Stop Saying These Words!

In every office, across every industry, in every city, there inevitably lies the distinct language of the land, AKA the “office jargon” that goes along with it.  Even those of us who once had to sheepishly ask what exactly “ping me” meant (do I call? email?? Is ping the latest app I don’t know about yet??), given long enough exposure to these office clichés, will eventually find themselves ending emails with “please advise” or worse yet, calling a client to “follow-up” and/or “circle back” and/or touch-base (the touch-base is my personal fave for the record).

But I ask you? Does anyone really even know what these overused and often misused terms actually mean? Ever find yourself on the phone with someone and you literally have no idea what they’re actually saying but dog-on it they sound fancy! In my experience, it seems the more of these buzz words one can fit into a conversation, the less they actually know what they’re talking about…

Ever since my first office job, I’ve kept a running list of phrases that I didn’t quite understand but often heard, and at every job this list grew hilariously longer. I’ll spare you the list in its entirety and present you with some of my favorites and also most outlandish, must-be-an-inside-joke-I-don’t-get, overused office clichés.

Circle back/Follow Up/Touch-base – These all mean the same damn thing and that thing is “get back to you.” Ironically, one can never actually say “I’ll get back to you” though, they MUST use one of the aforementioned phrases.  If anyone knows why this is please get back to me about it… 🙂

Hard Stop – Ahhh the old hard stop.  AKA, I’m so important that I have another pressing engagement directly following this one.  Ex: “I can talk for the next few minutes, but I have a hard stop at 2pm.” Related: Is there such thing as a soft stop?

Low-Hanging Fruit – Raise your hand if you’ve heard this gem meaning (I think) the “obvious wins” or “easy accomplishments.”

Chinese Fire drill – I honestly had to look this one up on Wikipedia after months of a certain client telling me that they had these going on. Frequently. I assumed it was a metaphor but for what, I was still unclear. In a nutshell, this is actually a borderline offensive reference that dates back to the early 1900’s and refers to a chaotic situation.  So now you know…(see also Drinking From a Fire Hose which I think means basically the same thing.)

Run it up the Flagpole – I can’t hear this one without thinking of the old Nickelodeon show “Salute Your Shorts.” Is it just me?

Going Forward – This one brings me nostalgically back to my very first job as a PR assistant. A simpler time when I had never used a fax machine, never CC’ed anyone and certainly never “gone forward.” Little did I know that I would never again hear the familiar phrase “from now on” or even the whimsical “henceforth.”  Nope from that moment on, it would always be “Going forward we will do things like this <insert thing to do forever more>.”

These are just a few of the many words/phrases that I believe are generally overused in traditional workplaces. I’m honestly curious as to why so many people use these terms? Do they make you sound smarter? More professional? More polished? Do they just seep into our vocabulary after hearing them so often?  I’m dying to know!

So, now I’ll ask you, faithful readers, what’s your favorite – or LEAST favorite – office cliché?  List ’em now in the comments. Or you know, ping me later about it!

Five Cool Things Technology Has Done For Me

Being part of the #MySmarterCommerce campaign with IBM, I’ve been thinking more and more lately about all the ways the internet, technology, and probably more specifically, social media, has changed my life.  Sure, everyone’s life has changed with the invention of new technologies.  If we don’t know something, we just “Google it”, we use our smartphones for everything and connectivity is always at our fingertips. But for me, the coolest thing about social media is the random connections I’ve been able to make and the advancements for myself and my career.  Here’s my top five favorite things technology has done for me (so far!).

1) Saved my LDR (that’s long distance relationship for those not in the know). Living in NYC while my sig other was in Buffalo for nearly two years wasn’t easy. But thanks to Skype, Facebook, email, texting and even Seamless Web, we were able to connect in more ways than ever possible.  In the olden days, LDR’s didn’t stand a chance, with the lack of cell phones, painfully slow process of letter writing and non-existent internet even couples parting ways for the summer pretty much had a “see you in September” mentality.  Modern day LDR’s stand a lot better chance.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch Going The Distance.

