6 Lessons For My Career That I've Learned From Being A Gamer Kenny Soto

6 Lessons For My Career That I’ve Learned From Being A Gamer

This article was written with contributions from Malik Christopher.

Video games are more than entertainment

It’s been over six months since I’ve found the time to play video games. I used to be obsessed, sometimes playing until 2:00 AM on weekdays. I find it hard to believe that I’ve entered a stage in my life where games are slowly leaving my schedule. As I reflect on the lessons I’ve learned from playing them, perhaps one of these will resonate with you too.

No matter what you do to level up, books are your best friend

Taking a page (pun intended) out of The Elder Scrolls: SKYRIM, one of the most important lessons I’ve gained was learning how to level up faster by using books found throughout the world. In the game, there are various skills that you level up to create a fully customized character. An easy way to level up a skill tree is by finding the hidden books across the land. When you acquire a book, your character automatically goes to the next level of that related skill.

The importance of this is that even in video games, education is stressed. Learning how you learn and setting up a way to control your education so that you can level up your skills will always be relevant.

Related: Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

When you accept too many side-missions, you can get off track

Among other challenges, time management in games is critical to your success. Now, gamers define success differently when it comes to specific games. Not all games have an end point, one can play an open world/sandbox game such as Grand Theft Auto and never progress through the main narrative. Time management in video games is important because it determines how fast you beat the game, what achievements or trophies you want to acquire, and how much can you brag to your other friends who play the game. Also, there’s the conundrum of having to decide how to split your time up if you want to play online or not.

The challenge of time management and the lessons I started to gather myself, became readily apparent when I encountered the particular issue of having to play games that have endless side quests & missions. Open world (or sandbox) games are distinct in that they allow the player to step outside of the main story and interact with the world freely. As players, we have the control to do whatever we want for hours on end. The benefit of doing side-missions is that the player gets rewarded with bonus content, prizes, and they most likely help to create a richer gaming experience.

What I took away from playing side missions specifically from Grand Theft Auto is that there are both pros and cons. The negative aspect of side missions is that they can pile on if you’re not too careful and if you’re like me, you get frustrated because one of your main goals is to complete the game. This observation has prompted me to think about the number of projects I take on in real life and how I decide which ones are worth my time. Sure, there could be some list of benefits for taking on new projects, but one must ask themselves, “Does this take away from my primary objectives?” In addition to time management, video games certainly help with creating better decision-making skills if you’re consciously auditing what you do while playing.

Don’t chase money, chase skills

There are video games designed to let the player win if there is certain amount cash to acquire as the main objective. However, most of the games I’ve played require you to focus on your character’s base attributes or if you’re playing online — you need to incorporate talent and skills to be the best. There tends to be a currency system in most role-playing games as an example, but the goal isn’t only to acquire virtual wealth.

Putting a focus on actually developing your character so that they strike terror in the face of the enemy is usually your best bet. This maps on well to life in general. Often, we think about gathering short term gains. Even if it’s relatively short in real life, there is still a considerable amount of time that one has to commit to growing your character’s skills. The skills are what make the game easier, even if you have the best “gear” or items Having a character with a skillset that allows you to adapt to any scenario is what actually matters. It’s the same with who you are in your life. Skills acquisition will always be more important than money.

Related: Accelerating Your Professional Growth By Working For Free

There are no cheat codes in life

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed for both video games and my personal life is that: I’m usually heading in the right direction if things start getting harder. Especially if I start getting more haters/enemies over time. There’s a natural progression in video games, as your character grows in power and skill, so do the enemies you encounter. Life is the same, and if you try to circumvent that by thinking you can game the system, you’re sadly mistaken. Using “cheat codes” in videos games makes them boring over time. When you do it in real life, it can damage your reputation and hurt you in the long term (even if there are short-term benefits).

An example of a cheat code in real life is lying on your resume. Sure it’s a faster way for you to get your foot in the door but, you will be found out eventually. No one ever got bragging rights by using cheat codes to beat a hard game. You only get the right to be proud of yourself when you tackle your challenges head on and when you’re patient with your growth.

There will always be someone better than you

Lastly, the most important lesson I’ve ever gained from video games (specifically playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), is that there will always be someone better than you. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consistently try to be the best at what you do, more so that you should be aware that surrounding yourself with people that are more knowledgeable and skilled than you is more than ok — it’s essential to your personal and professional growth.

There is no way you can grow to your fullest potential in whatever you decide to do in life if you don’t have other people to put your current skillset into perspective. I personally want to be a great blogger, so I’m constantly comparing myself to others at the top (like Seth Godin). Not out of envy, but out of admiration and for study. I’m a big believer that imitation is one easy way to test new things and see what’s successful.

