College

A lesson I learned in college: civics should be a core subject.

College is filled with life lessons. 

You learn about yourself about other people and ideas, discover who you are going to be in society, and find out more about what interests you in an intellectual and professional capacity. Of the many lessons that I was able to learn, there is one that stands out the most, after recently graduating earlier this year.

“Ignorance of the law is dangerous for both those who govern and those who are governed.” 

The most important lesson I learned in college, was learned during my involvement in student government. Students didn’t know their bylaws—they had no knowledge of their rights and what they were paying for with their tuition. Students were unfamiliar with the laws that their student government, faculty, and administration were operating under. They didn’t know:

  • How their tuition was distributed and used.
  • What their rights were.
  • What resources they had access to.
  • How student government’s actions affected them.
  • How faculty made decisions regarding their curriculums.

And this is just 10% of the information that students should have known, but only a select few paid attention to. Only those who governed had access to this information. Information about what was going on at a macro level.

The challenges students faced could have been avoided.

I often think about the ideal scenarios that could have been designed if I were to go back and work with my team again. What problems could have been solved or avoided altogether? How could we have served our student body in a more efficient way? What steps could we have taken to affect the student body for the next 5, 10, 15 years?

The one thing I believe we could have done differently, the only thing I regret from my experience in student government, was setting up education the student body could have access to, about their bylaws. Whether it would have been easier using content marketing: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, even 15-minute videos about the operations of the college.

How do I operate after college with this information in mind?

I’ve taken these lessons as an indication that my responsibility as a citizen should be to know both federal and local laws that affect me. I should rely solely on my representatives to interpret and administer laws on my behalf and take matters into my hands in understanding them myself.

How I take these lessons and incorporate them into my life after college.

  • I made myself familiar with the constitution of our nation as well as, New York State’s constitution.
  • Civics have become a serious subject for me. As a direct result of this, I now conduct research on who represents me locally and what they stand for on a regular basis (monthly).
  • Even if it ‘s hard to keep up with current affairs, I try my best to at least know how those affairs are affected by current rules and regulations.

Law = code

I’ve come to associate laws to code that one would find in any app or website. If you don’t know how your ecosystem works (how it affects you as a user), how can you expect to improve it and adapt to its changes over time? I’ve come to understand a lot more about the way I interact and how I’m affected by the apps and websites that I use because I’ve learned more about how and why they were built.

Just as it’s important to know the basics of coding and how apps that you use are made, it’s just as—if not more—important to understand the laws that govern and affect you. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s a disadvantage we as individuals can’t afford <italics>. The price of not knowing how you’re affected by the actions of those who govern us is too steep, and it’s too expensive for my tastes.

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Two documents I recommend reading:

  1. Constitution of the United States of America.
  2. Constitution of the State of New York (for my friends who live here).
doing spec work kenny soto

Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method

What is Spec Work?

I’d like to preface this article with where this idea came from—Gary Vaynerchuk. I have been following Gary for exactly over a year now, and one of the very first doubts about him came when he talked about doing spec work (free services) for people. This work is supposed to be for the purpose of business development and expanding your network.

Spec work is any kind of creative work, either partial or completed, submitted by designers to prospective clients before designers secure both their work and equitable fees. Under these conditions, designers will often be asked to submit work in the guise of a contest or an entry exam on existing jobs as a “test” of their skill.”

I decided that instead of just taking what he said and accepting it, that I would test it for myself (which in retrospect, is what he wanted his viewers to do when he talked about the subject in the 1st place). The story below is how it all happened and how it can help you if you’re still in college or just graduated, and you’re looking to grow in your industry.

Finding a need and getting the client.

Now, this article focuses on the context of my particular skills—skills in digital marketing (SEO, web development, and Social Media Marketing) that I used to get spec work. Although this may not apply to all industries, if your skills map to working on being creative and providing services for a client that don’t require a license or specific certifications, this can work for you. The first step I had in this process was to find a customer that needed my help. I knew from the start that I’d be doing this work for an exchange outside of financial compensation, perhaps a referral to a job after college or something else.

