Friday, July 24, 2009

Upcoming Travels: Seattle, Montana & NYC

Sometimes you need to pack you bags and hightail it outta town; other times, you have these things planned for sometime. Thanks to some serendipitous pull of the universe, I find myself with a lot of pre-planned travel at a time when I could really use a get the heck out of dodge vacation.

As most of you know, I am an expatriot Oregonian. So I couldn't be happier to be launching my travels next week in the Pacific Northwest. My first port of call? Seattle--although I was looking forward to the soothing rain of this city, it's supposed to get up to 105 degrees. From there I make my way to a very small town in Montana for my pal Angie's wedding. I'm looking forward to the wide open spaces, mountain backdrop and the ease of conversation of the country...

I get back to Boston on the 11th of August and leave for NYC two days later. My client is throwing a launch party on August 14th and I'd love to rally the folks from the Boston to NY Australia Day trip of 2008 for the party--@paullyoung @sarahwurrey, can it be done?

Here are the important dates:
  • Seattle: July 29-31
  • Montana: July 31-August 11
  • Boston: August 11-13
  • NYC: August 13-17
  • PigSpigot Launch Party: Friday, August 14 (client)

After August, who knows?!? But I'd love to see you while I'm traveling!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gratitude: A Meditation for Now (and Later)

Gratitude is one of those words that comes up in yoga. Depending on how you're feeling towards the spiritual / emotional side of things, gratitude could be what the teacher is talking about while you're holding an awkward pose or it could be a meditation you seek to live by.

Sometimes when I'm feeling a little cynical, I think to myself, "gratitude pose--I'm grateful I can even get into it today." (See photo on right from

When I'm teaching parsvottanasana (gratitude pose), I like to remind the class to be grateful for something external but also something inward-facing. For some reason, self gratitude is often perceived as a lack of humility, as a negative. It can be challenging to retrain ourselves to think, "well gosh, thank you for looking out for me today." Despite all of our external responsibilities, our first priority should always be providing for ourselves (or we can't be as useful to the external world)!

It's a beautiful idea, all this gratitude. But it's easy to forget to be grateful for yourself and others that really are always there should you need them. Right now, I'm incredibly thankful for all my friends.

This post is an incredibly round about way of saying thank you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Internet Has a Spine?

I've been hearing the words Internet backbone a lot these days. And it's a phrase that does nothing for me, save conjure an image of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders. However, I've learned that much like Atlas, backbone is what holds up the interwebs for us to play on.

With all the recent talk of cloud computing, we think less and less about the physical infrastructure that makes the world as we know it work. Wireless connections support this idea that we don't really need to be tied down to anything. And yet, we're always using backbone somehow.

Internet Backbone is the physical connections between various networks--large corporate, military and educational ones-- that allow information to flow between them.

Logically, it makes sense. The interwebs have to touch, have to be connected. But it is a little mind-boggling to think that we're so locked in, so bound together, even as the networks themselves are like ever expanding stars in the universe. Atlas still holds us up.

Procrastinating Relationships

Have you ever had something uncomfortable to say that you kept putting off in the hopes that the issue would resolve itself or that you'd come to terms with it in some other way?

It's not a pleasant place to be. It's like cleaning house--you forget to pick up a few things here and there and suddenly the whole place needs a deep cleaning. Relationships are the same way. You can't procrastinate. Once you've let things build up, it can spiral out of control. And no one wants to be stuck with the all the dishes, laundry and scrubbing the bathrooms at the same time.

Whether it's contract negotiations or highly an emotional issue, putting it off never helps.

For better or worse, relationships require at least two people--so what do you do if the other player doesn't contribute? Knowing that the issue needs resolving, how many times can you follow up, ask to talk, etc. without being a nag?

Something I'm thinking about on this Monday morning, because as much as we talk about procrastinating our work. It's procrasting relationships that'll really come back to bite you in the butt.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Idiotic Vandalism: Bathroom Marketing

Normally in a bathroom stall, you’ll find sad attempts at art, proclamations of love and other scribbles. You often find yourself wondering, don’t these people have better things to do than sit in the bathroom and draw or write random quotes on the walls? Do you know anyone who packs a sharpie with them on the way to the powder room just in case inspiration strikes them? I don’t.

I just saw this in the bathroom at Espresso Royale at BU. I suppose I could point out that societally this marks a shift from phones to blogs as the primary mode of bathroom to outside world discourse (think “for a good time call”). Where before we saw bathroom vandalism as a likely form of harassment, now we find shameless self-promotion. As if the movement towards straight advertisements in the bathroom wasn’t enough evidence of a society over saturated--now even the scribbles in the corner are trying to sell us something.

However, what’s truly idiotic about this attempt at vandalism is the fact that it’s so easy to track back to its creator. When you quote Shakespeare or rock lyrics, or when you write someone else’s number on the wall, maybe someone could speculate, but no one would ever know for sure who it was. Unless you’ve got a truly avid fan—which I highly doubt either of these two bloggers has—it’s pretty clear who vandalized the bathroom.

