When we lookback we can see the future

Posted July 2, 2019 By Frank Strona

Many of us agree that diversity is important in the workplace.

However, in the last few years, we have seen a stronger influence to refocus efforts race, ethnicity and gender. I agree we still have huge gaps in these areas increasing inclusive workplace. We must also not forget to include LGBT as part of this plan. While some LGBTQ folks may also identify as communities impacted by lack of inclusion and equity, some aren’t and are being left out of the training equations. Both as allies and participants.

NBC coverage of 2019 Pride NYCThis came across my desk on Sunday as part of the #Pride50 celebrations in New York and SanFrancisco’s own Pride parade.

As we wrap up #Pride month some may find this ABC post “LOOKBACK: What gay life was like in San Francisco in 1976” interesting; uncomfortable and yes even nostalgic.
It captured some aspects of the time dead on. Some insight is dated due to language and access, but it does a good job of illustrating a moment in time and how gay men were seen. Last week I did my own “lookback” and share about my experience with telling the “mean girls” story and life as a non-traditional looking young gay man is my post “Who would have guessed I was a “prequel” which tied in with some of the basis for last summers TEDx Talk.
What is more interesting to me, is how all these years later, with all the success and growth, how some things haven’t changed….

LOOKBACK: What gay life was like in San Francisco in 1976

          

Boiling Pot Moments

Posted June 28, 2019 By Frank Strona

Boiling Pot Moments

Gleaned this from one of the elists I follow;  CreativeMornings  and thought initially ” I am so not gonna like this.. ” well as with more things I initial dismiss. It was well worth the view and sharing the space to post it!

Ask yourself: am I preserving my life, or am I creating a life preserve?”
Amy Willis, a self-employed management consultant and a mother of three boys, shares her recipe for creating a life worth preserving. In this talk, she encourages us to embrace our “boiling pot moments,” define our values and to rebuild ourselves with intention.

ed.note.. a little sappy but very cute and lots to consider as a take away from it.

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Thanks to mobile technology, people can communicate faster than ever, and business can get far more done. But it takes more than just having smartphones for businesses to stay up to speed. You need to find all kinds of ways that your business can use this amazing technology. These are some ways your business’ success with mobile technology can be maximized.

Mobile Banking

If you’re old enough, you should remember a time when the vast majority of your banking had to be done inside an actual bank. This could be a real pain, especially if banking hours overlapped with your work hours. Sophistication in online banking has led to brilliant online banking apps. This has proven to be a boon for business owners as they can deposit checks, review financial data, and analyze spending history, all from their smartphone.

Make Your Website Responsive

When people are checking out your website, they’re probably doing it from their smartphone. Half of all traffic to top websites in the United States comes from mobile users. You need to have your website properly configured for mobile devices. It should be designed with all important sections immediately accessible from the homepage and optimized for maximum speed by compressing images and not using Flash. When customers can use your mobile website without any problems, they’ll be delighted to come back.

Texts for Customers

Communicating with your customers is important, but people tend to find calls from businesses bothersome. Emails can work, but they’re also at risk of getting lost in a pile. Sending out texts about offers and other important developments is simple, will be easily seen by your customers, and isn’t a nuisance. Give your customers a choice about whether or not they’ll receive texts and make it easy to opt out. You should also send out texts only when it’s information you reckon is worth sharing.

Mobile Office Computing

Even if you’re out of the office, you can still run the show. Mobile office computing has evolved so much that business owners can host meetings remotely, track inventory, and much more. While your leadership can’t be replaced by a device, it can be much easier to manage tasks this way. You and other leaders should have your smartphones well supplied with useful apps.

For your business to use mobile technology well, you need to know about every possibility of each technology and how it’ll be able to serve your business. There could be opportunities that you’re squandering because you’re unaware of how mobile technology can fix them. Although these devices might be small and sleek, their abilities are more than meets the eye.

          

Who would have guessed I was a “prequel”

Posted June 22, 2019 By Frank Strona

Who would have guessed I was a “prequel”

Ok – so maybe not a real “prequel”. But I do have something newish to share.

In May 2019 I was able to participate in a training with the folks from Storycenter.org as part of its story collections project as part of California State Library System in California Listens – Digital Storytelling for the 21st Library

This one was held down in lovely Half Moon Bay, in it’s incredibly accessible and high tech new library. For two days, 10 of us, with the help of some incredible folks from the Storycenter.org  and the staff of the library mapped out and created our own stories to share.

