General (Business) Etiquette

2013 June 20
by Grace Boyle

These are just a few random rumblings that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. I know we all have different values and needs, but I find it somewhat outlandish when people just “assume” all the above and don’t consider others in the process.

  • Before making an introduction between two people, ask that person who is the “helper” FIRST. This is the opt-in process. The, “Want to make sure you’re cool with this” and/or “Have the time and capacity to help this person/potentially a stranger to you?” It’s a common courtesy. It also gives them the heads up and context. A cold introduction between two people catches the “helper” off guard and obligates them or puts them in an uncomfortable place. I’m sure it happens innocently and it’s out of the goodness of wanting to help, but considering the other person’s time, bandwidth and potentially how many times a week they may get these “intros for help” is important.
  • Related – When/if you are asking for help from someone and you schedule something like to meet for drinks, coffee, etc. it is thoughtful and just to offer to pay for said drink/coffee. They’re taking time out of their busy day, to speak with you and offer you guidance or help (for free). Honestly, even if it was my best friend helping me I would offer to buy her coffee because it’s a give and take mentality and especially if it were a stranger that was doing it out of the goodness of their heart. It’s the least you can do for this person. It’s just good to do.
  • Be clear in what you’re asking for. This doesn’t have to do with the above mentioned, but does relate. Whether you’re pitching people, asking for help, etc. the call to action should be clear. Sometimes I find myself bumbling along and not being clear in what I need. That not only screws me, but the other person I am asking doesn’t have a clear line of action to follow. Being succinct, also helps.
  • Hold the door. I don’t care how much of a rush you’re in, it simply won’t hurt you to hold back a bit and hold open the door for the person behind you. It’s such a simple gesture, but in this day and age, it doesn’t hurt to look out for one another. Start with the simple pieces, hold the door so it doesn’t slam in their face as you scurry on your way.
  • Putting someone on an e-mail list they didn’t somehow opt into (there are some fine lines here in the business world) but what’s worse, is NOT having an unsubscribe button. There are a number of just straight emails where I’m BCC’d and I’m on a list. I was never asked to be on that group personal email list but it’s weird to respond to that person and ask them to remove me from their list because they are a friend, I’m just not their target or I’m trying to clean up my inbox. Nothing personal. Please have an unsubscribe or easy opt-in in all e-mail communication. It’s common courtesy and a best practice in marketing. Also, when you unsubscribe and they tell you it is “being processed” then a few days later you get another email from them, is no bueno.
  • Be on time. Should I say more? Probably not. Usually a good idea to be on time for meetings or calls.
  • Don’t have a meeting for the sake of meeting. I think so much can be accomplished without long, droning on meetings. They are necessary to gather the right people, but can be succinct and finalized, so everyone can actually do instead of sitting around. A day filled with meetings gets you nowhere.

I don’t mean to complain, but they’re just things I feel strongly about. Sigh.

What about you? What are your general etiquette musts?

 

Up and away

2013 May 23
by Grace Boyle

Today, two close friends and really, the best neighbors we’ve ever had, moved from Boulder.

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We’ve come to love our apartment complex with our community that has been cultivated, neighbors, our dogs, our gardens, the creek that runs alongside us and the few blocks it is from downtown. But really, my 1970’s oven isn’t what makes it special, it’s the people.

We’ve been lucky to have wonderful neighbors there, where we have each others’ keys, we let each others’ dogs out if we’re in a pinch, we share meals on our porches and you can borrow anything from toilet paper (yep) to butter.

And these neighbors that are leaving, were directly next to us. Our dogs were best friends (maybe they were dating too), we stumbled out on the porch on hungover Saturday mornings to make eggs and bacon while our dogs ran around in the yard in front of us with too much energy, we’ve laughed more times than I can remember, we’ve had countless meals (we call them the five hour meal on Sunday afternoon) and generally, they’re just kind people that we’re sad to lose.

I’ve now been in Boulder for almost five years. I moved on a whim in 2008 on my own, with no job, no apartment and no idea what I was going to do next. Life has unfolded in a crazy, beautiful way since then.

