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Career, Personal Development, Theatre, Writing

Just Keep Writing

September 18, 2016
just keep writing

Sometimes, the world doesn’t seem to leave you alone, doesn’t seem to allow any time for you to pursue the things you want. Even though it happens from time to time, and although it can be emotionally and physically draining, your ability to bounce back is what counts.

So, when it feels like you’ve fallen, and the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and those around you aren’t giving you what you need, then gently ask that world to shove off for a while, lift yourself up, dust yourself off, and just keep going. Just keep writing. Get out the negative aspects, and focus on the positive. Try to squeeze in a full night of sleep every now and again too.

Getting Punched in the Head

About a week and a half ago, I got punched in the head. About three times. In the side of my head. It hurt like a bitch. I got caught in the middle of a student fight at my teaching job at the high school. It happened at the beginning of class.

Apparently, some of the students caught in on video with their cell phones, but I refuse to watch it. I don’t want to relive it, and I’d be spared from seeing how awkward and helpless I probably looked. I couldn’t fight back, can’t punch, grab, or push, because I want to keep my job. The two students were girls, and it seems when I say that, people automatically assume they were tiny little adolescents swinging feathery slaps. But no. One of them was six feet tall, and both of them were full grown and eager to get in anyone’s face.

I was sent to the clinic, then to an urgent care, just as a precaution. Headaches and an uneasiness sent me back to the urgent care again, where they prescribed me pain meds. Those pain meds made me ill, and I nearly passed out at work on Friday. I went and had a CT Scan just as an extra precaution, waiting for the results now. On the way home, I pulled over and threw up. I know. Disgusting. The side effects didn’t wear off until later that night. An entire week and a half was sabotaged by this incident. Did I mention the car I was using broke down on the way to work in the middle of this past week? My father in-law and I spent an entire day (a work day) replacing parts on cars, getting tow trucks, and getting said cars to the repair shop.

Finally, this past Friday night I had to forgo seeing my cousin who was here for the weekend from Mexico.

Quit Your Bitching

It’s so easy to bitch, whine, and moan. Anyone can do it. Toddlers do it well. Some teenagers too. You and I, however, don’t have to wallow in self-pity. It’s harder to focus on the good. And I had a lot of good things happen recently. I wrote a monologue that got accepted to be performed in the 26th Annual 10×10 Scriptwriters Houston Showcase.

I have been so excited since receiving that acceptance email. For weeks, I have been talking about it, and I invited a bunch of close friends and family to the performance.

But my plans to attend this past Friday were cancelled due to being ill. My cousin came into town, my brother was going to go, possibly others. I even told the Artistic Director Nicholas Garelick that I’d be there that night. But nope. Just wasn’t possible. I will however be going this coming weekend. I’m grateful that there is another weekend of performances. It is going to be bad ass! The monologue will be performed by Robert Jacobs.

The monologue comes from early drafts of my novel, and I’m excited that this piece was able to be transferred to the stage. I am looking forward to writing more stage pieces in the future. For right now, I’ve turned my focus to the first part of my novel and a book of poetry which will follow. Yes, that’s something else that’s freakin’ awesome. I’m so close to publishing my first book.

Staying Focused

This is definitely one of the hardest things for me to do. I’ve gotten side tracked on a million things since starting this blog post. Last night, it took me three hours to pay bills. Not because of how many bills we have, mind you, but because I took a break to paint with my son, I sent direct deposit information to my employer, and other little things. With a whirlwind of events like getting punched in the head, having vehicles breakdown, getting sick on pain meds, all with a pregnant wife and a toddler at home, it can get tough to keep writing.

I have to forgive myself, and try to squeeze in even a minute of writing whether its in my journal, on my phone, or on the computer. I’ve got to be like Dory. I am focused on the positive. I am focused on my family. I am focused on my writing. I am wondering what time the book store opens. I am wondering if Noah could sit through a movie at the theater. I am thinking I should check Facebook. I am- NO! Reign it in, Alex. Reign it in.

Hope to see you at Pearl Theater this weekend!

Map:

14803 Park Almeda Dr.
Houston, TX 77047

Business, Career, Leadership

7 perks of being a leader at work

June 9, 2014

Leader, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Cliff Robertson in Spiderman (2002). “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Alright, alright. It’s true. Being a leader is pretty awesome. Although, being a leader has its downsides, there’s no denying that being one also has its perks.