While I was at my college’s local bar, Grill On The Hill, I felt the need to have more of my college friends become more aware of what the bar offered. It was an excellent place that was just starting out, and whenever I went, there were a lot of locals but, not enough college students. One evening, while hanging out with my fraternity brothers, I saw one of the bar’s owners outside. I walked to him, introduced myself and what I do, and told him that I would market his bar online—for free.
Obviously, there was a catch. I was still figuring out what that would be myself—when I was pitching to the owner. Several days later I was hired as the bars digital marketing consultant with a small monthly budget to do Facebook marketing and to create their website with the help of one of the bartenders there. It was my second time creating a website and creating any paid media on Facebook.

What did I get in return from the experience?

Besides gaining valuable experience in doing Facebook ads (the bar was my second client at my time), I was able to learn more about my craft holistically. I began to understand that marketing doesn’t work without tying your campaign goals to actual business goals that drive revenue—it’s not enough to promote a bar’s event to everyone then, making sure you promote it to the ideal customers (people who spend money and drive revenue). In return, besides getting experience, the bar gave me a free beer (and occasionally a free meal) once to twice a week for eight months. This showed me that even if you aren’t making an income for the work you do for someone, there can always be an exchange of equal value for said work. That’s the main message I want to drive home, especially for college students, doing work someone doesn’t necessarily need to equate to you making money.

The hidden value in working for free

It is often taught that the work we do has to produce an income, but it doesn’t. Work can help you build your network. Work can help you expose yourself to new ideas and possibilities. Instead of focusing on monetary gain, focus your job for skills-based learning. It’s because of my experience working at Grill on the Hill that, it gave me the opportunity to see what marketing services I could pitch to my college and try my hand at making them my first paid client (you can find out more about that story here).

I’d love to know your thoughts on this article. Do you think work should only be done for monetary gain/income? Have you done similar work in exchange for services, experience, etc.? Let’s chat in the comments section down below!

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Recommended articles:

  1. 6 Reasons An Unpaid Internship Is Absolutely Worth Your Time
  2. How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College.
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No degrees of seperation Kenny Soto

There Are No Longer Six Degrees of Separation

What introduced me to this concept.

The idea of the Six Degrees of Separation was first introduced to me in a book by Malcolm Gladwell called, The Tipping Point. In it, Malcolm talks about three types of early adopters one must build relationships with to bring a product or service to the mass markets (the mainstream). Of the three types, one of them has the particular ability to leverage their networks to spread general news via word of mouth called connectors. I was then reintroduced to the idea of connectors in Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow when he mentions super-connectors in the film industry and how they leverage their networks not only for themselves but, for other people as well. Being altruistic with your network helps build it faster. The more you help others below you grow to be even better than you, the more attention you gain during longer periods of time (this is how I interpreted Shane’s chapter on the subject).

The six degrees of separation as I see it.

The six degrees of separation is a concept closely related to connectors and super connectors, the idea that you can know and potentially be introduced to anyone in the world by the maximum separation of 6 people within your network (everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world). For example, someone I know on my Dad’s side of my family possibly has 3-4 friends that they know from their friends, who just so happens to know President Barack Obama. At max, it would only take six introductions for me to have an encounter (however small) with President Obama. But, after careful thought and thinking about how this idea can be challenged, a couple of months ago (around early 2016), I had a conversation with my mentor in which I mentioned that I don’t believe these degrees of separation exist anymore, and here’s why.

The Internet is an environment with 0 degrees of separation.

I’m currently reading The The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge by Doc Searls, which is about how customer relationship management systems (search Hubspot or Salesforce for examples) don’t truly help businesses have relationships with customers/users. For this to occur, customers need their own Vendor Relationship Management systems. In a chapter titled, “Net Pains,” Doc Searls quotes Craig Burton, a Senior Analyst with Kuppinger Cole, who describes the Internet as:

“…[A] world we might see as a bubble. A sphere…The distance between any two points [within said sphere] is functionally zero, and not just because they can see each other, but because nothing interferes with [the] operation between any two points (page 102, Searls).”

Sphere diagram

Because of the Internet, if I want to contact Obama, I can now just go on Twitter and tweet at him directly. Now, the chances of me getting an actual response from him are dismal, but, if I wanted to contact any other person in the world—I still have the ability to do so if they have access to the Internet.

Why I think this change is important and must be discussed further.