Then again, it’s ERC. Who would report it?

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Open Note on Auto-Following: Spammers Please Read

Way back in 2007, when Twitter was new and everybody knew everybody, following people when they followed you was standard practice. It was considered polite and decent. In fact, if you didn't auto-follow back, it appeared as though you weren't on your game, weren't paying close enough attention to your community.

Well, Twitter is a whole new world now, and it's pretty easy to be overwhelmed by the signal to noise ratio of even your friends. I stopped auto-following when I stopped being able to actually keep up with all my followers (the way you would try to keep up with friends on Facebook, the phone or any other platform). In some cases, that means I'm missing out on real people I could be getting to know. In other cases, like the "followers" that prompted this post, I'm not missing out on anything.

Here's the deal: In the past month, maybe a little longer, I've noticed about half a dozen, maybe more, of the same twitters "adding" me as a follower. Why is this annoying you ask? Because they've added me repeatedly, multiple times in a short span of time. I've received enough duplicative notifications since June that it's time to call out some people.

Here are a few quick ways of gauging if someone is a spammer:
  1. They are following a boatload of people and are being followed by substantially fewer.
  2. They have more followers than they have updates.
  3. They have the words guru or god in conjunction with marketing or SEO in their handle.
  4. They request to follow you multiple times, but you have no idea who they are.

To illustrate that last point, it's time to call a few people out. Below you'll find a few recent irritations, people who have followed me multiple times in the last few weeks with the vital stats called out.

  • has followed me 2x sine June 21
  • As of today, this one has ever tweeted.
  • has followed me 3x since July 2
  • Last I checked, this guy has never tweeted.
  • has followed me 3x since June 15
  • With under 300 updates, this guy has over 3000 followers.
  • If I had prizes for the biggest fail, this would be the winner.
  • She has followed me 5x since June 18, and the 5th time was this morning
  • With just over 100 updates, this one has 1200 followers.

If I haven't followed you back--and you're a real person--please say hello with an @skalik and I'll be sure to check out what you're up to. Spammers please stop clogging up my inbox. I'm not going to follow you back unless I'm genuinely interested in what you have to say; I'm not going to support your numbers simply because you've annoyed me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stepping It Up a Notch

I'm sure you've all noticed that I've been quiet these passed few months. On this blog, and on twitter, I've been a little more removed.

As much as I'd like to say that I'm comfortable with a tell all, leave no stone unturned approach for this blog, let's face it: that's not me. I'm a little to introspective to share the juicy bits of my career and personal life, and maybe a little too honest about both of those things to stay out of trouble... So instead, I think it's time I come to terms with the fact that I'm a tell some kind of girl.

You've seen this post in various forms over the past few months. I've talked about struggling to find my voice, changes in focus, conflict (indirectly of course), new goals, etc. Well, I'm a little bit of a lot of things, and my new plan for this blog is to share a little bit of me--the things I find interesting, random stuff I've been thinking about... everything from social media to yoga to current events.

Whatever direction that ends up taking me, I'm stepping it up a notch so I can figure it out!
As always, feedback is welcome. :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Changing the World, One Client at a Time

I got into PR in college because I believed it was the field that had the ability to make change. More than journalism, more than finance, communication changes perception. Yesterday, I wrote about being drawn to writing, how it's inspiring to learn, teach and share ideas. For all these reasons, I believe it is public relations and communications more broadly that promote true shifts of the mind.

Consequently, and despite the ease with which we burn out or become jaded, we communicators must remember that we have the ability to make or break the companies or organizations that we work with.

Working with startups, I see the potential next generation of technologies. It's a blessing and a curse--while the excitement runs high, so does the significance of the work. A single, well strategized media placement can make the difference between a VC signing on the dotted line or needing to find a new job, client, etc.

Technology changes the world everyday. But what if no one had ever heard of the major players we're now familiar with? What if Gates had never been conscripted to create DOS? Would we do without our iPhones?

Communication can make or break a new technology. That's one way to change the world.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Biographical Inspiration

I flew through Reagan National Airport today and my airline offered its guests free copies of a number of publications. I thumbed through Politico, the Wall Street Journal and pub I haven't looked at since I worked with a mobile technology company, Business Traveler.

The last time I had read through the bios of the reporters and freelance writers affiliated with this publication, I had one goal in mind. Sell, sell, sell the product I was repping in the hopes that they would feature it somehow.

This time, when I read through the bios, I got a sense for people that loved their work. I was uplifted and inspired to read about the business traveler turned travel writer, the freelancer who wanted to be a foreign correspondent for the NY Times at the age of seven.

Why do we write?

Clearly for the writers at Business Traveler the answer is simple--they enjoy doing it. People write to learn, to teach, to share ideas. Communicating is human nature. We get pleasure and validation from being understood.

But what I really took from reading these bios is that we should all walk towards those activities that make us happy--whether we've been pursing them since childhood or following a meandering path towards them since joining the professional ranks.