2) Got me on CNN! About a year ago I was up late one night perusing Twitter when I received a tweet from a CNN producer asking if she could DM me.  Unsure whether it was spam I quickly checked her out and she seemed legit.  After a brief direct message exchange on Twitter and a few emails, I was confirmed as a guest the next morning on CNN as a social media expert.  I credit this to a winning combo of my Twitter presence and my personal blog presence.  I later found out that one of the writers was a big fan of The Allie Zog Blog, which surely helped my cause! 🙂

3) Got me most of jobs to date. When I first finished college, I distinctly remember spending several days stuffing envelopes to mail out to job prospects.  Yes I literally stuffed envelopes, sending my resume, best clips from the college newspaper and a lengthy cover letter to every magazine, newspaper and random publication I could think of.  I think I heard back from like 2.  Do journalism majors still do this?  I HOPE not!  That was the first and last time I ever MAILED anything to apply for a job.  The last few jobs I’ve had have been obtained by a combination of personal introduction, Twitter connections, online job boards and again, this blog.  To this I say, good riddance envelope stuffing!

4) Connected (and reconnected) me with friends old and new. As cliché as it sounds, I still love social media for the simple fact that it’s allowed me to stay connected to people from my past, often re-connecting me to them after years of silence.  If you’re like me and left your hometown at 18 with not many returns, you may not have been the best at keeping each touch with high school pals.  I doubt I even had any of their phone numbers or even email addresses after college ended but thanks to social media I’m able to find out  where they are and what they’re doing and in most cases we’ve been able to “catch up” without actually having to see each other or even speak on the phone.  In addition to re-connecting with old friends, I’ve had a lot easier time staying connected to new people I’ve met along the way.  In the past, if you met someone casually at an event or even through a friend, you probably wouldn’t stay in touch, but these days, after I meet someone new, I usually find a friend request or new follower in them a few days later.

5) Given me important information such as “where should I eat tonight” “how can I get Lumineers tickets” and “where can I buy a hot yoga towel.” You know – the burning questions that before Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc were just so much harder to answer!

These are just a sampling of the many ways in which I use one part iPhone, one part Twitter and two parts my imagination to make my life easier everyday.  I’d love to know what technology and social media has done for your life.  Share with me in the comments or on Twitter using #MySmarterCommerce.

#spon: I have been invited by IBM to share my honest thoughts and experiences around Smarter Commerce, and as part of this collaboration, IBM may provide me with product, access, content or other forms of remuneration. All opinions are expressly my own.

The Blizzard of 2013: A Recap…

Photo Credit: The Newport Daily News Facebook page, photo by Dave Hansen

Photo Credit: The Newport Daily News Facebook page, photo by Dave Hansen

Turns out, I’m a wuss.  Also?  I’m not one of those people who could go on a digital detox or whatever the kids are calling it these days.  I have now confirmed that the internet (particularly social media) is my lifeline to the outside world and the way in which I get 99% of my news and information.  What confirmed it? 39 LONG HOURS WITHOUT POWER!

Snowstorm Nemo hit little Rhody hard and left the entire Aquidneck Island (Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth) without power starting Friday evening with some people going as long as four or more days without.  Hat’s off to those people, truly.

I’ll break it down for you with a rough timeline:

Approximately 10pm Fri night: Power goes out for 5 minutes, I freak out, power goes back on, I tweet about it.

Approximately 10:20 pm Fri night: Power goes back off…and stays off.  I tweet about it…and cry a little.

10:27pm: I text my mom frantically.  I check Twitter frantically.  I tweet to National Grid.

Sometime between 10:27 and 1am: – I fall asleep dreaming of waking up to the harsh light of my bedside lamp the TV blasting.

Photo Credit: Joanie Caffrey (I was too frantic to take pics!)

Photo Credit: Joanie Caffrey (I was too frantic to take pics!)

Saturday 5am-ish: I wake up…COLD.  My boyfriend rolls over and mumbles…”did the power go out?” (he’d slept through the whole thing, bless his soul)

