Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Letter To My Most Influential Teacher

Because I am now old enough to be friends with a lot of teachers/educators and those with such aspirations, I wanted to share this letter that I recently wrote to one Mr. Cedric Magee in the hopes that it will inspire.

Dear Mr. Magee,

                 I wanted to send you a personalized graduation invitation just to let you know how much you have meant to me over the years. I'll try to do so without taking up too much of your time. Due to a clerical error in the days before I was to start the 6th grade, I was not assigned a 6th grade teacher. Luckily, my mother and I had come to the school the Friday before classes began (as was our custom back then) and we had met a few of the teachers, including you. I had never had a male teacher before, so the choice was an easy one to make. Little did I know, it would turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I got much more than a male teacher when I joined your class. I got a friend, a mentor, an ally, and a role model. In a society that didn't resemble what my parents and spiritual leaders were steering me to become, I finally was able to see an example in action. From watching and closely following your lead, I began to realize that being a righteous gentleman was not only possible despite what others around me did, but it could be "cool," too (and that's a very important lesson for a young man to learn). I found that there is an appeal to be gained by being a respectful and respectable male (and an African-American male, at that) that is completely unmatched. Furthermore, I was able to see how much time, hope, and influence you invested in me and in my success (including a College Algebra book that you began to work through with me a bit as I prepared for the ACT that year; I wish I had used it more). Now that you are a principal, I know that your job may seem quite thankless as the young people, parents, and educators you seek to empower may not always realize the value of your work. For that reason, I'd like you to know that I appreciate who you are. Your integrity, your dignity, your hard work, and your unwavering consistency over the years are very valuable and rare personality traits which I strive to emulate every day. More importantly, I'd like to thank you for being my blueprint and to apologize for failing to tell you these things more often over the years. Most importantly, however, I hope this message provides some encouragement to continue to do what you've always done. I guarantee you that someone is watching you, patterning himself or herself after you, and will be able to reach great success in large part due to your influence and example. Thank you for adding value to my story.

 Yours truly,

 Christopher James

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Google Site - Funnel Cloud Stereo

Funnel Cloud Stereo

Me, 2.0: 4 Steps To Building Your Future

First, let me start by saying out of the couple of book options I had originally posted, I can certainly see why this book was chosen as my assignment. It incorporates nearly everything we've talked about in class in the framework of personal branding. The author, Dan Schawbel, has a natural talent for personal branding, marketing, and brand development and he utilized those to determine that he has a passion for all of the above. In his book, he details the steps toward crafting one's very own personal brand.

This seems to mainly incorporate planning and deliberate, strategic moves both online and offline. Schawbel suggests that your brand has already begun developing, as the emotions and traits expressed with the brands that you select and endorse help to define you and how you come across. Thus, you must choose your brands and products carefully, and make sure they are consistent with what you want to say. From there, he talks about developing a strategic plan for yourself, complete with short-term and long-term objectives and a personal brand statement. From these, one knows just how to market himself or herself. Next, it's time to get busy on the Web - specifically Web 2.0. Social networking is very important here, and should be consistent with the personal brand statement from status updates to pictures, to friends. Schawbel also recommends blogging, learning HTML, and networking - including personal e-mails to bloggers and journalists who write articles important to your field of study or interest. Keywords, search engine optimization, social networking, and the more traditional things such as appropriate attire, interviewing, and communication/interpersonal skills all culminate in developing a powerful personal brand.

Chapter 6 is all about actually creating your brand. Specifically, it speaks of online brand presence, from how to create a resume, video resumes and podcasts, and digital portfolios to distinguish your online presence from the countless others out there searching for jobs or networking online. Further, it suggests that everyone learn HTML programming or use basic tools to create a website, and suggests that websites will soon take the place of resumes. After this, the chapter delves heavily into blogging; what it is, why it's important, how to do it, and how to get the most out of it. Again, specifically he says to e-mail bloggers personally with compliments on an article you found useful. He also suggests posting interviews with your favorite bloggers (by e-mailing them questions). It is also important to evaluate the competition in order to find a niche as well as to emulate key features or aspects of the successful blogs in hopes of repeating their success. After that, he talks a bit about social networking profiles and how Avatars are important, as are real names. He suggests personalizing these things as much as possible and making them professional and consistent (i.e. your LinkedIn page should have the same picture as your Facebook page and they should have the same name), making you easier to find. Finally, Schawbel says that it is important to be consistent with one's online persona during offline interactions.

I don't disagree with much that the author said here, except that he talks about using a real name in place of a username in order to gain marketing leverage. It seems that a username that contains elements of one's given name but also shows personality or highlights a certain strength can make one stand out even more and may be even more distinguishing than using an actual name, especially if the name is a fairly common one. Beyond that, the author seems fairly redundant throughout the book, coming back to a lot of the same themes and saying some of the same things in different ways.

If I were not using an established site for my project, I'd be able to use a lot more of this information to help with it. I think I could use a lot more eye-catching and attention-grabbing graphics and words to get my points across and show some Internet credibility. Also, due to the use of Google sites, my use of Web 2.0 to distinguish the site and product idea are limited. That means that the Google site used for this project will likely only serve as a template for my product, which I actually do intend to attempt to develop and pitch in the near future.

Building my blog into a public speaking platform which allows me to do events and talks around the country is a dream that I have had since coming to college. Because of the detailed list of steps and methods for building a blog in this book (and especially the press kit tip), I think I may be able to succeed to some degree in making this dream a reality.