Monday, December 1, 2008


My belly is as big as my head. Sure, you'll snicker at that comment, but know that it's the truth. See, when the holidays roll around many Americans look forward to the opportunity to connect with family, engage in spirited past-times, and above all, eat good food. While the stufessional craves the same, and by no means in short-order, the stufessional must also continue the professional/personal balance to maximize their time effectively.

The holidays reserve time away from work to enjoy a short respite. This time is critical for stufessionals who can capitalize on getting their school work done, and in some cases, get ahead in their work.

Such an effort does not come with chagrin, for the holidays are characteristically a time to rejoice in the wealth of one's social and familial circle. It is a big bummer to have to pull oneself away from festivities to pound out a paper.

Thus, having played teeter-totter over Thanksgiving, I offer several points for the future for all stufessionals:

1) GET 'EM DONE: Procrastination will bring down a nation, as I like to say. I don't really, I just like sounding verbose once in a while. Don't wait until the last minute to get the work done. This is common sense, but moreover, get the work done as early as possible. Think of the Christmas ham or Thanksgiving bird as your reward. Celebrate the holidays at the same time as you celebrate the completion of your school work.

2) STAY FOCUSED: It is so tempting to pick and choose which events to be part of. Maybe you'll have dinner with friends here, check out a movie with family there, see your college buddies at the pub elsewhere - but it all adds up to a Swiss cheese schedule. Knowing myself, I find it very difficult to go in and out of work mode. Fun is a drug, which undoubtedly leads to more fun. Stay focused and get your work done to have fun later on.

3) LEAVE THE LAST DAY TO YOURSELF: Regardless of your balance between school work and holiday bliss, make sure to leave the day before you return to the office for yourself. It is good to decompress following the seasonal extravaganzas. Get ready to shift gears again and jump back into your work clothes.

Those are just a few suggestions of mine from personal experience. I would love to hear what you think. Perhaps you can expand on what I've offered as solutions to this time management issue.

- Jared

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Actively Passive

As I learn format and language for writing press releases and broadcast news stories, I regress to an earlier stage in professional development. I'm not talking about the first business venture I ran out of my parent's basement (sharpening skis for neighbors), I'm talking about my Peace Corps service in Togo, West Africa.

Leaving the English language for French not only made me more aware of sentence structure, but also with how I use structure. For what seemed like the first time, I met the conditional tense, future imperative, and the present perfect, to name a few. Breaking down how I had been speaking years prior revealed my individual choices for communicating.

I found an overabundance of the conditional tense (expressing desire for something without knowledge of receipt). The conditional tense makes use of "would", "would like", "perhaps" and "can."

For speaking simplicity cultural appropriateness, I adopted the present tense. I went from vague politeness of "would like" to the more direct "want". Togolese also spoke predominantly in the present tense. French was not their first language, so the breadth of the vocabulary was not exercised. I remember feeling uncomfortable and even offended at times from present tense speech in my host country.

As time passed, I grew to appreciate the present tense more. It engaged me.

Back in America, I find myself sliding back into the conditional tense. I have to work a bit harder here and there to employ the present tense. And when I do, I carefully gauge if a request or expression comes across as strong.

It is amazing how culture influences expression. Writing in the present tense for news stories or press releases is part of the broadcast culture. Learning, cultivating, and employing active language not only aids the communication process, but creates synergy with recipients.

- Jared

Monday, November 24, 2008

Opiate Of The Masses

Stufessionals crave knowledge for the self and society. In this relentless pursuit, they make sacrifices. Sacrifices most commonly tally in the personal life. Something has to give in order to stave from near mental breakdown.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating. In this state of mind, I most likely am. See, I'm drinking a Coca-Cola. I've already had two cups of coffee with plenty of sugar.

My mind feels like it's spinning in washing machine (with energy efficiency), my bowels feel like their on vacation (figure that one out), and my gut feels as hollow as a dead poplar.

Caffeine is most certainly the opiate of the masses. It's cheap, attractive, fun, and - thanks to caramel color - black like the pits of hell.

I find myself reaching for the white wave classic far too often. I know what it does to me, yet I still chose to put the devil inside me. My lack of will power underlines my frailty. I ration that I am only a human being bound by original sin.

Why then, with Biblical complications of my actions, do I choose to imbibe caffeine? The answer is simple. I don't want to sacrifice. Gosh, that makes me sound like a dictator of a small, isolated country.

While this issue is undoubtedly tied to the complex psychology of yours truly, it does underline how some stufessionals (and there are others who does this beside myself) push themselves to keep going when they should surrender once in a while. I'm not saying wave the white flag and lie down. I'm thinking more along the lines of how U2 waved the white flag at a concert in Red Rocks in 1983.

