Monday, May 5, 2014

Buoyancy in teams and what it means if it's scarce

I'm one of those people who is straight up, honest and to the point. I'm also too honest sometimes, and often have to check myself before speaking in order to avoid certain unwanted reactions. This is especially important when working with individuals who have either low self confidence in their appearance, or in their skills — both of these types of confidence are needed in order to have high buoyancy.

What is buoyancy you ask? To have buoyancy is to remain resilient in the face of rejection. For example, of all the managers I've had so far, the best have always been those that had strong levels of both skill and appearance self-confidence, allowing them to not be too phased by fails. They could take it when things went wrong, recover quickly and find solutions. They could take it when people would disagree with them in high profile meetings and could either come back with evidence to support their proposal, or admit their error. In the face of big difficulties, they wouldn't ruminate on all that was wrong, but would instead move on to a positive attitude a lot more quickly.

Unfortunately, if you work in an environment where there are many people with low to very low buoyancy, you basically have to sugar coat everything you say or entirely avoid mentioning the things that are in need of fixing. It takes a lot of work to sugar coat. Sometimes the right message doesn't get through because you put so much "cushioning" around it. Sometimes you end up fixing it for them, just to avoid speaking to them about the issue. And, of course if everyone is avoiding pointing out problems, then things can deteriorate quickly.

What can, in my opinion, help support a high buoyancy environment? Well, there's not much one can do about people's appearance or confidence in their appearance (this can take years of positive reinforcement, and is probably something their parents or high school kids would have impacted most). But, there are a lot of things that can be done to improve people's confidence in their work. Training, team building sessions, meetings where everyone is asked to share a "fail" in order for others to learn from it and that no one is perfect etc., these are all ways to increase team buoyancy. And, having a culture where failure is tolerated and seen as a learning opportunity or a stepping stone to success — that's important too.

Here are some of my favourite related quotes:
Failure isn't the opposite of success, it's part of it. (Unknown)
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.  ~Thomas Edison
Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill 
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. ~ Robert F. Kennedy 
I personally, really do appreciate when I get constructive criticism. I evaluate the individual giving the criticism, and if I see they are coming from a good place, I take it and I work on that aspect of myself immediately. What I don't appreciate, is when people avoid giving any kind of constructive feedback, although I understand it's probably because they've encountered one too many people who were offended / negatively reacted to it. But think about it, how can anyone improve if feedback about their fails is only offered up in the form of criticism about them when they're not around?

On my road to becoming a manager, I need to discover a fine balance between providing accurate feedback, while avoiding hurting the individual's feelings. Some people I know are really great at it, I need to get together with these people, and pick their brains! :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bubblews: an uglier, but incentivized mashup of Reddit & Tumblr?

Just signed up for Bubblews to test it out. Now, before you say, Ana: yet another social network, really? Well, I like testing obscure and new social networks, like it's my job! (Well, it kind of is.)

Here's what I did before deciding to register: I searched for "Bubblews vs ..." and got two suggestions on Google: Squidoo and Hubpages. Then I clicked on the first result, which was this page: "Bubblews vs Squidoo". (Note to Bubblews, your brand name sucks because Google kept trying to substitute it with the word "bubbles"!). Reading that article peaked my interest and I decided to register and test it out.

Here are my first impressions of Bubblews:
  • Based on my experiences on Reddit, it allows similar vote up/vote down buttons for posts. It has 15 categories (kind of like subreddits), including: personal, art, tutorial, ideology etc. 
  • Like Tumblr, you can post images, text or both.
  • The interface looks a bit dated, like 2008 dated. They need to go for a more modern look if they're trying to attract a mass amount of new users (Although Reddit's interface is pretty hard on the eyes too).
  • Unlike Tubmlr or Reddit, it says you can earn $ in your account based on the number of likes and comments your posts get. Will this incentive result in the submission of better content by users? Time will tell. Also, posts must be a minimum of 400 words long in order to qualify for payment.
  • I'm guessing original content will get you more $ than curated content, but this is to be determined as I haven't posted anything yet.
  • Bubblews only has 107K registered users, which can be determined by performing the Google search for "". Interestingly, however, in May of this year Bubblews had only 31K users, so it has seen some growth. I haven't yet determined their geographic distribution or other demographics.
Next steps: I'll post some stuff and see what happens! (Updates to follow).

