Book Review: Lean In

Lean In

I recently read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg in order to become more inspired. Many of my friends rave about this book, so I had to see for myself what it was all about. As printed on the book’s cover, Lean In is about “women, work, and the will to lead.” Sheryl Sandberg currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. In a male-dominated industry in Silicon Valley, Sandberg stands out as the the only female on Facebook’s leadership team. Over fifty percent of college graduates in the United States are women, but men still hold a majority of leadership positions in jobs. With her book, Sandberg highlights gender inequality in the workplace and offers advice to empower women with knowledge and confidence. In order for women to battle gender inequality and rise to the top at work, they have to lean in. To “lean in” means to be assertive and to become a leader, not a follower. Each chapter of Lean In discusses a different challenge, stereotype, or stigma that women face at work. There were three chapters that particularly stood out to me: Sit at the Table, Are You My Mentor?, and The Myth of Doing It All.

In Sit at the Table, Sandberg talks about how in many situations, women tend to hold themselves back and watch from the sidelines. Sandberg provides an example of a time she hosted a Silicon Valley executive meeting at Facebook, with the attendees consisting of mostly men and a few females. Instinctively, the men grabbed plates of food first and sat down at the large conference table in the room. In contrast, the women waited to grab their food second and chose to sit in the chairs on the side of room. Although the women were equal in position to the men at the meeting, they subdued themselves to spectators rather than participants. Sandberg asserts that despite their achievements and credibility, women experience self-doubt and feel as if they will be discovered as frauds at any moment. Women tend to judge themselves more critically and attribute success to external factors beyond their own abilities. In order for women to conquer their self-doubt, they need to be more assertive and confident with themselves and learn to sit at the table.

The second chapter that stood out to me in Lean In is Are You My Mentor? In this chapter, Sandberg explores the fact that women are actively seeking mentors. While men seek mentors to focus on managing a business, women seek mentors to focus on managing a career. Women attribute career success to having a mentor, who they see as someone who will help them find the perfect work/life balance. Sandberg argues that mentorship is important for both men and women, but it is harder for women to find mentors. There is a scarcity of female mentors who hold high positions in companies. In order to solve this problem, companies need to offer programs and encourage upper level females to mentor younger women within the company.

The third chapter that stood out to me was The Myth of Doing It All. Society places boundaries on women to either have a career or a family, but not both. Young women pursue their careers with the anticipation of sacrificing the chance to have a family. Sandberg proves this societal belief wrong by highlighting that women can have both a career and a family, but it often comes at a price. Women who choose to balance both a career and a family are naturally set up by society to fail. In order to overcome the barriers thrown at working mothers, women often have to make adjustments to their schedules and define specific times for work and family.

Throughout Lean In, Sandberg touched on a variety of topics that I could relate to concerning gender inequality in the workplace. I believe that women are often set up for failure in their careers as they are often forced to choose between a successful career or family. As someone who wants both, it was refreshing to gain Sandberg’s perspective on how to make it happen. I am a young female entering a male-dominated workforce, and I want to be equipped with the right mindset to launch a successful career. Reading Lean In was a helpful addition to my reading list and is something I think every female college student should read. Overall, gaining Sandberg’s advice and perspective on how women must fight gender inequality in their careers has empowered me, and I am finally ready to lean in.

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Tools & Tips for Making a Website

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make a website? We live in a digital era, where the Internet is a powerful resource that people can use to do just about anything. The world is quickly moving towards digital technologies, and there is a high demand for people in jobs with technical skills. Especially in the field of digital marketing, employers are looking for potential hires that are well-versed and experienced in both marketing and technology. Many colleges do not teach techical coding and design skills to marketing majors, so we often have to teach ourselves. Fortuantely, I was give the opportunity to learn web development skills through the New Media Institute at UGA. With these skills, I have coded several websites myself, including christinapaulk.com, where this blog is hosted on. Web development is such an important and essential skill for marketing majors, but many students overlook opportunities to learn it. Below are my tips and tools for novice web developers to prove that anyone can make a website—not just computer science majors!