The majority of us now rely to some degree, on the Internet and its protocols for our work. The ubiquity that the Internet provides for us to communicate conveniently with anyone, about anything, regardless of geography is astounding. It’s what allows us to do business across the globe and spread ideas and content like wildfire. But, I still believe that we have continued to hold onto old self-imposed limitations (that’s what they are at this point) regarding who we think we can and cannot contact. We can speak to anyone we want today; that’s the main point here.

Keeping this in mind, I believe we should begin thinking about all the new opportunities we are not currently exploring—regarding meeting new people and exposing ourselves to new ideas. Let this article serve as a short rant that should compel you to create a list of five people you’d love to talk to about anything—and then, contact them! You’ll be amazed at what might happen.

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How Landed My First Paid Account as a Consultant at 22 Kenny Soto

My 1st Client as a Digital Marketing Consultant at 22

Believe it or not, I was able to convince my college to hire me. I’m not talking about work study, being a bookstore stockboy, or being a research assistant for a professor. I’m talking about closing a deal for thousands of dollars. In this post, I’ll provide some back story as to how I was able to have the opportunity to even come up with the pitch, the pitch itself, and the lessons learned from the work. As a small disclaimer, as a student I respect my university tremendously—as a consultant, I learned from them what it means when people say large organizations are “slow.”

It all starts with finding a need.

How did I come up with the idea of even pursuing this pitch? It all started with accessing the problem my college had—we had severe budget cuts during the fiscal year. The only reason I was privy to this information was due to my role as student body president. During the first few meetings with school administration during my last academic year in college, I learned that our college, along with other CUNYs, hadn’t met their goal that the Board of Trustees set for getting more students.

The lack of increase in tuition was one of four factors that contributed to the millions in budget cuts that we’re going to occur. After sitting down and actually contemplating on why this particular problem was occurring, it dawned on me that I should check out the college’s social media & paid search marketing efforts. Low and behold, they weren’t launching any paid ads or producing content of any value to potential students or the parents of those students. This was my in, the opportunity I was looking for.

Devising the pitch.

Coming up with something of real worth to present to school administration wasn’t easy. It took me two weeks just to have the stones even to share this idea with my Fraternity brothers for feedback. After carefully thinking about what I learned from both my internship and doing pro bono digital marketing for a bar near campus (I still got something out of it, free food and free beer which wasn’t a bad deal if I do say so myself) I came up with a 43-slide deck for my presentation.

The reason why this deck was so long, and by all means I don’t recommend doing something this long for any presentation, was because I knew I wouldn’t have been taken seriously (at the end of the day, I’m too young to be taken seriously for anything right now). If I didn’t make sure I showed both school admin and the marketing department that not only I knew what I was talking about—but, that I also put it into the context of their specific needs, none of this would have worked. Also, I had already assembled a small team of two other student government members that would help me in my efforts; this increased their confidence in my ability to not only create a sound project but, also execute on it.

Negotiating the price.

The two most important lessons I gained from the overall experience was:

  1. Always write the service contract yourself.
  2. Bid high for a high price.

If it weren’t for a close friend of mine, I would have left a considerable amount of money on the table. I believe the main reason why the college administration agreed to pay my team and me as much as they did, was because the labor was relatively cheap in terms of industry standards and we wrote the whole contract ourselves. It also helps that they didn’t go through the hassle of signing it but, that’s beside the point. If a client is willing to pay you without signing a contract for whatever reason you still want them to do so, it puts both of you in a position where each party is fully committed to each other’s success. I believe this was the first sign that there was only going to be so much we could have done for them.

The challenge I’m glad I faced early on.

The biggest challenge with working for any big client as a digital markeitng consultant is this—the internal communications process is slow as hell, meaning that you’re going to have to plan at least two weeks ahead to get anything approved for launch. I lacked experience in this one aspect of doing digital marketing consulting; I didn’t anticipate that the one deterrent to my success would be not preparing for slow communication in between tasks. Although, I wasn’t successful in fully executing on the marketing plan I was at the very least, able to show the importance of why their efforts should be focused primarily on social and search advertising and not on subway or television ads.

Other lessons I learned were:

Your client, regardless of their size, will want all reports on a consistent basis. It’s important to let them know early on that marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. Metrics don’t improve overnight. You want to at least report on new ideas you’re working on so they can add their insight into the mix.
Have a dedicated team member to set up phone calls for Q & A whenever needed. If you’re this person, you have the hardest job. Client retention is key to recurring income. My biggest regret is not giving enough attention to thinking about building a long term relationship with my college so I could have had them as a client after I graduated.* Your team’s size should reflect the size of the account.