It was a diverse group of people with a wide range of experiences, genders, orientations, and ethnicities. I knew it was going to be one of those rare opportunities for me to take a risk. Not only by learning some new techniques but by modeling my own place in society.

We spent the first part of the morning discussing the storytelling process. For those of you that read Engage, you know I am a huge fan of the role that stories play as a place of change, healing, growth, and remembrance.  We then had time to draft out and share our story draft within the group for feedback.

So what prequel story was I going to tell?

As I have said in the past “sometimes you have to risk sharing who you were, to be who you are“; I decided to tell some of the backstories to my growing up gay as it related to my Summer 2018 TEDxProvincetown talk as my training tool.  So with 2019’s Pride Season about to kick off, I thought it was fitting to use it as my celebration to share. Hence my calling it “What You See, Isn’t Always What You Know” my prequel to   TEDxPtown’s “What The Bear Could Teach Goldilocks“.

For those of you who think I do this easily or without fear – think again. Even those of us with an external facade of competence, self-reliance, and self-belief get nervous. It’s wasn’t always easy, nor is it without its problems sharing who we are. But making a place for yourself in a world you don’t see yourself reflected in, is better than waiting for others to do it for you. 

 

The TEDx talk was that initial moment for me. You can read more about the talk itself in its Engage post.

Oh and by the way

 “What The Bear Could Teach Goldilocks

has hit 17,359 views!!!

You read on my TEDxProvincetown experience in my blog post at https://MentorSF.com/Engage/tedx or visit the actual talk at Https://youtu.be/8J-gaUgztjs. 

 

 

 

          

3 Ways to Keep Your Team Members on the Same Page

Posted April 26, 2019 By GuestSpot

Communication among team members is vital for business success. When a team is not communicating well, it will lead to a loss of efficiency and will have other hidden costs. Here are some ways to keep your team cohesive and functioning as a unit.

Frequent Meetings

While many people dread meetings, they are a valuable tool for enhancing communication. CIO says that people are more likely to hone their message when they have to say it in a person’s presence as opposed to online. Employees are more conflict-averse when they are speaking face-to-face, so a meeting is a useful tool to get people working together. Frequent meetings are a means to make sure that people are being heard and have a chance to express their viewpoint. Most people like an audience for their ideas and appreciate the opportunity to share what is on their mind. Also, meetings are a motivating metric to make sure that people are prepared and are doing their work.

Online Project Management

EPMA recommends that every project can have a dedicated site where team members can collaborate, share documents, raise issues, and so on. Online project management provides a centralized depot for your team to communicate with each other. When the information is in one dedicated place, it is easy for the team members to log on and access what they need. Also, this type of online communication means that any idea that is expressed by a team member can be easily seen by everyone, as opposed to having to broach the idea separately to each individual.

Team-Building Events

Having your team get to know each other outside of the work setting can help facilitate their communication on the job. The Bizarro Blog says that when employees have an understanding of who the other employee is as a person, they will be more likely to show them the personal respect that is needed to maintain the proper communication. Scheduling occasional team events outside of the office will help your team learn about each other. Be creative in planning these types of events in order to encourage employees to take the time to join them. Consider scheduling them during work hours to obtain the highest level of attendance.

Teams can communicate well when management sets the right tone. This can be achieved by finding various means to encourage people to not only share their point of view but also do so in a respectful manner.

Is your team in need of some counseling and mentorship? Sign up for a Group Workshop!

          
It happens to all of us eventually.
Someone reads a dating profile or sees an Instagram post, etc and instead of just skipping over it- they feel motivated to be an arbiter of taste and the body police and share with you all the shortcomings they see or don’t like. One of the reasons I agreed to talk about body shaming as a young gay man for the 2018 TEDxProvincetown was to use my voice and my story to draw attention to it my own way.
However, some longtime friends and colleagues who are behind the Building Healthy Online Communities project have been hard at work on a new, anti-rudeness campaign, named “NiceAF,”. They hope that it can help make the world of dating apps — and by extension, the community — a kinder and healthier place for all. They are looking for real people to help make it happen. The first places they plan to tackle are gay/bisexual dating and social apps. 
The NiceAF.org campaign is intending to address the harsh reality, that for some, insults can have profound, lasting effects on how someone can feel about themselves and disrupt a persons ability to thrive.

 
How can you help?
 
Be willing to record and share a personal story;
Have you dealt with the kind of stigmatizing messages like “no fats, no femmes, no oldies,” “no blacks or asians,” “clean guys only” that are so pervasive online?
 