So, you’re a leader, are you? Good! That’s the spirit. But please, don’t be surprised when no one offers you that director or VP role when you’re fresh out of college or only have a couple of years under your belt. You’ve got to work for it, and you’ve got to learn how to be a good follower before you can become a good leader.


If you do happen to get that coveted position of manager, director, or VP, there are a few things to look forward to. But before you go kicking your feet up on your new desk and start calling your subordinates “kid”, and cracking a joke at their expense, you should know that you must handle leadership with care. In the words of Uncle Ben Parker from Spiderman (2002), “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Let’s run through seven perks of being a leader at work as laid out by Andrew J. DuBrin from the College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. Power and Prestige

As soon as you are given a position of leadership, you are automatically given some power. So, don’t squander this opportunity! This is when people start using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. to address you, giving you some sense of prestige, while non-managerial subordinates are still addressed by surnames. “Alright, Mr. Garza. What else do I get with my new position?” Okay, okay. Hopefully your company has enough money to get you that office with a view, a new desk, chair, a laptop, and some vacation time. But don’t push your luck. Some sales professionals are great leaders and barely have a desk or office- their office is the road, the sky, and hotel rooms.

2. Helping Others

You didn’t think this was going to be all about YOU, did you? In your new role, you will be working directly with people. Everyday. Was that in your job description? If you’re not a people person, learn to be one. It’s now part of your job to help develop your subordinates and colleagues into leaders as well. When you see the fruits of your labor in this aspect, it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

3. “Show me the money!”

"Show me the money!"

Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire. “Show me the money!”

I think this is what you’ve been waiting for. More money. “How much more money do I get?!” Well, this is a complicated answer because of the wide range of leadership positions and types of organizations out there. While a Director of Content Marketing may only be making $40,000-$50,000 a year at a non-profit, college, or government agency, that person could also be making $80,000-$90,000 at a much larger corporation. However, don’t expect to get too far without a college degree. Most executive and mid to upper management positions require that piece of paper from a four-year college. So, if you don’t have one, get one.

4. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

“No respect. I get no respect around here.” Don’t worry, Rodney. If you’re not getting respected now, then you probably won’t ever. Just kidding. But if you’re thinking that along with the new position, you’ll automatically be respected, think again. Although you may be respected and treated with politeness at first, it’ll be short-lived if your skills are not up to par for what the position calls for. Ensure that you map out expectations from your subordinates, and that they understand the rules and procedures. Rules and procedures should be part of their programmed (routine) decision-making and should be made formal by putting in on paper and distributing it. This should be handled by a subordinate manager, but if it hasn’t been done, then it may fall on you.


Status most definitely comes along with your new position. Go ahead. You can revel in this one. Wear that sports coat like a champ. Pull out that suit and wear it to your next meeting. It’s allowed. Although be aware of whether you’re working in a casual environment or not. Don’t embarrass yourself by wearing a fine-tailored, freshly pressed suit while your colleagues and superiors are in khakis and short sleeves. With your new position, you’ll start to notice that subordinates may stumble nervously as they try to ensure they greet you appropriately and continue to do their job while you are around. Smile, let them know to keep up the good work (as long as they are) and continue on to your meeting.

5. “Movin’ on up.”

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. "Movin' on up!"

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. “Movin’ on up!”

In larger organizations, you’ll have more opportunity for advancement. This is not true in all cases. In most small to mid-size companies, there is literally no room for advancement. You will have to move companies all together if you want to move up. In a small to mid-size organization your leadership position is usually right under one of the C-level positions (CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, C whatever O). And I hate to bust your bubble, but you might NOT be called a Director or VP of anything even though you are right under this position. If you are, then kudos to you.


In a larger organization, you may be able to move up the corporate ladder much easier. But again, be aware that this is not true in all cases. I know someone who worked at HP for years as an analyst. The only way he moved up was by moving companies.

6. “Finally, I’ll be in the know!”

Yes, it’s true. You are now in on things. You get some of the inside information before anyone else in the organization gets it. You’ll know about firings, hirings, resignations, and movings. You’ll be privy to financial information, and you’ll hear about the “next big thing” happening in the company. Try to use this information for the benefit and outlook of the company. It is easy to get caught up in the idea that the company is going downhill after there are staffing changes. Stay calm. Do your job.

7. Moving money around

So, now that you have some power, this means that you’ll have a say in how resources and money are used in the company. Again, it should be pointed out that this largely depends on the type and size of the organization. In addition, this also depends on the type leaders you have in the company. If you have a very controlling CEO who allocates money for his own wants and desires, personalized power motive, then there might not be much money left to run your projects. Hopefully though, you do have some say in how resources are used, in which case, refer back to the quote by Uncle Ben Parker.


