5 Reasons To Start Blogging Today

You have all these great ideas floating around in your head don’t you? Oftentimes so many of those ideas wake you up during the night, so you jot them down in your phone or on a notepad. Raise your hand if this has happened to you.

How many of you spend your time commenting on stories or having discussions on Twitter? But don’t you wish you had a more long-form outlet to formulate your thoughts?

Well, start a blog! “What a great idea,” you say, right? Followed by “how the heck do I get started?” Or you may say, “nobody will read what I have to say.”

There’s so much information out there on the web and so many opinions being posted each day. How will I stand out? Who will listen to me? How do I even get started? I don’t really even have the time to blog. Blah, blah, blah.

Don’t let all these questions or doubts hold hold you back. I have a good friend who is battling this right now (you know who I’m talking about Brett!) In trying to figure out a way to kick his ass in gear, I decided to write this blog in the hopes it spurs him into action. If along the way I turn on the green light for someone else, well that will be a bonus.

I’ve been blogging for slightly over two years and I didn’t know much about doing it when I began. But I needed an outlet, so I simply set up a WordPress site and off I went. I promise that blogging can be simple and relatively easy. It can also be very rewarding. Below are my five reasons to start blogging today.

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Setup is Easy

Choosing where you want to build a blog is the first step you have to take and shouldn’t be a deterrent. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve heard of WordPress. This is where I host my blog and I suggest that you do as well.

WordPress is one of the biggest platforms in the world with more than 82 million active users. The platform is simple to use with countless plug-ins and add-ons. It offers tons of themes and layouts, plus there’s a massive support forum if you ever get stuck. Your blog will look sleek and functional, it will allow people to interact with you easily and your content can be shared, commented on, and so on.

Medium is also a very popular content platform, as you should know by now if you follow Front Office Sports. Medium allows anyone to publish pretty much anything and it works hard to guarantee that visitors only see good stuff. Medium is built to reward content for its quality and even if you decide to build a blog on WordPress, it’s worth also posting your blogs on Medium to help with exposure.

Connections/Networking

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you should by now know the importance of networking. Working to connect with people and learning from their experiences and friendships is vital to your career development. It also is an important factor when blogging.

Blogging about your thoughts and ideas allows you to share these thoughts with others in your network. It helps to strengthen existing bonds and expose you to new opportunities. You should always look to nurture and expand your network and there’s no better way than to do it through blog writing.

As you begin to blog more often and have more discussions with your network, you won’t ever have to worry about running out of topics. There should always be topics and ideas percolating in your head that make for perfect blog content.

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Research/Learning

Another positive aspect of blogging is very often you need to do extra research on a topic or topics before you begin to write about them. I’ve stressed this before, but continuing to learn throughout your life is a must. You can never let yourself feel like you know it all. Trust me, you don’t.

Reading, researching and learning should be constants as you get older. Exposing yourself to new ideas, stats and ways of thinking will only make you smarter. It can also help you meet new people and expand your network.

Consider joining a book club or exchange. This kills two birds with one stone and allows you to read and meet new people. It will most likely expose you to new ways of thinking and options which at first may be different from yours currently, but will change your perspective and open your eyes to new idea. Then you can apply what you’ve learning into a new series of blog topics.

Share Your Expertise

Blogging is an excellent outlet for sharing your expertise on various topics and getting those swirling thoughts out of your head. Do you often feel like you want to contribute to a topic but don’t have the platform? Do you feel like your comments are getting swallowed up on other platforms?

Starting a blog gives you that place to tell your story and give your side. Don’t worry about if anyone will read it, or if you show up in search or even if someone else has written about the topic 100 times. If it is an outlet for you to write and write about things you feel passionate about, do it. You won’t regret sharing your expertise through your blog.

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Writing Is Good

Writing reduces stress. Getting those thoughts out of your head is a good thing. Writing these things down helps to shrink them to a point where they are life-sized and manageable. Writing also is empowering in that way. When we can manage our thoughts, ideas and other items into well-written blog, it can make navigating life much easier.

There is research out there that believes blogging might trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, similar to stimulants generated by activities like running, listening to music or playing video games. Having a platform to express yourself, as well as the ability to connect with other individuals experiencing similar circumstances, is not only therapeutic but allows for an added sense of community and empathy.

Whether it is reducing stress, changing your state of happiness or making you more self-aware, writing ultimately changes your mind. Which in turn can change your life! If nothing else, writing a blog will remind you that no one else is the author of your story. So get off your ass and set up that blog today. Tell the story you were born to tell.

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Your Career May Be A Jungle Gym…And That’s OK

A popular book on the #SBBX and one my wife read this summer is Sheryl Sandberg’s thought-provoking book, Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. It’s a great read for working women and for the men who are married to them.

One of the more popular quotes from the book, one which we have discussed at length, is the following: “A jungle gym scramble is the best description of my career. I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today.” She attributes the metaphor to Fortune magazine editor Pattie Sellers.

