Thank You For Keeping Me Smart

Thank you 2015

In my constant quest to stay smart I’d like to wrap up 2015 by thanking:

Gary Vaynerchuk for ‘walking the talk’ and hustling like no one. #genius.

Michael Moe of GSV Capital for publishing #AtoApple which I read religiously each Sunday evening to understand market analyses and perspectives on innovation.

Wayne Breibarth for his free LinkedIn tips and constant value.

Twitter (Lists) for the ability to save me TIME in organizing my information so succinctly. Here are the 111 VCs I follow daily.

ChicagoInno for keeping an ‘ear to the ground’ on the Chicago innovation scene.

Kendra Olvany, my Up n Running Co-Founder and co-researcher/curator for The RUNDOWN for her insights and attention to detail.

Built in Chicago for a thoughtful, organically  grown community covering this great city of Chicago.

Technori for impactful monthly pitch nights here in Chicago and for recognizing that people still want to get together in person.

theSkimm for bite-size but intelligent supplements to my daily news reading.

The Muse for its ‘Companies Hiring Like Crazy’ emails and Sunday Inspirations. Even though I am not looking for a new job it is critical to see who is hiring, where they’re hiring and why they’re hiring.

Business Insider for ’10 things in tech you need to know today’.

Mattermark Daily for its compiled Sunday Weekend Edition.

Medium for daily digests and to see what is trending.

Re/code Decode Podcasts by Kara Swisher for fantastic in-depth interviews with tech leaders. I listen while bike riding or walking and always learn something meaningful.

The Information to fill in gaps.

Blue Sky Chicago for attempting to cover innovation in Chicago (part of the Chicago Tribune).

Kellogg Insights for research coming out of Northwestern’s Kellogg School.

McKinsey Insights for the occasional alert/report on technology and the internet.

The Broadsheet from Fortune mag for boiling down c-suite female news.

Simply Measured which provides valuable insights on Instagram trends with meaningful industry reports.

Skillcrush newsletters and the brilliant Adda Birnir for reminding me of the importance of coding.

Lastly, the obvious ‘go-to’ reads: Wall Street Journal, Crains  NYTChicago Tribune (special shootout to Scott Kleinberg who always shares social media tips.)

It’s been a great year of growth and staying smart. Here’s to a 2016 of keeping up!

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Your Attention Please. [Case Study: Jewel Food]

[Note: This is a post that was written two years ago and was updated following the news announced yesterday about Jewel’s new coupon app.] “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver I have always noticed … Continue reading

My “Stay Smart” Quest: 7 Tech Lessons Learned in 2013 + 7 Goals for 2014

Lessons learned in 2013:

1) Following/learning from/watching Gary Vaynerchuk (aka @GaryVee) is worth every moment. And it’s free. I think he is a marketing genius and is one of the few people who seems to “get” it.

2) Learning to code is important. Duh. It’s where the jobs will be. It’s what our kids need to understand.  If there is one thing to teach your children – start talking about computer code. Learn about toys like Goldieblox, or apps like Tynker, Scratch, Hopscotch, Daisy the Dinosaur, etc. Don’t believe me? Have a daughter? Check out  Girls Who Code.

3) Taking the time to learn to improve your digital literacy (and even code yourself) is worth it. OK – maybe not learn to code – but learn the language! In my quest  – or even mandate – to “innovate myself” I just “finished” taking Skillcrush 101 How to Get Started in Tech. For what equated to about $6/day I enrolled. [In retrospect, my move was not perfectly timed as far as the calendar goes: Oct 21-December 6th…when running a household of 7, hosting 16 for Thanksgiving and prepping for Christmas – a different month might have been better..but I really did not want to wait!] Several online places offer some free coding or courses for a fee: codecademy and general assemb.ly, coursera, and, of course, Skillcrush. In my opinion, the founder of Skillcrush, Adda Birnir, is someone to watch! BTW, Skillcrush uses Mightybell as its community platform (similar to Chicago-based Big Marker) – working in a community platform is a learning experience in and of itself~

 4) TRYING is still the best way to see whether a new technology makes sense. Don’t just read about something new: try it. When peers in my Up n Running group suggested I try several time-saving apps I did just that. As it turned out, Mosaic is now one of my “go-to” apps to create photo books from the camera roll on my iPhone. Even my kids have started using it and creating gifts for their friends. Cost per book: $25.

5) USE Twitter lists – it saves time. I think the lists are the absolute best feature of Twitter. I have spent some time creating several lists and my personal “required reading” every morning comes not only from my go-to news sources but also my Twitter lists.