This is something I’ve debated with my colleagues for quite some time now. I still believe that we could have done a better job if we had at least three to four more students on our team. A team of three college students wasn’t enough to solve the problems a big institution like my college had.

Moving forward.

In the end, although I wasn’t successful in the execution of my first account, I at least learned how to get one. That experience has proved invaluable as I continue getting new clients and building my team at digiquation.com, the startup I work at now. Whether it’s in digital marketing or any other consulting practice, it never hurts to start early. Regardless of your age, there is something that you know; that is intrinsic in the experiences you’ve had that can be of value to a client. You just have to figure out how to successfully communicate that—and then have the team and knowledge to execute the plan you’re being paid to do.

*The experience gained from this one part of my collegiate career was the most valuable by far, and I am forever indebted to the City College of New York for giving me a chance to help them. If you check their Facebook page now, you can see the ads they are launching to get more attention. A special thanks to Tammie and Safiyyah, without your help, none of this would have been accomplished.


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Recommended articles:

    1. How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College.
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    3. A Digital Marketer’s Most Important Asset: Their Curiosity
The internet so far kenny soto

My Thoughts on The Internet So Far

A quick comparison between the Internet and the WWW.

There is a difference between the internet and the world wide web. The internet connects hardware with other hardware, and the WWW is a system that allows us to share content and information to be distributed in that connection.  I did not know the difference, nor did I care, before realizing how important understanding the difference was. I always used to interact with the world wide web without much thought about what I was doing or how it affected me.

The first social media I was on: Sconex.

Sconex

First, there was Sconex*, a way for my cousins and me to check out older high school girls and try to speak to them. We didn’t have a specific goal in mind; we just loved the idea that we could talk to these hot girls and not have to be honest about our ages (yes, I am guilty of being a catfish in my early days). We were just ten-year-old boys experiencing puberty and the internet all in one jumbled mess. Then MySpace came along and even more of my time was consumed by connecting with friends from school at home and talking to random strangers (and I’m sure at least three of them were thirty-year-old dudes in basement). It never occurred to me that my generation was the first to experience human interactions on a screen, daily. The first generation to have our attention become a commodity (no one was walking with televisions in their pockets).

From the age of three years old, I had a huge beige Dell desktop computer, not realizing how lucky I was to grow up with the technology that to this day, people who are in their seventies are still trying to adapt to.


*If you want to see old websites that are no longer online, check out Archive.org. It’s the Wayback Machine…


Becoming aware.

I first started to observe my ignorance about what a computer could do when I entered college. I studied computer literacy in high school but, it was mostly just learning how to type with two hands and how to use Microsoft Office programs. What I was really ignorant about was the culture of entrepreneurs and technologists who were (and still are) making millions and billions of dollars off of our use of the internet and the web. I always wanted to discover what their secret sauce was and how could someone like me could have a similar impact on society.

It wasn’t the money that intrigued me; it was the mere fact that someone from Boston could make an app that connects over one billion users in today’s age and no one even bats an eye. There are only two things besides that app that have over one billion users, water, and air (I’m talking about Facebook just in case you didn’t get the reference). I decided to take it upon myself to find a class or a mentor that could teach me—the basics of the digital world and how it affects our society. Cue the internship I took last year in digital marketing.

“We pay with our information and most importantly, our attention.”

I learned some of the most alarming and exciting things last year. Things such as our information is being collected—think Pokemon Go and how Google Maps now knows the inside of almost every building now or how Snapchat and Facebook now have the largest collections of facial data from all of us. We are being sold to on a consistent basis, and we are no longer just consumers of content, we are, “…hamsters on a wheel,” as Seth Godin would put it. We willingly input data and information into websites and apps and have the faintest clue as to how they are using our information. There is a reason we use most of these apps for free. We pay with our information and most importantly, our attention. Same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any email newsletter you’ve had to subscribe to and input information into a form. There’s also pixels and cookies that allow these companies to track you online… However, even if we are becoming more aware of this fact, that people sell our privacy and attention now, no one is bothered it. No one bats an eye.

How do “they” make their money from our mass consumption?

