May 23rd, 2013
We all know that we need continuous training to get continuously better. That’s true in every profession. Football players continually train, watch films, exercise, and run into cement walls to make sure they’re always at the top of their game; mimes continually don’t talk to anyone and get trapped in boxes so they can hone their particular craft; and you need to do the same if you want to be the best whatever-you-are they you can be.
Unfortunately, when it comes to spending money on business skills training, most of us put it slightly below the need to upgrade the filing cabinets. (Note to reader: if you have ever stared longingly at a new filing cabinet because it’s just so much more amazing than the filing cabinet you currently own, then you desperately need to find some better ways to entertain yourself.) So what can you do to get the training that you need? Fortunately, I have a few ideas:
May 21st, 2013
Thank you, random Internet searcher for your curiosity about instant messenger at work! As some of you know, I have a professional development presentation called Becoming a More Annoying You! that covers issues of conflict resolution, dress code, office behavior, and sexual harassment. Which means that when someone wanted to learn more about instant messenger etiquette, they naturally came to my site to see what I had to say about it.
The answer? A big fat nothing. NOTHING! I HAD TOTALLY OVERLOOKED THIS!
How have I gotten this far without making fun of all the idiotic things people do with IM? Seriously, I’m pretty sure I’d forget to put pants on everyday if I didn’t sleep with them on my head so I’d see them first thing every morning. Anyway, here you go world – all the ways I can think of to annoy the crap out of anyone dumb enough to be your IMing partner:
May 13th, 2013
So yesterday I went shopping. It’s something I generally don’t make a habit of, because there aren’t an enormous number of things I need to buy. I already have all the stuffed animals I need, and I’m not allowed to get an attack helicopter until I clean out the garage, which I really don’t want to do. However, when I do need to buy something, I am the quintessential man – I know what I want, I go out and buy it, and I leave the store as quickly as it is possible to do so. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only way to shop without slowly going insane.
And yesterday, after faithfully serving me for several years and through innumerable security checkpoints, my toiletry bag finally gave up the ghost. Its poor little zipper would hardly open anymore, and the stitching was coming apart on all sides. After performing a small ceremony (read: taking all my stuff out and throwing it in the trash), I decided to go buy a new one. I had about 40 minutes between appointments yesterday, and so I figured I’d have plenty of time. There was only tiny problem.
May 6th, 2013
Well, it’s official. As of last week, Hotmail is dead. All Hotmail accounts have been ported over to Microsoft Outlook. If you have a Hotmail account then it will still say email@example.com, or whatever your screenname is (which I hope isn’t blubberfan), but you’re really on an Outlook account. The user experience isn’t going to change at all, but from now on anyone with a hotmail.com address should really be forced to display livinginthepast.com.
But living in the past isn’t such a bad thing. I had an awesome time as a 6-year old, and I see no reason to stop acting like I did then just because occasionally wetting myself isn’t considered as normal as it used to be. So to help you cling to the past like there’ll be no tomorrow, here are a few things to keep in mind:
May 1st, 2013
Hello, and welcome to May! It’s finally spring. Everywhere you look, the butterflies are blooming, and the daffodils are coming out of hibernation and looking for salmon in the mountain streams. Ants everywhere are gearing up to kill other ants, and bees are researching new and improved ways to administer anaphylactic shock. Maybe we’ll get infested with locusts this spring, or perhaps mosquitos will finally get tired of going after arms and legs and will start to kamikaze our eyeballs. Your allergies will probably render you incapable of any constructive activity, and by the end of this month I wouldn’t be surprised if a tree falls on your house. Spring is a horrible season. And don’t even get me started on summer.
Notice how I took a generally happy time and turned it into something terrible? It’s easy to do. Here’s how!
April 29th, 2013
Last week, NBC ran a TV segment predicting the potential demise of keyboarding classes. It seems that so many kids are becoming accustomed to texting that they don’t see the need to learn formal keyboarding skills. It also seems that smartphone manufacturers believe that predictive keyboarding is advancing at a rate that will make the need to spell words – or indeed, even know what words you wanted to use – irrelevant in the future.
Now I’m sure some of you know that I used to be an English teacher, and so you might be tempted to think that I find this development unnerving. But nothing could be further from the truth! I think this is perfectly awesome. And let me tell you why:
April 24th, 2013
So, today is Administrative Professionals Day, and bosses the world over are asking their administrative assistants to pick out presents for themselves that their bosses can then pretend to give them. If I were an administrative assistant, I would probably buy myself a helicopter and then write my boss the nicest thank-you note ever. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?
Anyway, this is the one day each year when we’re supposed to remind ourselves how invaluable our administrative assistants are – indeed, that without them our respective businesses would essentially stop functioning. But since I feel like indulging in a thought experiment, I’d like you to imagine a world without any administrative assistants. There are probably several excellent reasons to let go of all of your support staff, but here are the first three that come to mind:
April 22nd, 2013
So apparently a Fox affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth ran a story where they accidentally named Zooey Deschanel as a possible suspect in the Boston marathon bombings. It was an obvious error, and easily corrected, but it still had to be a weird half-hour or so for Zooey before everything got cleared up.
That’s how most mistakes are – small, easily fixed, and usually little more than embarrassing. And I know you want a lot more embarrassment in your life. I know for myself that I start to get twitchy if I haven’t made a complete fool of myself every 6 or 8 hours. So to help you make the same kinds of ridiculous mistakes the Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliates did, here are a few fun, embarrassment-happy tricks!
April 15th, 2013
By now there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Bitcoins. If you haven’t, Bitcoins are fake money that some guy invented about four years ago, kind of like the bottle caps you sometimes use as poker chips when you can’t afford to buy real poker chips. Then, because playing the stock market was apparently not crazy speculative enough, people started exchanging this fake money for real money. Then, because stockpiling gold and survival rations was apparently a little too boring, people started investing in Bitcoins as a hedge against the impending global financial apocalypse. The price jumped from something like 4 cents per Bitcoin to $250 per Bitcoin in four years, which is kind of like me going from a salary of $40,000 to $250 million in four years, a performance-based bonus structure I have not yet managed to find. And then, people suddenly remembered that Bitcoins were fake money, and so the price collapsed by 70% over the last week.
If the world of Bitcoin finance makes any sense to you, then you should probably get into currency trading, since that only makes sense to seven people. However, as an homage to everyone who recently lost money in the bursting of the Bitcoin bubble, I have a few ideas to help you become as successful as all those Bitcoin daytraders.
April 8th, 2013
By now I’m sure you’re familiar with the Princeton mom, the woman who wrote a letter addressed to Princeton’s female college students encouraging them to find a man to marry while they were still in college. Pretty much everyone in the world has commented on it by now, and most of those comments have included some desire to see her get deported. A few news outlets shared some of the more grammatically-correct opinions, and I read as many as I could stomach, which I’m pretty sure was about three. Because if the blind, inchoate anger in those opinions represented the cream of the crop, I can only imagine what horrors would have awaited me in all the online discussion threads.
And to help make sure you are able to craft the kind of semi-literate opinion that others are sure to ignore, here are a few simple tricks you can use: