Tag Archives: fashion

The Essence of Wisdom2.0

Stay curious. Have a beginners mind. Know you always have a choice in how you feel or what you do. You are not your emotions, rather they are a part of you.

I was reminded of all of this as I returned to my third Wisdom2.0 conference. I wasn’t even going to go. I decided that after two years of attending, I didn’t need to attend. I’d save some money and time and focus on other things. When a ticket was gifted to me, I made the choice to go back. I was grateful for the opportunity and couldn’t believe I was going, even when I thought I didn’t need to go. I jumped at the chance and was one of the dozens of people there representing Google.

Wisdom2.0 is about connecting and learning more about how each of us, whether we work in or use technology, can make the world a little better, less stressed out, and can become more aware to give back or contribute to the world. Over 2000 of us huddled in the bowels of the Mariott Marquis in San Francisco over the course of four days. Greeting, learning, growing, listening, and teaching each other. We started as a conference, and after the three days, as Congressman Tim Ryan proposed, we ended as a movement.

Wisdom2.0 is about the people and their actions, their companies, or personal missions to give back or create. Each of us there was hungry to learn. I felt drawn to share and connect, like most of us. Others were curious, there for work or to check out what this scene was all about.

Wisdom2.0 is about learning and teaching others how to be less stressed, by staying in the moment and not freaking out about the future, or dwelling in the past. Some of the greatest teachers of our time were on hand to remind and reiterate the techniques to reduce stress, clear your mind, and feel good where you are, in whatever you do.

I continued to learn new things. I engaged with dozens of interesting and motivated like minded people. I felt re-energized to help create my vision of an authentic life where I share my mindfulness side with work and help influence others to take this on so they can live happier, fuller, less congested lives.

I was gently reminded that all of us everyday can choose to be authentic. We choose how we show up to work, to our families, or how we play and interact with others. We can buy products from companies that give back (Give-nesses as 10 year old founder of Make a Stand Lemonade Vivienne calls it) or support and build companies that aren’t serving our planet or ourselves other than to make money. The choice is yours.

Here’s my key takeaways:

Thoughts are distracting.

As speaker Loic Le Meur says in his own article on his Wisdom2.0 experience, “Mediation created a new space in my brain.” I feel the same way. I started meditating two and a half years ago, and it’s provided a way to instantly drop into stillness, and center myself. Don’t let the name intimidate, it just means to be aware. Even if it’s noticing how I walk down the street, feel the wind on my face, that counts.

We’re all in this together.

Ariana Huffington said this in her keynote speech. We are a collective consciousness. Our actions, non-actions, words, and how we chose to spend our money, time, and efforts all matter and effect many beyond just you and who you touch. It’s a ripple effect, and every single one of us has that power. If you don’t think you have it, you’re wrong. If you don’t believe it, try it. After all, what do you have to lose?

Wisdom is consciousness, the body, and authenticity.

What is wisdom? Is it passed down generation to generation? Is it what we innately know without reading a textbook or taking a class? Is it from taking a class? Is it how our body feels or reacts? Is it what we as a society have learned over time? It is all of this. It is yourself. It is everyone together. It is also your own authenticity — the ability to show up as your full self, without putting on a mask for your boss, your friend, your kids. It is feeling fear, sadness, hurt, anger, and joy, and being ok with all of it as part of yourself.

I leave the conference with ideas and courage in how I can contribute as an agent of change, my own self-declared purpose, for myself and others to lead a life filled with more engagement, happiness, and less stress. Stay curious, my friends.

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Yesterday Apple Fixed A Bug In iOS 7. It’s A Doozy

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Yesterday Apple announced a fix to a security bug in its iOS 7 system. Today Web security experts have parsed the patch to figure out what exactly the problem was… And apparently it’s a doozy.

Wired has all of the gory details:

“[The] terse description in Apple’s announcement yesterday had some of the internet’s top crypto experts wondering aloud about the exact nature of the bug. Then, as they began learning the details privately, they retreated into what might be described as stunned silence. “Ok, I know what the Apple bug is,” tweeted Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins. “And it is bad. Really bad.”

The culprit of what may be one of Apple’s biggest security snafus is an extra “goto” in one part of the authentication code, Wired reported. That spurious line of code bypasses the rest of the authentication protocols.

The bug could could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, according to a Reuters report which was issued late on Friday night.

Meanwhile, ZDNet notes that macs may have been left vulnerable.

As ZDNet’s contributing editor Larry Seltzer wrote:

Make no mistake about it, this is a very serious bug. The bug makes it fairly straightforward to intercept and decrypt SSL/TLS communications, probably the most important security protocol there is today.

Here’re more details, on the patch from ZDNet.

