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Posts from the ‘Worth Sharing’ Category

Five Misconceptions People Over 40 May Have About Going to Lollapalooza

July 27th, 2015

cdriscoll

It’s that time of year again – time to relive my misspent youth by seeing 100+ bands in one weekend at Lollapalooza. This is my attempt to shamelessly recruit more friends to join me this year by posting “Five Misconceptions People Over 40 May Have About Going to Lollapalooza” Here goes…

1. “It’s a mosh pit.” Well, that can certainly be true if you choose to rush the stage or hang out at Perry’s, the electric synthesized music stage for people with short attention spans where all your kids will be hanging out.

But to be honest, Grant Park is absolutely gorgeous and huge, one mile from end to end.  There are eight stages spread out along the edges, and the inside of the park is filled with flowers, trees, lawns, Buckingham Fountain, and nice shady spots to relax and chill. My favorite spot is the WXRT area. It’s a great place to regroup, with Adirondack chairs, shade, a craft beer station nearby, and is centrally located in the park.

2. “I’ll be too exhausted for a three-day festival.” Do you actually think you’ll have more energy next year? You can do it!  It’s all about pacing. Because the park is one mile from end to end, you can become completely exhausted if all you’re doing is walking from one end to the other all day. Be smart about it. On both ends of the park are two stages that face each other. Pick a good spot in the middle to “camp” and hear two bands back to back without ever moving. And you’ll make lots of new friends.

3. “Weather.” Yes, there will be weather. We are on Earth, after all. It can be hot, but there are water stations everywhere. Bring a camelback or some plastic water bottles and you can fill up endlessly and for free. And it may rain (which brings the tremendous entertainment of watching the drunk, stupid people create slip and slides in the mud). It’s always a good idea to bring a small plastic tarp to either sit on or sit under in case of rain.

4. “There won’t be anything good to eat or drink.” If you enjoy watery, light beer, this festival, like all others, has got you covered. But there are two craft beer stations on site, and a wine bar set up in the middle of the park where you can sit on comfy couches and sip whatever you want. By Sunday night, this is usually where I am. From this spot, you can lounge and hear the live music from the biggest stage while watching it on a giant screen.

For whatever reason, there are a lot of “gingers” at Lolla. Again this year, I’ll be photo-documenting the Gingers of Lolla and the friends who love them.

For the ultimate in convenience, you can connect your wristband to your credit card and never have to worry about whether you have enough money. (This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Last year, I bought a round of drinks for a table of new friends from around the world. Go big or go home, right?)

And because you’re in Chicago, the food is actually great. Billie Goat’s, Lou Malnati’s pizza, MBurgers, Kamehachi’s, Cheesie’s grilled cheese, salads, pasta and new this year, an organic farmer’s market. Even vegans eat well at this festival.

5. “I’ve never heard of these bands.” Of course you haven’t, because most of us are busy working, managing careers, spouses and children and too busy to keep up with the latest.  But that’s the beauty of going – discovering new music.

I’m partial to the BMI stage, the smallest stage where the really new bands appear. The ones who do well come back to play on the larger stages in future years. Last year, Houndmouth played on the BMI stage, and went on to appear on Letterman, release a fantastic record, and are going on tour this fall. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Run with it.

One other thing you should know: Cell phone signals are completely sketchy and unreliable in the park, so don’t rely on them to be able to connect with your friends and / or kids. Make plans in advance.

Have I convinced you to come? I hope so! If you need tickets, I would suggest buying from someone you know or through a broker like Stub Hub or Ticket City. Every year, there are a fair number of fake tickets sold through fake eBay and Craigslist. A 1-day pass should be $100+, and a 3-day pass should be $300+. If they’re cheaper, they’re likely fake.

With a great lineup and the Chicago skyline as a backdrop, it should be a beautiful weekend! Hope to see you there!

 

Your New Country

January 2nd, 2014

cdriscoll

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 1.00.27 PM

Imagine that you’re part of a new country, struggling to make ends meet. Your citizens work hard to grow enough food for everyone. Laborers and manufacturers trade their wares for food and farmers barter for the tools they need to continue producing. When you get sick, your neighbors pitch in to help. They bring over food and medicine, maybe take care of your kids for a bit until you get better. Your community is strong.

As your country begins to mature and you become better and smarter at growing food and making roads and building houses and preventing illnesses, you have the luxury of thinking about the future. You begin to teach your children to read. You invest in health and medicine so your population is healthy and productive. You invest in technology and infrastructure so commerce can continue to expand. You dream of success – a place where everyone has shoes, food, a roof over their heads, and opportunities for the future.