She’s totally right. We grow up hearing about the “career leader” and how your career should be a “climb to the top” or at least a climb to a level that makes you happy and secure. I had this mindset for most of my early professional career. It was all I knew really. But, if I had to do things over again, I’m positive I would approach my career differently.

The era of employment for life with one company is over. Workers now switch from job to job much more frequently in search of grafter fulfillment and compensation. Today, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career. Most workers spend five years or less in every job, so they devote more time and energy transitioning from one job to the next.

That is why approaching job searches must be done differently these days and consistent networking is a must. You also have to be agile as you track and adjust to job market trends.

So how do you go about having this agile mindset? How do you plan for professional development and not just career planning? Let me provide a few examples I now employ during my career shifts that I wish I had been more cognizant of from the jump.

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Stay Relevant I’ve written this previously, but staying relevant by learning to code, getting various certifications and learning the basics of video production and photography are great ways to stay up to date on industry trends. Many companies today look for talent that is experienced in wide areas of expertise. Always learning new things and staying relevant in the skills that industry HR people are looking for will help you as you look to advance your career.

Be Mindful of Your Social Media Presence — I have many thoughts on “personal branding” which I hope to write about for FOS soon, but I did want to touch on the topic here. Whether you realize it or not, everything you post on social media can help form people’s opinions of you. Therefore, it is your choice to either actively control and shape your personal brand, or let others do it for you. You need to be your best advocate because how you present yourself online could determine future leadership or career opportunities.

Take Advantage of Lateral or Downward Moves — This one may seem counterproductive, but career opportunities come in all shapes, sizes and directions. This is really what can turn your career path into a career jungle gym. During my time searching for new employment I’ve spoken with many people who arrived to their current position by moving laterally within a company or even down, to then progress in a different department. These moves also allow you to see the bigger picture of your business or brand from another point of view. Always stay open to the opportunities that present themselves. You never know what move, no matter the direction, may be the next key to your career success. Trust me here, I can pinpoint a specific lateral opportunity with a previous employer that I wish I had pursued. I don’t dwell on it, but I do look back at how foolish I was for not even entertaining the thought of trying a different route during my early tenure in athletics.

Apply For The Position Anyway — I can’t tell you how many times professionals hold back from applying for a position because they don’t think they have the skills needed to succeed. It’s OK if you don’t, as long as you have the drive, motivation, and resourcefulness needed to get the job done. Be calculated in your risk taking. Honestly assess where your skill gaps are and get advice from a mentor to help you determine if the position is a right fit for your development plan.

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These are just a few things to consider as you move around on your career jungle gym. It’s perfectly OK to not always climb upward as you move to each new career opportunity. You have to move in the directions and in the positions that will bring you the most joy and give you the most career fulfillment.

Just because the move may not be in the direction that your father, mother, sister or brother made in their career path, doesn’t mean you’re not advancing your career.

By considering the steps above, continuing to network and build relationships, and knowing it’s OK to make career moves every few years, you’ll ultimately find that progressing through your career like a kid on a jungle gym is perfectly normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engage, Engage, Engage…Invite

This article was originally published for Front Office Sports.

If you’re around me long enough you will surely hear me say, “you have to look out for №1.” What I mean by that is if you’re not looking out for your best interests, it’s not guaranteed anyone else will either. You have to be mindful and make sure you’re bettering yourself mentally, emotionally and professionally. By doing these things daily, it will allow you to improve in many areas and help you become the best version of yourself.

Another component of working to better yourself is being selfless and offering help to others when possible. Balance your efforts between looking out for yourself and finding ways to help others. If you don’t pay it forward from time to time, there will be no favors to come back your way.

So, what do I mean by all this? I mean that it is possible and actually quite easy to both look out for yourself and others at the same time. You can do that by using a method I like to call “engage, engage, engage . . . invite.” Engage with your core contacts, lost contacts and acquaintances frequently and consistently. It’s only after you’ve maintained ongoing contact that you should invite them to help you in some way.

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All too often we reach out to folks only when we need something and just “ask, ask, ask.” While it’s OK to ask for things, it’s pretty selfish to do it right out of the gate if you haven’t established a rapport or built solid relationships. It just comes off bad if you immediately go for the ask and make it apparent the connection is all about you.

You need to make sure these connections are beneficial to both sides. That’s why it’s important to engage consistently when you reach out. Reach out to others and ask how they are doing. Ask how their latest campaign turned out or what initiatives they have been coming up. It’s also OK to ask personal questions when you reach out to these contacts. Ask about their family, ask about their hobbies, establish what traits you have in common that aren’t just work related.

Integrate this line of questioning and conversation as the dominant theme in your emails and phone conversations. You will find that many of your connections will grow deep in nature when you take this approach.

Only after you have engaged consistently should you go in for the ask. Get it now? Engage, Engage, Engage . . . Invite.

After you’ve made it clear it’s not all about you, then it’s OK to do the following. Invite them to help you if you need it, whether it’s for an endorsement or otherwise. Invite them to that panel you are hosting. Invite them to meet another connection you’ve made in which you feel they may also like to meet. Invite them to discuss career development with you. Invite them out for drinks. The possibilities can be nearly endless if you follow this method.