Photo via Flickr user aditza121


Responsive Design: Why and how we ditched the good old select element

How rethinking the way users make complex selections across devices completely changed our design.

We’ve all seen this and know what it does:

The standard select element as rendered in Chrome/OSX

It’s the HTML select element. The invention of select dates back to 1995 with the introduction of the HTML 2.0 specification. So most of us have never experienced designing for web without select as an option. But it can be a really, really frustrating component to let into your designs. Let me tell you why.

Good things first

By using the select element it’s a no-brainer to create a list of selectable options. It’s easy and it’s cheap. It’s supported by all new and old browsers in use, and it comes with a lot of nice features, such as grouping options, keyboard navigation, single and multi select and reliable rendering across platforms without me having to put on my thinking hat. It just works!

So why not just use it?

At Tradeshift we’ve been working a few months on some soon-to-be-released updates for our user interface. Some of our core features include creation of invoices, quotes and purchase orders. It’s business documents with substantial amounts of data. Most often a human is involved in creating these business documents. Luckily, this human user has access to a lot of already existing data from various sources, which potentially makes document creation faster. All this data is predominantly represented as lists that the UI must enable the user to select from – efficiently and effectively – no matter the device.

Presenting option lists to users is most easily done by using checkboxes, radio buttons and by using select. However, some limitations in these components made the design team hit a wall for a number of reasons. Here’s an excerpt from a longer list of drawbacks of using select. The drawbacks would to some extent also apply to radio buttons and checkboxes:

  • The number of selectable options we have is often counted in hundreds which makes the standard select element hard to navigate.
    Example: When specifying the unit type on an invoice line, the complete list contains hundreds of possible units. It’s not just hours, meters, liters, kilos, pounds and pieces – but also crazy units such as hogshead, syphon, ‘theoretical ton’ and ‘super bulk bag’. Tradeshift deals with global trade and compliance and we must be able to provide all these options. Standard option selectors would turn into haystacks.
    A more common example is country selectors. I often find myself struggling to select United States in most selectors, no matter how smart the sorting of options has been done. For ‘popularity reasons’ United States is often found at the top of country list. Other times Afghanistan tops the list due to alphabetical sorting. Sometimes United States is far down the list, just after United Arab Emirates. Sigh! In addition to this, keyboard search is not available on most mobile devices. This forces the user to flick through the options manually. Searching is slightly better on desktop though, but it’s still limited to searching from the first letter onwards, so typing Emirates on your keyboard is not going to give you United Arab Emirates. You get it… and we’ve not even started talking synonyms yet.
  • The user often has to modify the options in the lists provided.
    Example: We provide a set of default taxes that the user can apply to each invoice line item. Often, however, legislation and taxes change and we must provide the flexibility for the user to add and change the default options. We don’t want the user to go to the engine room (aka settings pages) while creating an invoice. For a fluent workflow, users should update properties like these in context, else we risk the product becomes harder to use than say a word processor template. Unfortunately, the select list cannot technically be extended with inline interface for mingling with taxes. We could of course show a modal dialogue with an interface to modify the taxes list. We’d then return the user to the updated select element when editing options is done. It’s an option, but quite a UX derailment that we’ve seen cause confusion to less experienced users.
  • The same input value can be generated from different selection paradigms.
    Example: Payment terms can be expressed as a relative measure (e.g. Net 30 days), or an absolute value (e.g. Dec. 10th, 2013). One could imagine many solutions combining radio buttons, calendars and selects. None of them seems to provide the kind of simplicity we were aiming for. We don’t want two distinct inputs to select one value.
  • Select element UI interaction makes bad use of screen estate on mobile devices.
    Example: On an iPhone 4 the select element takes up 54% of the screen space (520pt of 960pt vertically). This allows barely five options to be visible in the list. This simultaneously limits gesture space to the same 54% of the screen (Android does a slightly better job in many cases, though).
More than half the space is taken up by barely five options in the select element. Flicking through many options is a pain.
  • Hierarchical data can be a real pain to deal with using the standard select element.
    Option groups which is a part of the select element’s features, have limited usage when you deal with complex hierarchies. Country selection offering sub-selection of states is an obvious example. Standard solutions typically involve lining up multiple select elements. So interaction goes like this: first the user picks one option in one list, then closes that list, interprets the UI adding or unlocking another select element, which must then be clicked, etc. Not totally insane on a desktop browser, but on mobile the pain grows and the visual/contextual relations are easily blurred. I recently heard the previous Principal Designer at Twitter, Josh Brewer, quote someone that Mobile is a magnifying glass for your usability problems which seems right, and in this case it definitely corresponds with Tradeshift’s own usability studies.
  • Styling the select element is poorly supported.
    There’s a whole bunch of reasons for the historically limited options for styling the select element – and even more scripts/hacks exist to overcome these limitations. Bottom line is that if you want your selectable options to fit nicely into your design in various browsers you’re pretty far into Hackland. And even if you go with one of these very nice styling scripts, you’ve not solved any of the interaction issues listed above – you may actually have added a few issues if your hack has changed the scroll wheel or touch behaviours or eliminated the standard “search feature”.

So in spite of the advantages mentioned initially, the many shortcomings we experienced in more complex scenarios simply left us frustrated with the standard select element.

So what can we do now that the cookie cutter solution does not make the cut?

We looked at many existing solutions, also the scripts that re-style the select element. We figured out we had to dig deeper. Please note: I don’t claim we’ve made big inventions in the following or that we invented the solution we ended up choosing. Variants of our final solution have been seen in many places. Also the solution we picked definitely has new shortcomings that we’re working on solving now – but most importantly, it allowed us much more freedom in working with user input and we can provide a consistent experience to our users across a number of scenarios and platforms. I only claim that we had a good critical process where we evaluated the most obvious options, found them insufficient and came up with a solution through a solid RITE process. A process of describing our needs (some listed above), ideating, prototyping and end-user/acceptance testing over and over. We wanted a new UI component that provided richer interaction options while completely replacing the select element, since we didn’t want a mixed user experience depending on what the user is selecting.

The solution

I’ll skip the process and describe what we ultimately ended up deciding on. Mostly by using screenshots – please be aware that these are somewhat early screenshots where copy is not final. To explain, I’ll use a few simple examples from the invoice creation feature, which requires a lot of selections by the user.

Basically the concept is to stack layers with the appropriate options providing ample space for rich interactions:

Phone size view of invoice creation: Stacking rich content layers allows the freedom in designing that we need

In the UI a subtle triangle indicates that there’s a list available for the field (full keyboard navigation is of course supported):

The indicator, here on the invoice due date field, tells the user, that the field must be populated via a picker.

Upon clicking a field with the triangle indicator, a panel sides in smoothly (in most browsers) and the page is darkened with an opaque overlay, which focuses attention on the panel; we call this panel a picker. In this example the user clicks the invoice due field and a list of standard payment terms are presented:

User clicked the invoice due field and gets default options with current one highlighted.

If none of the standard options satisfy the user there’s also the option to specify an absolute date by clicking the last option, specify date:

The second layer presents more fine grained options for specifying an exact due date.

This second layer presents more fine-grained options and is visually layered on top of the first layer, providing context to the user, keeping the user’s mouse and eyes in same position while also allowing back-navigation by closing the picker (escape key or clicking/tapping ‘x’). The visual layering provides an almost breadcrumb-style sense of navigational depth. What’s missing here on the screenshots is unfortunately the smooth horizontal animations further strengthening the sense of context.

Picking a date value closes all picker layers and sets focus back to the initial field activated, invoice due, and the user can tab on:

Focus is back, user can click or tab on…

Another example is clicking the unit type selector in an invoice line (the one that says PCS in screenshot above). Here the current value is highlighted in the picker:

Only four out of hundreds of possible options are listed. Search allows the user to select from the remaining hundreds.

As aforementioned the full list of unit types is counted in hundreds. Meanwhile many smaller companies only use a very limited set of unit types, so instead of presenting the full list we only show the most recently used ones and a search field. Searching, in this case for kilowatt, returns the options from the full set:

Searching quickly brings up options from the huge list.

Picking a value, here Kilowatt (KWT), closes the picker and returns the focus to the target field:

User picked a value and is now back at the initiating field.

Clicking a unit type field again now has Kilowatt hour (KWH) available as an option. Users who use a unit type once are very likely to use that unit type again, so this approach provides a settings free way of defining custom/individual lists:

Reopening the unit picker provides the newly used unit as an option in the short list.

There’s a ton of other examples with more complex dialogues – not least configuration of taxes – which keep the user in the context and don’t abstract away into who-knows-where settings pages. Our studies show that the user usually knows where to find, and how to use the values added, when it all happens in the same context.

Pickers first came up during discussions about dealing with complex selections on smaller devices. (Phone illustration: teehanlax.com)

The concept of pickers first appeared when we started designing the new Tradeshift from a mobile first perspective. I.e. not trying to squeeze the desktop experience into mobile, but more the other way around. On phone size devices we now also have entire invoice lines in pickers instead of presented in the “page body” as on tablet.

It adds some extra layers of pickers, but we’ve found out, that the visual clues provided for the user to establish a mental model of where things are going on, are sufficient to go at least three layers deep. Example of a three layer deep scenario could be: Invoice line (picker on mobile) > List of applicable taxes > Add new tax to list.

Obviously, we wouldn’t believe this could also be the the solution on desktop if we’d not tested it. But out of the different scenarios setup for complex selection of field values in the cases we have, this one won hands down, also on desktop. We’ve found out, that compared to using a series of select elements and modal dialogues, this solution decreases the cognitive load on the user significantly. This, by the way, reminds me of a comment Rebekah Cox (Quora’s first employee and designer) once made: “Design is what we don’t ask the user to do”. I couldn’t agree more. We should free up the users’ mind to work on their business not our tools.

This doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement. For instance we’ve figured out we need some way to not stick the picker to the right edge of the browser on larger resolutions and keep it closer to the field.

Extended use

An extension made a bit later during the redesign process was using pickers to manipulate and navigate using objects (such as invoices) as “hubs” for navigation:

The invoice is here a hub for navigating and interaction/manipulation.

This allows us to reuse a small-screen friendly design pattern already known by the user while not forcing the user reload another page to get the options.

Implications for the overall design

We’ve come to love the concept of pickers. We use them every time the user needs to populate a field from a set of options. We’ve done enough testing that we’re also confident that our users understand and prefer the pickers over complex select element combinations.

Using the pickers as navigation hubs allowed us to further simplify navigation and present options in-context without forcing the user into subpages or even worse, cluttering the UI into a non-decodable mess. Our lists are now cleaner, it’s easier prioritize the screens for end-user consumption and decision making, and synergies in desktop/mobile seem to pay off as users need to learn fewer patterns. Another benefit is that we technically have less different UI components to maintain.

If you had to start from scratch and the standard form elements didn’t exist, would you end up designing your “multiple options selector for any platform” as it’s implemented with the select element today? Maybe not, and for us this was reason enough to reconsider.

Further Reading

Responsive Design: Getting Advanced Filtering Right

 — A practical example

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Talking to Customers Is Killing Your Company

The purpose of customer interviews is to extract insights from the minds of your customers. Talking can’t achieve this; only listening can.

It may sound like a trivial case of semantics, but it is a widely overlooked concept: people often seem to equate “talking with customers” with “telling them all about the product”.

Telling customers about your product is not customer development, it is marketing. Customer development is listening to customers so you can better understand and serve them.

When you speak, you’re not listening. If your conversations with your customers are only about getting your message across, you’ve stopped listening. When you stop listening to customers, your company starts dying.

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw, the less he spoke

The less he spoke, the more he heard

Why can’t we all be like that bird?

When I’m interviewing customers, I challenge myself to speak as little as possible, so I can listen as much as possible.

In fact, I even substitute the phrase “talk to” with “listen to” for all of my customer interview calendar items (e.g. “Listen to David of CompanyX”) – it’s a small but persistent reminder of what I should really be focusing on in the meeting.

In order to understand what causes customers to buy, I need to hear how they articulate things themselves. How they rate their issues. The sequence in which they remember things. The connections they make between things that I never would have thought of.

If it’s in person, I leave dead air to the point of awkwardness – people will often blurt out any old thing to break the silence, and this sort of blurting is usually unfiltered and straight from their subconsciousness. That is gold.

I listen carefully to the words they use to describe their situation, so I can use those words to communicate at scale to other people just like them.

Most importantly, I avoid the temptation to insert my thoughts into the mix at all costs. I’m there to have my mind shaped, not to shape theirs.

This is not to say you should never open your mouth. Go out of your way to make them comfortable and put them at ease, and by all means poke, prod, backtrack, summarize and ask for clarification.

Just be vigilant in remembering which way the intellectual value should be flowing: play the role of the psychiatrist, not the politician.

Give the customer freedom to wander intellectually. They will inevitably go off in directions you hadn’t considered before. This is a good thing. Follow them – they’re showing you the path to success.


I hope you enjoyed the article!
You can follow me on Twitter at @SamuelHulick to find out whenever others just like it come out.
I'm also writing a book on User Onboarding!

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Co-Founder Love – Applying Psychology to Startups!

Something that has always fascinated me about startup life has been the view that startups are marriages between co-founders. It makes sense. If you decide to go full-time on your startup idea, you’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time with that person; you might even be living together. Unlike romantic relationships, you can’t run away from your problems — your personal livelihood via your career is at stake.

Defining Love

Romantic relationships, unlike most other relationships, aren’t governed by logic — they are driven by passion and commitment. They can be roller coasters with blissful highs and heart-wrenching lows.

So what is love? One of my favorite representations of love is “The Triangular Theory of Love” developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg. He theorizes that love is made up of three components:

1. Intimacy (attachment, closeness, connectedness)
2. Passion (sexual attraction, limerence)
3. Commitment (short-term: the decision to stay together; long-term: plans made with each other)

With all three components, you have love; any other mixture is a subset of love — like infatuation.

The Triangular Theory of Startups

Given the relationship between startups and marriages, the Triangular Theory of Love can be applied to startup co-founders with a few adjustments to the definitions:

1. Intimacy (attachment and closeness with your co-founders)
2. Passion (for the idea and the startup itself)
3. Commitment (short-term: to stay together as a team; long-term: incorporating the startup into your personal future)

A) Non-startup (N/A)

You don’t have intimacy, passion, or commitment. Non-startups make up most of our relationships; they are simply casual encounters. This could be anyone you met at a networking event, cold emailed, or went to a conference with.

At this stage, it’s important to not write people off. This person can potentially turn into a friend, mentor, or co-founder; you just don’t know yet!

B) Friendship (Intimacy)

You have intimacy. You act warmly towards the person and there’s a bond, but you don’t share an intense passion or any long-term commitment. This might be a fellow founder you openly discuss your problems with over the occasional coffee. Maybe it’s “that person” you always run into at events and can always count on to fill awkward voids. Regardless, you genuinely enjoy talking to them and seeing them and have a relationship, but you’re passionate about different topics and there are no expectations of staying in touch.

At this stage, it’s important not force your startup idea down someone’s throat. Too often, I see enthusiastic entrepreneur hopefuls try to “sell” friends on ideas and bring them on as co-founders.

C) Infatuated startup (Passion)

You are both super passionate about a particular idea, space, or product — and you just met! You don’t have intimacy or commitment but who cares, you’ve been dying to do this idea since forever, and so are they! You’re still learning about the person but isn’t it amazing to meet someone who “gets it” and understands why you’re so excited about the space? It feels awesome talking to them and you can’t wait for the next time you chat. Infatuated startups often turn into romantic startups over time if intimacy develops, so try working with them — this can be the beginning of a beautiful thing!

At this stage, it’s important not to jump into any long-term commitments without better understanding each other. Here, it’s key to build intimacy to determine whether there’s a long-term fit going forward.

D) Empty startup (Commitment)

You are committed to each other but there isn’t any intimacy or passion. In marriages, this is typically the stage where, “even though we hate each other, we better stay together for the kids.” But how did you get here? Maybe you had a falling out with your co-founders, lost passion for the idea, or the startup pivoted to a new vision. Either way, you feel the need to stay with your startup because it’s turning revenue, for equity cliff/vesting purposes, or the fear that you’ll destroy your reputation with the community or investors.

Worse, you might be motivated to stay due to the sunk cost fallacy. Entrepreneurs, unlike most other occupations, require a certain irrational. Some founders don’t know when to walk away, especially if they’ve spent a lot of time on their startup, and would rather go down with the ship.

At this stage, it might be a good idea to consider whether your startup makes you happier or makes you a better person. A lot of first-time entrepreneurs get stuck in this trap, especially if their startup is doing well.

E) Romantic startup (Intimacy+Passion)

You’re passionate about the idea and you have intimacy with your co-founders. This is the startup ideal that’s romanticized by your corporate world friends. You’re living the life! The idea is awesome and you love your co-founders — hopefully you’ll get acquired within the year! You hope the startup does well but if it doesn’t, it’s ok since you’ll have a good story to tell and it’ll open a ton of other opportunities.

At this stage, I think it’s a good idea to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Are we sticking together through thick and thin? What happens if we pivot? What’s our runway? Having these conversations early on, especially when things are sunny, sets expectations and lowers the risk of co-founder meltdowns when you eventually run into speed bumps.

F) Companionate startup (Intimacy+Commitment)

You’re intimate and there’s commitment, but you’re not passionate about a shared idea or startup. This is either a close friend, an awesome co-founder, or likely both. How did you get here? You likely had a startup with co-founders you think are awesome, but ended up pivoting to an idea that you’re less passionate about, but that has better product/market fit. Alternatively, you applied to an accelerator with friends using an idea that had huge potential, but you didn’t really care for. You get in, so you feel committed to the idea despite not being overly passionate about it.

Here, it might be good to figure out whether there is a different startup idea that really ignites your fervor. You love your co-founders because they’re awesome and you want to stick together because you’re a great team, so why not build something you love? Life is short. As Alexis Ohanian says, “[your] resources are best used to help projects that make the world suck less.”

G) Fatuous startup (Passion+Commitment)

You’re passionate and committed, but lack intimacy; it’s a “whirlwind marriage” where your commitment is based of your passion. You just met but you’re willing to commit to them as co-founders because you think the idea is just that awesome. With each other, you have to be unstoppable, right? Maybe your enthusiasm for the idea gets you into an accelerator, funding, or some other traction figure, either way, you’re committed to making this work — despite only recently meeting each other.

At this stage, you should try to build intimacy. Do you actually like being with each other? Does every word that comes out of their mouth piss you off? This might turn into your dream, or your nightmare.

H) Consummate startup (Intimacy+Passion+Commitment)

This is the ideal startup. You have intimacy, passion, and commitment. This is the true ideal that entrepreneurs should strive towards. These are the startups where you can tell the founders are as passionate about the idea on Day 900 as they were on Day 1. They love their co-founders and can’t imagine themselves happier over the long-term working with anyone else. They’ve been able to overcome their few difficulties gracefully, and enjoy being together as a team. This makes me think of Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi (Dropbox); Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google); or Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot).

If you’re lucky enough to have this type of startup relationship, keep note that it’s harder maintaining it than achieving it. You have to continually strive to translate these components — intimacy, passion, and commitment — into actions. Consummate startup love isn’t permanent; as originally theorized by Sternberg’s Triangular theory of love, “without expression, even the greatest of loves can die.”

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How to write a professional bio for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+

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This post originally appeared on the Buffer blog.


Talking about yourself is hard. Doing it in 160 characters or less is even harder.

That’s probably why so many of us end up stressed about crafting the perfect professional bio for Twitter – or LinkedIn, Facebook or other social networks.

It has to set you apart, but still reflect approachability. Make you look accomplished, but not braggy. Appear professional, with just a touch of the personal. Bonus points for a bit of humor thrown in, because hey, social media is fun!

All that in just a few sentences? No wonder The New York Times called the Twitter bio “a postmodern art form.”

In this post, we’ll go over the universal principles of a great social media bio – regardless of the network. We’ll also take a look at the big social media networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ – and discover how to make the most of the bio space provided by each.

Six rules for a foolproof bio

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau

Yes, a bio on social media needs to be brief – and that can be tricky. But instead of lamenting the bio’s space constraints, treat it as an opportunity – after all, writing short has its rewards in social media. Think of the bio like a copywriting exercise or a six-word memoir.

A professional bio on a social network is an introduction – a foot in the door so your potential audience can evaluate you and decide if you’re worth their time.

In that way, it’s a lot like a headline you’re deciding whether or not to click – a small window to make a big impression.

“A formula I learned about writing short poetry is that ultimately what you’re looking for is focus, wit and evidence of polish,” says Roy Peter Clark, author of How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times, in an interview with TIME.

“Focus means that we have a keen understanding of what the message is about, wit meaning there’s a governing intelligence behind the prose, polish meaning there’s that one little grace note, that one little word in a tweet that sounds like us in an authentic way.”

Pack in as much focus, wit and polish as possible by by employing these principles.

1. Show, don’t tell: “What have I done” > “Who I am”

Lots of us are fans, enthusiasts, thinkers and gurus on our social media profiles. But might it be more powerful if we talked instead about harnessing ideas, wrangling revenue, obsessing over culture and shepherding our teams?

The “show, don’t tell” principle of writing means focusing on what you do, not who you are – and that means action verbs. Try this list of action verbs for resumes and see if any of them add a little power to your profile.

LinkedIn senior manager for corporate communications Krista Canfield says the more details, the better to add some show to your tell.

“Don’t just say you’re creative. Make sure you reference specific projects you worked on that demonstrate your creativity,” she says.

2. Tailor your keywords specifically to your audience

“Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience,”says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself.

According to a PayScale Inc. study Schwabel was involved in, 65% of managers want to hire and promote subject matter experts.

Skip the generalist route and focus on what you’re an expert at. Those areas of focus are your keywords, and they should be front and center in any professional bio. All social media profiles are searchable to some degree, so being specific positions you to be able to be found easily for what you’re best at.

3. Keep language fresh and avoid buzzwords like the following:

It happens – a once loved and useful word stops being so useful when it’s overtaxed. In your professional bio, think over the language and make sure it feels fresh, not overused.

Check out the Twitter Bio Generator and Silly Twitter Bio to see some bio cliches in action.

LinkedIn recently compiled its most overused words for 2013. Are any of these in your bio?

4. Answer one question for the reader: “What’s in it for me?”

No matter what feats you’ve accomplished, potential followers mostly want to know one thing about you: What’s in it for me?

In marketing, that’s known as a value proposition – the promise of value to be delivered. What can followers expect from you? What value do you bring?

5. Get personal and hire a stand-up comedian to write your bio

That last little tidbit of the bio – usually where a funny quip or a more personal fact goes – often trips us up the most. Being funny is tough – that’s why social media agency owner Gary Vaynerchuk often hires stand-up comedians to write social media posts. And it’s tough to pick one element of a fully rounded personality to focus on.

The key again, is specificity. Lots of us love social media, coffee and bacon. But if you love llamas, jelly donuts and spelunking, you just might stand out and connect with some interesting new people. Tell a one-of-a-kind story. What hobbies and passions are uniquely yours?

6. Revisit often

As your skills, areas of interest and expertise evolve, so should your bio. Check it every quarter or so to make sure it still reflects you the best it can.

“The very best practitioners of short writing on blogs, on social networks, are people who are working over their prose. They’re revising it, with the same care they would if they were putting it on paper,” says Clark.


How to Recruit for a Lousy Company

One time, at cheerleading camp in Texas, one of the camp counselors asked us, “What do you do if your football team is the worst in the district?” The answer was to cheer anyway, because that is your responsibility. In fact, you have to cheer louder and bigger to motivate the team, the spectators, the alumni, and the students.

A recruiter is a cheerleader for the company. You are looking for the best team, and encouraging them to join because you know that this position at this company is a possibility of a lifetime. So how do you recruit for a company that at one time had the reputation of being as “The 11 Worst Companies to Work for in America!

My suggestions and thoughts:

Stop Recruiting Bad Candidates

Part of the reason people think the company you work for sucks is because you keep hiring bad candidates. Your job as a recruiter is to find the perfect candidate for your company. Skills are 25%. The other 75% falls under soft skills, personality, work ethic, environment, and whether or not the candidate would be a good cultural fit. Stop trying to force square pegs into round holes. Once you hire enough candidates who actually fit in with your company culture, the attitudes of employees and the external perception will change.

You Lied to Me!

Be honest. The odds are the reputation of your company is no big secret. When you are an agency recruiter, you can tell them what you have heard on the streets. When you are a corporate recruiter, you hear about it (and take it) every day. Let candidates know that you know what the reputation is, and if possible, let them know why you think it exists. The worst thing you can do is sweep it under the rug only to have the employee you just hired leave with contempt toward the company.

Let candidates know the situation as best one can, and allow them to make their choice with their eyes wide open. The candidate who did not get the all of the information necessary to make an educated discussion before joining your organization could very well prevent you from getting your next opportunity. Hell has no fury like an employee scorned!

“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”

Look for candidates with a consulting background. Most consultants cannot stand being in an overly structured environment. Consultants go from company to company fixing what internal employees could not achieve on their own. They are used to going into crazy environments who are crying out for help. Companies with bad reputations are looking for a hero! Get a candidate with the right fit and you are both heroes!

Cheat on the Test

During the discovery process, candidates will give you the answers to the test. When during your screenings, are you noting the red flags? Did you check references? While there are always exceptions, here are things that candidates bring up that in my experience has always turned out in disaster for companies with poor reps:

  • Asking about vacation and benefits before asking about the company or the position. (Don’t get me wrong: benefits, especially health, are extremely important, and should be discussed early, but not earlier than the company and the job.)
  • Candidates who have not heard of your company or have not done any research on the company culture or employees
  • Candidates who come in with a plan to revamp the entire company before starting.
  • Desperate, I-will-do-anything candidates.
  • Candidates who want work/life balance. In crappy companies, there is either no balance or their policies are too lax (aka no one seems to be working.)

How Come You Never See a Headline Like “Psychic Wins Lottery?”

How do you know that potential candidates will not want to work there? I learned early in my recruiting career not to try to be a psychic. Who am I decide that you won’t like the position being offered. They could love the company! There are people who thrive on stress and chaos. Make sure they have the information but if they say they would love it, let them.

At the end of the day make sure that when someone leaves the company, it isn’t because of something you tried to hide. We are dealing with people’s livelihoods here. If the candidate who you find only has the skill set, but none of the other important factors needed to succeed, keep recruiting. Recruiting is a verb. Keep recruiting until you find the ideal candidate for your company.

Moving Forward

  • Make sure you have an environment that invites employees to share their opinions, both positive and negative. If possible, have the CEO or other top executive address the concern in the company newsletters.
  • Don’t forget retention! You should be getting updates on how employees feel while they are still engaged, not when they are walking out the door. (By then, it is too late.) Have candid conversations with top performers. Find out why people are staying and work that into your pitch. Have your story ready. If the company stinks so badly, why did you accept a position there?
  • Take a look at Glassdoor and other websites where employees review where they work, but take it with a grain of salt. See what is being said on the street about your company, but realize that these are anonymous reviews mostly done by people ask to leave the company being reviewed.

The top things that people complain about are:



The boss

Not getting a promotion


Work/life balance

Working in a cubicle

No cafeteria or nearby food options.

There is only so much you can do to change the reputation of your company. Stick to your morals and principals. Don’t sell you soul to the devil. Be honest and the truth will set you free. Just keep recruiting.

Posted by:Jackye Clayton

The Crippling Economics of Inequality

A few months ago, Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company, wrote in his investment outlook letter that instead of approaching the tax reform argument from the standpoint of what an enormous percentage of the overall income taxes the top 1% pay, America’s wealthy should consider how much of the national income they’ve been privileged to make. Gross noted that in the share of total pre-tax income accruing to America’s top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today, and asked his wealthy clients to “admit that you… did not, as President Obama averred, ‘build that,’ you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions.”

But favoring average working Americans is not just a matter of fairness. America’s wealthy would actually do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than they’re doing now with a large share of an economy that’s still anemic — anemic mainly because the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to get it out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Put simply, the wealthy don’t spend nearly as much of their incomes as do people further down the ladder. That means that as more and more of the nation’s total income concentrates at the top, total spending is less than it would otherwise be. As entrepreneur Nick Hannauer says in our new movie Inequality for All, “the problem with rising inequality is a person like me who earns a thousand times as much as the typical American doesn’t buy a thousand pillows.” Or, for that matter, a thousand pair of blue jeans or restaurant meals or movie tickets or insurance policies.

It’s the lesson Henry Ford taught America early in the twentieth century when he paid the workers in his Model T factory twice the going rate, thereby pushing up wages in other factories and helping more workers afford to buy Model T’s. And it’s the lesson America put into practice in the three decades after World War II when nearly everyone’s wages doubled, and the bottom fifth’s wages rose even more than the top fifth’s – creating the largest middle class the world had ever seen, and propelling the American economy to its fastest growth in history.

Reforming the tax code to favor economic growth and labor is one step. Raising the minimum wage, encouraging trade unions, and investing more (and more prudently) in the education and training of all Americans are others.

The voices favoring such reforms shouldn’t be coming only from Democrats, labor unions, and the Left — and a few renegades like Gross and Hannauer. The entire American business community needs to speak out forcefully and clearly in favor of a more broadly-shared prosperity — and against the direction we’re heading. Shared prosperity is essential for faster growth.

Photo: Truthout.org / Flickr

Posted by:Robert Reich

Facebook Tests Mobile “Highlights”, A Cheat Sheet To Your Friends’ Lives

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Facebook said there were just big fixes in its 7.0 iOS update it released yesterday, but actually there’s a big new feature it’s testing called Highlights. Inside the People tab you’ll see Highlights including friends’ Life Events and people you’ve interacted with recently. If you’re bored of News Feed and want to know what do next, Highlights could lead the way. Or you might just never use it.

Also released yesterday was a 3.2 update to Facebook Messenger featuring a new integration with the core app for all users, despite the update’s What’s New listing just bug fixes.  If you shortcut from Facebook to Messenger by tapping its icon in the tab bar, you’ll see a “Touch To Return To Facebook” notification bar at top that lets you instantly switch back. As Facebook moves towards more of an app suite strategy with companions like Messenger, allowing for seamless switching back and forth will be important. Another new messaging-related feature is the addition of a slide-out buddy list button in the top right of Facebook for iOS that pops people to Messenger to start a chat.

Touch To Return To Facebook

Facebook HighlightsBut the bigger deal is the new People tab, which is currently available to just a subset of iOS users. Previously, the Requests tab in the tab bar at the bottom of Facebook for iOS just opened up Friend Requests and People You May know. Now called “People”, the tab includes the subtabs Everyone, which displays all your friends in alphabetical order, and History, which shows a reverse chronological list of people you’ve interacted with through messaging, liking posts, and other actions. The latter is somewhere between a simplified Activity Log and a reminder of who you might want to continue conversations with.

But the first and default tab in People is Highlights. It starts with new Friend Requests up top, though it hides old ones you’ve left in limbo under a See More button. Next is a panel of Friends With Birthdays Today, a duplicate of what’s in the Events section of the app.

After that is the most interesting part of Highlights: a list of recent Life Events from friends such as a new romantic relationship, starting a job, moving, graduating, or anything posted through the Life Events creator. If you don’t care about seeing the BuzzFeed articles and random photos your friends fill the News Feed with, this part of Highlights could give you a quick way to catch up with important milestones in friends’ lives.

Facebook HistoryBeyond Life Events is Friends With Upcoming Birthdays so you can plan to actually send them a heartfelt message instead of a shallow “HBD!” wall post. Then there’s People You’ve Contacted, which is quite similar to the History tab. And finally there’s a seemingly endless list of People You May Know.

With so much overlap between the Highlights and History subtabs as well as the Events section, I’d expect some of this to be redesigned or cut before/if the People tab is rolled out to everyone. Still, Highlights is a fascinating alternative take on the News Feed that focuses on people, communication, and big moments instead of the day-to-day ephemera. As Facebook’s feed moves more towards news sharing and public-facing content, it’s good see a feature dedicated squarely to connecting us with our friends’ lives. After all, that was Facebook’s original mission.


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