****UPDATE: I will however be monitoring the number of Google Search results of the search terms "Bubblews scam" to see if the number of results for this search grows in proportion to the number of users or faster, which could indicate that it is moving in that direction. At the time of this writing there are 43.5K results for this search term.

Have any of you tried Bubblews, Squidoo, Tumblr or Reddit? If so, please comment on your experiences and/or what you like or don't like about these sites.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Office vs home vs coworking space

After reading the Times article "Working Alone, Together," it got me thinking about which

working options we have today (seem to be a few more than a decade ago), and what the pros and cons are for each, at least from my point of view...

In my case, I can work at my downtown office or from home (occasionally and with prior approval). On days when I work from home, I sometimes head to a coffee shop to avoid in-home distractions (my husband already works from home and has an admin assistant as well in his basement home office). The other interesting alternative is heading to a coworking space like Hub Ottawa. If membership could be shared between myself and my husband, it could be an option, and would especially benefit him if it gets him to connect with other entrepreneurs.

Now for the pros and cons of each option:

1. Working in an office:

  • defines "work time" and sets it apart from "personal time"
  • network with your team, manager, peers
  • use technologies that have dedicated IT support (hopefully good support!)
  • commute: wastes your time, gas/parking $, energy
  • competition, gossip, envy, ego, office politics (healthy competition is ok, I just hate the other stuff)
2. Working from home (is it still called teleworking/telecommuting?)

  • no commute - saves time, energy, money
  • don't need to get dressed up, can start work earlier
  • save on coffee (I spend a lot on coffee :)
  • reduces ability to collaborate
  • isolation: reduces networking opportunities/connection with co-workers, manager
  • more difficult to separate work time from personal time. High intensity workers/workaholics may feel guilty when not "on"
  • connecting to office network is usually slower (in my case)
  • if your network is down, you have to figure it out!
Note: working in a coffee shop on a day you're working from home reduces some of the cons listed above, but not the main ones, in my opinion, which are isolation/reduced collaboration opportunities.
    3. Coworking space

    • allows for serendipitous collaboration, network building and even partnerships
    • usually includes free coffee/snacks
    • network access with support
    • may have access to spaces in other cities, good for workers who travel
    • still have to commute (hopefully you choose a space that is not too far)
    • over time, same cons as office may develop: competition, gossip, envy, ego, politics etc.
    As with everything, the key is to have balance. In my husband's case, because currently his only option has been working from home for over a decade, it would probably be a good idea for him to try new things and work occasionally from a coworking space. For myself, I mostly work at the office, so for me, it would be a good idea to occasionally work from home (especially during blizzards & major snow falls) and see if I can piggy-back off my husband's membership and cowork occasionally too!

    If anyone else has tried coworking spaces, let me know if there are more pros/cons I hadn't thought of!

    ***Update: Search results for teleworking: 900K, telecommuting: 3.2M, coworking: 7.7M, co-working: 3.4M. Thought these were some interesting search results on Google, since I recall "telecommuting" and "teleworking" being all the rage a few years back! 

    Saturday, May 25, 2013


    That's right. I coined it. Twacebookgram+! Ok, so it's not been focus-tested, and honestly it's just too many syllables to be viable, but

    you know what I mean, and that's the most important thing! And this is not a blog post, it's more of a rant about how I'm sick of trying to remember who does and doesn't overlap in which social networks and wish they would all just merge....but then again that may cause the company who owns this behemoth to consume the internet....but anyway, I'm rambling now. We'll see what I think of this post when I look back at it in 5 years! 