You’ll notice a difference right away how things change in your life both personally and professionally when you take this approach. It’s a refreshing and rewarding way to approach relationship building. I can tell you first hand it has changed my life dramatically. I’d love to see it do the same for you!

 

 

Tod and A Fitness Blog?

IMG_0575(1)This post was originally written as a guest blog  for my friend Megan’s site here:
http://bit.ly/1aLTANY

I sit here asking myself: why is a 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dad being asked to write for a fitness blog? I’m thinking of 20 good reasons why I wouldn’t be asked to write for a fitness blog, but then the reason why hits me. Maybe my article could serve as a good outlet for me to tell my story. And if – along the way – it helps someone in my same or similar situation, then maybe blogging should continue to be a regular outlet for me.

Are there any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dads out there? That’s another question I ask myself a lot. Not because I feel sorry for myself, but because just a few short years ago I never would have thought that description would fit me. In fact, writing it twice already, it still sounds absurd. Perhaps you find yourself in your own life changing situation, one that you never foresaw happening. Regardless of the circumstance, the best we can do is hope that our actions and decisions will bring us to a better place in the long run.

Without getting into the gory details, the last six months of my life have been rather tumultuous and some drastic changes have taken place. Some that I chose to make and others that were forced upon me. In the face of all of this change, I realized that I needed to find some stabilizing idea or belief to get me though the adversity I was facing. Yet, how do we implement the necessary changes in our lives to create this stability, to overcome adversity? What do those changes look like, particularly in the fitness realm?

Previous Success
Back in 2013, I committed to working on my health and fitness to be a good example for my young son, and as a way to break up the day working in my home office. The changes I made weren’t drastic, yet produced good results. It just took a little effort and dedication. I lost close to 20 pounds and felt better about myself in the process.

However, that feeling of accomplishment was short lived as my personal life began to change for the worse and I fell back into some bad habits. These habits continued up to, and through, my divorce in late 2014. The hard work and dedication I put in to making myself better physically had all but been erased.

It was then I decided I needed to re-dedicate myself to improving my health. There were things in my life that were out of my control, but one thing I can control right now is my well-being. But, this time I wasn’t sure where to start. My previous success was a guide, but that routine had grown stale and I was ready for a new challenge. This is where my good friend Megan enters the picture.

A True Professional
Megan and I have known each other since 2002 when we began working together at the Illinois State University student recreation center. Even then, she was dedicated to her workout routines and had made living a healthy lifestyle a priority. I had always admired that quality about her, knowing I lacked the same discipline and elf-motivation.

She and I had lost touch in recent years as she began to establish herself as a fitness professional in Chicago and I was living 12+ hours away as a married father to a young son. That said, sometime in the past year we had re-connected superficially on social media. Our conversations were few and far between, but as the thoughts entered my mind about re-committing to my fitness, I felt comfortable asking her for some advice.

A True Friend
It’s intimidating for anyone to admit weaknesses or discuss things that are out of their comfort zone. I was putting myself out there to a certain extent, but I felt like Megan would understand my needs and be able to help me get on the path to success. I’m glad to say that I was right and she has greatly helped me in the last few months.

Not only has she helped me understand my fitness level and also start me on a program that is sustainable for me, but she has been a source of positive energy in many ways. Most specifically, she has developed a great way of thinking positively through adversity and has transferred those ideals to me. She has made me realize that there are positives to be taken from any situation.

What Now?
So, how best to wrap this up with some actionable items — in case there are any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, singles dads out there. Actually, I hope that these tips can be applied by anyone facing adversity such as losing a job, struggling in a relationship, or just feeling like you are in a “life rut” and need some help in improving your well-being.

Consider these thoughts if you find yourself facing hard times and need some structure to help you through whatever you may be facing.

1) It is going to be OK…It is going to be OK!
2) Reach out to your family, friends, former colleagues, former bosses…people want to help
3) Network with your “weak” ties or people you have lost touch with…people want to help
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice…people want to help
5) Write down items swirling in your head, it will help you “un-clutter” the mind
6) Establish a solid sleep and workout routine (the structure is important)
7) If you do nothing else each day, fit in a workout…you’ll feel better about yourself
8) Stay positive and always reflect on the good that you have in your life

I can tell you that putting these thoughts to paper (or word processor) have really helped to reinforce in me that the steps I am taking right now are positive ones that will help lead to a positive outcome. I can also tell you that Megan has played a part in getting me through this, and for that I am grateful.

Megan has been kind enough to let me be a guest on her blog; so, if you’re reading this and unsure about where to start on your fitness journey, reach out to Megan. Her philosophy that “everyone is unique” and “not every workout works for everyone” is one that resonated with me and I think will make many feel comfortable. She is a true professional and also a great friend and I can’t thank her enough for her support during these trying times. Now, it’s time for me to go do some planks….

Tod