1.Purchase Your Own Domain Name

I cannot stress enough on how important this first tip is. A domain is the web address type into a browser to find your website. Many people start building their blogs and websites on freemium hosting platforms such as WordPress and Wix, but opt in for the free version rather than paying a little extra to own their own domain name. As a result, many novice website owners end up with web addresses such as yournamehere.wordpress.com. Not only does this web address make it obvious that the site’s owner is a beginner, but is lengthy and unprofessional. If you are putting your website address on your LinkedIn and business cards, it is more impressive and professional if you own your own domain so go ahead an invest a little money into one. Good domains encompass the purpose of the website and are simple and to the point. Using your name is a good idea for professional career websites (ex: johnsmith.com). Here are some places you can purchase your own domain:

2. Learn How to Code

Learning how to code might seem difficult and scary, but I promise you it is not! Coding is not rocket science and is actually easier to understand than you think. As a novice web developer, you only need to learn these three coding languages to build an impressive website:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The language that describes the structure of a webpage.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): The language that describes the presentation of a webpage including fonts, layout, and colors.
  • JavaScript: The language that describes the animations and interactivity of a webpage.

There are a bunch of free websites online that provide interactive lessons that teach you how to code. Here are some of my favorites:

3. Use a Template

After you learn how to code, the quickest and easiest way to build your own website is to download a website template. With a template, all of the hard work of developing a website from scratch is already completed for you—all you have to do is fill in the blanks with your own pictures and content! I also suggest that you download a template that is adapted for responsive web design. What is that? Responsive web design is where you have a website where the content easily adapts and changes based on the viewing device and screen size. Mobile websites are just as important as desktop websites, so having a responsive website is pretty much expected these days. Here are some places to find free HTML website templates:

4. Learn Graphic Design 

Now that you have the basic skills to code, you need to make your website visually appealing to your visitors. Web developers that put thought into the visual design of their websites create websites that are more successful and engaging than websites where no thought was put into the visual design. Keep this tip in mind—less is more. Create visuals for your website that encompass simplicity and purpose. Don’t use too many contrasting fonts or colors and don’t clutter your website with unnecessary content. Develop a specific aesthetic design for your website and stick to it. Here are some online graphic design tools that are free alternatives to Photoshop:

Hopefully this post has provided you with useful tips and tools for novice web developers. Now it’s time for you to go out and make your own website!

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How to Take Better Pictures

Most of the content we consume online involves some kind of visual aspect, making photography a very high-in-demand skill. We live in a digital age where access to photography equipment is easier than ever before. Cameras come in a variety of ranges from smartphones to DSLR, but owning a fancy camera does not automatically turn someone into a photographer. Just like learning how to play an instrument, photography is an art that takes time to develop skill. Not everyone has access to a professional-grade camera. In fact, the quality of smartphone cameras are improving with time and have the ability to capture beautiful photos. I enjoy taking pictures, but in no way do I consider myself to be an expert photographer. In fact, I don’t even own a DSLR camera; all the pictures I take are with my smartphone.

This week in my New Media Design class we began our unit on photography. My professor shared eight simple tips with the class on how to capture better photos. We were then given the task to take eight different pictures, each demonstrating one of the eight tips for good photography. I went back through my archives of pictures I took this year to find examples for this assignment, and found that I was using all of my professor’s tips before even knowing about them! I would like to share my pictures with you to show that with a smartphone camera and an editing app, even novice photographers can take great pictures!

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S6 (1440 x 2560 pixels)

Editing App: VSCO

Here the pictures I took that exhibit the eight helpful tips I learned in class:

1. Simplify: 

Less is more. Focus in on a single subject and remove all other unnecessary objects.

Backyard • Atlanta, GA • June 2016

2. The Rule of Thirds: 

The human eye finds images divided into thirds very appealing. A picture can be divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Instead of placing your subject in the center, try offsetting it to the left or right side of the frame.

Pacific Ocean • Santa Monica, CA • March 2016

3. The Golden Ratio: 

Using the Fibonacci Spiral, the Golden Ratio divides the picture and positions elements into proportions that are appealing to the eye. Famous paintings such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper are all composed based on the Golden Ratio. The science behind this concept is that the densest part of the photo (containing the subject) is at the center of the spiral. As the spiral progresses, the density of the photo’s contents decrease. You can learn more about it here.

