Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Problem with Conventional Thinking

One of the things that is really difficult to do is to innovate. Innovation is hard to achieve whereas maintaining the status quo or imitation is easy, but, of course, it’s never as good as the original. This is one of the reasons we respect visionaries, such as Steve Jobs. He was great at innovating and pushing the bounds. In my opinion, one of the abilities he had was the ability to overcome conventional thinking.

Conventional thinking involves meeting a problem with an already well established body of rules and procedures and this in it of itself isn’t necessarily bad. We use it as a foundation and that foundation is key as a starting point, but if a person is incapable of breaking free from conventional thinking than progress ceases. What makes it difficult to escape conventional thinking is the dilemma of pure creation. It’s difficult to imagine something that is completely detached from the reality we know. You can feel this yourself. Imagine someone asked you to break away from everything you know and write a science fiction novel about a world completely distinct from our own. Think about how difficult it would be to embrace pure creation without some influence from Earth and humanity. It would be really difficult. The takeaway is that the problem of conventional thinking is one of a stifling of innovation and progression. It is important to use conventional thinking as a base, but to be sure to build on it.

It’s my belief that a lot of companies that fail, fail because they have strict corporate cultures that emphasize convention over progression. This hinders progression which stifles innovation and leads other companies to gain an edge and eventually cannibalize the market. A great example of this can be seen in the smartphone market. RIM for many years was a market leader in the smartphone market with the Blackberry phone, but in a matter of a year or two their market share dwindled because of the Android and iPhone smartphones. Management at RIM clearly just didn’t respond to changes in the market and I believe that an inability to challenge conventional thinking was one of the causes. Conventional thinking is useful, but it’s also a problem to be cognizant of and one that can be overcome.


Why Not Rushing to Accept a Position After College Has Turned Out to Be Blessing in Disguise

I’ve noticed that it’s become a trend for influencers on Linkedin to write about how a radical decision turned out to be one of the greatest choices they have ever made and that’s inspired me to write about my own. I think that during a time when we’re attempting to improve with a slowly regrowing economy, it’s essential to view stages in life as opportunities.

It’s that time when soon to be graduates are scrambling to finalize their plans after college. There’s definitely a lot of pressure involved and I remember that well. The truth is that I’m probably still at that stage, but my nascent realization is that it’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When you have the time to think about who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what inspires you, you have the ability to make profound discoveries.

Since graduating, I’ve had the time to expand my interests in ways I would’ve never thought possible. With the time to take risks and begin new projects, I’ve had the ability to expand my mind and gain an even better understanding of myself. While some interests have only grown, others have developed. It’s an extraordinary thing. If I want to start writing a book, I can do that. If I have an idea for a start up, I can begin to lay down the groundwork for that. If I want to write about something, I can start another blog. The takeaway is to be true to yourself. It’s important to take everything as an opportunity and above all else to stay true to yourself. Take control of your personal brand and use the Internet to your advantage. Not rushing into accepting a position after college has been a blessing in disguise.


The Internet is Public Domain

In a time when people’s concerns about their privacy online are at an all time high, managing your online presence is really more important than ever. A week ago I wrote about how you should go about managing your online presence and this is meant to be a sort of continuation of that. The fact is that controlling your image online is a very difficult thing to do. If you’ve looked at Facebook’s current privacy settings, then you know that they are really complicated for what it is that you’re attempting to do. While we can understand that the complexity in settings is meant for people to be able to tailor their profile to their particular specifications, we also have to say that many of us don’t want to have to constantly be adjusting these settings. Facebook is meant to be a tool to connect with friends and family, not some algorithim you have to maintain.

The concept that I live by is simple and maybe I’m in a minority if people who can achieve this, but the idea is that I just take it as fact that everything online is public. Therefore, I put nothing online that I wouldn’t want to be public. It just makes things easier and the fact it is that one way or another anything online is accessible. If there’s something that is truly private to me, such as financial information, then I just keep that offline. For example, if you’re a user of Evernote then you know that you have the option to keep certain notebooks offline. If you have sensitive data, then just keep that on a computer with no connection to the internet. Its that simple.

P.S: This is the first post I wrote on my Android phone and I have to admit that the WordPress app is very robust and if you’re quick on a virtual keyboard then I think blogging is finally a viable alternative. Look for a WordPress app review from The Tech Tipper in the near future.


An Observation About the Success of Posts Covering Niche Topics

In taking a look at my WordPress statistics, I’ve come to make a very strong observation about the success of certain posts. My most popular posts have been ones that have covered very niche topics. On a daily basis those posts, such as the one covering the Wall Street Admissions Test, have garnerd an impressive hit rate. This goes to say that there’s always room for someone to cover an interest that doesn’t have a wide presence on the web. As far as search engine optimization goes, covering these topics has really helped with clickthrough rates which makes the rest of my posts more popular. The major takeaway is that there’s always an opportunity to be found in under-developed, bugeoning niches. In the same way that an entrepreneur looks for his next start-up idea, looking for niches can assist in many other areas of life.


What to Do When Your DSL (Internet Connection) is Down

This is a piece I wrote for Endless Progression, but I thought it was worthy of a reblog here. There are a lot of things to potentially try in this post.

