All posts tagged “tools

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Finding the Resources When You’re Solo

Sometimes technology just gets in your way – at least it did when I sat down and tried to record an interview with mStoner’s Director of Marketing, Mallory Wood. I tried to make it work, but eventually, I tired of trying to match video and spotty audio together like puzzle pieces. Instead, here’s a post about our conversation…

Mallory Wood works as director of marketing for mStoner, a marketing and communications agency that works with higher education institutions – about 250 all told over the company’s history. Some of these institutions are large, with grand teams, but a lot of them are smaller, Mallory said, with small teams or solo practitioners in charge of various pieces of the communication puzzle.

“We do web design, content strategy, print; we’re a full service agency,” she added. “We can take a project from strategy to completion or do a part of that.”

mStoner works with a mix of small and large teams, but Mallory said those who work for the company get extra satisfaction from helping out armies of one.

“It is exactly when the army of one is overwhelmed with developing content and strategy or saying to themselves, ‘I have suddenly gotten social media thrown onto my plate… and I’m in the middle of developing content for print and the web and I don’t know what to do. I’m not trained in this; I don’t have a good strategy,” she said. “That’s when they might send me an email or pick up the phone and say, ‘Mallory, how can mStoner help us?’”

We discussed challenges that the solo practitioner faces every day – as a vendor sees them. Mallory listed a few that we can all agree with – time and knowledge.

“There are a lot of limitations – the biggest is time,” she said. “There are only so many hours in the day. Yes, we hustle and get it done. But at some dr simeons hcg diet protocol point you have to maintain a work-life balance. Knowledge is another limitation. There are lots of resources out there that can help with that.”

And although the company makes its bread and butter advising clients, mStoner provides a wealth of free resources for the higher education community. Mallory helps out with a number of those resources:

EDUniverse – A hub for content and information that was launched in 2012 to serve as an open community for higher education. Of EDUniverse, Mallory said:

We saw that a lot of new bloggers coming into the higher ed space. All of a sudden, you have all these blogs and content, and they’re all great. We wanted EDUniverse to act as a hub for all the information that pulls together the best ideas on the web in higher ed. We merged last year with Higher Ed Live and hope to merge the two sites completely by the end of the year.

Webinars – mStoner has definitely rolled out the free webinar resources in the past year and a half, and the company has no plans to change that in 2013, Mallory said. Watch the company’s blog or get on its email list for more information.

mStoner has a dedication to providing free resources and thought leadership for those colleagues who work with higher education. We’ve made a commitment to truly just offering content – just information. We don’t do a hard sell or cold call after the webinar. In 2013, we’re planning on offering 20 or more webinars – some on content strategy from different angles,on responsive web design, SEO and analytics, etc.

Social Works – mStoner’s first book features case studies on social media projects in higher education. Mallory said the company plans to extend the book’s reach by offering a series of webinars on some of the case studies. Those will be available to folks who buy the book.


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Big Ideas Book Review: The No Asshole Rule

Robert Sutton wrote The No Asshole Rule in 2007, after seeing lots of examples and hearing from lots of folks who dealt with workplace jerks on a regular basis. Before composing the book, he put together a couple of magazine articles that contained the genesis for the book idea.

I came late to reading The No Asshole Rule, but because of recent work stress, my former boss (@jmdipippa) thought it might make sound reading material. He was right on the money. This book was what I needed – right now – and it contained tips that could be integrated into my workday right away. Most importantly, it wasn’t what I call a “bitch book.” Instead, The No Asshole Rule demands that we be responsible for improving our own workplaces.

When my colleague Ron said he was working on reading more and more book reviews, I thought I might try to join him periodically. I read far more fiction than I do “practical books,” but when I do read one that might be helpful, I promise to share here at Higher Ed Solo. I’ve also worked up a quick way for me to review books – sharing one big idea per chapter. Let’s try that here. The No Asshole Rule has seven chapters, and here are my take-aways:

