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So it turns out I have a new hobby. A new way to kill time. Yet another way to connect with colleagues, friends and co-workers. I PUSH the little plus sign when I visit their Linkedin profile. That’s right… I ENDORSE my contacts. And truthfully, it IS that easy.

Different from Linkedin’s ‘Recommendation‘ feature, an Endorsement allows those who know you best to ‘Endorse’ your areas of expertise.

ImageFor example: I have experience using Raiser’s Edge, so a former supervisor has endorsed me… she has clicked the plus sign and by doing so acknowledges that this is an area I am competent in. (She was also kind enough to endorse me in quite a few other areas, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Non-profits, Fundraising, Community Outreach, Social Networking, Media Relations, Public Relations and Public Speaking – to name a few. And she would know – SHE was my boss!)

Endorsements are a new idea, but I really like them. For someone looking for a new job, the endorsements feature allows employers to browse the individual’s skills and see which areas have been endorsed by others. For this reason I take my endorsing very seriously. While I know that my cousin is a teacher, I won’t endorse him as a teacher because I haven’t worked with him in this role. But I’ve seen his stand up comedy acts at family parties, so I might endorse him as a stand-up comedian. I know that my friend from church works in sales, but I’ve only worked with her on volunteer matters that are church-related. So I wouldn’t feel comfortable endorsing her work in sales, but I’d be more than happy to endorse her as a volunteer. A former co-worker has changed careers, so I would feel comfortable endorsing those skills that she shared when we worked together, but I can’t speak for what she does now as the work we do no longer shares a common interest. You get the idea.

ImageTo start endorsing simply log in to Linkedin and visit a colleague’s profile. Across the top of the page you’ll get a pop up box asking if your colleague has the following skills or expertise. Note that this is just a sampling of skills, not necessarily all of the skills your colleague has listed. What I love about this is the flexibility you have in endorsing. In my friend Steve’s case, if I don’t feel comfortable endorsing him in ‘Sales Management’ I can simply click the ‘x’ and close that skill, then go ahead and click the ‘Endorse’ button, and endorse the other four skills all with one click of the mouse. If I want to add to the list I can click in the box where it says ‘Type another area of expertise…’ and add another skill that I want to endorse. This is a great feature because Steve may have overlooked a skill that I really feel should be added to his profile.

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If you prefer to endorse skills one at a time you can just scroll down your friend’s page and look for the list of skills. Simply arrow over to the right side of the page and click the + sign for each skill you’d like to endorse.

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If you do chose to endorse a friend by clicking multiple skills at a time, once you complete your endorsement your screen will update to a grouping of four different colleagues. This is where you can really start to have fun. It’s a lot like playing a card game. You go through and click ‘Endorse’ on the ones you feel comfortable endorsing, and once you do the card will update to a new contact. Better yet, click ‘Endorse all 4’ and then get four new faces all at once. Go ahead. Give it a try. I DARE you to tell me it’s not addicting!

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As popularity of the Endorse feature grows your colleagues will soon catch on. The hope is that not only will they benefit from being endorsed by you, but that you’ll soon benefit from all of those who return the favor.

So go ahead and visit your Linkedin account and start endorsing. Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

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While working as a Communications Manager at my last job I was tasked with updating the website. From there it was up to me to update how I wanted, when I wanted. And for me… well, I like to go big or go home. So when it was time to put “wish stories” on the website, (a story featuring a child who recently had a wish come true) I made certain that we never added a story unless we had great photos to accompany the text.

Now, I preface this by saying that it is not my intention to pick on any other wish-granting chapters or organizations. I simply show the following image to make a point.

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This is a ‘wish story’ posted during a similar time to when I was posting stories to my own organization’s website. It is a great story. It tears at the heart and makes me want to open up my wallet and give. But it has no photo attached and for that I feel the author missed a great opportunity to really dress up an amazing story.

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This is a screenshot of a story that I posted, with two photos to accompany the text. Don’t the photos – the top one especially – just scream ‘look at me!’?

Rule of thumb: No matter how great your writing is, without a picture your story will never reach its full potential.

(I stop here to point out that some may disagree. “A great writer is called ‘great’ because his work is so visual a photo isn’t needed,” you may say. But not everyone is drawn to text. Some people are simply visual people. And that’s my point with this post. No matter how great your writing is, there are those who will not read unless a photo is included.)

We live in such a visual world. Cameras are readily available in many shapes and forms. Handheld devices are considered old fashioned if a camera isn’t included. They come in our iPods. They work on our phones. Even the computer comes with a camera installed!

So take advantage and show off your work! Leave a comment and let me know what you’re working on these days. Better yet, leave a link to your latest project and show off your visual side.

By the way, I’m looking forward to the weekend, thinking about taking a drive through the Wisconsin back country and checking out the fall leaves. Now there’s a chance to see some amazing color!!!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the sweet taste of ice cream as it melts in their mouth. Even better than enjoying a cup of nice, cold ice cream though is knowing that your purchase of a nice, cold fall treat is going to help make wishes come true for children facing life-threatening medical conditions.

*For the past 10 years Cold Stone Creamery has hosted the World’s Largest Ice Cream social each September. Funds raised from this event exceed the $4 million mark – making it possible for the world’s largest wish granting organization to make hundreds of wishes come true.

Tomorrow you too can help make wishes come true. One dollar from the sale of any Love It or Gotta Have It size Ice Cream, Yogurt or Sorbet Creation™ will be donated to Make-A-Wish. 

