Tag Archives: FOMO

10 Steps to Turn Your Quarter-Life Crisis Into a Breakthrough

15 Apr

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Visual Workbook Featured on Slideshare

Feeling stuck? Over-dosing on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? Tired of climbing the career ladder? Interested in finding meaningful work but not sure how to start? Check out the brand new Quarter-Life Breakthrough Visual Workbook— featured today on the homepage of Slideshare! With practical and fun exercises taken straight from The Quarter-Life Breakthrough and illustrations by Whitney Flight, this workbook is for millennials who want to get paid for who they are and what they believe in. 

 

Notes From a Facebook Sabbatical

18 Sep

And, we’re back. My apologies for not posting in so long. Between mid-August and mid-September, the entire What’s Up Smiley office (myself, 3 Moleskines, pair of dancing shoes) took a sabbatical from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—to get my introvert on, and write the second draft of my book. So, while I missed one wedding, one engagement, 13 inspiring TED talks, 92 YouTube cat videos, 213 Buzzfeed gif-montages, and thousands of pictures of what my friends were eating for brunch; I was able to write 35,000 words (about 95 pages) and give my second draft to my editor, on deadline, with five minutes to spare.

A few things I learned from my Facebook sabbatical—that I will continue to remind myself from time to time, now that I’ve returned to the Blue-and-white Menace.

1.  Facebook is addictive  

Facebook is a drug. It’s not easy to go without Facebook—it’s almost as hard as going without coffee. The first few days I was off, I caught myself clicking on my Facebook bookmark tab, without even realizing it. It had become second nature for me to “check my Facebook,” whenever I opened my computer. I deleted Facebook from my bookmarks tab, so I wasn’t tempted to check my News Feed.

I got the sense that Facebook knew I was trying to get off—it started sending me daily email notifications of “what I was missing”—which I had to turn off. On Day 4, after staring at blank tab for 30 seconds, I realized that the only reason I had even opened my computer was to look at Facebook, and I closed my laptop, and picked up a book to read.

2.  Avoiding Facebook added 2-4 hours to my day

During the month of July, I ran a crowdfunding campaign for my book, relying heavily on Facebook to spread the word about my project. I probably had the Facebook tab open on my computer for about 10 hours a day for nearly four weeks straight; the site was the single largest driver of traffic to my Indiegogo, and a main reason my campaign was successful. However, in August, after my campaign was over, I still found myself on Facebook for over 4 hours a day—except now I wasn’t running a campaign, I was just avoiding the one thing I knew I needed to be doing: actually writing my book.

I used the time I wasn’t spending on Facebook (or consuming the infinite number of blog posts, photos, articles, and videos, I click on via my News Feed), to write.

3.  I felt happier off Facebook

I’d like to pretend that I don’t check my Facebook after I post something to see how many likes it got, but I do. I’d also like to pretend that it doesn’t faze me when I see other people doing cool things on Facebook or Instagram, but it does. My first reaction is, “I’m happy for my friends—that’s so awesome they’re at the beach.” But there is an indirect effect, as well, and maybe it’s just me (but from conversations with numerous friends, I know it isn’t): I get jealous or start doubting my own decisions—“I wish I was at the beach today…” Regardless of the science behind Facebook-induced FOMO; not having to think at all about whether to post something on Facebook, what to post, how people react to my post, and how I react to their posts, is a liberating sensation—you feel empowered to enjoy whatever it is you are doing, wherever you are.

4.  I was more focused, confident, and productive, sans-Facebook

This feeling of being present during my Facebook sabbatical was most noticeable during my writing process this past month. In August, I would alternate between writing a few paragraphs and checking my News Feed—realize that someone had just written an article about exactly what my book was about—in words far more eloquent than I had—and I would feel worthless and self-critical, and think to myself: why am I even bothering writing this stupid book

Instead, during my Facebook sabbatical, I would focus on the task at hand: writing a chapter or a section of a chapter, and without distractions or comparisons, I would judge my day based on the quality of what I wrote, not the quality of what other people were writing for their projects. My own creativity, not my News Feed, became my priority.

5.  Facebook is all about balance

Lord knows, I have posted more than my fair share of captivating New York Times articles, as well as inane YouTube videos, and Seinfeld quotes, but there is nothing happening on Facebook that is more interesting than what’s happening in real life. Over the past four weeks, I spent time with my family, danced with old friends, and had lengthy phone calls with people I hadn’t talked to in months.

Social media is an incredible tool to get the word out about a project, cause, or event (and self-publishing my book would likely be impossible without it), but every now and then—especially during the creative process—it is worth taking a short vacation from listening to what the world is saying, to listen to yourself.  

Smiley's Moleskines   

What I Learned At My First SOCAP Conference

5 Oct

 

This week I attended my first Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.  SOCAP brings together entrepreneurs, impact investors, thought-leaders, changemakers, and change enablers, at the intersection of money and meaning, with the goal of supporting businesses and initiatives that are changing the world.   