We have become the products. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a billionaire just because you use his platform to check out cat videos. He makes his cash by selling your information to advertisers like Taco Bell, who want to sell things to you. The same goes for Jack Dorsey who owns Twitter or Evan Spiegel if Snapchat, who has every fourteen to twenty-eight-year-old in the palm of his hand. With the information I’ve obtained over the past year, it has occurred to me that we interact with these tools but, don’t know how they work, why they exist, and how they affect our daily lives.

I couldn’t imagine a day in my life where I could not search for something whenever I wanted to. It’s a scary thought but, I rely on Google and so many other platforms for my daily activities. What would happen to me if I didn’t have access to them anymore? Questions such as these have led me to believe that these tech giants control our lives. Not in a dystopian or morbid way, more like, “This is super cool, and I aspire to be like them.” Even though I make sure my phone is on airplane mode whenever I am asleep—I’m pretty sure data is collected if it isn’t.

What can we expect moving forward?

The impact these platforms have on us is tremendous. However, they have also have given many of us opportunities we (my generation) couldn’t even dream of in the early nineties. We now have micro-celebrities on Vine and Instagram, who make around ten grand a month by just posting ten to fifteen-second skits and having sponsors paying for ad space. We have Youtube stars such as PewDiePie, NigaHiga, and Smosh, who make millions each year by creating quality content for their fan bases. Just by connecting with their own communities they are able to obtain a ton of cash from advertising revenue alone (imagine the contracts they get for corporate sponsorships). Then there are the video game enthusiasts on Twitch that make roughly five to nine thousand dollars a month by having other people just watch them play. The entrepreneurs who have created these online platforms have not only made money for themselves but, have helped others to do the same and also to have an impact on the world. That is what makes me passionate about the web and makes me want to learn more about how we interact and use it. I can only imagine what will happen once we start to interact with virtual and augmented reality. I wonder how that will affect our lives on a daily basis.

The entrepreneurs who have created these online platforms have not only made money for themselves but, have helped others do the same and have their own impact on the world. That is what makes me passionate about the web and what makes me want to learn more about how we interact and use it. I can only imagine what will happen once we start to interact with virtual and augmented reality (Pokemon Go is just a preview). I really wonder how that will affect our lives on a daily basis.


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Recommended articles:

  1. The World Wide Web Is An Extension Of Our Minds.
  2. Why Computers Are Desperate for a Redesign
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Also, if you want to see the first website ever made check out this link. It really shows how much progress we’ve made over the past two decades.

6 steps to time management Kenny Soto

Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials

The first lesson I learned after graduating college…time management is your key to success.

No one will tell you how to structure your week, which is why time management has to be a focus on your mind starting today. If you’re lucky to get a job as soon as you finish your collegiate journey—you’ve gotten past the first of many hurdles. However, I’m sure the job you get will only be a placeholder as you take the first steps into building a name for yourself and advancing in your career. So, what’s missing? What do you need to take into account as you move forward and begin the next phase of your life?

1. Manage your weeks by setting monthly goals.

Part of the challenges that many of us face is that once we finish college, we are completely in control of our schedule. Sure, we may have a job that we have to take into account, but odds are, you won’t be working more than 40 hours a week, leaving you 128 hours in a week to prioritize your time.
We can’t think about prioritizing our time through a system of personal task management, though. This is what we’ve made ourselves accustomed to for quite some time, and it’s a paradigm that we have to shift out of very quickly. Thinking about goals that you have on both the micro (daily & weekly) levels & the macro (monthly & annual) levels is the first step in creating a system for ourselves in managing our time. I’m sure we all have goals that we want to see ourselves achieve but, if we aren’t consciously creating the infrastructure to get ourselves there—we are doing a disservice to our future-selves.

2. Make “No” a part of your toolbox.

Using no as a tool for time management Kenny Soto

One of the challenges in creating your time management infrastructure is learning that within your limited amount of time, other people want you to spend time with them. Whatever the reasons may be, everyone we know who we interact with wants us to invest our time in them. Family, friends, and employers all want us to allocate time into what they and realistically speaking we do need to comply—but not all the time.
There are certain times for example when we need to forego our instinct to please those we love and sometimes those we even work for, to focus on our self-development and goals. Not only that, we need to take into account that we need to say no to ourselves as well. Delaying gratification to get the things we need to get done on a daily basis is paramount to creating successful habits for when we are older. If we are always procrastinating, we will consistently see it as a thing that is permissible in our lives, when it certainly isn’t.