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Trying to think of my favorite wish that was granted during my nearly five years with the Foundation would be impossible – there’s just too many great ones to chose from. But in witnessing the power of a wish… I believe. I believe that something as simple as buying a cup of ice cream truly can make a difference in the life of a child looking to make it another day. So join me, why don’t you – and let’s help to make wishes come true!

*Numbers taken from this WBGH news alert

Late last week Twitter launched a design which features a cover photo – similar to the Facebook idea of putting a large horizontal photo across the top of your page. Also like Facebook, Twitter will keep a separate photo option for your avatar image.

After updating my own page I received several compliments but also a few questions from a few who wondered how to create the new header image.

Here’s a quick 5 Step Guide to show you how to do it:

1. After logging in to Twitter, scroll across the top and click on the icon that looks like a gear. A drop down menu will appear. Scroll down and click on ‘Settings’.

 

2. Move over to the menu on the left side of the page and click on ‘Design’.

Scroll down the page, past the ‘premade themes’.

3. Under ‘Customize Your Own’ click on ‘Change Header’ next to the Header box.

4. Click on ‘Choose existing image’.

5. This will bring the pop up box that allows you to browse your photo library and choose a new photo. Once you select your photo you will have the option to move a little scrollbar across the screen, cropping your photo to only show the things you want to appear in your cover photo. Then click ‘Save’.

“Note that when choosing photos you should pick something that represents you or who you are achieving to be. Rich, bold colors will really make your avatar image pop. Or, just the opposite. A cover photo with dark colors will really make an avatar with bright colors pop. You can never (almost never) go wrong with good old black and white. And you’re always safe using a landscape image of your favorite mountain, grassy knoll, cityscape or setting sun.

In my own case I chose to profile a Milwaukee skyline as I live in the area. The text in my ‘Profile Bio’ mentions that I’m located in Wisconsin, thus tying the two together.

Good luck and leave a comment when your cover photo is complete. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Who Reads the Bible, Anyway?

Earlier this week an AP Literature instructor at a San Jose high school asked his class if anyone in the room knew the meaning of the word ‘mammon’. The word came up after students discussed their current reading and one boy said he came across the word and didn’t know what it was.

The teacher eyed the students as he asked his question and one lone boy raised his hand.

“Rhett, please tell us what mammon is,” Mr. Patterson instructed.

The teen answered by explaining that mammon is riches or worldly things.

Mr. Patterson smiled.

“Where does it come from?” he asked.

“The Bible,” Rhett replied.

At this point all eyes were on the young man.

“Where?” Mr. Patterson challenged.

“Matthew chapter 6 verse 24,” came the answer.

At this point Mr. Patterson was grinning from ear to ear.

“What does it say?”

Rhett replied, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Rhett happens to be my kid cousin. (Can you call a 17-year-old senior in high school a kid?) I’m closer to his mom, really; she’s only a few years older than me. But when she shared this experience Rhett had with his peers earlier this week, I couldn’t help but feel a deep respect for the boy half my age.

Rhett told his mom that by the time he finished quoting the scripture ‘there were literally open mouths and stares of utter disbelief from the students. He even got a comment from one of his friends “Mormon freak!'”

Mr. Patterson went on to ask how many of the students in the class go to church and again, Rhett was the only one to raise his hand. Mr. Patterson continued, “I think I’m going to make it a requirement for you to attend church at least twice a semester.”

Rhett’s mom tells me that Mr. Patterson ‘continued by explaining that the Bible is the most widely read text (except, perhaps for the Koran, because there are more Muslims than Christians) and that there are so many references to it in the literature they will be reading this year.’

Today I’m very proud of my kid cousin. I have to be honest… I too didn’t know what ‘mammon’ was when the email from my aunt came through. Then again, I’ve never read the Bible from cover to cover. I too studied it in school, as part of a required (well, required by my parents) religious curriculum. I know at one point I even memorized that verse that Rhett was able to spit right out. But if someone were to ask me today if I know what mammon is, sadly, I would have had to shake my head ‘no’.

I admit – I’m terrified to see the situation our world is in today. I worry about my own children and the hardships they will face as they grow older. I hate to think of an end-of-the-world (as I like to call it) situation happening and my children struggling to survive. But I also believe in establishing a firm foundation. I believe that we will be saved if we have built our house on a rock, as the children’s song goes. And when I hear stories like this one about Rhett, I find comfort in knowing we have great leaders among us, growing today to lead tomorrow.

Maybe my little ones will grow to be great leaders themselves. Whether they do, or not, there’s no question in my mind that Rhett will be ready to step forward and pave the way for others to follow.

New Twitter Headers

This is personal. I feel the need to say that upfront.

I’ve been a bit out of the loop. Life happens. And I’ve had a busy one this year. New house. New state. New family member. And with that briefly-mentioned 5-letter word – ‘state’ – comes all that life in a new state has to offer: new friends. new neighbors. new favorite restaurants, places to hang and teams to cheer for. Notice how I didn’t mention ‘new job’? That’s right. No new job. Still don’t have one. And that’s ok. I believe in fate. It will happen when it’s supposed to happen. In the meantime I’ve been brushing up on my social media skills, and with that comes an updated Twitter profile.

As mentioned in this article on Mashable, ‘Twitter now offers a Facebook-Timeline like cover display for main profile pages‘. I always like a challenge, and saw this as an opportunity to be ahead of the rest. It was a chance to get back in the rat race and keep my social media skills fine-tuned. After all, my ‘bio‘ says I’m a social media junkie, so I thought this was a great place to start. Not to mention, I now have something in common with Ryan Seacrest and Al Roker.

I kinda like it. What do you think?

Yellow Ray of Sunshine

Yellow Ray of Sunshine

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