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Why I've been breaking the biggest blogging rule

    I think, therefore I blogToday I stumbled upon Robin Kilroy's blog, and read her post titled: "Why I'm breaking the biggest blogging rule". While reading it, I realized that I'm doing the same thing with this blog! I don't write for a particular audience, I mostly write on this blog as a form of public notepad. 

    Not only am I breaking the blogging rule of not writing for any particular target audience, the focus of this blog changes as my work or the positions I hold change. This is probably why I chose the blog URL to simply be my last name -- since if the title of the blog no longer reflects its focus, I could just change it without affecting the URL or my search engine ranked pages.

    Those of you who've been blogging for a while, do you blog for a specific audience/topic? Or do you just blog about whatever intrigues you? Let's discuss.... and come to think of it, the discussion seems to happen on other social media and not in the comments of this blog...but I digress...

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    How I use Social Media Tools for Managing my Unique on Google Name & Personal Brand

    I've recently had a few people ask me about the social media-related tools I use that help me increase the effectiveness and efficiency of managing my own online presence or "digital footprint". Also, a friend of mine has asked for help reviewing her CV and improving her chances of getting a better job, so I'm writing this blog post in preparation for this meetup.
    Ana Lissansky's office desk
    So here goes...

    I've been actively managing my online footprint for the past 8 years, and this is why, although my name is unique on Google (and likely the earth), you will not find any photos of me in a risqué or intoxicated state (read: drunk in a barely-there dress). 

    First thing's first, here's a list the channels I currently use for professional purposes:
    Important note: All of the channels above are for professional discussions only. I therefore use my real name, and my professional email account, which is my Gmail one. My personal Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest accounts, as well as my Mommy Blog, are all attached to my personal email addresses (there are many), and use a nickname. Therefore, when a potential employer or HR manager searches for my name, he/she will only find my professional accounts and only see photos I've shared on my professional accounts. ****This is particularly important for me as my name is 100% Unique on Google, i.e. there is no other "Ana Lissansky" in the whole online universe with this exact name and spelling of name combination (Date of search: May 10, 2013). This is why it is more important for me to manage my online footprint, compared to let's say "John Smith".

    Tools for accessing, managing, optimizing your social media

    If you work, or intend to work in media, communications, marketing, PR, tech, graphic design/web design (off the top of my head, but here are many other industries for which this is crucial) or even if you're a small husband and wife business like Vegancuts, who ships monthly boxes of vegan snacks to it's list of subscribers, you may benefit from using these advanced social media management tools:
    • Use it to manage my Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
    • Schedule posts: avoid inundating your followers with too many posts even though you discovered many interesting articles at around the same time
    • Research Twitter hashtags. Wondering if there's a Topsy for Instagram? I'm going to try for that, as it is the only on I've found so far.
    • Use it to manage who I follow on Twitter
    • Allows you to mass-unfollow accounts that haven't tweeted in a long time, or mostly "plug" themselves frequently, as well as other criteria
    • This is the best tool I've found for this purpose, I've tried at least three other tools
    • Recently started using this tool to get detailed Instagram statistics
    • Very helpful if you're attempting to use Instagram for lead generation or goal conversion (sales)
    • Shows you who shares your stuff, who are the top influencers for particular hashtags, and even when is the best time to share new content!
    Mobile Apps for Social Media
    • Twitter: Use both Twitter's app and the Hootsuite App - different interfaces, sometimes one is better than the other, depending what I'm doing/looking for
    • Facebook and Linkedin I use the Hootsuite App
    • Instagram I use the Instagram App
    • Pinterest - I use the Pinterest App
    • Personal Facebook is used from the Facebook App. Personal Instagram is tricky as I need to log out of the professional account and log in to the personal one. Instagram on Hootsuite is not that great yet.
    Current Mobile Devices
    • iPhone (32GB): because my phone mixes personal and professional worlds, it sometimes gets tricky as I need to log out of personal accts on certain apps and the log into professional accounts.
    • Tablet: ASUS Nexus 7 (wifi, 16GB): used for note taking during meetings on Google docs (professional use) or Evernote (personal use). This tablet is paired with a Logitech portable keyboard with tablet stand. The good thing about the tablet stand is that it can accomodate any size tablet, and my iPhone too! #win
    • ASUS ultrabook laptop: since I never take it out of the house, I'm not sure it can be called "mobile"!
    I'm interested to hear about how others manage their personal brand. Which tools have you come across that you think would be helpful in some of the areas I discussed above?