Saturday – timeline hazy due to lack of heat, light, TV, hot coffee, etc: I find out through Facebook that one bar in town is open and serving food and possibly one hotel is serving free coffee.  We proceed to bundle up as there is no way in heck we are staying in our apartment where the thermostat has already reached 46 degrees.  We head out and head to the Hotel Viking, where they’re serving coffee and a “cold lunch”, there’s no heat.  We leave for greener pastures because at this point we are still hopeful there’s some magical oasis of heat, TV, coffee and bacon and eggs.  We head to Benjamins which, as per Facebook, IS in fact the only bar open in town at this point.  They’re PACKED and getting a table to be served food seems unlikely.  We decide to trek on, now hopeful there’s other places around.  We arrive at the Newport Marriott with high hopes.  Turns out they DID have a generator but it broke.  They’ve got bigger problems too because they’re hosting Reebok for some big wig type conference.  There’s no heat although it feels warmer than our apartment.  We spot some staff cleaning up and ask if their restaurant is open.  They say no and we must look pretty defeated because they sneak us behind some curtain and offer us what’s left from their morning buffet.  They tell us “everyone’s gotta eat today” and I understand in a miniscule way what it must feel like to be homeless or hungry and have to depend on people’s good will. I appreciate the gesture immensely and accept the coffee while my boyfriend, not one to turn down food, enjoys a sandwich, leftover salad and some sort of soup.  I again have an epiphany about myself realizing that I declined the food because I wasn’t  really in the mood for questionable looking deli meat, wilted salad greens and mystery soup but realize after the fact what the expression “beggars can’t be choosers” truly means.  If this was my reality every day (no warm home, limited food source) I’d have to be grateful for whatever I could get and not chose what I eat on my own freewill.

From here, the day seems like five and we go on to return home to warm up in our car, charge our cell phones, head to the local Stop & Shop (which is open, sorta, and resembles the zombie apocalypse) and add my friend and her pup to our tribe.  Eventually we found out that a friend’s parents on the other side of the island has power and another friend has gas heat and some food.  We are lucky, and we enjoy a warm meal and a toasty home then head to our friend’s parents for a warm bed.  By the time we return to our apartment early Sunday afternoon our power is back and I’ve learned about a hundred life lessons.  Here’s the highlights:

1) As the boy scouts said, always be prepared!  We were not, at all.  We thought that wine, ingredients for chili and homemade pizza, and a flashlight would get us through but we didn’t truly prepare for the reality of no heat, no cooking source or refrigeration, etc.

2) Cell phones (particularly iPhones) really are the greatest invention of our time and were literally my lifeline.  If I hadn’t been able to text friends and family, make quick calls and check social media sites for information on what was opened, when and where power would be restored, etc, I really don’t know where we’d have ended up. (I’m sure we would have made it through ONE night sleeping under a ton of blankets but damn, at the time, I really didn’t think I would.  It was COLD and we didn’t even have many extra blankets….which brings me back to lesson 1, always be prepared!)

3) Having people you can rely on is important.  I had a minor breakdown in which I realized that my closest family member was in Boston, which is pretty close but wasn’t nearly close enough at the time.  While I have some friends in town I was really very lucky to have somewhere to go and realized that although I’ve always been the type to move places and make new friends, there’s something to be said for having lots of family and friends and a close-knit support system nearby.

And now to bring it full circle…

When I was first asked to be part of IBM’s Social Influencer Think Tank and told that I’d be sharing my idea of smarter commerce, I had a million things in mind.  There are so many times that social media and technology tools have enriched my life, got me jobs, got me on TV, connected me with family and long distance loves, and so much more, but after experiencing the smallest taste of a crisis situation, my belief in the power of social media was reinforced 1000%.

Over the next month I’ll be sharing plenty more stories of how social media and the latest technology has bettered my life, from the big to the small. And now I ask you friends, how has it bettered YOUR life?  Please share your stories with me here in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #MYSMARTERCOMMERCE

PS, Special thanks to Frank, Joanie, Jedi, Heather, Steve, Allie, Kathleen, and the Hunt Family; the Newport Marriott for their hospitality; and What’s Up Newport and The Newport Patch for their great coverage and information for getting me through my first New England Blizzard.

The one about “what is my life’s purpose…”

For those of you who are Friends buffs, you’ll get the reference in my title.  Every episode of Friends is titled “The one with…” or “The one about…”  For some reason it just fit for this post.  Anyway…

Determining your life’s purpose to some people sounds like a load of crap.  There are spiritual people, non-spiritual people and people who just don’t really think too much about it at all.  I think I fall somewhere on the side of spiritual-ish/dreamer – if that’s a thing. I definitely believe in God although I’m what you’d call a “fake Jew.” The last time I was in a temple was for a Jewish friend’s wedding and before that, probably my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah.  I don’t really do much “praying” in the formal sense but I know there is someone up there watching over me, guiding me and hopefully steering me in the right direction when I stray too far.  I celebrate the traditions of my family’s religion and value them very much.  Additionally, I love celebrating the traditions of Christmas and I don’t really care if that makes me a bad Jew or not!  Anyway…

This post actually isn’t about religion at all, so I digress.  A few weeks ago I had a birth chart reading from someone I’ve known for a while.  I won’t go into too much detail about how I know her but I will say that she is a true believer and can probably make a believer out of you if you are even slightly “spirit-curious” (I just made that word up but you get the idea…).  I have never seen ghosts or heard voices-but I believe others who claim to have.  I’ve always believed in Heaven but not Hell (Probably wishful thinking…). I do believe in signs from the universe.  I do believe the clichéd saying that was coincidentally my sorority’s motto. “Everything happens for a reason.”  I do believe that we are all put here for a reason but I’m not sure many of ever find out what that reason is.  You get the idea.  I was “spirit-curious” for lack of a better word.