Even if you haven’t experienced this kind of painful rejection yourself, you could offer a perspective based on what you’ve seen.
How to do it?
 
You could choose to make a short video.
Share your real or re-created online dialogue or story.
Once the folks at NiceAF.org begin to receive the video links and stories, they are working with the participating dating apps to encourage their users to go to the NiceAF.org website, look at what others have posted and submit their own videos and stories, as well.
What do you think? Can you help?
Check out the website https://NiceAF.org and click one of the two pink Submit boxes today.
          

Having remote employees can really benefit a contemporary business. Off-site workers can reduce overhead costs substantially, first and foremost. Working remotely can even assist in bringing teams together, and enhance worker productivity. If you want to do your part to encourage your remote staff members to thrive, despite some of the challenges, Facebook is still worth considering as a social media platform that may be able to help you stay connected. Here are some ways to use it for a range of uses.

Communication

Communication is a central component of working well with a team of remote employees. It can be a hassle to have to deal with nonstop telephone calls. If you want to simplify communication efforts among your remote staff, then the assistance of Facebook can be priceless. Facebook makes it simple for employees to reach each other via messaging. If you’re interested in effective communication practices, Facebook can help you a lot. Facebook also allows for topic-specific groups with assignments of admin and moderator roles. The groups and pages are independent of the host’s personal account which allow for a clear visual rebranding, sharing of images, etc.

Marketing

Marketing is one of Facebook’s strongest suits. If you want your remote staff members to achieve better digital marketing outcomes, then you need to make the most out of Facebook. This social network can assist remote employees who want to spread the word about exciting new products that are on the horizon. It can also help employees who simply want to reach out to customers through messages, such as to answer questions about business hours or restaurant menu adjustments and additions.

If your team doesn’t know how to use Facebook for marketing, have them look for tips for getting the best results. They can search for suggestions by paying careful attention to some of your company’s rivals.

Source: Facebook Marketing Strategy: 9 Ideas Every Business Should Use

Staying In the Loop

Facebook can come in handy for professionals who want to stay ahead of the competition. If you don’t want to fall behind your competitors, you can encourage your remote employees to stay updated on all of their efforts. They can evaluate competitors with regard to their new offerings. Facebook also makes it easy to check on their events, marketing practices, giveaways and more. It makes it simple for businesses to stay in the loop within their fields and industries. Facebook streamlines the process of analyzing others. A bit art of this us learning how to use the extended features of Facebook from “events” to local activities, to the new “recommendations” and “jobs” tools.

Source: Impact of Social Media on Business Communication

Advertising

Advertising through Facebook is becoming something that’s more and more unavoidable by the day. If you’re trying to find advertising techniques that may benefit your remote staff members, you should look into your options via Facebook. Facebook advertising has been a major force in the digital marketing realm for several years at this point. Businesses of all kinds depend on it as well. It isn’t uncommon for businesses that are part of food service, fashion, technology and health care to rely on Facebook advertising pathways. The coast will very on Facebook from full curated development of campaigns to simply paid post promotion. but you have some targeting available to get a custom fit for who will see the ad.

Source: Facebook for business

Motivation

Facebook can be a terrific motivating factor for professionals who work remotely. If a remote employee needs to get inspiration for a major assignment or project, this social media platform may be able to provide it. You can analyze Facebook any time you’re in the middle of productivity or innovation ruts. If a remote staff member feels stuck, they can head to a Facebook page in order to jog their mind and get their creative juices flowing again.

Mental Breaks

Occasional breaks can do wonders for remote staff members who are exhausted and on the verge of burnout. There is much research showing the importance of taking breaks while at work. There are many delightful ways to pass the time on Facebook. If you want to help your fatigued remote employees, then you can send them Facebook links to make them laugh or grin. There are Facebook pages devoted to various lighthearted topics, like the world of wacky and hilarious animals, or pages of jokes that remote workers in your field can relate to well. If you want to give your remote team members welcome breaks once in a while, turn to the unrivaled strength of Facebook.

Source: The Importance of Breaks: 4 Tips to Take a Mental & Physical Breather

Human Behavioral Patterns

Facebook is a well-known social media platform that can give remote employees beneficial insights into human behavioral patterns. This can be invaluable to staff members who need to be in tune with consumer habits. If you want your employees to be able to comprehend the way consumers’ brains operate, then Facebook can be extremely useful. Your team members can check out Facebook pages that encompass all sorts of categories. Facebook profiles can help people who want to delve into consumers’ aims, pastimes, basic lifestyles and much more.