Being beaten by people better than you is how you learn how to play the game. It’s how you get better, especially if the competition is significantly past you in years of experience. And most importantly, it keeps things enjoyable. Because who wants to have a boring experience playing video games let alone in life? Competition breeds growth and constant challenges.

Playing with a team is the “name of the game”

In competitive games such as League of Legends or Overwatch, each member of your team is assigned a certain role that has specific objectives that they need to be accomplished during every match. When a mistake is made in one of these roles, whether big or small, it becomes detrimental to the entire team with the potential losing the match. It isn’t as costly if one plays on their own (casual gamers do this), but in the professional atmosphere (eSports) such as the Championship Series for League of Legends, a prize pool of millions of in-game dollars have easily been taken out of a team’s reach because of one mistake.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, rings true in situations like these. If one person falls behind, you’ll easily be outclassed by a team that’s more on top of things. What usually follows is frustration, blame, and a decrease in skill overall. The ability to help those you work with by providing constructive criticism is crucial. A concern for their weaknesses, should be tackled with the appropriate feedback. Slowly, you’ll notice not only improvement in them, but also in yourself as a leader and team player. And in the professional world, we all work in teams.

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entry level of success kenny soto

The Cost Of Entry For Any Level Of Success (2 Min. Read)

It Takes Time To Build Your Reputation

No matter what list of accomplishments you have, no one will care when you’re starting something new. When you are used to having a reputation, it can be very jarring when you enter a new team or new endeavor and the attention you once had, has evaporated completely.

This can be especially irritating for anyone who has high expectations of themselves. You want to make an impact immediately but, you will quickly realize that unless you can prove that you can be useful, no one will bother to give you the responsibility and recognition that you crave. Being useful to people you’ve worked with in the past has little meaning to those you’re currently working with. That reputation and list of accomplishments can only get your foot in the door, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Being confident in your skills is good, but it is also important to understand that each new person that meets you can’t possibly know the value of those skills right away. Even if they have some prior knowledge of your past work, it still won’t be 100% clear how you provide value — until you’ve actually proven it through your actions.

These things take time and commitment. Sometimes more time than you might immediately expect.

“Freshman Angst” Never Ends

The analogy I’ve used to be able to keep moving forward with this realization in my own professional career is by understanding that no matter what the circumstance, you will always be a freshman.

In each stage of your career, there will always be new challenges to face, new people you will meet, and new environments where you will have to prove yourself on a consistent basis. Having the understanding that this is ok and that these phases are a part of the process, is vital to staying humble and allowing for the opportunities you want to present themselves—when well deserved.

It is better to be in a room where no one knows what you can do, and you have to prove yourself, than to not be in that room at all.

Sometimes the best recognition comes from just taking the time for self-reflection on the work you’ve done. Only you will know how many things you’ve done and learned to get to where you are today. And that is ok. Give people time to discover who you are and what makes you unique. Would you want to be expected to know all of the things that makes someone else special when you first start working with them?

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Marketing Yourself

Marketing Yourself to Your Coworkers On LinkedIn

One of the best ways to leverage LinkedIn

I have been asked by my friends numerous times, “What’s the point of using LinkedIn?” Most of my contemporaries have just recently graduated from college or are now seniors.  And we haven’t been taught how to leverage LinkedIn effectively. When we are introduced to the social network at career development seminars, most of the time we are given surface-level advice:

  1. Add the information on your resume to your profile.
  2. Connect with people you know.
  3. Have a professional headshot.

The issue with this advice is that it doesn’t help you to understand how LinkedIn can be used to propel your career forward. Over the past year, I’ve certainly seen the benefits of using LinkedIn. However, I’ve noticed the only reason I’m starting to see the benefits is that I’m actively contributing content on a consistent basis.

 

The main reason I use the platform is that, through the act of distributing my content, I’m not only promoting myself to future employers — I’m also building my reputation as a useful asset to my team.

 

Having a focus on promoting yourself to the right people

As someone who has officially gained employment through LinkedIn, I can say that this platform is very instrumental in my daily life. But the power of the platform doesn’t only reside in helping one land a job. It can also help when trying to propose new initiatives to your team; this is immediately apparent if you’re a new employee. Generally it would take months to get your at bat, but with this strategy, it took me weeks.

I’ve discovered that the quickest way to establish your unique value as a team member is to showcase your talents to your team both in and out of the office. That’s why LinkedIn is so useful.

