To All the Military Families: Thank You for Your Service

By: Kara Hutcheson

I’m very lucky this holiday season; truly blessed. This holiday is particularly special to me because my first child was born in September. He’s just now at the age where lights on the tree, holiday lullabies and the Claymation Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer movie induce all sort of smiles and giggles that warm a mother’s heart like nothing else can. I’m blessed that my son is here, but even more so, I’m incredibly lucky that his father is here to experience every moment right alongside me. After four deployments, countless trainings and seemingly endless field exercises that have separated us over the years, this year we are very lucky to have had the opportunity to enter the early stages of parenthood together, side-by-side. While I’m thoroughly enjoying this rare moment in time, my thoughts are heavily with the military families who are surviving the mandatory separation this year. It’s natural to thank a soldier for their service. Seeing a man or woman in military uniform instills a sense of respect and appreciation in most of us. However, speaking from experience, I want to send a special additional thank you to the men, women and children who stand directly behind our armed forces, whose sacrifice is at times, even greater.

To all the parents who are experiencing single-parenthood this holiday season; those who work sun-up to sun-down, only to come home to their second shift of cooking dinner, bath times, story hour and putting the kids to bed without any extra help, while still finding the time to wrap gifts – thank you for your endurance.

To all the spouses without children, home alone, who still embrace the holiday season and choose to spend their time giving back to the community by putting together care packages, writing letters overseas and volunteering at every bake sale, holiday ball and “meet Santa” event – thank you for your generosity.

To all the pregnant soon-to-be moms, with red cross on speed-dial, hopeful that their loved ones make it back in time to experience this monumental moment, but also brave enough to embrace this great challenge on their own if they have to – thank you for your courage.

To all the children who miss their dads and moms, who stay up on Christmas eve unconcerned about hooves on rooftops or sleigh bells but who fight to stay awake just for that fifteen-minute skype call from halfway across the globe – thank you for your loyalty.

To the families in transition who have recently moved, who just make it work. When your household goods aren’t yet delivered and your new on post housing isn’t ready. To those who string lights in hotel rooms and manage to make an entire holiday feast out of multiple drive-through runs – thank you for your positivity.

To all the families of service members in every trying situation this year, thank you for your willingness to put the mission above all else. You work tirelessly in the background to create the foundation on which our service members can thrive, all the while finding the strength to do this with a smile. This holiday season we are thinking of you and your sacrifice. We are humbled by your strength. Most importantly, we at WorkBook6 want to say a very special thank you – thank you for YOUR service.

Why Write? A blog post about blogging.

I love to write. I try to spend a couple hours each week composing something with a goal of sharing my work. While I’m certainly not alone, I’m learning this is becoming an increasingly rare practice.

For example, not everyone on our team enjoys – or feels comfortable – writing. During our Q4 retreat (which happened a couple weeks ago), I asked a few of our folks what holds them back from writing more. “I’m not good at writing” was one reply (incorrect, by the way; this person writes beautifully). Others said they’re too busy. Some pointed to fear of public criticism, and not wanting to be vulnerable to that. The most common response, though, was that folks don’t know what to write about or what to say.

The discussion stuck with me. So, as I often do when a topic provokes extended curiosity, I thought I’d write about it.

I’ll start with why I write

I write, mostly, because I love to write. It makes me happy. I enjoy the process – from the planning and outlining to the refinement. It’s fun. And, admittedly, I get a little rush from the feedback that comes from posting something that people enjoy reading. I also like to try out new phrasing and messaging. I play with cadence and flow. I poke and I prod, so to speak.

For me, it started early – like, 5th or 6th grade. I was a wiry, goofy kid with ADD, but when I would read aloud the things I wrote in class, the other kids laughed with me (as opposed to ‘at’ me). That felt good, so I ran with it. Later, I developed an incredible relationship with Gregg Schwipps, who was my writing professor at DePauw. He taught me the value of authentic language and helped me understand how impactful a well-told story can be. That experience, like much of my time at the school, had a major impact on me. Since leaving college, and certainly since becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve always tried to keep some time in my schedule blocked off for writing.