Hundreds of years later, you are considered a developed country. But instead of continuing to invest in each other and our futures to ensure the success of our community and country, we begin hoarding our cash, happy with our success. “Everyone has enough,” we say. But do they?

This year alone, we’re cutting the food stamp program by $5 billion. This will affect 47 million neighbors, 22 million of whom are children. No more chicken soup for you.

And we need more chicken soup! Overall, the health of our citizens has declined significantly over the past 20 years. From 1990 to 2010, the U.S. fell from ranking number 18 among wealthy nations to the 27th spot in terms of early deaths. Life expectancy at birth dropped from the 20th to 27th, while healthy life expectancy fell from 14th to the 26th ranking.*

Illness and chronic disability account for nearly half of U.S. health burdens. The leading risk factors are unhealthy eating, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar (a risk factor for diabetes), physical inactivity and alcohol drinking. In short, our overindulgence is doing us in. (Picture: Henry VIII)

In the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. public education system was the envy of many countries. “What wealth, what privilege they must have to be able to send all their children to school every day!”

Last fall, American teens scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science and reading, compared against dozens of other countries that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Vietnam, still considered to be a jungly, unsophisticated outpost to many, had a higher average score in math and science than the United States. Students in Shanghai ranked best in the world, and students in East Asian countries came out on top, nabbing seven of the top 10 places across all three subjects.**

The numbers are even more sobering when compared among only the 34 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. The United States ranked 26th in math — trailing nations such as Slovakia, Portugal and Russia. (Can you find Slovakia on a map?) American high school students dropped to 21st in science (from 17th in 2009) and slipped to 17th in reading (from 14th in 2009).

We have great schools and teachers and smart children, and we’re spending gazillions of dollars on public, private and college educations. These numbers are really depressing. Where are we going wrong here?

When we were a developing country, we spent a lot of money on infrastructure. We knew that we needed passable roads and bridges, decent water to drink, and some serious plumbing to continue progressing from the little farm country we started. But today, our infrastructure is literally crumbling.

Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using simple A-F report card, an Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns grades for categories including aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, railways, roads, schools, solid waste, transit and wastewater.***

Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds. The assessors site delayed maintenance and underinvestment as the causes across most categories. For the brave, you can read the full report here: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/home.

So what’s the plan? Are we no longer going to bring food and medicine over to the neighbor who is sick or injured? Are we going to leave their kids to fend for themselves? (One of every 45 children in this country will be homeless some time this year.) Are we waiting for the bridges to go out and the levees to break and destroy everything we’ve built before doing something about fixing them? Seems awfully foolish to me.

Maybe we don’t care at all anymore about the community and country we started to build. Maybe our success has made us so self-absorbed that the success or failure of Americans as a group doesn’t matter anymore (or only at the Olympics). In a global economy, does “country” really even matter? Does “community” matter?

I think it does. Watch any end-of-the-world movie and you’ll see humans banding together in reformed communities against the aliens (or zombies or vampires). Same thing with natural disasters. No one cares about protecting their money or possessions. They just want to survive – to live to see another day.

What will it take to shake us from our complacent isolationism? What needs to happen before we are inspired to come together to address the serious issues in front of us?

We’re supposedly the leaders of the free world – an honor we continue to bestow upon ourselves despite the evidence. I’d like to see us begin to act like leaders again this year, act like pioneers with dreams of a better future. Let’s show people that we’re smart and capable, reasonable and calm. Let’s stop thinking about the short term and begin shoring up a foundation for the future.

Let’s remember that we’re Americans – all from the same community – all on the same team. Let’s become the country we envisioned so long ago.

 

p.s. I did not make up these stats. See these sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-health-mediocre-compared-to-other-wealthy-countries/

**http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/

***http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/home.

Can LinkedIn Create Sales for Your Business?

March 11th, 2013

cdriscoll

Can LinkedIn actually create sales for your business? You bet! Start by establishing yourself as an expert in your fields of interest.

Follow these five easy steps to: create a great profile, join groups, brand yourself as an expert, and begin digging for valuable leads.

 

1. Develop a Great Profile.

Your profile should be professional and showcase your expertise and workstyle. LinkedIn is not Facebook; think of it as a website branding YOU.