The origin of this idea came from a book I read called Experiences: 7th Era of Marketing by, Robert Rose & Carla Johnson. The authors discuss the importance of creating an internal content marketing strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to build a narrative out of the company’s mission so that employees stay connected with the brand. I found that another way of interpreting this is to leverage this strategy to create a narrative of, “Maybe this new kid knows what he’s talking about.” Creating a narrative out of your mission to help the company succeed (and how you can do it).

 

Ways to begin your self-promotion

The content you create should not be focused on what makes you special. If you have to tell your teammates that they should pay attention to you — they won’t take you seriously nor, will they take your ideas into consideration. What you have to do is put a focus on the ideas you want to propose. At the very least, you can highlight the things you are currently learning within your industry.

You can do this by creating written articles via LinkedIn Pulse, or you can create a video/audio content and host it on your personal website. Regardless of what format you use, keep in mind that you also don’t need it to be long form. Most the articles I write tend to be around 400-600 words. Ideally, if you’re creating content in video or audio formats, they should range from 2-5 minutes. The goal is to make the content you’re promoting to your team to be digestible. This works across all fields and industries under the condition that your coworkers are on LinkedIn. If they aren’t, then you can always use the alternative method of creating content and deploying paid advertising through Facebook (but, that may be more intrusive since the platform isn’t used by your team for business purposes).

 

The added benefits of having your team consume your content

The end goal in all of this is to create a conversation. Through consistent distribution of your ideas, your mission should be to have your team become curious about what you bring to the table. Although there is no I in team, finding ways to promote yourself in an altruistic way can help further your career in a faster way. And quite frankly, I find this method to be more palatable than having to compete for attention in person.

This process shows its effects over time. It took me three months to start getting noticed by my team members (as of writing this article) but, the reason I continued despite not seeing any immediate effects is that content strategies always take time to work. At the very least, when you share your original content on LinkedIn, you not only are promoting yourself to your team — you’re also sharing that content with other members of your network. This can lead to conversations that can provide new additional insights into what’s going on in your field. I have seen for myself that when new people see my content, the conversations created help me to find new topics to write about (and it helps me find new ideas I can share with my team).

LinkedIn is not only a platform for showcasing your resume. It’s one of the best tools to help you showcase your ideas to the people who can help propel you forward in your career. Start thinking of ways to express what you know and what you’re currently learning. If you can create new conversations with your team, you’ll be in a much better position to start new initiatives and grow faster in your career.

 

I’m always looking to learn more about how others are using LinkedIn to grow in their professional lives. How are you leveraging the network? Do you think this strategy applies in all scenarios? Leave a comment below so that we can start a conversation. And feel free to share this with a friend!

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Kenny Soto When Is It Okay To Post A Comment?

When Is It Okay To Post A Comment On A Social Post?

Interruption marketing still happens — here’s how to avoid it!

This is an Instagram post I made for the #DubChallenge (one of the many challenges that have gone viral in the past year), with a comment by a brand at the bottom of the conversation who intrudes and doesn’t build a relationship beforehand. The perfect example of bad marketing.

How often does this scenario happen: you post a meme, inspirational quote, amusing family video, etc. and some random brand likes the post? Does that annoy you? For some of us, it doesn’t. How about when that profile follows you? I personally pay no mind to it. But, what does bother me is when a brand comments on a post without taking the context of both the post and our relationship into account.

The challenge marketers have today, in regards to marketing on social media, is figuring out when is the right time to start or join a conversation with a lead. If you’re in B2B or B2C marketing, it still stands, if you can’t provide a meaningful way to connect online — don’t engage with the user. Commenting is all about timing.

How to build a relationship, the right way.

The issue that has to be discussed is, “when is it ok to post a comment?” The timing is specific to your audience. Aiming to be as granular as possible is ideal, but not always feasible. If you don’t have a team of people helping you promote your products and services online, you can’t necessarily track all of the interactions you have with your potential customers and current ones. There are many tools out there, such as CrowdFire & Buffer, that can help with this but — you always risk being inauthentic when using one of these automation tools.

One example of how tools can cause a risk for your brand not really connecting with your audience when you schedule your social media posts. Not all posts are created equally, and not all of them should be scheduled without getting a feel for what’s currently circulating on social feeds for the specific day you plan to schedule your post. Taking the time to consider what is relevant to your audience at any given moment pays dividends over time, as far as attention and engagement go. That same consideration should be taken into account when commenting on any posts your leads and customers are creating and sharing.

Push notifications are a double-edged sword.

