1. Be Better at…Social Media.

    Instagram Edition:

    I have an addiction. And that addiction is Instagram. 

    Surprisingly, I almost like it more than Facebook. The perks? You don’t have to hear about people getting pooped on by their own babies, the quinoa bullshit someone ate for lunch, or how often someone is hitting their cardio yogalates class every week. BUT, warning…you may have to visualize some of these things in photo form.

    But I have a confession, even more than my addiction. 

    I am bad at Instagram. I have committed every cardinal sin that you can imagine on this social network…but I want to e-repent and try not to do these things ever again! And mostly, I’m sick of seeing you post these things too, k?

    P.S. No one is allowed to get butt-hurt over this post because I have only used my own photos and idiocy as examples.

    The 5 Instagram Photos That Everyone Posts, But Collectively Everyone Hates:

    • Obscure Nature Shots: You know what people on Instagram love? Flowery branches on a blue sky background. It’s the irresistible photo because, hell yes, it’s pretty… it sorta makes us look like we go outside once in awhile…and there is a good chance that with the right crop…we all can look a little artsy. Other favorites in the “Obscure Nature” category? Final moments before sunset, the SuperMoon, close up flowers, and lonely pier leading into choppy lake. These get boring, but they are tolerable I suppose (and I’ll probably keep posting them).
    • Moody Coffee: Coffee photos are never f*cking happy, are they? They always look like the final cup of joe before someone is going to be publicly executed. Oh, and it’s never going to be a styrofoam cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on a formica countertop, next to a copy of US Weekly or In Touch Magazine. If there’s reading material in the shot, it’s gonna be the Times/The New Yorker/Kinfolk/Great Gatsby/Steinbeck. TRUST. We curate our coffee photos like we are trying to get laid via Instagram…the proper TYPE of coffee, perfect latte art, the RIGHT coffee shop tagged, a beautiful table surface, and some thing else like a casually-placed glasses, a book, or a pastry that cost upwards of $8. Pretention at it’s finest people.
    • Weather Update: I did this the other day..and then immediately hated myself for it. I took a screenshot of the weather on my iPhone and then posted it to Instagram. This makes no fucking sense. I act like I am getting my weather updates from some desert shaman via smoke signals that no one else has access to. Hey loser (me..and sometimes you), we all have frackin’ weather on our phones or we could do it the old fashioned way and look outside.(and yes, I am yelling at myself right now)
    • Window Seat: Shit, I forgot to bring those trophies with me today. Because you deserve some sort of award that you flew on a plane and took photos from your window seat of God’s good creation and now are taking photo credit for it right? Oh wait. No, no…we don’t deserve a viral pat on the back for breaking sky law to snap a pic of Iowa as we fly over. Also, you are just trying to piss others off completely…you’re either travelling to exotic places for work or going on vacation. Either way, I want to swiftly take both of your knees out while I look through my feed during Excel spreadsheet formatting at my desk. Stop being an asshole.
    • Cocktail Blur: When I break the two cocktail threshold, I will be putting up a blurry photo of the libation I am currently chugging. This is not interesting for anyone involved and honestly, I have to pause my drinking to take the photo and try and pick a filter that makes it look mildly appetizing. I am going to try and stop this habit, but I really get invested in my mojitos and want to share the joy with the world around me.

    All this to say…let’s try and be better before pulling that proverbial trigger. I have to say…there are two types of photos I never get tired of seeing…bring on the PUPPIES AND ARCHITECTURE!!!!

    What are your least favorite type of Instagram photos? Who are your favorites to follow?

     Happy faux-photography!

    Chinae

     


  2. Be Better at…Business.

    Taking the Shame Out of Self Promotion Edition:

    We all have those people in our lives who think the axis of the earth is actually aligned with their bellybutton and annoy the living hell out of the rest of us with that factoid (usually actually not the case). BUT if you are a freelancer, plan on having your own brand, or want to further yourself in a creative field, you sometimes have to toot your own horn a little. TOOT TOOT. So how do we self promote without being viewed as self-obsessed, pretentious b-holes?

    Here are 5 ways to Be a Better Promoter of Your Personal Brand: 

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    1) Be Humble: This is first on the list because it’s absolutely the one point on this list that is MUY IMPORTANTE. If you listen to none of the rest of these rules, (I don’t blame you), listen to this one. The biggest turn-off in business or otherwise, is when you can smell the bullshit in the room when you are around someone that is self promoting. The truth is, no matter how much you think people like your ass, when all you do is talk about the EPIC things that are going on with you (personally or otherwise), they are going to be annoyed. While most of our annoyance stems from insecurity and a little jealousy (yes, im jealous that your client is asking you to travel the world to look for inspiration for their Fall 2012 collection), the rest of it is ACTUALLY because you are irritating in the way you communicate. It’s smart to share exciting news, but figure out how to do it in a way that’s palatable for the masses (side note…most of what you think is NEWS, is not). Also, streamline what information you release…share certain things with your inner circle (who have to love you by default), and then when things are actually big moments, your larger network will be ready to celebrate with you. If in doubt, don’t share. Also, talk about what you are doing, but first ask what others have going on. People love to talk about themselves, and trust me, they will be more open to hearing about the rad things you’ve got cookin’, once they get a moment in the spotlight.

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    2) Know Your Weaknesses: We all know where we just KILL it, so let’s take a moment and really suck at in relation to your brand or career.

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    Next, surround yourself with a group of people who ARE good at those things. When a situation, job, or opportunity arises that you think might be out of your range, identify who may be better for the job and pass it along or suggest a collaboration of sorts. Yes, you might lose out on money occasionally (dolla dolla billz), but when it comes down to it, you weren’t the right fit, and you probably would have sucked the big, fat one in the end. The person needing something done will appreciate you for your sense of community, will respect that you are willing to sacrifice moolah for their well being, and trust, they will come back to you for something that IS your thing. Also, that person in your network will forever be grateful, and they WILL return the favor and may even buy you a lot of vodka..oh wait…that’s just me. Doesn’t it feel good to not have to be everything to everyone?

