH ONE. Conversely if you DO want them to come up, adding in tags and a strong description will help people find you/your photo.
  • Clean up your groups and apps. Super simple. From your news feed just click on “more” next to the groups section in the left navigation (it is hidden until you mouse over it). This will give you a list of all the groups you belong to and you can then easily remove yourself from the groups you do not want to be associated with. Do the same thing for any Apps you are running. To do the same things for pages, you’ll have to go through the Activity Log.


  • Monitor your Timeline: Look through your Timeline and hide things that you don’t want people to see.  Please remember that this does NOT prevent others from seeing them if your friends have tagged you in them or if they can be associated with your friends in some way.  It just hides them from your Timeline.
  • Monitor your Activity Log: Can’t remember what pages or posts you liked? Can’t remember what you commented on? Check out that Activity Log. Consider it the main dashboard for every action you’ve taken on Facebook. This is where you see all the content you have posted based on category, such as the friends you friended and all the songs you listened to (with Spotify or other apps).  Once you remove something from here it is essentially removed from the interface… I won’t say it’s actually removed because, well, it’s the internet and we all know that means there’s a cache of this somewhere on some server. To get to your Activity Log click on that little gear, then click on privacy and then under “who can see my stuff” click on “use activity log”.  You’ll probably find some interesting surprises.

activity log

There you have it. Six things to do to get your Facebook profile ready for Graph Search.  Naturally you should do this every few months or so, or whenever Facebook makes a change (whichever comes first). Or whenever you forget to log out of your account and when you get home your cat is hanging around looking really, really innocent.


Aug 10

VTGOVSM Tips: A Ten Step Blogging Guide for Politicians

After reviewing the web presence of the five Democratic Vermont Gubernatorial candidates it became clear pretty fast that they are all struggling with a fundamental building block of online content.



Of all the candidates only Susan Bartlett has a blog that even comes close to being a blog.  It got me thinking as to WHY so many of our candidates who are trying so hard to differentiate themselves from the others are NOT blogging.

I got some insight from candidate Matt Dunne who exchanged emails with me after my initial review of his web presence when he highlighted the real challenges of time that candidates face — constantly on the go, engaging face to face at parades and cookouts and fundraisers and debates and meetings all over our state, while at the same time holding down a job and taking care of family.  It is no small challenge to be sure.  My sense from each of the campaigns is that the candidates themselves along with their staff are struggling to find the right balance.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder that what is missing here for the campaigns is the understanding that social media tools are changing the fundamental way we market ourselves (and for politicians that is the focus, isn’t it? Marketing themselves.)

It used to be so much easier really.

Print brochures and yard signs and stickers, create TV/Print/Radio Ads, hold some events and go around shaking everyone’s hands. Hobnob with the influential people and get the newspapers to endorse you. Simple (ok, maybe not really, but it was a formula at least and predictable). Easy. Push your content. Push your message. Send out your news release and then hope when you do your even that the media portrays your point of view in the way you want. Spend the cash on the TV campaign and then sit back and watch the donations come in and the votes stack up.

But now, we have all these tools.  These somewhat “free” tools that allow us to become content creators easily. And suddenly the watch word is ENGAGE. And you are told to have CONVERSATIONS. And people like me are telling you that you are doing it all wrong and that now PUSH is bad. You have to give up CONTROL. And you have to figure out how your campaign will get found in SEARCH, and if you have enough TWITTER followers and how many VIEWS your YOUTUBE Video got and if you have enough FRIENDS on FACEBOOK who LIKE you…..

What’s a political candidate to do?

At a time when there are so many resources it is easy to get overwhelmed. BUT…I would like to point out that if your goal as a politician is to let people know how you stand on the issues (whatever those issues are) and you want to be sure that people have an opportunity to read about your point of view…WHY wouldn’t you blog?

If your only con is “I don’t have enough time” then that is not enough when you compare it to the pros:

  1. It’s free. Really. Anyone can set up a blog for free using any number of sites from Blogger to WordPress to Tumblr to Posterous.
  2. It’s easy. You have a point of view, you type it out and you click “publish” and your message is on the Internet ready for people to read.
  3. It’s fast. It doesn’t take long to type out your point of view or reaction on something. We are talking a half hour to 45 minutes.
  4. It compliments your traditional media messaging. Create an ad campaign, and direct people to your website for your “issue paper” and use your blog to expand on the issue.
  5. It helps your SEO. Go beyond the named “ego search” and have people get your content as a result when they search on issues.
  6. It makes it really really easy for your volunteers and supporters to SHARE your content. Write a good post about your point of view and people will like it, share it, retweet it, all for free, increasing YOUR visibility online.

Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you that you need to blog (grin), here’s HOW a politician should be blogging. It’s my dream really. Something I haven’t really seen yet (even though State Senate Candidate Philip Baruth is doing a pretty solid job — but, he is an ENGLISH Prof AND he’s been blogging now for a really long time — about politics no less, so you can’t really compare).

So here it goes…Elaine’s  “Ten Step Blogging Guide for Politicians”

  1. Start with a GOAL. You want EVERY post you write to be shared, liked and retweeted.  That’s your goal.
  2. Write with your GOAL in mind. What can you write that will move people to share, like and retweet your post?
  3. Always ADD VALUE. What is the current issue of the day? How will your post explain your position more, add clarity, offer a new option, differentiate yourself from the other candidates?
  4. Be AUTHENTIC. This is the time to write the way you talk and to show me, the voter, the person behind all the campaign rhetoric. Avoid having staffers and volunteers do the writing for you.
  5. Keep it SHORT. You aren’t writing a treatise here. Stay focused and clear and to the point.
  6. Keep it FRESH. As in, not stale. Post often — you don’t have to do it EVERY day, but two – three times a week is a great schedule.
  7. LINK Strategically. Don’t be afraid to link out to different sites in your post. When you mention a town, link to the town’s website. When you mention a person, see if they have a blog. When you mention an issue, link to the legislation you produced.  Yes, they click the link and leave…but they’ll be back. Don’t worry about that. You just provided information that is helpful and adds value.
  8. TAG Intentionally.  Tags are simple keywords that should be issue-based. When I visit your blog I can look for all your posts about a specific issue. Don’t make up 100 different tags, make it a short list.
  9. TWEET each post with a powerful “call to action”. My students found last semester that when they blogged and then tweeted with a link to that post, their readership went up. Politicians should do that as well. Use Twitter wisely and in that Tweet tell me the main point of your post with the link. That will make me take the desired action — click on the link, read it, and then retweet it.
  10. Use COMMENTS to  your advantage. When you get comments on your blog, or Tweets about your post, or questions on your Facebook Wall, don’t ignore them.  Respond back. Respond to the positive ones AND the negative ones and engage with people online just the way you would at that chicken pie supper.

Finally, a  few words about VALUE.

Value means I find what you wrote useful in some way. Many of our candidates are big into telling us where they are going or where they have just been. Sorry to be harsh but a little tough love never hurt anyone.  We don’t care that you are going to the parade or to the chicken pie supper or that you were just at the car race. What we do care about is what you LEARNED when you were there.  We care where you are if you are giving away something cool OR if you have decided to create a flash mob experiment in the middle of a parade.  Stop reporting and start providing VALUE and comments will happen. People will “like” you and followers will “retweet” you and supporters will “share” your content.