  • Start with your C.V. or resume and work from there.
  • When completing position descriptions, be specific and include outcomes and deliverables.
  • Include your BUSINESS email and website addresses. Since only your connections can see your contact info, you won’t receive spam as a result of including your business email.
  • On the very top, just underneath the terrific, professional photograph that you upload, is your LinkedIn identity. Click on the edit button and replace the jumble of pre-formed letters and numbers with your name. (Example: www.linkedin.com/in/catherinedriscoll) This is a hyperlink that goes directly to your LinkedIn profile. Since you want to boost your profile and connections, include this hyperlink on your website and at the bottom of your email signature. One click and new people can ask to connect with you via LinkedIn.
  • The Skills and Expertise section is really important. The endorsements you receive from people are driven by the skills and expertise you say you have. So first, be sure you HAVE these skills and expertise. Don’t exaggerate. Add skills in order of importance to you because these will be the first things your connections will see. As you get more endorsements for a particular skill, that skill will automatically rise to the top of the list.
  • On the topic of Endorsements, many people view them as great confidence boosters; others view them as fishing expeditions. Use them or not, they’re here to stay. It can’t hurt to endorse your colleagues for those skills at which they excel, nor does it hurt to be endorsed by others. Whether quid pro quo applies is a matter of personal preference.
  • The Projects section is a great place to grow your LinkedIn profile as you become more versed. Use the Projects section to show collaboration with your LinkedIn partners and examples of your work. Be sure to tag your collaborators so that the projects will appear on their profiles too.
  • The best way to receive great Recommendations from your colleagues is to provide recommendations for your colleagues. Before doing so, take a look at their skills and expertise, and be sure to use them in your recommendation, when appropriate. As always, be genuine.

2. Join Groups.

Groups on LinkedIn put you in direct contact with others who are interested in the same things you’re interested in, as well as provide opportunities for you to offer your expertise to their members. Once you have joined a group, you can communicate directly with its individual members before becoming actual connections. Groups keep you updated on news and info within your industry; provide you with valuable advice; spark ideas of new things you can offer your customers; and most important, allow you to meet and connect with colleagues and potential clients.

When choosing groups, don’t forget to look beyond the obvious. For example, if you have a cobble business and specialize in building brick patios, you would want to join industry groups to stay on top of advancements in your industry, but you would also want to join groups that attract homebuilders, architects, landscape companies, etc.

3. Get Involved.

Once you’ve been accepted into a group (some are open, some are not), it’s time to get involved. You are an expert in your field whether you realize it or not. So get out there and share what you know!

  • While information overload can be a bad thing, be sure to choose to receive a “Daily News Feed” from your new groups for the first few weeks so that you can get to know the group and its members. (Settings – Groups, Companies, Applications – Set Frequency of Group Digest Emails). You can adjust these settings later.

  • Listen, listen, listen. Do members of the group have meaningful discussions? Is it an active group with lots of new and valuable content, or are you seeing the same old discussions week after week? It’s not a bad thing to unsubscribe from a group that’s not relevant or helpful to you.
  • Read through the Discussions, and if you have valuable advice or experience, post a reply to that discussion. PLEASE proofread what you’re posting! No one wants advice from someone who can’t spell or put a sentence together correctly.
  • Be aware that posting a reply does not mean pitching your product or service. Some groups will simply kick you out if you do.  But if someone is asking for advice about services that you and your business provide, reply that you would be happy to provide more detailed advice via private email and provide your email. If the person follows up, great! Then you can begin building a relationship.

4. Post Status Updates Weekly

Many business leaders look at LinkedIn activity as a bell-weather for how well connected someone might be within an industry. All those discussions you’ve commented on will prove your level of involvement and expertise. But it’s also important to post an informative Status Update at least once per week.

Yes, it’s true that LinkedIn is not Facebook and generally not the place for personal information. But there is value in posting your opinion or sharing personal experience in context with an interesting article, study, or offering.

For example, when posting a link to a new organizational tool that I’ve found valuable, I included this status:

Through this Status Update, I’ve positioned myself as tech savvy, connected personally with others who may share the same issues, and informed the audience that I’m writing a book.

Status Updates are also a great place to repurpose content. If you find an interesting article related to your business, include a link to that article and a brief description of what you find interesting about it. If the goal is to position yourself as an expert, you must offer a bit of yourself as well.

5. Start Digging.

The real value of LinkedIn is the ability to connect with people all over the world through shared interest and experience. The goal for business people is to turn those connections into opportunities.

Once you’ve joined a group, you can do in-depth searches of the people within that group to find opportunities. For example, if you’ve decided to focus on
lawfirm marketing, you might do a search within a group to determine how many of them are attorneys.  If you’re sponsoring an event in the area that might appeal to attorneys, you might refine that search further to find attorneys who practice within 30 miles of the event location. Because you belong to the same group, you can send emails and begin making connections.

You can also download all of your LinkedIN contacts to your personal address book so that you can communicate more easily outside of LinkedIN. (Contacts, Connections, bottom right-hand corner, Export Connections) 

LinkedIn is a powerful tool to develop sales and marketing leads. Building a great presence on LinkedIn takes time, but it’s time well spent. You just never know who might be listening.