The ability to have one-to-one relationships with our leads and customers is both a blessing and a curse. We take for granted our audience’s ability to ignore us if we try to communicate with them in a way that clearly shows you didn’t put too much thought into the conversation. What’s even worse is if they block your account or share your mishaps with their friends (ruining your reputation with other potential customers). The easiest way for a brand to leverage the use of comments is to first consider the timing of it, “is it an appropriate time for the user to get a push notification right now?”

Not all users have notifications turned on for all the comments they get, but for those who do, making sure you have conversations that are both timely and interesting is what should be the core focus of your social media marketing strategy. The example shown earlier in this article is one of many instances in which I have been rudely interrupted by a brand I knew nothing about. Instead of taking the time to look at all of my posts and finding some point of relevance to start a conversation (before even selling me something), they decided to give a quick one-line pitch, with the hopes of me visiting their site. That isn’t how you get my attention.

That comment shows that they didn’t take me into consideration, they are playing a numbers game. The number of comments you deploy to engage with your audience isn’t what matters, it is the quality. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth.

Questions to think about before starting or joining conversations.

Think about how you approach sharing content with your friends and family and how you take into account what to comment on. That same approach should be used when you are engaging with your audience through your brand. Below are some questions to consider before engaging with your audience:

  • What time of day is my audience most active and is it appropriate to comment on their posts at that time?
  • What are the parts of my audience’s daily routines that my brand actually has relevance to?
  • Am I selling them my services/products with the comment or should I be selling content first in order to engage them?
  • How long have I been following this audience member (and vice versa)?
  • What action do I want to take after this conversation? Is one conversation enough to have them take that action?

If you have fallen victim to brands commenting on your posts with nothing of value or substance I’d love for you to share your story in the comments section below. Also, if you feel like there should be other questions that need to be taken into consideration, please share them with me.

Recommended articles:

  1. Clicks vs. Comments: An Easier Way For Lead Generation on LinkedIn (4 min. read)
  2. Emoji Marketing: Why you should take it seriously
  3. The Internet Is High School: Personal Branding & Influencer Marketing

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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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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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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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emoji marketing

Emoji Marketing: Why you should take it seriously

Changes in marketing & customer service are bound to happen in 2016 due to many things. The use of Emoji marketing is one of them.

If you are selling any product today there are two things you can certainly on agree:

  1. The majority of customers are reaching your organization through mobile usage of the world wide web.
  2. A majority of them contact their friends and family using Emojis.

What does this mean for current business owners and digital marketing professionals? It means that all of us are going to have adapt to the customer’s need of being able to interpret what the emojis mean in the context of a client request—this is the core of emoji marketing today. Now there aren’t many scenarios in which an Emoji is an acceptable use of communication, such as when a customer is filling out an online form for a newsletter or an online support ticket. However, Emoji’s are commonly used when clients are interacting with brands on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, as well as  Snapchat.

 

This, along with the other factors demand that brands be more personal (leveraging employee personal brands) in the marketplace, present a new challenge to anyone who is selling products and services online. Companies who do not hire employees who are familiar with and have in-depth knowledge of how to express themselves with emojis will eventually fall behind to their competitors. There are several reasons as to why there has to be an Emoji guideline integrated into your organization’s community guidelines and marketing strategy.

Who uses Emojis? 

An infographic found on AdWeek states that, “Emojis are used by 92% of the online population.” Emoji is the online equivalent to body language. We live in a culture where we are always pressed for time and if a significant set of eyes can convey my curiosity towards a Facebook post or an emoji of a train can represent I am in transit, I expect the person texting/messaging me to understand what I am saying. Now not everyone uses emojis on their own; there are cases in which emojis are used merely to augment a message (i.e., make it more comical or to convey current facial expressions). What is essentially happening right now is the evolution of online slang.

 

Emojis help to save the user time. Remember when we made a big deal of acronyms such as lol, smh, & lmao that are used tremendously in social media? What’s most important is realizing that this a language that is here to stay  and it has to be considered in every aspect of your online effort as a business owner. Your customers are communicating with them, and you need to as well (wait too long and your competitors will get the higher ground).

Why Emojis matter for customer service?

“Emoji use has grown rapidly since Apple added the emoji keyboard to iOS in 2011…Nearly half of the text on Instagram contains Emoji.” – Emoji Research Team

The overwhelming ubiquitous nature of this language is frightening. The sheer magnitude of how fast Emojis have integrated into our daily lives shows all the more reason as to why companies need to train their employees (especially customer service representatives) in the correct usage of emoji’s online and why business and marketing majors have to learn this in college. If you are in charge of your company’s social media marketing effort here’s something you should know: the growth of Emoji usage is now over 40%!

