Kenny Soto End of 2015

2015 End of The Year Review: The Experiences and Lessons Learned

This blog post is an entry reviewing some of the many experiences I had over the past year and what knowledge I gained from them.


 

First Internship Experience: SCORE

SCORE NYC is a branch of the Small Business Administration (a government entity) that helps small business owners grow their businesses through one-on-one free consultations, workshops, and online webinars.

SCORE NYC was a very special place for me this year for all of the people I was able to meet. I was able to have the opportunity to surround myself with retired business executives who came from industries ranging from corporate law and hedge fund management to digital marketing and construction. I was also able to interact with aspiring entrepreneurs who came to SCORE with questions regarding their businesses and was able to see firsthand the challenges small business owners have to endure just to serve the market. In addition to all of the opportunities to grow and learn that I gained from the people I met, I also learned a lot about two subjects I never really put that much thought into before.

What the heck is the Internet?

The first thing that I learned from my experience at SCORE is that I knew only a small amount of information when it came to what exactly the internet is. Thanks to my mentor, Maurice Bretzfield, I was able to begin to understand the importance of not only knowing the difference between the internet, www, https, FTP, mobile, and wifi but, also identifying the importance of why I should know the differences. The first month studying under him showed me how little formal education had taught me on tools that I use every single day, and it helped me understand why learning about coding, digital design, and digital marketing is vital to how I interact through the internet.

Digital Marketing and what did it have to do with me?

My primary reason for applying for the internship was because under its description it stated that all interns would learn about digital marketing. As a music major, I have learned a lot about song composition, musical theory, and performance methodology, but I did not know how I would survive in the search for a job after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Digital marketing showed me that it’s an essential skill to at least be aware of in today’s information economy. I learned over the eight months I was at SCORE how many people were having issues just getting their businesses to be known by potential customers. Eventually, I saw that the same concerns that these entrepreneurs were facing correlated with the issues myself and some of my friends at my college where dealing with: how do we stand out from the pack? Through my eight months of diligent work, I am now able to say with confidence that I have a good grasp of Digital Marketing overall and a niche part of it – personal branding.

Buying My Name Online

In regards to personal branding, I believe another pivotal point of this past year is when I purchased my URL and built this website. The benefits of using this website are tremendous. I am now able to google myself and what I want people to see is the only thing that is shown. Controlling my online presence was one of the first things that my mentor Maurice, advised me to do. In addition to this, blogging has helped me question my ideas and develop them even more. Without this platform, I would not have been able to gather my thoughts and had others comment and provide feedback on them. I strive to not only use my website to showcase what makes me unique and why I could be of value to teams but also to help a growing community learn with me. The World Wide Web is constantly growing with pools of both high quality and mediocre content, I want to become someone who contributes to the former. Let’s not forget to mention that blogging has also helped me with my writing and grammar. Finally, it’s helping me create connections with others that otherwise wouldn’t happen. I have had the opportunity to not only interview individuals online about their experience working companies such as Google but, also get good advice on what I should do to get a job after college (which in turn provides you, the reader, with valuable content).

Starting my school year as USG President

Many challenges were thrust upon me this semester. As my college experience rapidly comes to an end, I have the privilege to lead an exceptional team as the president of the undergraduate student government at the City College of New York, and it has certainly been a role that has helped me grow as a person. From improving my time management skills, delegating tasks, making sure the entire team is aligned, managing team stress, etc. I have been exposed to a lot of real life situations that I will have to deal with after college. I consider my experience in this role as an accelerated MBA, learning how to manage a team of people and not only serve them but, serve a whole community of people (the student body) as well. I’ll certainly use the skills I am learning as president in the future, and I will be forever grateful to undergo such an incredible growth period in my life.

Reading “Think On These Things” By Jidda Krishnamurti

Think On These Things Krishnamurti

This book changed my views on our current educational system and helped me understand why it’s important to question all information was given to me, and how to integrate that process into my daily life. It was the first time I ever experience a writer pierce through the veil of what should matter most in life, which is not necessarily the answer to questions we have but, instead finding the reasons to the questions themselves first. This book is a useful resource for anyone interested in getting a fresh perspective on what it means to be essentially a creative individual.

 

As the new year begins I will continue to provide as much valuable content to you, the reader, whenever I can. It helps me tremendously if you provide your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below. Let’s have an amazing 2016 everyone.

 

Cheers,

Kenny S.

 

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Bareburger HQ NYC

Director of Marketing at BareBurger: Interview With Nabeel Alamgir

First Ever Podcast Episode!