I had no idea what to expect.  Was she a physic?  Was she going to tell me when I’d die?  Was she going to tell me anything she didn’t already know from knowing me and viewing my Facebook profile?  Well I can say it wasn’t what I expected.  Basically, I provided my exact time, date and year of birth and she did the rest.  I had no idea what a birth chart was or what you could determine from it, but apparently it’s a lot.  She was able to see my past life (still not sure if I believe in this part honestly, but for some reason what she said DID make sense and just felt like it could be true so who knows…) but more importantly she was able to see my current life very clearly.  She could see traits I had, things I needed to work out, when my “windows of opportunity”and the age-old “why am I here.”  It wasn’t all what I wanted to hear (she quickly put to rest my belief that I was absolutely meant to live my life on a beach and casually write all day – damn!), but almost all of it just made sense.  It also gave me a lot to think about.  One thing she stressed was not to spend too much time trying to figure out how you’ll get there but just let things happen.  I don’t want to give away too much of what she said but in a way I’ve already unknowingly been headed toward what I’m “supposed to be doing.”  One thing I found interesting is that writing may not necessarily be ultimately what I’ll end up doing but it will be a catapult and something I should continue with. She told me not to think about it and just to write.  Hence, this blog post!

Recently, I haven’t been blogging as much because I’ve found a lot of my writing to be really personal lately and I’ve been writing more for me than for public viewing.  I miss blogging and sharing my ramblings with whoever may want to read them though.  I guess you could say I’m egotistical in that way. Good or bad, I want people to read/hear what I have to say. I think this will be something that will come up again and is an important part of who I am.

So there it is folks.  I hope I’ve done the experience justice and explained it semi-accurately.  There is a lot more to it (it almost seemed scientific to me in a way, it’s kinda like your horoscope times a million…or something…) and whether you’re a skeptic or not, it’s something worth reading about and exploring (in my opinion!).  If anyone is interested in getting a reading or just learning more, click here!

A New Life…

The thing about change is that it seems to come in waves, at least for me. Life goes on and things seem to become routine and then bam, EVERYTHING changes.  I’ve never been the type to be opposed to change, in fact, in my younger years, I tended to “get bored” easily and make rash, drastic decisions rather hastily.  But the older I get, the more I appreciate the routine, the expected, the safe.  However exciting living in NYC was, it was also safe for me because I had a routine.  I had my local coffee shop, my go-to pizza place, my nail salon of choice and my weekend routine (Zabars, the NY Post and if weather permitted, a stroll in Riverside Park).  I had my weekday routine too. Subway to work, coffee or a designer juice (don’t ask) downstairs, and the camaraderie of working long hours in a crazy start-up where coworkers were more like siblings.  My free-time was spent doing whatever I wanted, for the most part.

As things begin to change and I begin to get into a new routine (12 minute walk through scenic downtown Newport to work, evenings and weekends spent catching up with old friends and relaxing by the water), I realize that EVERYTHING is changing once again, and maybe for good.  This is the last weekend (possibly forever, but certainly for a while) that I’ll truly be on my own schedule, doing whatever I want and going wherever I please.  No, I’m not pregnant or anything but I am about to get a permanent roommate and I think one of my first big lessons will be compromise.

Because I’ve been fairly independent my whole life and spent the first 25 plus years of my life un-attached, my biggest fear about co-habitation is the minute details that make up life.  What will we eat for dinner, what kind of eggs will we buy (I prefer organic brown…)  what kind of soap we’ll keep in the shower, how the bed will be made… Also, will I ever lie on the couch with total control of the remote again? These tiny details terrify me as I realize I probably won’t always have it my way. I can’t even imagine the life-altering that will ensue when I (someday, like sommmme day) have a house full of children and dogs to think about! So readers, any advice for a first-time co-habitator?  Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Location, location, location?