  1. In chapter one, Sutton defines an “asshole.” He reminds us that an asshole is not just someone we don’t like or someone who is unskilled socially. An asshole is best defined by how he or she makes you feel when you’re in his or her presence. In addition, the quality of assholeishness is defined by the individual’s taking out anger and negativity on those who are less powerful. That less powerful thing is key, but my takeaway was that an asshole makes you feel lower than dirt when you have to deal with him or her.
  2. Chapter two focuses on why assholes can ruin a workplace if they’re not contained. They cause damage to their chosen victims, to innocent bystanders who watch and hope not to become a target, and to themselves. They can also hurt an organization deeply, and that is my takeaway from this section. Do not suffer the assholes to survive because one day their presence will impact your company or organization negatively.
  3. Enforcing the no-asshole rule is the focus of chapter three. Apparently, it’s pretty hard to weed out the bad and protect the good in an organization. *eye roll* However, it’s the reinforcement of an expectation of proper, non-assholeish behavior that can protect your organization Online Blackjack. My takeaway from this section? Talk the talk, and walk the walk. Say you’re getting rid of the assholes and do it. If you can’t accomplish the goal, then don’t promote your company and its positive values. Related to this: Don’t tolerate asshole behavior in clients or customers either. That one’s a little harder to swallow.
  4. Chapter four focuses on keeping your own negative behavior in check. Apparently, one asshole can stink up the whole company quickly. My big idea from here is where the book narrows its focus from looking at ALL THE ASSHOLES in the world to improving my own behavior. In this chapter, Sutton quotes da Vinci, saying “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” One should avoid assholes at all costs in order to avoid becoming one.
  5. Chapter five is full of tips for surviving in a place filled with assholes, and I may have taken this chapter more to heart than the others. The big idea from this chapter is tied to my graduate work – reframe others’ behavior in order to improve your outlook. Sutton relates a story of how Disney trains its cast members to deal with assholes in amusement parks by following the simple rule to change how you see things.
  6. Well, this chapter was a kick in the pants. Of course there are advantages to having assholes in the workplace – as well as acting like an ass sometimes. I’d rather not deal with this chapter that focuses on Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison and lots of other successful not-nice people. However, I do have a takeaway. Sometimes a well-placed asshole helps others see how not to behave. I know that’s the instance in my workplace.
  7. The final chapter of this book focuses on how to implement the no-asshole rule in your daily life. The big idea here is simple – help create a world that’s one you’d want to live in. It’s like the Golden Rule, but bigger in a way. It’s also like those ripples you see when you drop a rock into a pond – you never know how far they’ll go.

Sutton’s book is full of lists, and quizzes, and tips to help us deal with assholes. That’s good, because he mentions that higher education is a place where assholes tend to congregate.

And I’ll let you make of that what you will.

* For the record, like Sutton, I’ve decided not to shy away from the word “asshole.” It is what it is. They are what they are.


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A Look at Student Affairs with Eric Stoller

Welcome to 2013! Here at Higher Ed Solo, we decided to kick the year off with a bang – literally – and publishing an interview with student affairs pro Eric Stoller.

In higher education, we all know the Stollercoaster. And if you don’t, then you should. The self-avowed introvert (I’m not convinced yet) brings his high-energy approach to conferences and consulting gigs all over.

Eric Stoller is a higher education consultant who also blogs on student affairs and technology for Inside Higher Ed. The conquistador (he might like that label) is a seasoned professional in student affairs who took his show on the road. When he became a consultant, Eric was able to reach more people and do more writing and speaking – something he’s very good at.

In this interview, we talked about lots and lots of things. That’s how Eric works. He’s all over the map. At the core of our discussion, however, was the idea that even solo practitioners can help out in student affairs. Key to accomplishing that was… SURPRISE… listening and sharing. We also talked about how consultants are a lot like Armies of One.

Quick Five – Don’t Think, Just Answer

Oh, and Eric answered the Quick Five. Here are his answers:

What’s your favorite food?

A theme with me is I like everything. If I’m out and about in a new city – and I think this year I had something like 40 trips – it’s not an easy question for me to answer. I would say Thai, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, homestyle German. I love just a lot of different things.

What was the last book you read?

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

You have a day to live, what do you do first?

Figure out how to live longer. No, I write. Honestly, I would just try to tell a story saying, “Hey. I tried my best, and I hope you do the same.”

You can invite 10 people – living or dead – to dinner. Who are they?

Well, the dead people would probably drive the living away because they would smell bad. … You know, I would like to have a conservation with bell hooks when she was younger because I think she’s getting a little bit tired now. She’s been on the road doing activism for quite a while. I don’t really need to have people who are passed on. Like Angela Davis, I saw her speak several years ago, or Maya Angelou. They’re just like rock star women who I want to hear, and I don’t want to say anything. I just want to sit back and listen to their dinner conversation. Just smart people who are going to have interesting conversations. And I don’t even necessarily want to talk about famous people. Like my Grandpa Paul. He was one of the smartest people I know. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer when I was 18. I would love to have had more time with him, so I would add him to the list. I feel like a lot of my craftiness, the way I wiggle out of questions, comes from him. He was the one who taught me how to play chess and various games, so he’s added to the list. Musicians, you know, I just love music. It’d be interesting, maybe a jazz musician. Maybe Maynard Ferguson. I think he passed away. Maybe Maynard Ferguson before he stopped being able to hit the high notes and gained a third person. For me it would be anyone in the arts and sciences who has an opinion. I don’t necessarily need folks who are Wikipedia articles for their fame, but just interesting conversations.

What’s your favorite word?