The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not


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A Nod to the Creators

I’ve been a writer for a long time. I started off at Nortel Networks in the late nineties before being sacked during the dot-com bust of the early millennium, and moved into the non-profit and then media worlds. Along the way I added graphic designer, photographer … and all the other things that are part of my interesting career. I’ve written white papers, grants, reports, essays, book reviews, newspaper and magazine articles, novels, children’s books, radio commercials, playbills, obituaries, and a daily advice column from the perspective of Basset hound Miss Fifi (one of my favorites). I pay attention to the finished product, yes, but I also pay attention to the creative process. I’ve been part of the creative process. And I give a nod to the creators.

Last month, I worked to revise and re-issue my first children’s book, Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen, which rolled off of copyright when its small indy publisher shuttered in 2016. It was both easy and difficult, challenging and rewarding, but ultimately satisfying. As a published author who is getting back in the game after a life- (and career-) altering trauma, I pay attention to the creators. The creators of the books, of the photographs, of the graphics, of the distribution … I pay attention to where I can submit my manuscripts and article ideas. When I read the news, both online and in print, I look at who wrote the story and provided the photos. Because it matters. The creators matter. There would be no content without them.

Today, the creator I honor is my son, who is an up-and-coming photographer kicking ass and taking names. It started last year with National Geographic, and brings us to today, with the moment in time he captured of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who kicked off a college tour of the Carolinas at UNC Chapel Hill on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Read the bylines.

Know who’s creating the things you’re reading and sharing and enjoying. Know the things they’re creating are the result of hard work, practice, talent, and skill.

Go Peyton! Go creators!

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Ninth Grade Advice: Build An Effective Online Presence

This morning, I was one of four panelists in the AHS AOIT presentations on soft skills. My topic was Establishing and Building an Online Presence, and I focused on using technology to build a good resume and personal platform. Talk about FUN. Those kids were totally interesting.

I suppose I could resent the term “soft skills,” but I choose instead to embrace the importance of its theory: the skills that either get you in the door or keep you there. Soft skills are your people skills, and they are a nuance — aspects of your personality that allow you to excel with problem solving, teamwork and adaptability. Critical thinking is a soft skill, and it’s a critical piece of the puzzle, man. The world is full of computer programmers and doctors and CEO’s; what it needs is effective, charismatic, engaging communicators. Some things you’re born with, plain and simple. So take these diamonds of wisdom for what they’re worth … and they are diamonds, people. There’s some good stuff here.

Online PresenceRemember: this discussion was for ninth graders in the NAF’s number one AOIT academy in the nation. These kids breathe awesome. But they’re 14 and 15, and just starting out in terms of considering their future selves. To this point, most of the kids counted as their social media presence apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, and Tumblr, so we focused on LinkedIn and WordPress, and the death of paper resumes.

My great friend, Angela Connor, used to be the managing editor at GOLO while we were both with Capitol Broadcasting Company. She is awesome, and is now the Senior Vice President | Group Director at Capstrat. I reached out to her for a little sage advice to share with the kids. What follows are some take-away tips from her thoughts and mine, in no particular order.

  • Your online self is NOT different from your real-life self. Protect it.
  •  “When someone Google’s you, you want to be 100% sure that they will find information that has been provided and updated by you. You don’t want them to find all of the pictures you’ve been tagged in on Facebook or Instagram that don’t put you in the best light. Even though you don’t trust the privacy settings, be sure to set them. If there is an option for you to approve something before it posts, do it.” – AC
  • “Treat your online presence like a resume.”  – AC
  • Establish yourself as an expert and thought leader. Even at your age, you have something important to say.
  • It’s never too early for you (AOIT students) to begin building your LinkedIn profile. By the end of your first semester in ninth grade, you will have three professional Microsoft Certifications (Outlook, Word, Excel). By the time you graduate from high school in 2017, you will add to that certifications in SAS, Cisco, C+, along with programming skills in Visual Basic, and a formal internship. You will enter college leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. THAT is the basis for a spectacular online resume. Using things like LinkedIn make it easier to network, and that makes it easier to get where you want to be.
  • Once you publish your first comment online, anywhere, you’re in the system. Every Tweet is stored in the US Library of Congress, if that tells you anything, so remember that the hurtful comment you posted about your ex-boyfriend or that embarrassing party photo you Instagrammed, or the questionable racially biased video you shared on Reddit is lurking somewhere, like the Lost Ark. Until you have a substantial work history, the only thing potential employers or colleges have to go on with a Google search is your online profile. Do you want to look like a jackass, or a rock star? Protect your image.
  • “If you are passionate about a subject or gifted in a certain area, consider creating a blog about it.”  – AC
  • Remember: never trust privacy settings. If you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see it, don’t post it. And if you wouldn’t say it to your parents or a friend face-to-face, you should probably rethink posting it online.
  • Everything you have to say is worthwhile. Every opinion you have, every question, every observation is worthy. Just because you’re 14 and 15 does NOT mean you are inconsequential or unimportant to the conversation at hand. Develop your voice and learn how to present it through a personal blog. Using a tool, like WordPress, for blogging and as a Web site (with different pages) is a great way to build your blueprint. It’s free and easy, always accessible, and under your control. Post your resume and references there; add a portfolio and lots of visuals. Make it stand out and impressionable. And always keep your mother in mind. Think: would I show this to my mother? If no, then maybe you need to rethink your approach.
  • YOU are millennials! Think about it: you are the high school graduating class of 2017, and the college graduating class of 2021 … that, in and of itself, is pretty badass. Use the technology at your fingertips and that which will come along in the future, to your best advantage. How can you best represent yourself when you aren’t there in person? What will make you memorable?
  • Consider a Living Resume … by the way, I just found this on Pinterest and think it is Awesome with a capital A!
  • Build a strong LinkedIn profile, and keep it current.
  • Reverse engineer your resume and training. When you find a career that’s interesting, find somebody in the world who has that job. Look at their education, look at the skills they list in their resume/profile, and figure out how to add them to your bag of tricks. Google universities that offer that course of study; find community colleges or corporations that provide industry certifications; contact professionals in the industry and ask them to be a mentor or for advice. Who knows: YOU might be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