I'm drinking water now. And I will get more. Some times I fall down in judgment, but I have to pick myself up again and keep going. There are greater tragedies than having a Coke. To maintain effectiveness and be healthy, a stufessional should address their needs rather than turn to quick fixes.

- Jared

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Journey's End?

Technically speaking, the journey is at an end for the stufessional blog. Academically speaking, however, the journey continues through various permutations of PR bliss. To stop writing is antithetical to the saga. What would the Lord of the Rings be if Frodo took a vacation?

I have decided to place an entry today as a demonstration of that continuation. I will travel all the way to Mordor.

As a stufessional, I am preoccupied with efforts to improve myself. When I receive graded work from a professor, I rewrite it and resubmit it. Perhaps my efforts are not reread, nevertheless I have completed the act for myself. I do not accept the graded document as a completion to a contract.

To illustrate my point - of not giving up and continuing despite an end - I'm going to reference you to a gallery of photographs: CLICK HERE.

- Jared

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stages in Effective Dialogues - A la EXTCD

Just sharing something on effective communication from work.

Focus on other(s)
Use body language effectively
Use silence/pauses effectively
Reflect and verbalize feelings
Summarize content

Use on e question at a time
Use silence/pauses effectively
Reflect and verbalize feelings
Summarize content

Describe problem (not person)
Explain consequences (not threats)
Give clear and specific message
Focus on actionable behavior
Seek commitment
Agree on next steps

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Celebration of the Hamster; The Stufessional’s Ancestor

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Excerpt from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Prior to our plugged in, maxed out, over-achiever mindset existence there was the hamster, likely the Stufessional’s ancestor evolving by natural selection. Nearing the end of my rope one day, I retreated into the recesses of my mind to ponder our ancestor and marvel at how we broke off from that lineage to form performance-oriented type-A superhuman.

Rooted in pragmatism and loathing inefficiency, I simply dismissed the hamster as an idiot when I was younger. Until I began to feel more and more like the idiot hamster recently, I assumed the fruitless running on his wheel each night was born out of a desire to get somewhere, anywhere, but my brother’s smelly pre-pubescent room.

What cracked open an entry into hamster enlightenment was the realization that hamsters don’t have emotions. That’s right—they only have instinct. Instinct seemed like a viable reason to go back and re-think the value of the hamster wheel.

I wasn’t there the day my mom bought the hamster for my brother. I don’t know if the wheel was optional for exercise, but I also don’t know of any hamster that doesn’t have a wheel. They just go together. The funny scene from Chevy Chase’s European Vacation “look kids, there’s Big Ben” overtakes my mind when thinking about any repetitious task. The hamster never seemed to mind repetition though, even when he went nowhere. It was like Big Ben was brand new each night.

What drives this small animal to never miss a night on his wheel? What keeps him in a perfect disciplined routine in the absence of movement?

He has promises to keep to himself that only he knows about. He enjoys the journey, rather than the destination. He defines achievement by his perseverance. He is self-driven. He won’t sleep until he is done.

The hamster went further on his wheel each night than I realized. He also showed me the way to go on from here.

--Lynn Johnson
Stufessional and admirer of the hamster

Facetime with Facebook

Another long sigh coming from my voicemail....
Another person who wants to get together....
Another friend I don’t have time to catch up with....

Don’t they know that everyone is going digital now?

Pressing for face-to-face “get togethers” from a Stufessional is as ridiculous as the woman on Brett Michaels' Rock of Love TV show last season who screamed she wanted “facetime” with Brett, when about a dozen other women of ill-repute were fighting for his attention. It just seems a little silly.

When you care enough to send a poke but don’t have time to put in a call, Facebook is the answer. This virtual social scene works on your schedule. For instance, I can log-on at any time of the day and respond in an organized rapid fashion to everyone who has poked me, sent an email, posted a comment or sent a gift to me. In record speed, I can respond to all social overtures toward me in a fashion that only the commitment-phobic, or people who simply do not have time to socialize, would love.

Facebook also makes a Stufessional, who has little time for friends, feel loved and needed. It satisfies the basic human need for attention. For instance, who knew I had nearly 200 friends? I mean, does anybody have 200 friends in real life? It can satisfy even the most curious voyer by offering opportunities to rifle through other friends’ pictures, notes, bios and other personal information that maybe none of us should be putting on the Internet in the first place.

The most important feature Facebook offers a Stufessional is a tracking system for birthdays. Oh, the relief of never forgetting another friend’s birthday! All you have to do is check your homepage.... and upcoming birthdays are listed right there. If you are really savvy, you can find a free gift to post on their wall to make their day special!

Facebook---it’s the preferred social outlet for the Stufessional who otherwise would live a life of total solitude.

--Lynn Johnson
Stufessional and Facebook user