As you can see, there’s always a catch to being a leader, even when you have some pretty nice perks. Once you figure out what motives drive you as a leader, the upsides can be very rewarding. Seeing someone you advised and led flourish into a better leader than you are will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, just like completing a successfully run project. So, go on. Get cracking, and start leading.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to my blog via email for tips on business and creative writing.

Peace out.

Alexander

Advertising, Business, Career, Marketing

Marketing terms that make you look like an amateur

June 6, 2014

Homer Simpson - Face Palm

Homer Simpson – Face Palm

So, you’ve joined the ranks of marketers and advertisers. Congratulations. You poor soul. Put in your best effort, and try not to look like an idiot. Actually, even if you’re not in marketing or advertising- try not to look like an idiot. This means sounding like you know what you’re talking about. Look up appropriate terminology and take some classes if you’re not formally educated in the field. Here are some of the top marketing terms that you or someone you know may be using that are making you and your buddies look like amateurs.

“Let’s get our eblast going.”

Try not to use “eblast”, “social media blast”, or any other “blasts”. You’re probably thinking, “But Alex, what’s wrong with saying ‘eblast’?” Well, nothing really. It’s not inherently wrong, but there are much better terms to use other than “blast”. Would you want someone “eblasting” junk all over your inbox? Didn’t think so. It sounds like spam. Here are some better terms to use:

  • email marketing campaign
  • newsletter
  • marketing email
  • email promotion

Also, no one likes being part of a marketing list. So, please don’t use the word “list” on your public facing sites or profiles. Try using: “subscribers” or “eclub”.

Related phrases you should never use:

“Sign up for our eblast!”
No, thank you.

“Join our email list!”
Nah, I don’t want to be on your list. In fact, take me off your list, if I’m on it.

“Let us eblast your inbox!”
Just don’t ever use this one.

These are better:

“Join our EClub to receive exclusive events and offers.”
Sweet, I love being in a club.

“Join our network of subscribers.”
I’ll be a part of a network? Fo Sho!

“Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.”
Yeah! I’ll be in the know! Finally!

“When are we starting our social media blitz?”

Houston Texans

Houston Texans

Again. What the hell is a social media blitz? This means nothing. This is not football. It’s social media. Call it what it is: social media marketing, social media marketing campaign, or you can get specific such as Facebook Ad Campaign, Twitter or Tweet Campaign. I cringe every time I hear “social media blitz”. If you’re hearing this term, then your coworker or client are throwing up a red flag that says “I have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m talking about”. Worse yet, this might mean they probably have unrealistic expectations of using social media for their goals. While we’re at it, please don’t ever say email blitz.


Your client or coworkers may not realize that having a successful campaign usually means allocating a budget for what they want to achieve. Since Facebook limits the reach of page posts, advertising is a must. If your goal is to reach all of your followers, you’ll have to purchase Facebook advertising, or make sure that your campaign is so darn creative, it’ll go viral. Don’t count on this though. Most people don’t realize that much of the viral advertising out there is backed by huge budgets. Chances are you’ll need to purchase advertising.

“How many friends does our company have on Facebook and Twitter?”

If you go online and actually look at any company page on Facebook, you’ll see that the page does not have any friends, it has fans. You cannot have friends on your company Facebook page, you can only have friends on your personal page. Your Twitter profile gains followers, not friends.

A few more.

[one_two_first]
Don’t say:
general photo
samples or test
lettering
make a website
camera stand
video
[/one_two_first]

[one_two_second]
Instead, say:
stock photography
proof or draft
font
design or develop a website
tripod
animation (unless you mean live video)
[/one_two_second]

Don’t correct your boss.

He-Man on Robot Chicken

He-Man on Robot Chicken

Those are just some of the terms that have been brought to my attention recently. There are tons more. And as you come across better terms, use them and trash the amateur talk. So, now you’re a marketer or advertiser or whatever. Now, you know your stuff! “I have the power!” Slow down there, He-Man. Just because you begin using the more widely accepted terminology, doesn’t mean you get to parade around like a word nazi. Be respectful. If your boss wants to call your Facebook fans, friends, then let them. Or if your coworker says they want to do a social media blitz, then just smile, listen, and do your best to provide solutions.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to my blog for updates and news.

Peace.

