When & Why Content Marketing Matters

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Whether your business is a startup, a consultancy, or a corporation, a comprehensive but flexible content marketing strategy is key to staying competitive. Not only does quality content communicate brand values and perspective, but it also serves as a timely pull that supports customers making potentially costly purchases. However, many companies treat content marketing as a final touch once the product is complete, rather than a core component of the product itself. As such, they miss opportunities to build a memorable, unified voice and trust amongst their target demographic.

At minimum, keeping an active pipeline of fresh content relevant to your industry can help elevate brand recognition and encourage backlinking, which in the long-term improves your company’s SEO and visibility. On the other side of the spectrum, using content to build legitimacy and loyalty can allow for higher price points and more lucrative partnerships. So what are a few low-hanging fruits that any company can pick to kickstart their 2017?

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If Your Company is a Pre-Seed Startup

Your company’s relative lack of social DNA makes it easy to experiment with a variety of channels, mediums, and delivery methods to discover which resonates most deeply with the audience you’re aiming to convert. Give yourself strict deadlines and metrics to measure in order to evaluate each assets’ efficacy, and cycle through content types so you don’t inadvertently abandon nascent followers. A common problem with blog series and newsletters, for example, is the promise of “part 3” or “daily updates” – without follow-through, these tools can do more harm than good.

If you’re still building your product, document your development cycle rigorously. You don’t have to publish a press release for every commit, but these notes can give power users insight into your product’s future and can be easily expanded into user guides, manuals, and blog posts. If your company is enterprise-focused, identify which features are most important to the decision-maker and create case studies, white papers, and testimonials in which that feature is shown to make a quantifiable improvement in ROI, productivity, or conversion. If your product is more consumer-facing, highlight your users and reward those who’ve created great content with your technology.

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If Your Company is a Freelance Consultancy

When your brand is.. well, you, it can be tricky to separate your personal and professional lives, particularly if you yourself are in the marketing field. Here, it’s particularly useful to build content that highlights your process, passions, and examples of work. If you notice that your clients ask similar questions or that you find yourself providing the same resources over and over again, consider making gated content that you can drip either manually or in emails. Not only does this give your existing clients additional value, but it also allows you to scale your business when you’re ready.

Social media can also be a helpful tool for freelancers, though the extent to which you rely on it is defined by your outreach strategy. If you work primarily through referrals, you can use social media to show legitimacy and perspective, but should be careful about potentially alienating a sector that you might later need to expand into. If you’re more of a niche consultant, optimize your behavior for your intended audience and engage actively with them. For example, if you’re a web developer with a passion for interactive journalism, create an animation-rich article about an important topic and Tweet at related organizations in order to grab their attention – and drive them to your call-to-action – with relevant, thoughtful collateral.

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If Your Company is a Legacy Corporation

The larger and more established your company is, the more likely it is that there will be stringent branding rules regarding the proper tone, structure, and topic range. While this can be a tremendous benefit for companies whose branding guidelines are classic, enduring, and appropriate, corporations with dated material and an overreliance on traditional marketing tactics need to be particularly cognizant of how their brand might be perceived by new audiences. Of course, companies that have built their name through decades, even centuries, of craftsman-level production have other means of communicating their brand’s strengths, but in this globalized world, it’s never enough to assume that your reputation precedes you. Yahoo and Hotmail, for example, saw enormous success in developing markets, until Google localized their services and began producing siloed content that presented email as just one feature in an ever-expanding toolkit.

Focus not on reinventing the wheel – particularly if your content team is small – but rather on building content for uninitiated personas or industries. Developing skunkworks projects or leading new marketing initiatives is an excellent way to revitalize stagnant messaging. Keep track of how competitors are using their content engine, and find the angle that best presents your unique storyline while highlighting your company’s years of experience. Your company’s success came from somewhere – find that spark, define the audience that made that happen, and research what types of content and positioning best appeal to them.

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Kickstart Your Content Calendar in 2017

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to take stock of your existing tools, assets, and processes. What has worked from the past year, and where have you been hitting a wall? Take note of emerging trends and discuss them in reference to your business – i.e. how does your company plan to incorporate open-sourced machine-learning or provide customers an enhanced VR experience? Reach out to contributors both within your company and in the broader industry to provide a diverse perspective about your product and space, but most importantly, build content that values quality over quantity. 

2017 is just starting – don’t stall at the gate! With consistent, relevant, and ethical content, you can elevate your brand’s profile, build thought-leadership, create additional hooks for buyers, and connect with users on a variety of platforms.