3. Focus on File/App Management.

This is a lesson I would have learned if it wasn’t for a fraternity brother of mine. There’s very little your mind can do when reacting to a cluttered desktop. The effects of poor file management are insidious, to say the least; they aren’t as harmful to your productive in from a mobile environment (doesn’t mean that the following advice doesn’t apply). If you want to speed up the process in which you work on your computer—keep it organized. This means that there should be folders and necessary subfolders for all aspects of your digital life. I’ve saved at least 20 minutes of every day ever since I took my friends advice, and I schedule every Sunday morning to file/app management just to keep clarity on my screens.

4. Screw your notifications.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2 but deserves its section. We are bombarded with notifications daily from a whole slew of platforms. One of the main things that deter us from concentrating on our everyday tasks is the need to view and respond to every notification that comes our way. This is a big mistake, and it can cost hours during each month.
When creating the self-discipline to say no to others, you also have to say no to people online. Everyone else is being bombarded with notifications as well, so if you take 5-6 hours to respond later, it won’t ruin their day—half of the time they won’t even notice. This relates to not only your emails but, also with your social media notifications and especially your texts. I use Hubspot’s Sidekick Gmail extension to schedule all of my email replies every morning, and I won’t check my inbox until two hours before I go to bed.

5. Keep simple things, simple.

Not all of our tasks have equal importance in our daily affairs. Somethings obviously more to us than others. It’s why we all have to create the habit of selective-slacking, creating a system of putting minimal effort in the things that don’t require excellence. It is easy to make things complicated; a true challenge is making certain tasks simpler. If we can put minimal effort in things we don’t want to do, and most importantly, tackling those tasks at the very beginning of our day—we’ll have more time to do the things we want to do.

6. Schedule your sleep.

Sleeping as a habit for time management Kenny Soto

This seems obsessive but, it is an essential step to creating an effective time management system. Not only are there studies out there that mention the health implications of getting a lack of sleep, but it’s also a part of our culture as young people in our early 20s-30s to forgo our sleep to be more productive and get work as much work done as possible each day. This is getting in your way. The typical college habit of breaking night to finish a paper isn’t going to fly after graduating. People are most productive when they get 6-8 hours of sleep and even then, 20-30 naps in the middle of each day are highly recommended.
As someone who used to play video games late into the night (sometimes sleeping around 3 A.M. & waking up at 6 A.M. several days in a row) I can attest to the fact that ever since I’ve followed a rigorous sleep schedule I’ve become much more efficient in everything I do. I can concentrate more, execute tasks faster, and I am beginning to notice a greater sense of alertness ever since I had started two months ago. One of the most important factors to a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep, and it is a vital part of building the foundation for good time management.

If you adopt at least one of these steps into your life, I guarantee there will be a massive amount of upside on both your productivity and ability to create free time. Because, at the end of the day the best perk of establishing an efficient system of time management is, you get a lot more time to do the things you want to do—for me, that’s taking even longer naps.

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Aaron Burden Kenny Soto

“People Get Paid To Think.”

“How do you learn on a daily basis?” “Do you think about what thoughts make up your mind?” “Are you expanding on what you already know?” “How do I make my learning habits more effective?”

I think about these questions on a daily basis, ever since one of my mentors shared this piece of wisdom with me in a recent session: “people get paid to think, Kenny.” I’ve been letting this saturate my thoughts for quite some time now. There’s a reason why not more than twelve months ago if I wanted to meet with a client, I would have had to jump through so many hoops just get an email reply. And now, clients are begging me to give them 30 minutes of my time so that they can buy me lunch.

What purpose does this quote have?

It wasn’t like this before — and now it is. Doing business seems to be easier: mentors want to teach me, and I’m much happier than I used to be. To give some context into why my mentor told me this, I’m currently taking lessons from her on public speaking and time management (two of my weaknesses as of now). She was talking about the importance of planning each week with objectives and goals in mind, and not by what tasks need to get done. And because of this, I’ve made it clearer to myself that my objectives and goals revolve around how much quality learning I could get done in any given time frame.

I live my life on a grid.