Endless Progression

My DSL went down for a number of days recently and while at first I felt very inconvenienced, it turned out to be an interesting experience. The truth is that most internet service providers are pretty good in terms of percentage internet downtime, but DSL has always been problematic. Not only can it be a hassle to setup, but it can be unreliable at times. There were several reasons why it was an interesting experience. First, it was enlightening. After having been without my connection at home for a fairly short while, I found that it was freeing to not be connected to the rest of the world. Not only that, but I realized that I didn’t have to be connected to the rest of the world. From a productivity standpoint, it was much easier to get done work without the distractions of RSS, e-mail, social networks, blogs, news sites…

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Managing Your Online Identity

Establish and Maintain Your Online Identity (Must Read From Lifehacker)

The fact is that the you have a presence or identity on the web regardless of whether or not you influence it or attempt to control it and that portrayal of yourself can be negative or positive. It follows that everyone should be proactive in controlling their digital presence. The best way to insure that you’re online identity is positive is control it yourself. Make it so that people are seeing what you want them to see. Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker lists some basic steps in this article of how to go about controlling your online identity. They are as follows:

  1. Register a domain name.
  2. Point the domain at a personal portal or blog.
  3. Use your real name and a link back to your domain when you participate in online life.
  4. Stay active. Share pictures, post links, leave blog comments.
  5. Enjoy your established online identity! (For more read his article)

Fitzpatrick’s focus is, of course, on purchasing a domain and maintaining that domain. I agree that this is the best way to go about this goal, but really all that you need is to have one central location where people can find you. There are a lot of services that can allow you to do this without going about the process of purchasing a domain. About.me and Gravatar are two great, free services that can allow you to centralize your online presence. About.me is meant to be your own personal page where you can detail who you are, what you do and where else online people can find you. Gravatar is meant to be a sort of universal avatar by which people can be sure that a particular web service or site is owned and maintained by you.

Once you’ve centralized your web presence, the next step is to be active and use your own personal selection of social networking services in order to to ensure that your personal page(s) are what show up when people search for you. Any search engine, such as Google, is going to give more weight to a link that shows up often on web. Use your personal blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to make sure that you are representing yourself online.

The final piece that I would add is to make sure to use your online presence to your advantage. The real fact is that someone who lacks a sufficient presence on the web might be assumed to be lacking in “know how” of modern technology. Having an online presence is almost necessary and that’s a good thing. You want to be sure that a perspective client, potential employer, or past colleague can find you easily.  For more be sure to read Jason’s article and check out some of the services mentioned above. You don’t have to use all of them, but pick and choose ones that you’re interested in.

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Top 5 Things I’ve Come to Realize About Blogging

1. Give Your Readers Something with Every Post

The number one realization shouldn’t really be all that surprising. It’s sort of human history to be drawn to free things for one, but more than this if we draw something positive from a piece of writing then we’re much more likely to see it as having been of value. The key isn’t to always tailor your writing to your audience (unless your looking for max clickthroughs), but rather to make sure that there’s a message or a takeaway with every post. From a writer’s perspective, keeping your sight on this can also help to focus your writing and give it purpose. If you what you’ve written lacks a message, then why did you write it? It’s an obvious concept. Give your readers something to try, something to look into, a different way of thinking or anything that they can use to potentially make a positive change in their life.

2. Be Authentic

We all have role models whether we’re aware of it or not and our role models influence our aspirations. I think that one of the worst things you can do is to write about something that you either don’t have a background in or lack a passion for. In general, people, I believe, are good at piecing out when someone is being sincere or insincere. If your writing is forced, than that will show. From the other side of the coin, why would you write about something that you felt indifferent towards? Writing is fueled by opinion and desire. If I’m ever writing about something and not enjoying myself as I type, then I know I lack interest in that particular subject and that usually ends up as an unfinished draft post on my dashboard. This still happens all of the time and I take it as a learning experience. The second this starts to taper off, then I’ll know what I’m most motivated about. In the meanwhile, as I find things I’m motivated about, I’ll continue to create new blogs or as is the case, I’ll create new blogs for the purpose of feeling out a particular interest. You’d likely be surprised to discover certain interests that you’ve never really given much attention to. Above all else make sure that your writing is authentic.

3. Never Reblog Without Adding Something to the Original Writing

I’m assuming that the re-blog feature of WordPress is relatively new and a response to features found in other micro-blogging, blogging, and social networking sites. I think that this feature itself is positive, but can be misused. If you’re constantly re-blogging then you’re likely using a blog as link bait. This really defeats the purpose of blogging. If this what you want to do, then by all means utilize a service like Pinterest or Twitter in order to share content of interest. If your blogging, then your intention should be to create original content. You start a blog because you have something to share. That being said the desire to reblog does come up. In this case, when you re-blog be sure to add something the content you want to share. It gives credit to the original author (and yes I know that still happens) and demonstrates why you’re singling out a certain blog post.

4. Blogging is a Great Way to Organize Your Thoughts

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about blogging, thus far, is that it really forces me to think about my beliefs and call into question certain things. It’s a great way to challenge my own thoughts and organize my thinking even before anyone has the opportunity to challenge what I have to say. If you’re looking for a way to focus in your thinking about a particular topic then you might actually want to consider blogging it. During the course of my college courses, I came across a handful of courses that required me to blog and I will say in these instances it wasn’t that effective, but only because it was a requirement. In that case, the blogging wasn’t authentic and was more of a chore than an actual exercise I could use to focus in my knowledge and thinking. It didn’t work because it wasn’t authentic, but if their is a class that’s challenging you, blogging may help. This is just one instance of many others.

5. It’s Really Interesting to Look at WordPress (or any blogging plaform) Statistics

One of the things that I find really interesting is seeing which posts are popular, where the hits are coming from, and the diversity of people who share an interest in any particular topic. It’s really fascinating and it’s a great feeling to know that your writing not only benefited you, but another person. Even just looking through all of the blogs on WordPress, you come to realize that there’s a lot of great content out there aside from the mainstream. Sure, blogs like Lifehacker and Gizmodo are really great. I check them regularly, but you never know which blogger our there might hold much more knowledge and a stronger viewpoint on a particular topic. Mainstream blogs cover a wide breadth of topics, but smaller blogs have the luxury of being able to specialize on a certain topic. Take the time to wander around WordPress.


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