If this was useful for you and/or you have specific questions regarding content marketing, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2017!

FYI: LinkedIn Is Not a Dating Service

Ahh, don’t make that face. You’re too beautiful to not smile,” said the man intently watching me in the Autodesk gallery photobooth.

After awkwardly looking around for a (nonexistent) curtain, I retook the photo, uncomfortably smiling as a CGI dinosaur loomed over my shoulder. As the photo printed, the man peered over my shoulder and signaled his approval. “My boyfriend will like this,” I hinted, before following up with, “My bag is really heavy. I should find a seat before the talk starts.” He asked for my LinkedIn, and being that I was at a professional networking event, I hesitantly gave it to him. In total, we spoke for about five minutes. The next day, this happened.

Crazy LinkedIn Message


Some Context

A few months ago, I attended Tech in Motion’s Data+Design panel discussion. The topic – exploring the interplay of data and design in determining split decisions regarding UX, project management, and product delivery – is particularly relevant to my career, so I was especially excited to learn from the experiences of the panelists and mingle with relevant industry folk. Since I was alone, I wanted to maximize my time by meeting fellow design-driven business wonks and debating the merits of rapid prototyping and A/B testing (or if not that, literally anything else that related to the topic of the night).

Instead, I met several men who would verbally corner me, step far into my comfort zone, compliment my looks, ask me where I’m from*, and then tell me how beautiful they think Indian women are. I of course appreciate a well-intentioned compliment, but in these instances I can’t help but recall a famous Demetri Martin punchline: “Location, location, location.”

If you don’t already understand how this behavior is problematic, here’s a summary. The aforementioned men – and I want to emphasize that I don’t think all men are like this – probably think that they’re being friendly and forward, “networking” as the event encourages. But when the basis of their small talk is not “What’s your experience in this field?” but more “What are you doing later tonight?” it can feel predatory and disrespectful.

Think I’m being overly sensitive? Believe me, this is not an isolated event. When I handled programming and events at a coworking space, I was constantly approached by inebriated middle-aged men, leering and making suggestive comments referencing their interest in a Bollywood queen. The fact that I don’t even watch Bollywood movies wasn’t relevant to them – they would just find another track to stop me from circulating the room (in that case, doing my job).

This attitude minimizes the legitimacy of professional women at tech events. It takes away from our power as contributors to the discourse, reducing us to meaningless banter about our personal lives. It creates “an undercurrent of condescension that leads to a feeling of isolation,” as noted in a recent TechCrunch article “Women in tech: What’s the real problem?”

It presupposes that we should be so glad to hear such comments about our appearance, instead of meeting the type of people who could actually give us a leg up in our careers. Not that it’s important, but I should note that I was wearing a wool crew neck sweater, jeans, and a scarf – hardly the magnet for horny tech bachelors (or worse, married men).

How Does This Fit Into the Overall Narrative?

Women have a hard enough time advancing in the tech world, as the Harvard Business Review illustrates. “Our research findings show that on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders, fully 41% of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists are women. But the dropout rates are huge: Over time 52% of these talented women quit their jobs.” While the standard explanations might surface – women begin to have children and lose momentum due to maternity leave and enhanced need for work/family balance – anyone who has been following the Lean In movement knows that the challenges to advancement are far more insidious than the biological clock.

Take the example of startup incubators. Though there are plenty of women in prestigious accelerator programs – an accomplishment that Y Combinator and 500 Startups both tout – men still primarily seek kinship and support from their male counterparts. That’s not to say that they don’t treat their female batchmates with respect; in my experience, they do. But when you’re a young bachelor in a new town, which is the case for at least half of the batch, you’re not likely to hit up your new female friends to join your night of debauchery and drunken hookups.

The exclusion isn’t intentional, but it happens. Male/female relationships** are mostly limited to the office, or if not are the subject of gossip. For budding entrepreneurs, that’s drama that can derail their attention during a high-pressure period for their companies. But as anyone who has developed an insta-friendship over a bottle knows, sometimes all it takes is a memorable night to build a lifelong bond – and while women are included in some of those nights, the number of non-sexualized invites are far fewer. Plus, the discomfort (for a woman) and disappointment (for a man) of a perceived/real rejection can disintegrate what otherwise would be a healthy friendship and a source for future support, connections, and opportunities. Limited chances to build social capital can have significant ramifications, especially in the Valley where “who you know” seems to take precedence over “what you know.”