"Youth is no promise of innovation and age is no promise of experience." - Nabeel Alamgir

Nabeel Alamgir Kenny Soto

This post is very special as it is the very first podcast episode that I have done. Nabeel Alamgir is a good friend of mine who is an excellent example of what it means to be an innovator and leader. As Director of Marketing at BareBurger, I wanted to interview him to see what his thoughts were on college and what he believes to be good advice that all college students should listen to. Given that this is my very first podcast episode, there wasn’t necessarily any particular format I was following (I just had a list of questions I wanted to ask him).

This conversation covers surviving college, what advice he would give to his children if they were starting college, tips for student entrepreneurs, and some of his childhood history when he arrived into the United States. You can follow Nabeel on Twitter here. Also, check out his startup, Linute, and start making your campus life more lively!



Show Notes:

  • Interview Starts. [0:36]
  • Nabeel’s background. [1:10]
  • It’s actually Martin Scorsese. [2:50]
  • If Nabeel could give advice to his 18-year-old self. [7:35]
  • If Nabeel had a child. [11:44]
  • Do grades matter? [14:07]
  • What do you look for in a team member? [18:03]
  • Does a resumé accurately show a candidate’s potential? [20:20]
  • What role does a person’s social media play in the interview process? [23:19]
  • The advice he would give a student entrepreneur. [28:55]
  • Nabeel’s one book suggestion… [31:33]

*The high school program he was talking about is: https://veinternational.org/

Book mentioned at the end: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
I highly recommend reading this if you’re a fan of good storytelling and learning valuable life lessons.

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 If you have any feedback please leave a comment below so I can provide better podcast episodes in the future.
Kenny Soto Getting a Job at Google

How to Get a Job at Google: Answers From an Ex-Googler.

Brian Rabben of Growth Wizards

LinkedIn, @brianrabben

I recently had the great pleasure of connecting with Brian Rabben via Twitter who used to work at Google. He worked on the AdWords platform in 2005 and is now the CEO of GrowthWizards. We had a brief conversation on Twitter about a possible interview on his experience working at Google and what relevant advice he could give current college students who are interested in applying to Google or to any company, period. Here is the following transcript from that interview:

What was your involvement in 2005 when working on Google Adwords?

I managed the customer phone support team for Google AdWords North America, then transitioned to the AdWords Optimization Team (where I built and managed large AdWords accounts for clients to whom Google had dedicated an internal team of account reps).

How were you able to get that job opportunity?

I was referred by an existing Google employee. This is, by far, the best way to get hired at Google.

What three core principles did you gain from that specific work experience that pertains to teamwork?

“The phone support gig at Google was essentially a combination of teaching and therapy. Our angriest customers would get transferred to me after screaming at (or otherwise abusing) my team (your classic “let me speak with your manager” situation, but significantly worsened due to the complexity of the product and [resulting] frustration…). With respect to teamwork, this specific work experience helped me gain a very, hands-on, practical understanding of the following core principles:

The value of “empathy-first”:

“No matter what, we’d get a few furious customer [phone calls] every week [and] instead of being defensive from the outset, [we used] the following strategy: take 1-3 minutes to let them talk > restate their grievances > empathize with their situation > respond with a resolution [which] almost never failed.”

The value of sympathy for your team members:

“Phone CSR gigs are extremely emotionally draining…it’s even worse if you’re a sensitive person; one angry customer call can ruin your day. Sympathy, when expressed in the form of statements like “it’s not your fault, that guy is just a jerk. I know how you feel…he called in to scream at three other team members for no good reason last week”, etc. can be all it takes to re-energize a team member after an awful experience.”

The value of preparation:

“As I mentioned, a complex product like AdWords is very difficult to support because of how easy it is to misunderstand its intricacies (especially when there’s a financial punishment for misunderstanding certain intricacies). As part of their training, we made sure our junior CSRs studied every conceivable scenario (including stranger situations like how to engage with psychics and porn advertisers) so they’d be prepared to handle not only these specific scenarios, but more importantly, to learn the different psychological strategies appropriate to dealing with different customer personas (e.g. the right way to engage with a potential fraudster vs. the right way to engage with an advertiser who’s furious because she can’t figure out how to spend her huge monthly budget).”

How has your experience working at Google affected your career path? Were there any negatives from working at the company?

“Working for Google was, by far, the best career move I’ve ever made. The “I’m an ex-Googler” badge of honor has opened countless doors for me…it’s been ten years since I quit, and I’ve never needed to submit a resume.”