If you want to take complete advantage of Facebook, then you need to comprehend it in significant detail. Your remote team members need to understand it thoroughly as well. Don’t rush into employing Facebook for your business aims. Give yourself sufficient time to get acquainted with the social media network if you’re new to using it for your work communications. The better you understand Facebook, the better you’ll be at using it to help your remote team succeed.

          

How to Mitigate Back-to-School Anxiety

Posted April 6, 2019 By GuestSpot

Returning to school when you haven’t been in the educational environment for years can be daunting for many past, present, and future students. Life can take us away from education because of family, work, or other circumstances. Sometimes the timing just wasn’t right for you then, but now it is.  Nothing should stop people who want to pursue their education. In fact, those, many of those who return to the classroom after several years away, tend to do better and have a better context to the work they are studying. Even if you were only away from school for a year or two, if it was because of traumatic experiences or personal struggles, it can be hard to want to go back. While you are beginning your plan to return back to school, keep these things in mind.

Focus on the Benefits

Think about how much of a difference it will make to earn your degree. The benefits of having a college degree are immense. Graduating college can add as much as 10 years to your lifespan. It can also help you to meet new people and find better career opportunities. While there are challenges along the way to getting your degree, they should be outweighed by all the positives.

Socialize

A thorough social life in college can help you to enjoy your experience much more. When you aren’t constantly worried about classes and grades, you can end up clearing your mind and performing better as a result. You need to be careful to ensure that you aren’t neglecting class time to party. If your social life is lacking, look for clubs on campus that you believe you would fit in well. Your college experience should be one of joy, not stress.

Improve Your Time Management

Feeling anxious about going back to school can come from feeling like you won’t have the time to get everything done. The reason students can succeed with a full course load is that they know how to manage their time. Having time management skills means starting on assignments right away and following a proper sleep schedule. It takes time for these to pay off, but when they do, you can feel like there’s no stopping you.

Consider Therapy

No problem is too small for therapy. If going back to school has you especially worked up, you need to find help. Psychotherapy has a host of benefits for students, including reducing and managing destructive behaviors, learning healthy coping mechanisms to help you through emotionally tough times, an increase in focus, attention, organization, and time management, and much more. Talking to a qualified psychotherapist is more than worth your time.

No matter your original reason for being away from school, when you go back, and set yourself on a path of success, you have nothing to fear. It may be challenging, but as you focus on the good, reach out to others, improve your time management skills, and seek help when necessary, you will be able to astound even yourself with the results. Some of the best students are those with experiences outside the school environment. Remember that you are not alone in this exciting educational journey!

For help in figuring out your transitions, professionally or personally, from your workplace to dating and socializing and more, let the Mentor SF’s Explorers Program (EP) help!

          

3 Tech Skills Every Team Member Should Have

Posted April 4, 2019 By GuestSpot

Technology is changing the way you do business.

Most communication has gone to an online format. Sales and marketing live on the web. Even team meetings are held with off-site team members using a computer to be virtually present. While no one expects that everyone in your workplace can serve as an IT specialist, it is very helpful for all employees to have some basic technical knowledge. Here are three tech skills that you should encourage your staff to learn.

Basic Tech Skills

Technical glitches can take away from the efficiency that technology provides. It is both distracting and frustrating when a team member is unable to log in or establish a good connection. Teams that will be working in virtual meeting rooms should know the basics of how a network functions and the connections that need to be made. At the very least, everyone should know multiple ways to restart devices and re-establish connections. Computer Hope reinforces that knowing the basics will free up your IT professionals to focus on more advanced issues. It will also help everyone be able to be the most productive they can be.

In addition to troubleshooting skills, every team member should be able to use industry standard tools. These include Microsoft Office Suite and G Suite applications. Both options provide essential productivity tools and professional email management for small businesses. Each and every member of your team should be able to confidently operate these applications. You’ll see tremendous improvement in productivity when everyone is up to speed with these tech basics.  

Cybersecurity

Independence University reports that cyber attacks and data breaches seem to be in the news every day, with hackers finding ways to break into organizations’ mainframes and steal valuable info. Smart, trained, capable computer specialists with the skills to stop cybercriminals in their tracks and prevent the loss of sensitive information are urgently needed.