Women have a number of hurdles to overcome in getting ahead in their careers, including the attitude that they should settle for less while men consistently overstate their abilities, or the notion that they should fill in as secretaries or notetakers while men are allowed to dominate the conversation. How we dress, how we talk, and even extremely personal decisions like how long is the appropriate time to stay home after the birth of a child are up for discussion. It’s frustrating, and it’s endemic of a larger sociopolitical climate, one that both men and women might not even know they’re exacerbating.

But there is one simple thing that men can do: when you meet a woman in a professional context, please treat her like a professional, not a potential Tinder match. After all, there’s an app for that.

* (“Where are you from?” “I’m from the South Bay.” “…Where is your family from?”) is a conversation I have almost every time I meet a new person. I’m happy that culture is important, but not so happy that it seems to take precedent even in scenarios where my professional accomplishments are the only things we should be discussing.

** Speaking only about heterosexual relationships, since I am straight. Would love to hear from a lesbian about their experiences with startup accelerators though!

*** Update: Just a week after I published this post, a woman posted a similar screenshare on LinkedIn that garnered over 25,000 likes and a Huffington Post article. Those who say that women are being “overly sensitive” to point out such instances of harassment clearly don’t understand how sexism works.

Coworking Spaces: It’s Your Responsibility to Go Green

Earth

Happy Earth Day! Click the photo to access my free Green Guide! (by Vidya Kaipa)

Happy Earth Day! Today, I decided to finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to address something that has been bothering me for years: the blatant disregard for immense waste within office spaces. I’ll be focusing on Prestigious Bay Area Startup Accelerator (PBASA)* here, but the message extends: if you manage a coworking space and haven’t made any effort to green up your office, you’re not only incredibly behind the times, but you will also soon find that your lack of foresight represents your Achilles heel in other aspects of business. (And let’s be honest: if society can build hover boards, augmented reality glasses, and self-driving cars, we should be able to find a solution to ensure that recycling goes in the recycle bin.)


For five months, I worked out of PBASA’s Mountain View headquarters. And for five months, I asked these same questions:

  • “Why are there no washcloths?”
  • “Why are these bins unmarked?”
  • “Why aren’t people using mugs instead of disposable cups?”
  • “Why are people using three paper towels to dry their hands?”

And most importantly:

  • “What is PBASA as a company doing to reduce their carbon footprint?”

I never got a satisfactory response. My one victory, forcing the space to buy a dishrack so we could at least eliminate the daily ream of paper towels used to dry dishes, was only achieved after speaking to at least three separate people on staff, the first two who acted like I was a radical hippie for even suggesting it. (Thanks, Chandini, for taking this issue seriously and making it happen!)

Take it from Clif Bar’s “corporate ecologist” Elysa Hammond, who helped the company become the first certified organic energy bar as well as shed 90,000 pounds of shrink wrap every year by a smart redesign of their packaging.

“Any time an office creates waste, it is not using resources as efficiently as possible. ..It makes good business sense to reduce waste.” – Elysa Hammond

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Photo courtesy of Pexels

Having helped run a coworking space myself, I know that it’s not easy to manage the various demands on your time, capabilities, and resources. But if you’re only doing what’s minimally permissible to call yourself a space and aren’t willing to put in the extra mile to apply startup best practices to your own facilities, you need to stop what you’re doing immediately and return to the basics.

I can already hear it. “But the basics of our business is investment! Our primary goal is to get our financial goals met; everything else is secondary!”

On one hand: Fair enough. Stop running a space, and focus on your investment firm. There’s no need to do both, and believe me, the companies involved would appreciate their $25K in “program fees” back.

But on the other hand: Forty companies are paying $25K each to participate in a quarterly accelerator program, meaning the organization is making $1M per batch, or $4M per year. With this investment, they should at least be able to:

  • Buy a power dryer (so bathroom paper towel use is reduced).
  • Hire a laundry service (so they can cycle washclothes daily).
  • Print a sign that indicates which bins are for what purpose (so that all bins don’t automatically become trash).
  • Call a plumber the minute a leak is discovered (so water isn’t leaking for days, causing a hazard).
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Photo courtesy of Pexels

The Nature Conservancy reports that “Over 16 billion paper cups are used for coffee every year. This translates to over 6.5 million trees cut down, 4 billion gallons of water wasted, and enough energy used to power nearly 54,000 homes for a year.” The point of the article is to encourage readers to bring their own mug to the coffee shop, and it’s assumed that within an office environment, employees would default to using mugs naturally. What does it say about a space when members are disposing two or three cups a day, and the staff hasn’t done anything to curb that behavior?