Emoji Usage Over Time on Instagram

If you are selling any online services or products online, you know that Instagram is a vital tool you can use for brand awareness, hence why it’s so important that your organization starts taking Emojis seriously, now. You aren’t providing your customers with the great services they need if you can’t respond to them in a creative way utilizing Emojis. A great example of how you can start can be found here.

How does this affect college students?

I always try to tie into all of my posts a common theme of sharing my knowledge and making it useful specifically for college students. The reason we are in such an advantageous position is because many of the business professionals, especially in marketing, are going to stick to old forms of copy and customer engagement. Many of them will not make the transition to using Emojis more, and the will be a hindrance to their organization’s success. That’s where we will stand out. Under rigorous investigation, I’ve found at least one university has at least discussed on teaching a course on Emoji, more will follow suit if they are forward-thinking and can keep up with consumer culture.
The times are changing my friends, are you keeping up? Bear in mind, GIFs are an entirely different beast. If you found this article useful comment below and let me know your thoughts. All feedback is welcome; it helps me develop more valuable content for you in the future.

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Sources & Recommended Articles:

  1. Report: 92% of Online Consumers Use Emoji (Infographic)
  2. Will emoji become a new language?
  3. GARYVEE’S FIRST 5 #SNAPCHATSECRETS
  4. 2015 Emoji Report (PDF)
  5. Emoji lessons to replace language courses at University of Ulster
kenny soto successful meetings post

The Two Essential Parts of a Successful Meeting

Meetings can be a chore but, they are necessary.

Regardless of what you do for your business, eventually you will have to conduct or be a part of a team meeting. I have attended meetings in multiple school clubs, so my experience is limited. However, if there is one thing I have noticed is that, not all meetings are productive. 

After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there are two aspects of a meeting that can make it, so no one is wasting their time: an agenda and meeting minutes.

An agenda is your Gandalf, leading you to Mordor.*

When I became the secretary for my fraternity I didn’t have much training, so I had no idea what was expected of me during the first executive meeting. It was a daunting experience, one that doesn’t seem as scary now. I realized however that I would have a significant impact on how our team would be organized very early on when the president of our team asked me to start writing the agendas. 

Now first and foremost, I am still debating over whether or not one person should ultimately decide what is on the agenda for any meeting. But, at the end of the day, there needs to be a directed discussion about something. No matter what your team’s overall objectives are, they have to be organized to save time. 

I have witnessed meetings that lead to nowhere because we either have too much oversight on important topics that need to be covered or because we didn’t have enough time in the meeting to discuss it. I personally have adopted the Steve Jobs way of conducting meetings: if there is no agenda, please do not waste my time. 

Agendas are not the end all be all; there also needs to be some flexibility for discussion on topics not on there if circumstances come to it. However, keep in mind that an agenda should consist of the essential items that need to be addressed by the team to move forward (all other items should be secondary to the team’s goals). An agenda helps meetings go smoothly and saves a tremendous amount of time.

The time that can be best spent doing what is supposed to be discussed during the meeting.

Write minutes. Then read them!

We can discuss what constitutes a successful meeting for hours but, if there is anything I am convinced of is that to keep a team coordinated, it has to be writing meeting minutes and ensuring the whole team reads them after. The importance of well-constructed meeting minutes is underrated. Minutes allow for those team members who couldn’t attend the meeting to stay informed and allow for your team to better organize reports for your customers and the entire staff.

One key factor to a team’s success is communication, and you cannot achieve that if there aren’t any meeting minutes that can be reviewed at any given time. How can you follow up on action items? How can you ensure that everyone is doing their part? 

Minutes are not just to keep a record of all team discussions but, are also a good indicator of how productivity over time is cataloged and assessed (in a qualitative manner). One of the secretary’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure the team’s minutes are accurate and well-organized. And meeting minutes can only be useful if people read them!

As an involved teammate, you should never be caught dead in a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda set at least 24 hours ahead of time. Also, you have to make sure that someone is ready to take the minutes for the meeting. Everyone’s time will be wasted otherwise. And then you have to ask yourself, “Why did I even add this to my schedule in the first place?

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Recommended Articles:

  1. Dan Bull Meetings At Your Workplace
  2. Canceling One-On-One Meetings Destroys Your Productivity
  3. 8 Really Bad Meetings to Avoid (and How to Fix Them)
*Lord of the Rings reference, I hope you didn’t need to read this to know that.