If a college student were to apply to Google today, what advice would you give them to help their chances in landing the job?

“Find someone who works there and figure out how to get them to refer you…I’m pretty sure Google employees still receive a cash reward if you get hired, so they’re already incentivized to help you get in, but the referral process takes awhile for them to complete, so you need to make a very strong argument that you’re the right person for the job. Perhaps even more importantly (especially for the engineers out there), if you can connect with current Googlers, you’ll learn some very important tips about how to survive the Google interview process.”

What are you looking for when recruiting new team members to Growth Wizards?

“Work ethic. My top hires are all musicians who had no digital marketing experience prior to working with me.

Intelligence and creativity are obvious musts, but, because growth marketing changes so quickly (and there are so many diverse skills to acquire before you’re proficient), more than anything, young growth hackers need to be willing to pay their dues in hours spent learning.”

I hope this was helpful and if you want to see more interviews like these just leave a comment below on the next company I should research.

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A Digital Marketer's Most Important Asset

A Digital Marketer’s Most Important Asset: Their Curiosity

Keep up

The Internet is always changing because customer behavior is evolving. How we buy, learn about new information, and share valuable content changes every single day. The biggest issue we as marketers and business leaders face is the challenge of being able to connect with our customers on a deep level. It is not enough to just to be able to find them anymore. With the advent of the Internet, we need to connect to anyone who utilizes the tool. Whether you are marketing a service, a brand, or a product, your job as a marketer is to be able to not only sell to your customer but to bring value to them. Being able to have them see how your product or service can have a profound impact on their lives (or the lives of their friends) is vital to your bottom line.

Why many of us will fail

The former CEO of Cisco states, “Either we disrupt or we get disrupted…” If we don’t understand that we need to connect on a meaningful basis with each customer we interact with, then we will fail. Assuming that what you provide to your target market is a product/service of high quality (and that you are listening to your market to make sure they want this) your main job as a digital marketer is to communicate to them how you can help serve them. Yet, what hinders your ability to do this is the assumption that what you already know about marketing is all you need to know. There are new tools, resources, and competitors changing this marketing ecosystem every single day. It is now more important than ever to inquire about digital marketing (and the Internet as a whole). Rather than stay in the paradigm you’ve learned through rigorous study and practice. Everything we learn regarding the internet changes every 6 months to a year and the rate of change is increasing.

Building and Studying your growing library of knowledge

The best practice that I have learned from my mentor is the habit of collecting, reviewing, and then writing about the information you get from resources you attain throughout your time on the Internet (and sharing this information in networking events and forums). This database of useful information allows you to share valuable information with your network and teach them as well. The best ways for you to make sure you keep your marketing chops up-to-date is to question what you know. This is the only way you’ll be able to successfully help your clients and your company when people need your marketing skills or need to find out about your company.

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Kenny Soto Photography

Daily Meditation August 27th, 2015

“…The man who loves has no room for anything else.”

Krishnamurti
Think On These Things

It is only through love that we are able to attain insight. Insight into knowing what we want to do (ie. Self awareness) and knowing how to help others achieve what they want. A leader empowers others first before asking to be empowered.
‪#‎Listen‬‪#‎Appreciate‬‪#‎Motivate‬‪#‎Praise‬‪#‎LAMP‬

 

Kenny Soto Daily Habits Article

How Your Daily Habits Affect Your Success

Personal Success begins with your habits.

As a leader or anyone aspiring to become successful, we are all responsible for our own personal success. Oftentimes people aren’t able to be successful because they are completely unaware of how their daily habits affect their future. There are many things in our lives that are outside of our own control but, the one thing we do have a say over are the daily habits we choose to adopt every day.

You are your choices.

There have been many times when I have heard people I know complain about their lives. I would hear the usual statements, “I hate where I am at in life” or, “I am only in this situation because I don’t know the right people.” What many people don’t realize is that the reason they are stuck where they don’t want to be is because of their daily habits. What makes matters worse is most of us cannot see how our daily habits affect our lives because the basis of our habits is around processes and not outcomes. Focusing on what could you gain from making a decision hinders you from focusing on what matters. The reason why the majority of us are only focused on outcomes are because others have taught us since early childhood that what is more important is reaching a specific goal and not how we get there. Just because I get an A in a course doesn’t mean that I can actually apply my knowledge effectively on a daily basis. For many of us, the outcome of our total success is not determined by how we reach deadlines but from how effective was our process in achieving our tasks and what do we learn to increase our productivity the next time.

Effective habits save time.

The answer success does not lie in asking yourself what you need to do, but instead who you need to become. Once you have that answer, realize that you are not that person right now because when you compare your current self to your ideal personal persona, the difference is how you spend your day. Some people believe the on approach to getting to where you want to be is by using self-affirmations like in The Secret to attract success to you. I am not saying that self-affirmations aren’t useful, in fact they can be very powerful. What I am saying is that a more practical way of approaching success is adopting productive habits. This creates a structural foundation in which you can achieve that success mindset. To create that structure you need to be self-aware of what are your current habits and how other people and outside factors sway your choices on what daily habits you adopt over time.

Distractions are your biggest enemy.

One big factor that determines what daily habits you decide to adopt is codependency. Codependency is when you tend to act or feel a certain way based on whom you interact with (my interpretation of it). The reason this dysfunctional behavior is detrimental to your daily success is because most of us don’t notice our codependent tendencies when we interact and spend time with others. Jim Rohn best describes this when he states, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” As we become more hyper-connected to people through the Internet, it is now more important than ever to be aware when we are being codependent with those we are spending our time with (offline and online). In the event that you cannot do so, then you should make sure you are spending your time with people who are practicing successful habits daily (at least those habits may rub off on you). Codependency is related to why you aren’t as successful as you want to be. This is because you are allowing the habits of others govern your own. Although, this may not always be the case if you are already aware of how others in your network affect your chances of success. It helps significantly if you are learning what habits are you adopting from other people.

 

You should always be aware of what habits you currently have that may not be leading to who you want to become. Researching and meeting successful people who can mentor you are very helpful ways to figure out productive habits you can adopt yourself. However, it all comes down to self-awareness. Make sure you are auditing your habits on a regular basis and calibrating them accordingly. If you don’t create a daily regimen yourself, outside factors are doing it for you.

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Kenny Soto 4 areas of Inbound marketing

The Four Areas of Inbound Marketing: The Keys to Online Positioning

Customers have complete power

As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges that you may face promoting your product or services. All companies need to be discoverable in today’s marketplace and inbound marketing is at the core of it all. Today customers have a vast amount of choices for all their consumer needs. Being the company with the best product is not enough anymore. Inbound marketing is the practice of positioning yourself so customers always find you. There are four key areas of focus that are in the heart of this field of marketing.

Search Engine Optimization: Inbound marketing science

Everyone at this point uses Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find out information about everything. If you are selling anything you need to learn how to position yourself at the top of every search query relatable to you. There are many factors that determine how you rank on search pages that are always updated regularly (such as Google Panda). There are both on-page and off page factors that one has to consider to optimize your website’s SEO. For example, the on-page factors include: having a meta description with an excellent call to action that breeds curiosity to learn more about you and your product, doing substantial keyword research (using tools such as SEMRush, Longtailpro and Ubersuggest) to find out with search queries you can target with low-quality content, etc. The off-page factors include (but are not limited to): site history, bounce rate, session rate, ad quotient, location, does the site have shares on social media, spam, broken links, piracy, and much more.

SEO is one of the most important fields of digital technology, marketing, and science to date. No one will ever have a complete understanding and access to any search engine’s crawlers and predictive analysis can only take you so far. At the end of the day, the key component to SEO is user experience. If you cannot provide your customers the information they need exactly when they need it, providing the optimized experience they desire, you not only fail them but, you also fail yourself. Search engine optimization is not something that can be avoided. In addition, simple pay-per-click campaigns through tools such as Google Adwords don’t provide substantial growth models over time. One must consider all facets of SEO that help their business grow, especially since it important for all professionals to know something about the subject.

Blogging never gets old

Blogging, many consumers would say today has become over saturated with useless information. Perhaps this is true, but one thing to consider is that corporations such as Entrepreneur or FastCompany still blog, applications such as: timely, trello, and invision all use blogs because it is an effective way to express thought leadership in your industry (that in addition to infographics makes for very useful displays of your expert insights). Blogging helps show your customers not only that you provide products and services that suit their needs but, that you also share relevant information.

Newsjacking is the act being the number one provider of new and exciting topics in your industry that will determine if users can depend on you for reliable information. “The world of marketing will need more journalists than advertising majors”, was a comment a speaker at my college told a group of students that are aspiring media communication professionals. If you do not have a set of tools, such as Google alerts or Netvibes, that allow you to be the first to see new content on a daily basis, you are surely behind your competition. Lastly, the amount of overall customers that come to your site is relevant to one very important number: the number of guest bloggers you have posting content on your site. The more people you have writing content, the more they share it with members of their own networks which then improves yours.