The startup mantra is to “move fast and break things” – or in other words, experiment frequently and question the status quo. But where’s that same attitude towards encouraging reducing, reusing, and recycling in the real world? When the status quo is to dismiss the concerns of the physical in exchange for the acceleration of the virtual, it’s the responsibility of connectors – the spaces that bridge the offline and online – to remind residents of their earthly impact.

For example, a common problem coworking spaces face is getting residents to do their dishes. But without the tools necessary – sponges, dish racks, handtowels – busy entrepreneurs will either leave their dirty mug in the sink or opt for a plastic cup if available. It’s up to the space to address these issues organically, not to consider the issue done when the cups are thrown in the trash. Not only is this behavior cheap, tacky, and disrespectful, it’s ultimately unsustainable – both as a business and environmental practice.

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Photo courtesy of Pexels

Successful entrepreneurs become successful by being super focused on their business. PBASA – you know this! Give them the tools they need and the quality of service that they’re paying for so that everyone can be sustainable without losing sight of business goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve or build out your coworking space, please contact me using the form below. I also recommend you download my free Green Guide, which provides helpful pointers on quickly and efficiently greening your coworking space.

Today’s Custom News Hour: 11/5/15

Environment

Persian Gulf May Become Too Hot For Humans via CBS News

What you need to know: Regardless of whether you agree with the idea well-founded scientific consensus that humans have influenced climate change, it’s undeniable that global warming is happening. Proof: the Persian Gulf, home to desert countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar, is quickly becoming inhospitable even to people who’ve adapted over years to accommodate the extreme heat.

Why does this matter: There aren’t many places on Earth that are completely off-limits, outside of polar regions, African Sahara, and the Australian Outback. Expanding hot zones will put more pressure on other regions, both environmentally and politically, and will heighten the resource crunch that a booming population with dwindling arable land is likely to face. If nothing else, the prospect of a mass migration of Muslims should galvanize conservatives to invest more in sustainable solutions, as the brown wave seems the only future they fear (despite the fact that constant immigration has underpinned American society for…ever).

Greenland is Melting Away via New York Times

What you need to know: Holy new media, Batman! The New York Times’ interactive pieces, as this August 22 piece on Palestinian shantytowns illustrates, truly takes journalism into the modern day. This article is a deep dive (no pun intended) into the process of collecting scientific data to measure rising sea levels, and is complete with looping video, reactive zooming, and unique storytelling narratives. Though I can’t say I fully understand the science behind the story, it’s still enjoyable to learn about the trials and tribulations of remote field research and the complications that arise from accepting governmental grants.

Politics

What Began as a Get Together for Bernie Fans Has Become a Three-Week Dance Party Called Bernie Man” via The Stranger

What you need to know: “Local promoter/real estate broker Cody Morrison didn’t set out to create a massive series of political dance parties. A few weeks ago, he just thought he’d throw a little get-together where friends listen to records and chip in a few bucks to that yelling candidate with the fizzy hair. Cody started pulling together the event, friends RSVPed, then a few more people caught wind of it, and within a few days there were thousands of people interested in attending.”

Why is this important: Aside from the hilarious name, the concept of creating cultural experiences around politics is critical for engaging young, disinterested voters. I had a particularly exciting induction into campaign politics, since 2008 turned out to be a universal watershed moment. However, the stark difference from past campaigns motivated me to write my thesis, “Why Youth Don’t Vote,” which has now made me acutely aware of the ways media and culture disenfranchise young people.

The article doesn’t note that the event is occurring in Seattle, where Black Lives Matter protesters famously interrupted a Bernie rally to encourage him to address systemic racial inequality. His reply, publishing a thoughtful multi-pronged approach on his website, showed his commitment to taking citizens’ issues seriously, but was received with a mixed reception. Some said that his quick turnaround showed an effective call-and-response attitude emblematic of a true representative, and others said that it’s concerning that he didn’t already have such a platform. I’m still voting for him, but I’m curious as to see what happens during the rallies.

Business

#distrosnack via 500 Startups

What you need to know: #distrosnack is a short digest of growth-related articles and tips, curated by the 500 Startups team. As I’m learning, newsletters are surprisingly one of the most effective ways to parse the deluge of industry news. For example, in one recent #distrosnack, 500 partner Tristan Pollack summarizes the four key lessons e-commerce companies can learn from viral marketplaces like Silk Road, the notorious dark web hub for illicit activity. While my company is B2B (business to business), not B2C (business to consumer), there are always insights to be gleaned by evaluating existing functions through new perspectives.