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    3) Support Outside Vision: Investing in the people around you first and foremost, is vital to keeping your personal brand afloat. I would say that 90% of my freelance friends would say that the majority of their work comes from people they know, have met, or have been recommended through. Get involved for realz with what your contemporaries are up to, support their personal brands and figure out ways to collaborate together or at least share tips and tricks with each other in navigating the big, wide, world out there.  Most of all, be genuine in your desire to create relationships with your peers and only get involved if you actually want to be there. No one likes a faker. PLUS, people always get tired of you talking about your stuff jerkface, so when you share something exciting that someone else is doing, it solidifies the fact that you aren’t just looking out for #1.

    4) Create Buzz: Figure out concretely what you think about things, what your style is, and stick to it. You can’t be pleasing to everyone and usually success comes with some sort of extreme. No one wants to talk about the very palatable photographer who just does run of the mill work and will do whatever the client wants. It’s a fine line in holding your creative vision and being flexible, but I would say if you have to compromise your vision, don’t get involved. 

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    5) Follow Up and Follow Through: Do what you say. All the time. That said, don’t take on more than you know you can manage with your time, skills, and finances. Be clear in communicating when you are overwhelmed, feeling stretched, or under compensated. Letting bitterness take root in your relationships will only make you resent them, and yourself so be honest and clear right from the start.

    Business Chinae OUT!

     


  3. Be Better at…Business.

    Networking Edition:

    Most of us have to endure the pleasure (pain) of working with actual human beings on a daily basis, so I figure we all should probably figure out how the hell to communicate with people on a business level without coming off like a complete reject. Unless we all can agree that robots are pretty close to taking over our jobs, and in that case, this blog post is null in void. But until that happens…here’s my attempt at being a better networker. 

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    Networking Tips and Tricks:

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    Be Funny or at Least, Fun: Ok…we don’t need you to do your best hybrid Demetri Martin/Chris Rock routine where you talk about hoodrats while drawing pictures of rats wearing hoodies on an easel (if you are unfamiliar with DM or CR..this will not make sense)…BUT be light, make jokes when appropriate and don’t have such tunnel vision to an end goal of making your business connection. Humor makes people able to breathe, take a step out of the situation, and allows them to feel like they know you better than they previously did. Steer clear of these types of subject matter (unless they start it and you’ve had an adult beverage): sex jokes, racial humor, jokes about your boss, and political statements. Dad jokes preferred if you are doing business with me in particular.

    Stop Being a Pretentious A-Hole: Ask yourself this…when someone talks about all the cool things they are doing, or the cool people they know….does this make you EVER want to: help, collaborate, or be in the same room ever again with this person? Yeah, I didn’t think so. We are just sitting there pissed that you are taking up square footage on planet Earth and tuning out the fact that you are telling me that Ke$ha’s people just invited your company to do a collaboration of beer/regret flavored lollipops to hand out at your next event.

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    Save your bragginess for conversations with your mom or when you run into that delightful gal that stole your boyfriend freshman year, at your high school reunion. No one likes a one-upper…and not only will you be the lonely wolf in the corner, but you’ll get a reputation in your business circle as fast as a Disney teen star takes her baby tee off for the camera.

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    Forget About Yourself: You have a point to make, you have a connection to foster, you want to get your message to the person you are talking with. YOU. YOU. YOU. Yes, these things are important…but forget what you were going to say. Seriously…forget it. Focus on the other person with your whole being. Make what they are saying, the most important thing. Ask them a myriad of questions even if you aren’t interested. Try not to say the word “I” at all. You know what’s gonna happen?….They are going to LOVE YOU. They’ll like you as much as I like back to back plays of the Thong Song on a friday night. (which is a lot) Eventually they’ll love you so much as a person, that when you do get around to mentioning your original point, they’ll be so high from being really listened to, that they will be more apt to hear you out on your stuff….and I guarantee they are going to love you long time. 

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    The Best Question You Can Ask: What can I do for you/How can I help you? Do this always. Even if they are killing it Hova style and you’re watching stolen cable while eating generic mystery meat out of a can that you’ve used a shard of rock to open because you are too poor for a can opener…just ask. But more than asking, do what you can to actually help if they need it. Follow through. It’ll make a huge impact and even if they don’t need anything, they’ll remember that you asked.

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    Stop Being Boring: Have something greater to talk about besides work stuff. Rent a family for 3-6 months of the year, take up Himalayan footless biking, memorize the dewey decimal system backwards…something. Humans with more layers are naturally less annoying to deal with and who knows…you may get a dewey study buddy out of the whole thing. Also, a great thing is find an organization to support that is doing something good in the world to get behind. It’s always best to be able to show that you have a heart (but you actually have to have one here) and that your interests are beyond money and climbing that social ladder. 

    My personal organization (cue shameless plug): ALEGRIA www.wearealegria.org This group is doing amazing redemptive work in Andean orphanages sharing hope through creativity and art. Support it y’all. 

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    Lastly…

    Ask for Advice and Admit Weakness: Every company, employee, and human struggles with their own crap. Sometimes admitting that you suck, are bummed out, or asking for help/advice can actually be super beneficial. Shared weakness or a shared struggle is part of the human heart, so stop being a hardass all the time and let your guard down. Now, don’t tell them about your little episode last night where you overdosed on tater tots and Four Loko while listening to Joni Mitchell to drown out pain of your Poor Annual Review….but reveal appropriate amounts of reality and you’ll be good to go.

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    Cheers to being your authentic self,

    Chinae