One thing I’ve noticed, as we’re nearing our 30’s many of us are still hopping around from state to state, to country to country. Most of my closest friends have all moved from Boulder. Perhaps it’s because it’s a transient city, perhaps because it attracts seekers, perhaps it’s because those are the type of friends and people I love to surround myself with.

The: there-is-always-something-more-let-me-explore-do-it-up people.

I’m one of those.

But I still love Boulder. I’m happy here. But I’m sad. So many friends are dispersed across the world. I guess it’s wishful thinking we could all stay together. But my Boulder family and friends, has mostly up and left. Few are remaining from my original friends and although I feel as though I know so many people and have many lines and walks of groups here, today I feel sad. A little hollow.

I know that people come and go from our lives and we also change, but I do know that certain people will remain even if they’re not physically present. Holding on doesn’t do anyone any good, but there is a part of me that wishes I could at times…

Is it unrealistic to think your close friends you see will just always be there in the same place? We move so often these days it just doesn’t seem plausible especially with my generation.

How do you cope with moving and changes throughout your 20’s? Do you find constant in friendships or know that they’re always adjusting?

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

2013 April 25
by Grace Boyle
  1. Sorry, I can’t help but giggle whenever I watch this ad.
  2. I’m so intrigued by this article of 40 inspiring workspaces of the famously creative. Some are drab and dirty, some are epic and beautiful and it really speaks to who that person was. I particularly love Nigella Lawson’s (food writer) space filled with books shelves that are sky high!
  3. My Ginger Essence fragrance from Origin. This is incredibly soothing, but has this burst of ginger flavor that is sweet and not sharp as it might be if you sniffed ginger root itself. Everyone always asks me what it is and I’ve never enjoyed smelling my wrists so much.
  4. My dear friend Rebecca’s new blog, Bourbon Beauty which uncovers all of her beauty, health and wellness tips, products and secrets. I’m not joking, that I’ve ordered almost everything she has mentioned on the blog and loved every product I’ve ordered. She is so committed to natural and wellness that I trust her judgment so much. I’m sure you will too.
  5. Egg, Avocado and Toast. Finally, The Man and I have started making breakfast a little more regularly before we both jet off to work in the morning. With me doing Crossfit and him at Jiujitsu so regularly, skipping breakfast isn’t a good option. We’ve found a breakfast we love that is healthy, but quick. It’s two eggs (runny, scrambled, fried hard, etc.), over whole wheat toast that has avocado smoothed across it. I like a little siracha on top, too. I get that protein from the egg, the good fats from the avocado and it’s done in 6 bites. Simple, but I crave it every morning now.

Solo Birthday

2013 March 17
by Grace Boyle

Over the years here at SHBI, I usually post something about my birthday (here in 2011, here in 2012). It’s largely because I view my birthday as the beginning of the new year. It’s a time to intention set, look back and look forward. I feel it’s very auspicious and special.

My mom muses that I have always cried on my birthday since I was a baby. Sometimes it’s tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of frustration, tears of emotion or just tears of fear (AKA when I was 4 and my dad dressed up as a bear and walked up from the basement and we all screamed and ran away crying, wasn’t the best idea pops).

 In 2011, I jokingly tell the story of our new puppy Cerna getting too excited and eating too many scraps that fell on the ground at our party, so he threw up all over my friend’s brand new white shoes (twice). I burst into tears because I was trying to control the situation and ensure everyone was happy instead of just laughing, rubbing the pup’s belly and washing my friends shoes. Because really, shit happens. Looking back, it’s hilarious. It’s good to have perspective.

This year, on my 27th birthday, I was traveling for business. I was in the Boston area (where The Man is from) so instead of moping he recommended an incredible Cambodian / French fusion restaurant (The Elephant Walk).

On the night of March 13th, my birthday, I had traveled all day and had a big meeting / training to prep for the next day, but I wasn’t going to stay alone in my hotel room. I wanted to follow through on my plan.

If I back up a bit, I was going to see one of my closet girlfriends and roommates from college that night, but she had a work event she couldn’t get out of last minute. I do have a handful of friends / acquaintances in the Boston area, but after my girlfriend that I always see when we’re there couldn’t make it, it sounded silly to start going through the rolodex and asking who could “take me out” for my birthday. When it came down to it, I didn’t “need” that and I had a small window to go out so just decided to keep it simple.

Dinner was wonderful. I sat at the bar alongside two other travelers, so I wasn’t the only one flying solo. I eat alone a lot. To me, it’s pretty simple and enjoyable. There is something a bit different about your birthday alone, because society thinks it’s something different.

I was quiet about my birthday that night and even when I was carded for the glass of wine I ordered, the bartender missed it. One of my dearest friends knew I was solo and a bit nervous about it, so at the end of my meal, out came a piece of cake with a lit candle in it. She called in and surprised me. I was so touched (and totally blushing when my cover was blown).

Snapping photos of myself alone at the bar.

Snapping awkward photos of myself alone at the bar.

It was a quiet evening. I didn’t speak that much. I enjoyed my food and thought about what was next in life.

At the end of my evening, I even got a manager’s discount because I think they felt bad for me, which made me chuckle. The staff was kind throughout the evening even after learning it was my birthday and they thought I lived in Waltham and didn’t have friends. I built up quite the tab with two glasses of wine, an appetizer and entree because I wanted to do it up.

And it was me taking myself out (not expensing it), it was my treat, on me.

The next night, after the all-day meeting, I drove my rental car to Worcester, to see The Man’s family (and a few friends). We had an incredible home cooked meal and chocolate, peanut butter Reece’s cake The Man’s sister made for me from scratch. I felt so lucky and showered with love. I love them.

When I was back home, I rounded up all my pockets of friends for a party at one of my favorite restaurant / bars on Saturday so I could hug everyone and tell them thank you so much for being a good friend.

And guess what? This whole birthday week – no tears were shed.

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

2013 March 4
by Grace Boyle

1. London Fog Drink – This is a drink my hometown coffee shop makes that is frothy and incredible. I don’t drink a ton of coffee these days (no particular reason, but I feel healthier without a lot of caffeine) but I have been drinking black tea. The London Fog (also known as Earl Gray Latte or Vanilla Tea Missto) is Earl Gray tea, milk (soy, almond, whole, skim, etc.), vanilla (I use Silk French Vanilla, coffee shops use vanilla syrup) and boiling water. In coffee shops they can froth the milk which is incredible but at home, I make this in the morning and it’s a perfect, warm blend.

2. Stitch Fix – Through a friend’s recommendation, I signed up with Stitch Fix, a web-based personal stylist fashion website. You create a very specific style profile and outline your size, preference, style, etc. Then you choose a date for your clothing delivery and a stylist will hand-pick different items that are sent to you, based off your profile. You can choose when you want the delivery (e.g. I do it once every two months – there isn’t a requirement to frequency) and they provide a free shipping bag to return the clothes/accessories you don’t want. The only hitch is that if you purchase something from the box, you get $25 off, but if you return everything you lose that $25 because it’s the stylist / shipping fee. Each time you return the items, you can give feedback as to why on your profile and each time, they get better and better. I love the surprise of it, I love that they’re brands I may not always wear or know of and I love that I have picked at least one thing from the box each time. Check it out*.

3. Jennifer Lawrence – I’ve liked her since I first saw her and dig the roles she plays, plus she seems pretty real and funny. I like someone that can be herself, a little irreverent and also not let things go to her head. I think she’s gorgeous and this interview after her Oscar win always has me laughing. Let’s not forget, she’s only 22!

4. Mention – I like using Mention that creates alerts for your brand (in my case, blogs) so you can be informed in real-time about any mentioned on the web and social. It’s better than Google Alerts (more consistent) and the desktop application is really slick with a nice UI. Also, there’s a free version that is great.

5. Sunday nights – James and I love Sundays. The first reason is because we always plan a big meal we’re going to cook that day that will yield leftovers so it’s always very cozy in the house, with delicious smells wafting around. Secondly, it’s when all our shows are on. We’re digging Girls, Downton Abbey and Walking Dead and they all coincide Sunday evening. It’s something to look forward to and we usually have friends over to enjoy the shows, as well.

What are you loving on these days?

*Note: referral link, because why not? I love the fix ;)

My creativity sweet spot: early morning

2013 February 20
by Grace Boyle

It’s 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning and my eyes pop open. I still feel a little tired, but I know I’m not going back to bed.

I am/have become a morning person.

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Subsequently, I’m so not a night owl. Maybe it’s stress from the work week or a hard workout in the evening, but we’re usually in bed by 10:30 PM by the latest on weeknights. Sleep is one of those free, tried and true beauty and health secrets. I’m all about it.

Right now I sit cross-legged on our couch, facing the windows and rising sun as I have opened the blinds. The world around me is still. Occasionally I hear a bird chirping (is that Spring I hear)?

I have only come to realize recently, that early morning is my creative sweet spot. Between 7 and 9 AM (give or take).

I can only describe it as such: my mind starts to buzz, ideas begin circulating, I’m aware and alert, I feel calm and I’m armed to face anything.

During this time, I also enjoy the solitude of the morning – I am free of distractions.

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” ~Rollo May

As I’ve begun to grasp this creative sweet spot for me, I get to work particularly early and jump start my day. If it’s a weekend, I write in the mornings, I jot down ideas or I use that silent time to get things done that require extra attention and sharpness. I literally feel like an invincible bad-ass during this time.

Similar sentiments are shared around where you feel most creative. Is it your favorite trail in the woods, your kitchen or in the shower?

Fast Company author, Ron Friedman, describes it as the bathroom:

If you’re like most office employees, access to sailboats, the countryside and a relaxing couch is in short supply. A walk to the bathroom is one of the few opportunities you have for disengaging, letting go of trivial details and refocusing on the bigger picture–even Steve Jobs recognized the bathroom’s potential, insisting that Pixar only build two in its studios, to provide employees with maximum enforced mixing. Neurologically, it is during these moments away from your desk the right hemisphere of your brain comes to life, making you more appreciative of the forest and less sensitive to the trees.

Whenever the time and wherever the place, I believe we need to understand what works for us. I take advantage of the early morning and if I’m planning my week, I carve out this time so it’s available. Awaiting me. Ready to envelope me.

What’s your creative sweet spot?

Am I seriously a Crossfit(er)?

2013 February 13
by Grace Boyle

My whole life I have been pretty invested in athletics.

I grew up being outside, to our backyard, to the gymnastics rings, to the pool, to to the basketball court, to my yoga mat, to the track, to the farm and competing with my horse. These activities were part of my life, everyday.

As I shifted to college and away from formal group athletics and owning my own horse and competing for years (two of the best things I could have had for leadership and growth growing up) I found myself struggling to find a workout “regime”.

Sometimes I went to our college gym. I even worked there one Summer while I stayed in Vermont, but it was sporadic. College definitely ensued four years of the most unstructured time (except for class schedules per semester of course) for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I worked hard. I graduated with almost a 4.0 and I had a lot of internships and jobs. But being active? Kind of fell short. I definitely gained weight (thank you kegs of beer and booze) but I wasn’t wildly unhealthy, I was just enjoying my time and being a bit more carefree than I am now. Studying abroad in Italy and eating gelato or pasta almost daily didn’t help. Oops.

As I graduated college and moved to the land of everyone runs marathons, hikes 14,000 feet in the mountains or skis all weekend, every weekend in the winter (aka Boulder) I was hit right in the face with why I was so attracted to move here in the first place. I love being healthy and pumping my body with endorphins. We always ate organic and healthy growing up, it was just a reminder of what I remembered.

I immediately joined a yoga studio, got my snowboard pass, hiked out my backyard and was stoked about getting back to my roots and feeling healthy.

Crossfit EVERYWHERE!

After my fourth year in Boulder, I couldn’t ignore my brother or some of my closest friends poking me about Crossfit this, Crossfit that. Even with my background of being active, I don’t feel like a bad-ass. Compared to most Boulderites, I’m not as hardcore (my mom would tell me this is self-defeating belief, and she’s probably right), but it’s how I feel.

crossfit

I’m also okay with admitting I was intimidated. I was scared. I also knew it was a monetary and serious time investment so I had to be totally committed.

In September last year, I was in LA with some of my closest girlfriends for a weekend getaway and also seeing my little brother who lives there. He brought me to a Crossfit class at his gym so I could get a feel for it. He will tell you that he and my other Crossfit girlfriend asked me 20 times that weekend before I agreed to join them. I hadn’t brought the right clothes or shoes and wasn’t planning on a workout on my weekend getaway.

As soon as we began, my nerves dissolved and even if I didn’t know what we were doing the whole time, I was guided and could scale to my own needs. During the WOD (workout of the day) I felt on fire. It was surely intense but while you’re in it, you’re just focused and digging in to something deeper.

The next day I couldn’t walk, I was so sore.

I laughed to myself but realized I got out of it alive and actually, enjoyed most of it.

Next month, in October I said fuck it. I believe in doing things that scare you and getting outside your comfort zone. That’s when you really grow. Always. So I joined a Crossfit gym here in Boulder and took the month-long intro, Foundations course.

After our first class, I came home and cried. I didn’t think I was that out of shape. I’ve worked out most of my life! I felt pathetic and ashamed. It was so difficult I didn’t know if I could go back.

But I did. Each day. Each class.

For the first month or so, I got knots in my stomach I was so nervous about walking into class. I spoke to my friend Tara who has been doing Crossfit for 3+ years at the gym and her stories and support helped me realize I wasn’t alone in my plight or nervousness.

Now, it’s February. I’m just a few months in, but I find I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before and I know that I’m growing and learning rapidly. Some days I still am so confused or I’m doing something I’ve never done before and I’m scared, but the community is fantastic, the coaches are fun and supportive and I’m compelled to keep growing and pushing.

It’s not as if it gets easier. You just get more used to it.

The intensity level is always high. But one of the things I appreciate the most is my mental sharpness that has evolved. It’s like one big psychological lesson. Crossfit is almost more mental than physical for me because I think in my head, “There is no way I can finish that,” or “100 push-ups just to start the workout, no way,” but then you do it.

You just do it.

You may take longer than anyone else, but I always finish. Maybe I scaled and next time I’ll try more weight or what’s actually prescribed.

I don’t believe that Crossfit is superior to other forms of working out but I do know that the cult-like following is for a reason. It works. It’s powerful. And for now, for me, I’m totally digging it and proud of my consistency to working out more than almost ever.

I’m also a testament that anyone can do it. People of all ages and sizes go to Crossfit and like I said, I’m no marathon-goer-crazy-workout-freak. Hardly. But I’ve been physically and mentally pushed more than ever and it’s the best feeling. It doesn’t hurt to see your body toning up and muscle in places you didn’t know muscle existed before either. Right?

Thanks Crossfit Roots. I heart you longtime for kicking my ass and showing me the ways.

But this doesn’t mean I like burpees. At all.

The Job Searching Guide

2013 January 14
by Grace Boyle

Job searching isn’t fun. I’ve received an increasing amount of emails and inquiries on the topic (not sure why, I’m certainly not an expert) but I thought I might as well put together some insight as to what I have learned, what I have been taught and what I’ve read around the topic. I include some specifics to Boulder just because I live here, but otherwise, the information is pretty applicable. I hope you enjoy!

The People You Know: The first to consider is the low hanging fruit – the trusted friends, previous co-workers and family. Most jobs do come from a connection but people forget to consider their family or even neighbors, because they tend to think, “I want a job in X industry, but they are not in X industry.” You never know if your network knows someone who knows someone and just putting it out there is a good move, period. Naturally, if you can connect with people in your industry they will have upfront experience but I suggest talking to everyone. I’ve written about it before, before I moved to Boulder I made a list of people I could reach out to about my move and what I was looking for (connections, I knew no one and a job, since I didn’t have one). I got my first job via a professor I had in college in Vermont, who connected me to a friend of hers in Boulder, who then introduced me to a friend of his that worked at Lijit. I encourage you to exercise your options, connect with people you trust, put it out there that you’re interested in X and be sure to be vocal. Your network is more powerful than you think.

Extra tip – consider contacting your Alumni office and asking for a list of graduates who are in your area. When I first moved to Boulder I found this to be useful!

Social media. Well, this may sound obvious especially for certain generations but as I talk to new college grads many of them don’t consider social media as a professional tool since they use it purely for fun, not work. Twitter is a great place to search for keywords, look up people in the city you live in, follow those companies that you’re interested in and even search something as simple as “Boulder Jobs” or “Finance Job Denver” etc. Facebook is truly where your most personal network resides and if you’re able to post about your job search go ahead and state it. Put it out there. LinkedIn is built for networking and finding a job but I suggest LinkedIn Pro. It’s something like $50 a year and it’s so worth it. You can see more people beyond your network, you can send InMail’s so you can connect with anyone and of course, it’s often the first page that comes up when a potential employer Googles you (because they will). LinkedIn also has their jobs page where people pay to post their jobs which of course ensures the job is legitimate.

An aside on social media, is you want to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, your resume is looking snazzy, your online presence is reflecting you how you want to be reflected (tip: Google yourself, see what comes up) and you may even consider making a digital resume via a Pinterest board. Check out my friend Rachael’s, it’s bad-ass and she calls her Pinterest Board “The Living Resume”.

Craigslist. I won’t go into Craigslist much but it’s still a common place where many jobs of all trades are posted. Don’t rule it out of your search. I know it sometimes equates spam and it may not be as trusted as other tools, but it’s still worth keeping your eye out. Often time, Craigslist is many of the places an employer might post their job so it helps keep your bases covered.

Hyperlocal job publications or newsletters. Each city usually has some sort of job provider that offers interesting information on job searching.

For instance in the Boulder area I suggest: Andrew Hudson’s Job List, Luke’s Circle, Foundry Jobs, TechStars Jobs, Boulder / Denver New Tech Meetup, Boulder Open Coffee (here is their Google+ community) and Denver Egotist. David Cohen wrote a great resource on all things startups in Boulder that if you live here, you should bookmark and keep.

Request informational interview. When I first moved to Boulder alone and lacking context of the area and its industry, my plan was to get in front of as many people as I could. I would stalk certain companies that I really wanted to work at and I might send a cold email to their jobs email or maybe I received an introduction to someone within the company. If they weren’t hiring I would ask if I could still buy them coffee or go in for an informational interview. Now, not everyone has time for this. Do not expect it. However, when done in a concise manner you’re able to get in front of an employer, make a connection and drop off your resume. Next time they’re thinking about hiring your resume may be top of mind. It’s worth asking. ‘Gotta have gumption!

Creative agencies and recruiters. One of my close friends moved to Boston and worked with a recruiter to help her find a job. She ended up landing a great job via the recruiter and three years later, she’s still at that job. Quite often, the recruiter is getting paid by the employer and really they’re just doing the heavy lifting for you. This does of course vary by industry and isn’t everyone’s style. However, sometimes when you’re down and out it’s nice to have someone on your side, doing the job hunting for you (because we all know it’s no walk in the park).

If you’re job searching openly, it’s great to be a walking advertisement for yourself. Let me preface – do not blab about it incessantly but keep in mind, if you keep your mouth shut about your needs, no one is going to “guess” what you need or recommend a job to you. Examples might be go to meetups, be vocal about your skills and what you’re looking for, mention it in your meetings or coffee dates and just be sure people are clear what you’re looking for. I get a lot of inquiries and people looking for jobs and although I may not be able to help them immediately, I love remembering “Oh hey, that company was hiring and didn’t that person I just met ask to work in a job like that?” You just never know. Other options might be to list in your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles what you’re looking for. People are all over that when recruiting.

Job searching is rarely fun. It usually is stressful. It’s like putting together a marketing campaign…about yourself, and constantly promoting it and hoping you won’t get rejected (you will, we all have been). That said, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and luckily with technology, there are so many options. I hope these have been useful suggestions.

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