Social Media (Conversations and Listening)

One thing I have noticed most social media campaign managers not doing is reaching out and contacting the influencers that their followers and potential followers are viewing. If you want to grow your current customer base  on social media it never hurts to contacting other thought leaders in your industry and asking them to share your content (with the bargain that you will do the same). If your content is good enough they will certainly agree and it will boost your reach on your social media platforms.

Another technique (depending on your business model) that works well is having user-generated content on your page. If for example, you are a video hosting service mainly targeting “high schoolers” it would help your business a lot by having users of your product share the content they have made on your social media pages. You could also curate all the content they have and have them share it with each other on a forum page that you create. This works perfectly with businesses whose engines of growth rely on viral marketing (having users attract their friends for you).

Most importantly, focus on one specific platform. Not all social media platforms are built the same and you should be working on developing your customer base to make sure your inbound marketing efforts are rising on in one area. You can then use that social media to transfer your followers onto the other ones. Most businesses that provide business-to-business services would focus on LinkedIn and not Instagram or Pinterest and that is because LinkedIn would naturally provide better results. Inbound marketing requires intense strategy so one must always consider where the majority of their efforts lie on social media.

Being a thought leader: Content Development & Curation 

There is only one thing that can determine that when a customer finds you on the Internet, they will stay and interact with you: content. Content is the only thing that matters to your customers. If you cannot provide them with the content they need at the immediate point of contact they have with you online, they will find someone else who will. If you want to be successful in your inbound marketing efforts you need to provide content such as webinars on your products and services, white papers, provide content on under-served content niches, and curating useful information from other sources so your users don’t have to. Also, you need to know how to properly generate leads by knowing the right time to gate (asking the user for contact information) and when not to. If you can’t build a connection of trust between your users and your business then you need to reconsider your strategies in all your inbound marketing efforts.

Remember, because of the Internet, you don’t need to use paid marketing. Customers are looking for you; you just need to position your business at the right place and always at the right time.

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Kenny Soto Getting Paid to Read

An Entrepreneur Mindset: How I Made $70 Getting Paid to Read

Anyone can be an entrepreneur.

When we think about entrepreneurs we often picture the daring innovator creating the next big platform to solve a major problem. This is mainly because of how the media portrays the mainstream entrepreneur (i.e. all entrepreneurs are like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs). Personally, I believe being an entrepreneur is something much simpler than that. An entrepreneur is someone who can identify an opportunity and tackle it. Below is how I saw a potential opportunity getting paid to read, seized it, and succeeded.

I have been unemployed for over a year because I choose not to work in an environment where there is no growth or learning. However, many of my family members and peers urged me to go and search for a place of employment. After months of struggling nothing seemed to fit, I was either under-qualified for the positions I was applying to due to lack of experience or I was over-qualified. This is because my resume shows that I am someone who only works well when having the opportunity to lead a team (which doesn’t happen often working retail).

I then stumbled upon a wonderful freelance application called TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit allows you, the professional, to work on your time for a pay you decide. And, best of all, you carry out tasks you choose; not arbitrary tasks that have nothing to do with your skill—unless of course, you’d like to.

Waiting on line and turning pages.

My personal favorite task on TaskRabbit is Waiting on Line. A client hires you to wait on line for an item they simply don’t have the time or effort to do and you, the Line Waiter, is compensated for their time. The opportunity I saw in this was that I needed to find a way to stay productive while getting paid to do something boring. What I decided to do is create a reading list that I would literally “crush through” while doing this specific task. I am essentially getting paid an average hourly rate of around $15-20 an hour to read books I love and simply deliver a ticket or wait until someone contacts me. This is how I plan on paying for my college textbooks next semester. However, I would have never been able to do this if I sought out that traditional 9-5 or part-time job to cover myself. Instead I saw an opportunity and created value by gaining revenue and learning at the same time (and reading is so much fun for me).

I  believe that we have the potential to do the things we love such as reading books and be able to also make money on the side. The only factors stopping our entrepreneurial mindset are our fears of taking risks, being different by thinking outside the box, and just trusting your imagination. Who knows, maybe I’ll figure out how to make revenue by having others read books and summarize them for me. I am certainly content with spending my summer getting paid to read.

If you want to do something similar to this you have to get out of your comfort zone. The world is changing at an exponential rate, meaning that there is an abundant amount of opportunities just waiting for you to grab them. You just have to get up and try something new. If you fail figure out why and try a new approach, it is just that simple.

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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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*Lord of the Rings reference, I hope you didn’t need to read this to know that.
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