I used to think this was a good thing. I know what has to get done and when it has to be completed. It’s helped me survive college. It turns out that it isn’t enough anymore, and this is definitely news to me. It’s been a challenge to start thinking about what I need to do on a daily basis that maximizes my return on investment concerning what and how I learn.

I’ve always been curious about what people around me know; it’s why I’m considered to be a “sponge” to both my peers and my mentors. Now, I have to be more focused on how I learn and, specifically, how to position myself better in the business world. I agree with her. People do get paid to think. Expanding on her thoughts, I offer: “people get paid to think about helping others.” This is something I’ve adopted and I’m still experimenting with, and I realize it might not be the best mantra for everyone. I believe that the highest value I can bring to anyone else is by finding ways to solve their problems. Some might say, and I might agree, that it’s not only thinking but, taking action that people get paid for.

What are your thoughts? What do you believe people get paid for?

Leave a comment below and let’s talk about it.

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Baim Hanif Kenny Soto Graduating College

How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College

If you’ve heard or read my rants for the past 6-8 months, I’m constantly trying to convince people to begin working on their personal brands. Until now, the only results I could show on the benefits of working on my personal brand is being ranked number one for my own name on Google SERPs (search engine return pages). However, now I actually can prove that what I’m alluding to when I’m speaking about my brand is the fact that it only took me two weeks to get a job after I graduated. Mind you; I didn’t even apply for the position.

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selective slacking

Selective Slacking: Why Sacrificing The “A,” Get’s You More

A book highlighted it.

I just finished reading this book called Smartcuts by Shane Snow, CEO of Contently. The book’s mission is to teach its readers how to achieve their goals in less time than it takes the majority of people. In the second part of the book, Shane begins to cover a topic called selective slacking: the process of putting as little effort (and time) as possible to get the minimum requirement of a task done so that you can focus on your priorities. While reading this chapter, something struck a nerve. “All of this seems oddly familiar,” I thought to myself while reading. And that’s because I’ve been using this technique for the past two years, ever since I began taking executive roles in student government at the City College of New York.

I was always an A student. I say this to highlight the fact that as soon as I started realizing that I couldn’t do both student government and excel in my classes, I had to make a calculated choice. So I asked myself, “What was I going to sacrifice? What were my main priorities moving forward?” At first, I opted for sacrificing my sleep, which ended up making my performance suffer in both areas of my collegiate career. So I decided, that what I wanted to learn from the most was from my leadership experience and not from my courses. I’ll admit that there were times where I wanted to drop all of my coursework altogether, to focus on student government, but I wouldn’t be able to maintain or run for future positions without at least maintaining a 2.5 GPA. I already had a 3.2 and calculated that if I just had one A and one B, each semester, I could focus on what mattered to me. And that’s what I did.

Using selective slacking now.

Now that I’m a college graduate, I can see how selective slacking can be applied to almost every aspect of my life. My two top priorities right now are focusing on growing my non-profit, Futures For Students, as well as excelling in my current part-time consultancy job for a startup in New York City. There are only 168 hours in a week, and I can’t possibly manage to grow an organization, fundraise money, be excellent at my part time job, and juggle all my other responsibilities. So I’ve set up a system (I use my calendar as a Gantt chart) to let me manage my time to excel in the things I care about. And most importantly, I’ve learned to say no to almost everything that takes away from the time I need to invest in myself. Putting the bare minimum amount of effort into things that don’t matter to me (like doing household chores) but still need to get down is the focus of how I’ve used selective slacking.

It’s a technique I suggest you at least experiment with. What do you want to do more of? There is always one hobby that you can allocate more time to but, you can’t because of the other one thousand responsibilities that you have. Learn to cut those you activities that you don’t care about to save yourself time! Selective slacking is a technique that allows you design your lifestyle based on your core values and priorities. Trying this out for a month will certainly show you the benefits of prioritizing your time and energy this way.

If you want to learn more about other techniques top paying innovators use to focus on their vision and work, definitely check out Smartcuts. I finished this book in a week.

CCNY USG Career Building

4 Career Building Lessons I Learned From My Team

This article was originally posted on April 6th, 2016.


Anything worth something can not be done without a great team of people, period. The following are a list of career-building lessons I gained from my team at CCNY.

Regardless of your profession,whatever your goals and aspirations in life may be in they cannot be achieved without a great team of people by your side. After some time of self-reflection and  reminiscing on the experiences I’ve had for the past three years attending college, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of things.