6) Try something new..and be willing to pay for it. I bought a one month subscription to TheInformation. Why? I want to “try before I buy.” The world is noisy. I read a lot; the firehose of information is coming at me – I am trying to simplify by going digital..but I still like print, too. When I received my Chicago Tribune renewal notice and saw the price increase – I immediately was willing to try spending $ on The Information. Why? Because I hope to “swap out” some expenses (maybe I’ll unsubscribe from the Trib and be willing to pay for a different form – or even type – of news.)

7) Unless I make change a habit it will not happen. When my sister turned 50 last year and we went on a yoga weekend (I had never even done yoga OR meditation) I returned refreshed and willing to change my patterns to include meditation. That lasted only a few months. I tried meditating each morning before the kids awoke. No luck – I found myself praying. And thinking. In my most recent email from Lift I was reminded that 1) I need Goals Beyond Habits  and 2) Finish Lines  – I guess if I want to impact a certain change and make it a habit, I really need to “own it”!

In conclusion, to me, it is all about leveraging myself to save time. We all know time is our most valuable resource.

Goals for 2014:

1) Continue to follow/learn from/watch @GaryVee and I will read his latest book (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)

2) I will re-take/review my  Skillcrush material, which is still available to me from prior enrollment – this time, I will sit with a friend and learn together. While I am not committing to building a site per se, I did learn through my Skillcrush class that I am not good at learning technical material sitting alone at my computer.  Thankfully, I ran into a friend who took the same course: this time we will sit together to review the material!  

3) Install 1Password on my computer. Our Up n Running group reviewed the various options for secure passwords and concluded that 1Password is worth the $.

4) Increase my security/identity theft coverage – especially after the Target breach. Whether through Identity Guard or others, I will make it a priority.

5) Get on Snapchat (reluctantly) It’s where kids are spending their time…which means it is where brands will start to be. I need to understand firsthand how brands are using social.

6) Improve my Hootsuite use to save time.

7) Last and most importantly: continue to stay smart; (stay Up n Running) by reading about/curating and trying new technologies, apps, platforms. Reading includes but is not limited to private equity/venture capital reports, blogs, print and online news sources, local magazines, etc. If I do not “own” my skill set no on else will!

Your Attention Please

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver

I have always noticed the small things in life. Ok – at least I would like to think so. Like poet Mary Oliver, I love nature. I notice the small things. I notice the red-breasted grosbeak in the Springtime if lucky enough to spot one. Further, I notice a child who seems sad and needs prodding to find out what unfortunate episode occurred in 5th grade that day; I notice the funereal beauty of a life well-lived; I notice the internal but silent satisfaction a child feels after a job well done on or off the field.

I also notice the ability to make someone smile at the checkout line at Jewel Food stores when buying groceries. Last Thursday Jewel-Osco parent company Supervalu announced it will sell the grocery store chain  in a $3.3 billion deal to a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management, according to the Minnesota-based Supervalu. How sad. I am a loyal Jewel shopper because the Jewel store is in my “traffic pattern” of life. It’s easy. I know where everything is. That being said, I paid attention to Jewel these last few years and sadly watched the decline in their ability to pay attention. I could have told Jewel  to pay attention. Mere location, location, location is no longer enough. As a mom of five, I could have told Jewel to watch out: moms can shop at Target; moms can grab high-quality prepared foods; moms like Whole Foods; moms want organic choices for their kids and will pay for it. More choices? How about Amazon, Peapod or Soap.com

Which brings me to the importance of paying attention in this crazy 24/7 attention-seeking and attention-getting world. Attention. It seems everyone is fighting for my attention: my family, my friends, brands, services, businesses, teachers, and so many more! There is SO MUCH NOISE!

So just how do we pay attention to the small things so that we can continue to enjoy that beautiful sense of wonder? How do we notice the glistening ice that clings to the dark tree branches the morning after an ice storm? How do we pay attention to our existing customers? How do we anticipate the sea change that is occurring before our very eyes? If you have ever heard Gary Vaynerchuk (author of The Thank You Economy) speak, he brings up a wonderful analogy: consumers today could learn a lesson from Grandma. She used to walk into the butcher shop and the butcher would say, “Hello Mrs X, how are you? Ready for your 1 lb of thinly sliced roast beef?” So there we are. Notice the small things. If only Jewel had trained their employees to try to ask and remember their customers’ names while Jewel tried to revamp their business model – maybe it would’ve helped them bide time while they figured out a new business model that works in this noisy world we not live in? Pay attention.

Oh. And don’t forget to say, “thank you.”