Alex

Business, Career, Uncategorized, Writing

Procrastination and Time Management

June 4, 2014

“The art of Time Management.” *Gong Bang* Sounds like some lost form of martial arts only know to the ghosts of some outcast ninja from Feudal Japan. Got time to read this post? Sure you don’t! So, why are you here? Today’s adults and parents have no time for anything. NO TIME. Let’s list out some of the possible things you may be involved in. Full time job, school (undergrad, graduate, or doctorate), parenting, keeping your marriage alive, trying to write that book you’ve always talked about writing, trying to find a new job, trying to learn new skills, trying to take up new hobbies, trying to keep up with old hobbies, trying to maintain relationships with your extended family, trying to maintain relationships with your in-laws, building and nurturing your network of friends and professional relationships, keeping up with your reading list, keeping up with your movie watching list, keeping up with your professional development, chores, chores, and bills, and finances. Everything else. I’ve been trying to find the time to re-string my guitar for over a year now. Poor guitar.

How do you get things done?

Prioritize. Plan. Procrastinate.

Prioritize

Prioritization will get you ahead. You are not going to be able to do everything at once. So, you’re going to have to pick a few key things to focus on. For some of us, that means forgoing as much sleep or exercise as we used to get. Now, I’m not saying you should forgo exercise. Especially if you know you need it. You should prioritize your needs first. For example, as much as I would like to think that I don’t need sleep- and often times I go with less than seven hours, my body has begun forcing me to stay asleep for eight hours. I’ll unwillingly sleep through all my alarms until I get it. There are some days I can wake up after only 4 hours, and oh, how I wish I could go on only 4 hours of sleep. But this is a need that I need to work into my schedule.

Do your chores. For God’s sake, take out the garbage, and wash some clothes. Clean out that darn cat litter box, and give the dog a bath. Give yourself one while you’re at it. These are priorities. Get them out of the way. No need to procrastinate on these items.

Plan

Use an agenda book, a calendar notebook, or an electronic calendar to set reminders and important dates. I prefer to use Google Calendar. This is easier said than done. There are so many things that I’d like to put into my calendar.

I wish it would look like this: 4am get up, 4:10 Make Coffee,  4:15 Read, 5:00am Write, 7am Shower get ready for Work, 7:30am Kiss the Wife and Kid and leave for work, 7:30-9am sit in traffic, 9-5 Work, 5-630 sit in more traffic, 630-800 change, visit with family, eat dinner. 8-9, do homework or read, 9pm go to bed.

Instead it looks more like this: Stumble out of bed at 745am and yell “Shit.” Toss myself in the shower and out the door by 815am. Explain to boss that sitting in hour and a half of traffic made you late at like 915am. Work from 9-5pm. Sit in traffic til 6:30pm, then told that you need to meet your wife at so and so’s house for dinner, then told you need to pick up groceries, and finally get home by 915pm. Then by the time you’ve cleaned up, gotten the kid(s) ready for bed, and gotten yourself ready for bed, it’s 10 or 1015pm. Then lay in bed reading for 20-30 minutes until you kind of fall asleep. Then woken up at 11pm, 1 or 2 am by a hungry crying yet precious baby, and then woken again by your alarm at 4am. Snoozing it while still half asleep.

SO! To reiterate. Put IMPORTANT DATES ONLY in your calendar. These include deadlines, holidays, birthdays, events you have to attend, and things of that nature. Leave out the small tasks like brushing your teeth.

Procrastinate

This is a great strategy to use SOMETIMES. You have to be careful with this one, because it can cause problems when used for the wrong situation. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to put off building that rocket ship for NASA, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You probably don’t want to wait nine months to tell that guy you’re pregnant with his baby. You would, however, might want to procrastinate on a college paper until a couple of weeks before it’s due. You will feel highly motivated to complete it if there is a deadline looming. Also, if you’re the type of person who does well under pressure, then this might be a great way to get you results.

When working in theatre and music, there was always a pressure from the deadline. If you weren’t fully prepared by showtime, you were screwed. In the countless productions I have been a part of, there was never one that was cancelled because we weren’t ready. Somehow, it always came together in the end.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker talked about the use of deadlines when writing when they visited NYU on the television show mtvU.

Inevitably

You’re going to have to be flexible with your schedule and with life. Because you never know what life will throw at you, a wreck blocking all lanes of traffic, a hurricane, a job change, a loss of a job, a baby, a change in plans. No matter what it is- be ready to accept the change, and move forward. If you don’t get to get up and jog or write or whatever, then try again the next day. Keep trying, keep adjusting. And live life.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog for FREE solutions on everything.  😛

Peace out.

Alexander