At the same time, every staff member who works within your network needs to know the basics of cybersecurity in order to secure your team’s work from cyber threats. A common threat to cybersecurity is phishing, which is when scammers send phishing emails in an attempt to get passwords, usernames, financial details, and other sensitive information. You can work to prevent data breaches by using a spam filter on your email account, using two-factor authentication when logging in, and implementing security for different types of malware and spyware.

Team members need to know the meaning and importance of a strong password. Strong passwords should contain more than 12 characters and include a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lowercase letters. You should also regularly change your password for greater security.  Your team should also be aware of the ways that email can be used to infiltrate systems. They also need to know how to work with antivirus software and the warning signs that a computer is infected with a virus. A few basic precautions can keep your system running safely.

Emerging Skills

When a great deal of your business involves an online presence, it is helpful for employees to know some of the essential programming languages of the web. A great place to start is Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML. SkillCrush explains that with this tool in hand, employees can do basic web design, allowing them to share ideas pre-formatted to work with an internet browser. Such formatting makes it easier for other team members to see how a person’s ideas are structured—improving communication.

The basics of HTML can be learned quickly, making your team feel more confident about working with technology in general. Aside from knowing coding basics, you can also take advantage of coding tools. WYSIWYG editors make it possible for programmers to see what their code will ultimately look like while they create and edit the document. This simplifies the coding process by allowing users to see what their code will look like in real time. Popular programs include Adobe Dreamweaver, HubSpot Marketing Platform, and Google Web Designer.

Some basic training in technology will help your team function smoothly and improve communication throughout your business. Much of this information can be learned in an afternoon seminar or two. A little time invested in technology training will produce large dividends in efficiency and productivity.

Your organization can always improve, there are always areas that can be revised or tuned up. One of the best ways to improve as an organization is with group workshops or trainings. Check out MentorSF and see how your organization can improve today!

          

Starting your own business can be one of the most rewarding and life-changing decisions that you can ever make. It will be one of the most challenging as well, but that is all a part of the journey. Becoming your own boss has a host of different benefits that can end up improving your overall quality of life. You might just realize that tapping into your entrepreneurial side is the thing that has previously been missing from your life experience.

Now to be fair – the first thing that will happen, in my experience, when you say “I am going to open my own shop”; is you will get one of two reactions. A “high-five” attitude, excitement from those that are keen to see you strike out and try something new. The other less fun will be the “but what if it fails?” group. These are folks that are trying to be supportive but allow the fear and emotions they have over change, share the excitement of your moment. So be prepared. In both cases, they are someone else initial reactions. Listen, hear and consider. You don’t have to respond or act on any comment. Instead, Alice’s “Chesire Cat” and smile a knowing smile, thank them for the thoughts and move forward!

Independence

Gaining a new level of independence is one of the most obvious and important reasons that you probably have considered going into business for yourself. The fact is that the independence that you will gain from becoming your own boss will be life changing and it can also be dramatically life improving as well. You will have a hard time not appreciating the fact that you no longer have to answer to anyone but yourself. This is the kind of independence that the entrepreneurially minded all seek.

Support

Obtaining support from your community in regard to your business is something that can not only help to grow your business, but it can also have a dramatic improvement in your quality of life as well. There are a number of community organizations out there such as your local chamber of commerce that help out local businesses and want to see them succeed. Another outstanding way to get support for your business is to become involved as the owner of a franchise. Going this route offers you an automatic support system and a built-in business methodology from a company that will be able to tell you how to run your franchise in order to attain success.

Having the proper support in your franchise group can mean the difference between success or failure as a franchise owner. You want to do your research and make sure that you are getting involved with a company that has a good reputation for supporting their franchisees. Your franchise group should want to see you succeed and should provide you with the resources to do so.

New Sense of Purpose

The fact is that if you have always felt that entrepreneurial itch, then you are only doing yourself a disservice by not giving it a try and going into business for yourself. You will be shocked at how much more your overall life makes sense when you follow your dreams in this manner.

These are just three of the many reasons why starting your own business can have a dramatic improvement in the quality of your life. It will be a lot of work, but you no doubt knew that before deciding you wanted to jump into an entrepreneurial adventure. If this is something that you have always dreamed about, there is no better time than the present to start making that dream become a reality for you.

For coaching and learning how to be the best entrepreneur you can be, let MentorSF guide you! Contact me for your free 30 min “check-in” session and see how we fit and what support I can offer you to make your dream a reality. You don’t have to go it alone or spend thousands of dollars to have support available. 

 

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