Culture

Hip-Hop and the 1977 New York City Blackout via Columbia Journalism

What you need to know: The author posits that the 1977 NYC Blackout played a pivotal role in cultivating the East Coast hip-hop scene by expanding access of turntables and other electronics to aspiring DJs (through albeit questionable means). While a direct correlation can’t be confirmed, the notion that hip-hop as an art form gained traction from looting is both an ironic and deeply meaningful idea.

Notorious RGB via Tumblr

What you need to know: An entire Tumblr exists to exalt the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now the authors have taken the next logical step and released a book. Although it’s hard to track back to the original posts prior to the book release, I recommend pursuing the Tumblr anyway as an opportunity to unearth an enormous amount of material about this inspirational and powerful woman.

“Marty Was Always My Best Friend”: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Love Story via Jezebel

What you need to know: Martin Ginsburg, RBG’s college sweetheart turned husband of nearly 60 years, passed away from cancer five years ago. This sweet tribute to their relationship, released in the aforementioned Notorious RBG book, is a behind-the-scenes story that probably will make you cry. Read at your own risk.

‘NPR Voice’ Has Taken Over the Airways via New York Times

What you need to know: “This American Life” host Ira Glass is responsible for one of the most popular and poignant radio shows on air today. Since radio relies entirely on vocal inflection and tone to communicate emotion, it would seem that Glass’ signature speech patterns would be one key to TAL’s success. Not so much, according to NYT’s Teddy Wayne, who argues that the tone in fact comes across as disingenuous. “How could I be deceiving you, the catch in the voice, the exposed seam in a sweater or the actor cracking up during an outtake asks, when I’m vulnerably baring my … flaws?”

Why is this important: It’s not, really, and the article doesn’t give much credence to the idea that maybe Glass (and other “colloquial” hosts) are onto something with this new type of speech. While it’s interesting to note the departure from traditional (often male-dominated) manners of speaking, journalists should be pushed to describe what consequence results from what they report. Otherwise, this click-bait just wasted one of my ten free NYT articles of the month (previous link re: this NYT editorial).
That being said, this clip makes the same case as Wayne, but in less than a minute, far more successfully, and actually funny even to an NPR fan. Fire, meet fire.

Today’s Custom News Hour: 10/29/15

Politics

“Larry David Played Bernie Sanders on SNL and It Was Fantastic” via TIME

What you need to know: Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) is a comic genius. He’s so skilled that he singlehandedly helped SNL, a show that’s basically running on fumes at this point, seem both clever and relevant again. Larry David is comedy’s version of Bernie Sanders (or is the the other way around?) so the choice of role couldn’t have been more perfect. Sanders / David 2016!

Hawaii Declares State of Emergency over Homelessness Crisis via NBC News

What you need to know: “Hawaii saw a 23 percent increase in its unsheltered homeless population between 2014 and 2015, and a 46 percent increase in the number of unsheltered families, said Scott Morishige, state homelessness coordinator.”

Why this is important: The sharp increase in homelessness is pretty startling, and it’s symbolic of a larger problem plaguing America. Without integrated social services, mental health facilities, and free retraining opportunities, it’s extremely difficult for displaced families to get back on their feet.

That being said, I’d be interested in learning how many of the affected population are voluntarily homeless, since the Hawaiian climate and vibe definitely invite surf bums and long-term backpackers. Living in Berkeley has made me cynical about the motives of certain demographics (i.e. street punk / trust fund kids from Marin or Maine).


Health

How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously via The Atlantic

What you need to know: “Nationwide, men wait an average of 49 minutes before receiving an analgesic for acute abdominal pain. Women wait an average of 65 minutes for the same thing. Rachel waited somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours.”

The article centers around the author’s wife’s visit to the ER, where the couple had rushed after the onset of ovarian torsion, a debilitatingly painful and potentially life-threatening condition. Despite the existence of a real emergency, she was dismissed by ER doctors and nurses and unable to get the immediate care she required, until her insistent husband corralled a doctor and forced her to take a second look.

Why this is important: I’ve written about how health care coverage negatively impacts women, but this emergency example strikes a much deeper nerve. Women, despite being portrayed as weak and dainty, have tremendous pain thresholds as a result of the constant hormonal stresses put on our bodies. When a woman complains about acute pain (particularly abdominal), it’s a strong signal that doctors should take note, as it’s likely an exception and not the rule.