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Musings on the Future of Media & Communications

    I fondly remember how in 2008 I was urging companies and departments to start using social media as another "touch point" with their target audiences. I recall thinking that very soon, all companies will have Twitter and Facebook accounts (at least) and that, shortly thereafter, we would start seeing ads with companies asking viewers to Like their page or follow them on Twitter. And low and behold, just 6 months later, it started happening on a larger scale in the private sector, but took about two years to catch on in the government. 

    My other prediction from 2009 was that online advertising spending was going to grow dramatically. At the time I had just begun working in government advertising, and it was just below 9% of total media buys. Right now it's closer to 25%, and still not in line with either what the private sector portions are, nor with the percentage of time spent by Canadians on digital...but that's a whole other blog post :).

    So I may be able to argue that I am mildly capable of predicting the future in my industry by about 6 months to a year in advance of the "tidal wave" of change. But my predictions in this post are of a more lofty nature, as some of them will fully "hit" up to a 10-15 years from now, once the current major consumer generation is almost fully replaced by the younger, digital generation. As an example, my son's generation - the one that's never watched TV on TV or listened to anything but streamed online radio and read their morning news on a mobile device.

    And so, here are my media predictions (or the predictions of many others, which I agree with):

    1. Death of Newspapers/Magazines - dying, dying, dead. (And sooner than most people are expecting)
    2. Death of Traditional Radio/TV - traditional formats won't die as quickly as the papers, but soon. It's already begun, with the pressure to "unbundle" advertising, and with advertising dollars moving to digital ads, and giving people what they want: a la carte tv instead of paying for hundreds of channels few want to watch. Furthermore, there are already successful shows on Netflix that have never been aired on TV, and this is only going to grow. With respect to radio, it's easier to produce high quality programming for digital streaming radio online and on mobile, so traditional radio will die off even faster than TV.
    3. Death of Mobile Apps - once HTML5 evolves and is adopted across the web, it will allow the web to responsively (see Responsive Web Design) look like a native mobile app on mobile devices, then why would people take the extra steps of downloading and installing apps?
    4. Death of the Desktop/Laptop/Mouse - as people move to lighter more and more powerful portable tablets with touch screen technology (and an portable keyboard if you so desire!), clunky desktops, laptops and mice will become a thing of the past.
    5. Facebook or Google Consumes the Web - not quite sure which will win the "war for online time spend" but it's between these two. Facebook is taking the "walled garden" approach, while google seems to like things a bit more open so that it can index them all in its search engine. But with Facebook's social graph, which will become the bigger, or most valuable search engine?
    6. Advertising goes even more social - yes, ads you see online are already becoming very targeted, but this will increase to the point where every single user can see their own individualized ad at the exact time when they have expressed interest in a product either by their social media activity or their online search activity. Right now this can be "escaped" by clearing one's cookies from one's browser, but this will become less and less possible to do easily. Unless you want to get into using proxies, but again, once the user becomes advanced enough to use this, the advertisers will find another way of making you "opt in" if you want to view the valuable content they offer, there is no escape!
    That's all for today folks, but do let me know which of my predictions you agree with, and more importantly, how soon do you think these things will happen? A decade for some, a few years for others? If these things had a Facebook Timeline, what would it look like? :)