My Arc Reactor

The Arc Reactor is what is in Tony Stark’s chest that keeps him alive and allows him to power his Iron Man suit.

In trying to think about what my arc reactor is I think I’ve identified it.

I love connecting. I love ideas. I love talking to people about ideas.


I love connecting people to ideas and connecting ideas to people and in some cases ideas to ideas and then to people.

In plain English, I’m a big fan of talking to people and helping them figure out their idea, their curiosities, solutions to their obstacles.

That being said, I want to invite you to participate in the building of my arc reactor.

What does that mean?

Simple. You have ideas, problems, thoughts that you want to brainstorm or talk to someone about? I’m game, let’s talk.

Interested? Start here.

The Lost Art of Conversation

You are in line at the store. What do you do? More than likely you are checking your phone or playing Temple Run until it is your turn. What happened to conversations?

Mallory Bower and I had a chat a week or so ago about the lack of conversing skills in our peers, our field, and in the general population of this country. This led to each of us creating a little challenge amongst the two of us; no cell phones, no radio, no books, no distractions while in public.

For me this challenge meant two hours each day on the NYC subway awkwardly people watching…for a week. Day one was interesting. I noticed things I hadn’t before; men and women wearing sunglasses (um…you are in the SUBWAY underground), older folks with their eyes closed, young folks with music so loud I could hear what Ke$ha was um…singing?, and those like me – watching everyone. I was thinking, “What would that person who just made eye contact do if I started a convo with them?” They were probably thinking, “Shoot, please don’t talk to me.” or “WHATCHU LOOKING AT?!”

This is what Mallory and I discussed back and forth in an e-mail chain, amongst about 6 other possible blog posts.

We’ve forgotten how to talk to one another.

Now I know the phone in hand, the ear buds in, or the book opened are basic self defense measures to keep someone curious like me away from starting conversation. The entire week that I left myself without a guard to avoid these conversation attacks was uneventful. There was no one wanting to have conversation at 8 a.m. on the train. There was no one wanting to have a conversation at 5 p.m. on the train.

The first day I was able to have my book in hand again, I was relieved. This surprised me. I was relieved to not have to be on the lookout for any potential conversations. I was relieved that I could venture back to the pages and be in a different world rather than in a mysteriously scented E train subway car.

What I’ve come to realize is that we haven’t forgotten how to have a conversation, we’ve simply stopped wanting to have them.

I wish I had a photo of this ad in the subway but it sums up what we have become perfected.

“The best part about having a smartphone is never having to call anyone.”

Perhaps why I see more about smartDEVICES rather than smartPHONES. Phones mean calling. Devices mean anything other than calling.

Try it. Go a week with no distractions in public. See if you find yourself wanting to start conversation or if you find yourself anxious about the fact that you have no defense against someone starting a conversation with you.

For a much more eloquent rant about this phenomenon, check this article that Mallory shared with me: 21 Day Challenge: No Phone in the Company of Others.

Thanks for reading.

(If you enjoyed this post, I strongly encourage you to check out this post from Mallory Bower as a follow-up)

Linkedin: Prepare, Polish, Prepare

Stop. Polish, as in polish your shoes, not Polish as if you are a descendant from Poland.

Now that that is out of the way. Let’s talk about my favorite online tool, Linkedin. To catch you up you may want to read this, and this first.

I’m talking about preparing your Linkedin profile for the masses to see. I’m not talking about copying and pasting your resume for all to see. With Linkedin, you have a bit of wiggle room, in my opinion, because it is not yet the “traditional” resume therefore why should you have to act in the “traditional” way?

The new Linkedin Profiles are gorgeous and allow for much more sharing and much less sticking things to a bulletin board. That brings me to my first step.

1: Prepare
But Joe I already have my resume done so what more do I need? Listen, this may be different for you but it shouldn’t. My Linkedin summary includes talking about Zelda, the NES, and reading books as fast as I eat my French toast. I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon regardless of what position I move up to in the coming years. If that makes me the first SSAO to mention those things on Linkedin, so be it. Remember, I mentioned this wasn’t traditional and I’ve actually been told by some non-higher education folks that my summary is one of the best they’ve read on Linkedin(!). Your summary is your chance to take your typical cover letter jargon one step further. Don’t think about putting your experience down on your profile, think about it as sharing your story. Step one is to prepare to think differently about Linkedin and your “online” resume.

2: Polish
Shoes not countries, remember? Ok. I mentioned that I’ve received nothing but positive feedback on my Linkedin summary. That didn’t happen overnight – it took a lot of polishing. I had some friends read it. I had some outsiders read it. Most useful of all was reading what I could about making things stick, marketing, and storytelling.

Now that last piece is the most important in my opinion. I read everything that Mike (@getstoried) had to share. Thanks to SkillShare I was able to attend a morning workshop and learn from Mike, in-person, his story telling techniques and how to be a better story teller. Finally, I attended TEDxMillRiver which was all about story telling (Mike was featured) and witnessed one of the best examples of storytelling I’ve ever seen. It was through these people, these resources, these exercises that I started honing my story telling skills. It is on Linkedin that I try to use those skills to draw you into my Linkedin profile with my main summary. That’s the polish. Once you are able to construct your summary, you can use those skills on other platforms. The polish is important because this major step sets you up for step three.

3: Prepare
This is no typo. You’ve prepared to change the way you view Linkedin. You’ve polished your profile with some storytelling, marketing, and sticky skills. Now you’ve got to prepare to share your hard work, this is the hardest part. As part of the SkillShare seminar that Mike hosted about storytelling he had us pair up and gave us 60 seconds to share our story. That was it. “Pair up and I’m going to time you. You have 60 seconds to tell your story.” Folks, try this. 60 seconds is a long time when you don’t have 60 seconds worth the material ready. You will be left rambling about some irrelevant story about your dog or stubbing your toe or saying “Well I guess that’s my story” and awkwardly looking around the room thinking “What could everyone else be possibly saying?!” Time ends and now you are critiqued by your partner. It doesn’t end there though.

Mike then had us pair up again, this time with only 30 seconds to tell our story. Folks, try this. Just after trying it once for 60 seconds, the 30 second chance was like a whole new ballgame. Again time ends and you get critiqued. That exercise has stuck with me since and now when I’m asked who I am or what I do I’m not left saying “uh, educator?” “uh, my title is…”, I have a 30 second narrative and pitch that doesn’t sound like a pitch and doesn’t sound too rehearsed. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Now that you have your story, you have your revamped profile, get out there and share it. Still feeling uneasy about it? Let’s chat. I’d love to help you out and explore some wording, ideas, or curiosities you might have. Connect with me on Linkedin and let’s set up a time to talk.