I had the opportunity to interview several of these individuals over the course of the week, and will be profiling their inspiring stories in the coming weeks for New Empire Builders, a SOCAP media partner.

If you have difficulty paying attention for long periods of time, or are easily distracted by buzz and activity like I am, SOCAP can be a whirlwind.  You’re constantly being introduced to new people, doing that awkward thing where you try to look at their badge to see where they work and what their title is (usually “Founder”)– while still trying to make eye contact – which is not humanly possible.  You’re constantly noticing interesting – or good looking – or interesting and good looking people going by, and you always feel like you should be somewhere you’re not.

I found myself deeply stressed on the first day of the conference, agonizing about whether to attend a panel on “The New Connectivity:  Storytelling For The Digital Age,” or “At The Table:  Where The Sectors Work Together,” which were both scheduled at the same time.  FOMO got the best of me, and I attended neither, instead finding myself sitting in a comfortable bright green chair in the HUB:Create lounge area drinking an organic Runa “focused energy” iced tea, staring into space, when my friend Michael who I met this summer in Boulder came up and said:  “Smiley!  Great to see you buddy, I’m off to the meditation room!”  I was starting to explain how I really wanted to attend two different sessions, both of which I was already late to, when I stopped myself, and replied, “Awesome.  I’m in.”

So, in the midst of 1800 conference participants running around, and ten simultaneous sessions on themes ranging from “the new economy” to “social design” to “tech for good” to “meaning,” we went to Room 210C – which was empty – and laid down on a yoga mat and closed our eyes for twenty minutes.  Afterwards, we both felt present for the first time all day.  A calm feeling washed over me and I stopped trying to be in six places all at once, and instead spent the rest of the conference just talking to people who seemed interesting. 

Thus, the most important lesson I learned at SOCAP:  The real value is the wealth of knowledge of the people in the room.  Business cards are nice – I now have a huge stack, but infinitely more valuable are the conversations I had with the people there, simply by sitting down at a random table or walking around the Festival pavilion.  Take, for example: 

Paseka Lesolang, WHC South Africa

Paseka Lesolang from WHC South Africa.   Paseka was invited as part of SOCAP’s impact accelerator program this weekend at the HUB Bay Area, which brought 100 entrepreneurs from 25 countries on scholarship.  Paskea is a 2012 Unreasonable Institute Fellow who runs a company that has created a retrofitable technology called the Leak-Less Valve for toilets that can save 132 gallons of water a day, helping to reduce water waste in South Africa, which faces an extreme water crisis.  

Veronica D’Souza, co-founder of Ruby Cup.  Ruby Cup is a menstrual cup that can be re-used for up to 10 years, and is sold to women and girls living in developing countries who cannot afford sanitary pads, and because of this, are forced to stay at home from work and school.  Ruby Cup is sold through a network of female entrepreneurs in Kenya to create local employment, increase health education, and empower local women.  

Ryan Wagner, co-founder of Penyo-Pal.  Ryan and I met washing our hands in the men’s bathroom and started talking about his venture, Penyo-Pal, which is a digital game designed to teach 4-7 year-olds foreign language skills.  In only a few minutes, I myself even learned a little Mandarin. 

There’s a reason SOCAP brings together so many people from different backgrounds, with unique skill sets and passions.  We need to continue to cultivate this HUB, this robust ecosystem of social change catalysts; the grassroots entrepreneur, the investment banker turned impact investor, the traditional finance expert and the new economy professor, the tech developer and the community designer, the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform and the seasoned incubator program.  As Fabian Pfortmüller, co-founder of Sandbox told me, “We need to take the dreamers and doers and surround them with people like them.”  We need to continue to accelerate the accelerators, who come from all sectors, from all over the world.  You can’t solve these challenges alone.

GoldieBlox- The Engineering Toy For Girls

At the opening plenary session, Katherine Fulton, president of the Monitor Institute, mentioned that despite a 200% increase in impact investing capital between 2000 and 2010, the verdict is still out on impact investing, and that courage will be required moving forward. Speculation remains from the mainstream business community about the viability of investing in social ventures and small and medium-size entrepreneurs, with smaller returns on investment over longer periods of time.  New innovations in crowd-funding and crowd-investing will be game-changers for poverty alleviation, and improving education, health, food access, and expanding democratized economies and community initiatives, offering both remarkable possibilities as well as new challenges.

While the road ahead will not be easy, and will require us to go beyond the echo chamber and reach across the aisle to build new alliances with mainstream audiences outside the social impact space (as well as make frequent visits to the meditation room); the growing ecosystem is ready, willing, and able to innovate and sustain the initiatives that are tackling the world’s most pressing problems.  

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