Why writing is only sort of good for business

These days, I write a lot about our business. I do think it helps, but mostly in vaguely-attributable ways (at best). Others may point to revenue growth which is clearly linked to content, but for us, that’s not the goal. I don’t write to drum up business. It’s not that I don’t want more business – it’s just that I think content that aims to sell isn’t genuine. And, I think salesy writing that’s disguised as something else is obnoxious. I’m not saying that thoughtful content doesn’t sometimes lead to more business; I just don’t write with that as the goal. I’ve heard from several folks that something I’ve written has helped them to move forward. I’ve also been told that a blog post I wrote actually inspired someone not to become a client. Clearly, this wasn’t my goal, either!

Many say writing can be good for search engine optimization, but I’ve actually been told that mine isn’t. It’s well-documented that if you can assemble the right words in the right places in such a way that google likes it, this can be valuable. But, since this violates my first rule (don’t write just to drum up business), I think that kind of writing is annoying, too. Our former head of marketing, who I adore, once told me that my writing wasn’t ‘keyword rich’ enough. I don’t know the word for the sound your mouth makes when you hold your lips together and force air out, but that’s how I responded to him. (For an A/V example, Oklahoma State University’s football coach, Mike Gundy, famously made this noise during a press conference recently – it’s absolutely worth the distraction.)

Really, I think writing is good for business mostly because it helps you develop your business’s voice. It helps put a persona behind the brand. Writing allows you to assert a point of view. It lets your audience get to know your ‘vibe,’ or way of being. And it can help establish, I suppose, some authority on topics that matter to you or your audience. It helps you develop an answer to the question: ‘who are those people?’

Why non-marketing types should write, too

This touches back on my motivation for writing this post. I find it remarkable how few people outside of the marketing discipline publish content. Like, if you don’t have an MBA or the words ‘marketing’ or ‘content’ in your title, you shouldn’t write. I don’t get it.

I think business development and sales people, in particular, should write all the time. Think about this. You communicate for a living. Your job is to help people understand why they should work with you or buy your product. Unless you’re somehow pulling this off without the help of language, why wouldn’t you want to constantly improve your own use of words? When you go through the process of writing and posting something, you become more expert in concisely communicating your message. When it’s not just right, you can tweak in a way that you can’t do with spoken communication. Later, you can use those refinements in live action. Writing also helps you build your personal brand. It helps you chip away at the due diligence your audience is doing when you’re not in the room or on the phone. It establishes authority and authorship. It makes everything you say hold more meaning, and it helps you be seen as less subjective.

Some will say sales, marketing and business development are all so interconnected that this is last assertion is obvious. OK. We can debate that another time, but for now, let’s look at other disciplines. I love it when technical professionals write – especially when their work helps me make business sense of technical things. (For a brilliant technical view across a range of business concepts, I think HubSpot’s CTO and Co Founder, Dharmesh Shah is hard to beat.) Another example is finance and venture capital. While we’ve never gone the route of approaching investors, Los Angeles-based VC Mark Suster’s blog is some of my absolute favorite reading. And when I want to learn from content that can benefit my personal life, I often still prefer for those insights to make an impact on my business. I think Dr. Brene Brown – a research professor by trade – has absolutely made me better at home and at work.

Let’s land this plane.

I could go on and on. But, you’ll stop reading (if you haven’t, already). My point? You don’t have to be an expert in an area to have an impact within it. Sometimes, as noted above, content that aims to address one topic can help both the writer and the reader develop new thinking in other areas. In other words, don’t overthink it when it comes to putting your thoughts out there. Instead, open up. Write about stuff. Tweak it; play around with it. Then, share it. Even if you’re bashful about the value of your own ideas, you’ll benefit from the process. And, someone out there might just benefit from it, too.

Sharpen your pencil and share your ideas. You’ll be glad you did it.