What to do next: Rather than attacking Planned Parenthood, Congress needs to pass a budget that supports expanded research for gynecology and birth control alternatives. For example, male birth control would reduce the physical burden on women and allows men to finally take some real responsibility for their part in reproduction, but clinical trials have lagged due to the lack of funding. The solution would be easy to implement, extremely effective, and with limited side effects, but both Big Pharma and social convention have lobbied against it.

It’s unethical, irresponsible, and in direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians to minimize internal pain, which constitutes the majority of female-specific problems. Without comprehensive reform, however, women risk losing key organs and maybe even their life because the medical community has agreed to look the other way.

“California school becomes first to lose chairs for standing desks” via CBS News

What you need to know: A San Rafael, CA elementary school has now almost completely converted to standing desks, as a way to promote good health, active lifestyles, and an acceptance that children are fidgety.

Why this is important: Obesity is spreading across America like a fast food plague. Actions taken today can help safeguard children against future health issues associated with a lack of activity or exercise.


Business

How to Ask for Introductions (to Investors, Potential Employers, Etc.) via Dave Schappell

What you need to know: The people who you want endorsing you or your product / company / idea / etc. are likely to be pretty busy – after all, if they’re good enough for you, they’re probably good enough for a lot of others as well. How do you avoid wasting their time? Schappell points out two easy rules to follow:

1) “Make sure that I know you and/or your product well enough to make the intro.”
2) “Make it very easy for me to make the introduction. In fact, make it idiot-proof.”

Why this is important: Referrals are critical in business, but developing those referrals is an art in and of itself. Be sure to ask only people who will lend legitimacy to you or your brand, and then honor those who agree by making the process extremely simple and quick. You want them essentially to be giving their stamp of approval, not writing your marketing material themselves.

17 Thoughts Literally Everyone Has While Networking via Levo League

What you need to know: Though this is a light fluff piece, it’s pretty spot on and particularly pertinent for introverts and young professionals. Networking is a learned skill, but it becomes easier when you have 1) an objective for talking to someone and 2) something to share in return.

My advice: Identify what you’re trying to get out of a networking event before you go. If it’s a job opportunity or career advice, find out who you need to talk to and try to approach them early on. If it’s a way to learn more about a specific community, then give yourself a time limit and chat with as many people as possible. Pro-tip: networking beers are almost always your best friends, but keep it to one or two.


Design

Meadow – Medical Marijuana Delivery Service

What you need to know: I’m a big fan of clean lines, bold colors, and simple interfaces. So of course, I’m a fan of Meadow’s UI. Regardless of whether you approve of marijuana or not, you can’t deny that good design can make anything look legit and desirable. Though the actual check-out experience and delivery time could be improved, those are relatively easy problems to fix. Give them a few months, and I’m sure that Meadow will blossom. (Note: I am not a Meadow user, just an admirer.)

Living Room via Dribble

“There are so many things that I have yet to learn,” I thought, staring in awe at this incredibly detailed illustration. I’ve been learning how to design graphics by copying my favorite work on Dribbble, so I can certainly appreciate the attention that went into this – the shadow through the window, the gradient on the lights, even the shading on the lampshades. This is an excellent example of how talented graphic designers can have a significant impact on their product’s success, and in my opinion, this caliber of work would justify the big bucks.


Nature

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, CA via Flickr: Jennifer Frederick

On our recent trip to Bishop, my boyfriend introduced the group to Wild Willy’s (or Crowley’s) hot springs. Accessible only to those in the know by way of a rough rocky road and a long wooden path, the springs remain pleasantly private despite their public nature. We visited twice: once during the day to the pool pictured above, and another time at night to the larger pool downstream. Both times were incredible, which is unsurprising considering its picturesque setting in the Sierra Nevada. For climbers, adventurers, and hot springs enthusiasts, Wild Willy’s is not to be missed.

Temple Crag, CA via Instagram: Rafaela Rodriguez

Based on my assessment of “tourist v. traveler,” my friend Rafaela is a real traveler. She’s visited and lived all over the world, from the bustling metropolises of Mexico City, Tel Aviv, and Los Angeles to sleepy towns in rural Uganda, Kenya, and Nicaragua. She’s committed herself to the ups and downs of the human condition, and yet? She’s driven by the outdoors, and has seized every opportunity – both domestic and abroad – to expand her love and awe of the Earth. As a climber and hiker, she is always seeking a new adventure, and it’s that spirit that brings us this beautiful image of Temple Crag. This site is actually not too far from Wild Willy’s (relatively speaking), but there are so many things to see in that area that two separate trips might be necessary. Thanks for the inspiration, Rafaela!