I recently spent 5 days in Buffalo, NY and while there, I got some “inquiries” as to why I live in NYC and also whether I would I ever consider moving to Buffalo (it’s cheap! the foods great! I could have a huge house! The people are nice!). This got me thinking.  It’s true, I do consider location a key factor in happiness.  Afterall, location determines a lot.  Whether you have friends and family nearby, the climate, the food, the cost of living and really the overall quality of life.  But do I need to be in a specific location to be happy? Maybe, or maybe not…

On my flight home I got to thinking about why I moved to NYC in the first place.  There were a lot of reasons.  But probably the key reason was the image I had in my mind of what it meant to live and work in NYC.  The clichéd notion that living and working here would make me important, successful, rich and by association – happy.  Truth be told, I love telling people when I’m traveling that I’m from NYC, there’s a certain air of credibility and coolness that those three little words generally give off. Or at least in my own head they do…

So now I’m stumped. As I’m about to embark on another chapter of my life – I must know –  Is it the actual PLACE you live that’s important or is it everything else – such as the right job, loved ones, a nice house/apartment that make a place great?  One wise Buffalonian said to me “I’ve lived all over (he hasn’t really, but I digress) and I can be happy anywhere as long as I have a job and a nice place to live.”  It seemed so simple yet so true. Doesn’t it??

So I ask you, wise readers, do you think your location factors into your happiness or do you think if you have a job, a partner and a nice place to live, you can “be happy anywhere?” Let the debate begin!

Editors Note:  In no way does the above post mean that I am moving or planning on moving to Buffalo, NY.  Just pondering location in general my friends 🙂  As noted in previous posts, I am thinking of heading back to New England to reunite with my beloved Atlantic Ocean, Wicked accents and lobster rolls 🙂  But as you all know, anything is possible so we’ll see…

Things Even a Strong Woman Needs a Man For…

During my nearly two years in a long distance relationship I’ve grown to be a pretty strong and independent woman.  I’ve artfully mastered dining alone at a local coffee shop, cooking for one, and I’ve even learned how to enjoy painful holidays such as Valentine’s Day with my not-always present main man (thank you Skype!).  Even still though, they are definitely a few situations where only a man will do.  I know what you’re thinking…that’s a whole ‘nother blog though!  Below is the G-rated laundry list of times when I wish FF was not so long distance!

When I’m sick…I can’t speak for every lady out there, but when I get sick, I immediately get cranky, depressed and weepy as an added bonus.  I just want someone to make me soup, fetch me more tissues, keep my Gatorade and gingerale supply fully loaded and appease my whining.  I know it sounds like a dream job but someone’s gotta do it!

When there’s a mouse in the house! As luck would have it I made it 30 years of my life without ever seeing a mouse and then broke the streak a few months ago when at least one little bugger took up residence under our stove.  I became a paranoid mouse-obsessed shell of myself as we waged our own little war via glue traps, poison packs and other assorted animal cruelty methods.  (Editor’s note if any PETA supporters are reading this,  my roommates and I did throw out all the glue traps when we read about the torture a mouse may endure if getting caught on one.)  Friends, family and coworkers all came to my support with helpful remedies and tips for mouse-fighting but without a man around to bravely set the traps, move furniture and poke around for potential victims, I was left to my fend for myself.  In others, I borderline stalked our poor handy man with a barrage of texts, emails and panicked phone calls – if you’re reading this Rick…sorry about that!

When I can’t figure out my taxes…I’ve never claimed to be a financial wizard but over the years I’ve successfully mastered both Turbo Tax’s and H&R Blocks “do it yourself” tax platforms and felt pretty confident in my abilities as a self-tax doer.  Things got slightly more complex with multiple jobs and city taxes and different addresses and somehow I missed a measly little form or two causing the IRS to “get in touch.”  Do I attempt to fix it myself? Find an accountant? Go the local H&R Block route?  If only I had a man around to make these tough decisions for me…sigh…

When I want to try that new romantic restaurant…As noted above I’ve learned to appreciate dining alone or ordering takeout for one when my girlfriends are busy.  But there’s certain places that you just can’t go alone – or even with your gal pals – without looking totally pathetic.  That new little romantic Italian joint that plays soft jazz, has floating candles on the tables and specializes in “romantic fare you can share?” Yeah, that will just have to go on my “when FF visits” list for now…

Any other LDR’ers out there?  What are your “I Need My Man” moments?  I’d love to hear ’em!