Recruitment is the first thing you need to do.

You can’t do anything without a team. The objective doesn’t matter, if you can’t sell your ideas you won’t get people to join you. The biggest hurdle all leaders will face is recruiting team members. I learned this when I began conducting interviews for potential candidates for my fraternity. When a candidate is being interviewed, they are not only selling themselves to you, but you are also selling your company to them. I’ll admit, during the first couple of interviews that I was directly involved in, I found myself negligent when it came to making the candidates feel like they were a part of the team. This is why it is so important to follow up with accepted candidates immediately after their interviews and get them acclimated with the team’s mission and vision. A great resource I used to help with my hiring skills is “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, I cannot recommend this book enough.

You won’t get anything done if you can’t motivate people.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my team members in student government seem to have a constant sense of urgency and purpose in everything they do. Whether it relates to our weekly meetings, daily tasks regarding student outreach, office management, reporting on tasks, or just general office maintenance, everyone seems to have found where they “fit.” This certainly didn’t happen overnight. Since the beginning of my tenure as President of this wonderful organization, I made it abundantly clear that I would be open to any communication from my team as well as constructive dialogue. Transparency is the pillar that our team stands on. I have observed in the past that important information that is given to the leadership of an organization usually becomes diluted (almost to the point where it’s completely vague) when it is relayed to the entire team. Being completely open with your teammates about all issues and objectives the organization is dealing with is essential for “team-buy-in.” If your team members don’t feel like they can be trusted with company information (especially any failures the leadership has committed) then they won’t be motivated to tackle challenges when they present themselves. There are numerous techniques today that can help you get started on initiatives to increase team motivation. As a team leader, it should be something that is on your radar at all times.

When it comes to getting things done, follow the “Four D’s.” 

The best article I’ve stumbled upon on this topic is here. I won’t go over all four D’s, what I will do, is go over the importance of delegation. Delegating tasks is by far the greatest and most important skill a leader must have if they want to get anything done. Once you have a team, and they’ve become motivated, the next step should be how well can you prepare them to execute a task. How effective is your organization right now? What can you do to increase your productivity tenfold? Are there any mitigating factors that are stopping your team from getting there right now? These are questions I ask myself on a weekly basis as I plan my goals for the week. The hardest part of managing a team is understanding which team member can handle a certain set of tasks. It always helps when team members ask for specific tasks without you having to announce them; these team members have a natural instinct for detecting the needs of the organization as a whole as well as understanding what they are capable of completing. Delegation for me is quite simple, I follow two basic rules:

 

  • Delegate tasks to people who want to do them.

  • Never set the deadline yourself.

 

Always make sure the tasks you assign people are something they actually want to do. This takes a tremendous amount of time requiring you to sit  down and listen to your team members. What do they complain about? Why are they a part of the team in the first place? Everyone has a goal in mind when they are working with you, there is a reason you were able to convince them to join you in your endeavors. Make sure you keep your ears on the ground, a great leader listens to all of their teammates. In addition, when giving a task to someone, make sure they set their deadlines. It took me a while to see the upside to this. When you set the deadline you don’t give your team room to breath (in the context of my work I find that whenever I give deadlines there are 1,000 other things going in their life). When you have them set their own deadlines it relieves stress on their part and if they honor their own commitments, they hold themselves accountable.

Meetings don’t equal productivity.

This is the most important lesson I have learned. No matter what happens, I have always made it a requirement  to follow this simple rule: always have an agenda for every meeting you attend. There should be absolutely no reason why you should meet with team members just to meet. If your team cannot produce actionable tasks after a meeting is conducted, then why was the meeting conducted in the first place? Meetings shouldn’t become part of the routine – there needs to be a reason for it to happen. You risk losing valuable working hours when conducting meetings that do not contribute to the vision of the company, tackle specific challenges that the team is currently facing, or addresses any internal conflicts the team may have.

Every team is different, but I do know that sticking to principles that your team defines as its priority, help steer it to success. Hopefully, one of these lessons resonates with you. Talk and share this article with your team, see what they think.

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Recommended Articles:

  1. 9 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team
  2. 3 ways Steve Jobs made meetings insanely productive — and often terrifying
  3. 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Recruiting
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