And if you’ve gotten this far, here’s a note to parents: know what your kids are doing online. Listen to the social media sites they talk about and join them, too. There’s a big difference in participating and policing. You don’t have to be Big Brother to help guide your kids in their natural progression to a more technological world. Like I said above: they’re millennial. They’ve got to live up to their names.


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Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable, so don’t let the turkeys get you down. Know what I mean?

Fluid gracefulness is something I’ve learned over the last three and a half decades, both in life and in business. And the better prepared you are to go with the flow, the better off you’ll be.

Take, for instance, a piece of news I happened upon by heresy in the blogosphere. I could rage against its unfairness, its bad business, its potential negative impact to me … or, I could look at it with the mature eyes of a decades-long creative professional, accustomed to living on the edge and making lightning fast decisions on the fly.

I choose the latter, and hope for better. So cryptic though it may seem, I acknowledge that change is inevitable, and I can go with the flow. The turkeys won’t get me down, because I won’t let them.


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Family-Friendly Workplace Policies

I’ve recently tuned into the NC Justice Center and have been reading through some of the old media releases, and one of them from renowned economist and workforce expert Dr. Heather Boushey gave me pause this morning: Economist: North Carolina needs family-friendly policies to create 21st century workplaces. Right on, Dr. Boushey.

Before I was swept up in the dot-com bust in the early part of the new millennium, I telecommuted for five years with Nortel Networks. I was five months pregnant when I started with them, and my son was a year out of kindergarten when I left. We had an availability clause requiring that we worked a certain percentage of the workday on East Coast through Pacific Coast time (for our many colleagues across North America), and then the rest of our day was augmented by conference calls and project work with colleagues across the globe. It took me years to get off of the crazy work schedule and readjust my productivity time to 8 – 5 pm. But I digress …

There were several bests about the telecommuting corporate life:

  • the unprecedented blessing of my husband (also a Nortel telecommuter) seeing all of our son’s “firsts” … first steps, first words, first bite of baby cereal;
  • we drastically reduced our carbon footprint by not driving everyday (there were some weeks when the car was parked for seven days);
  • we didn’t contribute to air or noise pollution with our cars parked;
  • my output was about 300% higher than when I’m in an office because concentration is focused, not skewed by chatting and complaining with coworkers (even on the rare occasion that I’m allowed to work from home in my current position, I can get about two days worth of work finished);
  • I could go for a walk at lunchtime and get a little exercise without having to scramble to the gym;
  • and most importantly: creativity doesn’t flow from 8 am – 5 pm … you just can’t force it.

My last position was as a writer and producer for a local Edward R. Murrow Award-winning news station’s Web site, and as savvy and forward-thinking as they would have the community perceive, they were actually quite antiquated in their workplace and management practices. My current job is the same way … it’s frustrating to have management that just can’t see the value of once or twice a week telecommuting. Yes, there are always loser slacker colleagues who screw around at home and waste their time–but there are those of us who thrive on the quiet serenity of a home office. The all-or-none attitude has to go.

That said, kudos to my current and former positions for allowing kids to come to work on teacher workdays, on the way to or from appointments, or days when track-out camps aren’t available. Though it’s no fun for my son to have to spend more than one day with me at work (he’s old enough now that he keeps himself busy with our activity bag from home), it’s a blessing to know that I don’t have to take a sick/vacation/unpaid day off to be at home. Telecommuting would work well on these days, if management paranoia wasn’t an issue. But, oh well.

Happy workers = productive workers. Does anybody have a job for a telecommuting writer with kick-ass creativity, a strong business acumen, and enough computing power to run a small country? I’m your gal.