Managing Our Tech Exposure

By Savannah Day 

Technology exposure is a growing concern for many of us. I’m generalizing, here, but it seems like a universal problem. Many of us spend our entire day staring at computer screens, only to finally walk away from our desk just to check our phones almost immediately.  When we finally get home from work we probably end up in front of another screen until forcing ourselves to unplug in the late evening. Most of the time we wake up the next morning feeling drained, exhausted, suffering from neck pain, eye strain, only to do it all over again.

If that scenario sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. And this blog post is for you!

As one of the youngest members of the Workbook6 team, my job literally is technology. I help develop and optimize our platform with the goal of elevating the team’s entire work experience. And I love every second of it. I’ll admit, I consistently spend hours on my computer on end and I’m perfectly content doing it.

But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a toll. Spending so much time on our devices, staring at screens, can’t be good for us. We can all use a gentle reminder to put our technology away every so often, and we can certainly take steps to make our screen time a bit less impactful. Below are a few of my favorite ways to manage my exposure to technology. I hope you enjoy!

Understanding Technology’s Impact on Sleep

At this point, most of us have firsthand experience with the impact of screen time on our sleep. But do you ever wonder why it’s harder to fall asleep when you’ve been interacting with your screen of choice? The National Sleep Foundation thinks they know the answer. They say that blue light that’s emitting from our screens suppresses melatonin, which affect something called our circadian rhythm. This dramatically impacts the body’s ability to shut down.

To combat this, something I’ve been trying to do lately is simply to stop looking at my phone or computer a few hours before bed. Instead, I’m using this time to catch up on podcasts, clean up a bit, or even read (I know, old school, right?). This gives my body and mind time to unwind and relax. I always feel so much better when I wake up the next day when I don’t indulge in googling all my random thoughts right before bed, or working when I get a new idea.

I’ve also begun to place my phone on Airplane mode when I go to bed. Most people sleep with their phones at arm’s reach – or even in the bed with them. Totally, totally not good! The disruption of inbound notifications is obvious, but our phones also emit radiation when the cellular signal is on. As soon as I started to put my on airplane mode before bed, I slept well again. I use my phone as my alarm in the morning so I still want it close by but I don’t want to sacrifice my energy or health while doing so. Seriously, I’ll take all the energy I can get.

Finally, for those nights when you can’t avoid working on your computer, there’s an app for that! f.lux dims the light on your screen based on the time of day and the room you’re in. This removes that bright blue light that hurts so bad to look at. (There’s even a movie mode, which will give your screen a warmer tone.) This app has helped me so, so much! I even use it during the day. It resets every 2.5 hours and you notice the difference immediately. It’s a game changer for those of us that use our computers all day. Try it – your eyes will thank you.

I hope this helps you! I know it’s unrealistic for all of us to stop using our devices, but it’s a nice nudge to remind ourselves to try to be better about this. My goal is to be more intentional with my technology use, instead of using it just because it’s there. Our minds and bodies will thank us later.

WorkBook6 to lead 3rd Annual Strategic Partnership Workshop at LeadsCon

Today, we’re thrilled to share that WorkBook6’s has been selected by LeadsCon to lead another Strategic Partnership Workshop as part of their annual Las Vegas event in March. This event, our third in partnership with LeadsCon, is something we’re very excited about. We’re expecting our largest audience to date, and we’ve made what we think are some fairly material improvements to the format to reflect the larger group. In fact, just about every session we’re planning is new territory for this event. We’re actively recruiting a very diverse group of speakers and thought leaders, and the format will be entirely different than any event we’ve ever promoted. We’re excited to involve our speakers and attendees in ways that we haven’t seen done before.

We’ll publish our full agenda, soon, but for now, I wanted to share this exciting news while it’s still fresh. While it seems like it’s a long way off, March will be here before we know it. If you’ve never been to one of our partnership workshops or summits before, I hope you can make it to this one. And if you’ve attended in the past, I hope to see you again! Finally, if you have an interest in participating in one of our sessions, we’d love to hear from you. We can’t make any promises, but we’ll always try to help!

For those who want to register, now, here’s the link. 

Discount Code: SPKR100 ($100 off current event pricing)

Remember, you’ll need the full access pass to attend our workshop – we promise to make it worthwhile!

Let’s Connect!