Santa Monica Pier • Santa Monica, CA • March 2016

4. Rule of Odds: 

Photographers should always be looking out for opportunities to break rules and capture the unexpected. The human brain is trained to find comfort in even numbers, limited contrast, and vertical/horizontal lines. Pictures that follow the norm are often boring. Instead, capture pictures with an odd number of objects to catch the viewer’s interest.

Painted Ladies • San Francisco, CA • April 2016

5. Look for Contrast: 

Use lighting and contrasting colors to create depth and emphasize a focus on the subject.

JFK International Airport • New York, NY • May 2016

6. Use Diagonals and Curves: 

Diagonal lines and curves are way more interesting than straight lines.

Palau de la Música Catalana • Barcelona, Spain • May 2016

7. Leading Lines:

Use leading lines as a way to direct the viewer to the subject. Leading lines create an extra layer of depth and point the viewer exactly where you want them to look.

Reynolds Lake Oconee • Greensboro, GA • May 2016

8. Give Space: 

If your subject is looking at something outside of the frame, don’t crop the picture at the end of the face. Instead, give the subject some space. Extend the frame a little bit more in the direction of the subject’s visual path to give the viewer more context of what the subject is looking at.

Home • Atlanta, GA • August 2016

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Snapchat is Stepping Up Their Game

Snapchat is Stepping Up Their Game

Big changes are coming to Snapchat. This weekend Snapchat fittingly renamed their company to Snap Inc., which coincides with the announcement of their first hardware product, Spectacles. Snapchat users are no longer tied down to the app on their phones, as the company is branching out to creating a new user experience with the help of other products. Snapchat’s Spectacles will be available for limited purchase later this fall, just in time for the holiday season. Spectacles is Snapchat’s marriage of features from both the Google Glass and the GoPro. Users wear the Snapchat accessory while they are out and about and tap on the side of the glasses if they want to start recording a video. The Spectacles record videos in 10 second increments and sync wirelessly to your smartphone. Users can access their videos in Snapchat Memories and then share them with family and friends.

Spectacles

For the price of $129.99, Spectacles are very affordable compared to the hefty $1,500 price of its competitor, Google Glass. Due to its affordability, people are predicting that Snapchat’s Spectacles could change the way we use Snapchat on our phones, if they’re successful. Photo and video sharing will become hands-free and real-time, and more oriented to the photographer’s perspective. Spectacles are only available in one style, but come in three different color choices: black, teal, and coral. I think that Snapchat’s Spectacles are a really cool concept, but are currently more of a novelty item than a game-changer. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap Inc., even admits that he sees Spectacles as a “toy” that will enhance the Snapchat user experience. Spectacles will be really popular with the 13-24 year old demographic that Snapchat currently has a strong influence over, but I think that Snapchat will have a harder time branching out to older consumers with the childish look of these glasses. If Spectacles were to be offered in more stylish and mature choices in the future, then I think Snapchat could get older consumers to purchase the product.

Snapchat2In addition to releasing Spectacles this fall, Snapchat is also attempting to revive the short-lived QR code with their version, the Snapcode. Snapcodes have been around on Snapchat for a while as a quick feature for app users to add new friends. All Snapchat users have their own personal Snapcode tied to their account. Snapchat is taking the Snapcode to the next level by partnering with brands to feature Snapcodes on advertisements. Universal Pictures is one of the first companies to test this new feature for Snapchat with an advertisement promoting the release of their new movie, “The Girl on the Train.” QR codes failed because people had to download separate single-purpose apps on their phones in order to read the codes. Snapcodes might be more successful because many people already have the Snapchat app on their phones, and the app has more purpose than just for reading the Snapcodes. What differentiates a Snapcode ad from a regular advertisement is that the Snapcode links users to an “enhanced” advertising experience through the Snapchat app. Users simply scan the Snapcode with their phones and are immediately unlock content for the ad which could include a Snapchat discover article for the movie or an exclusive movie filter.

With the release of Spectacles and Snapcode ads, Snapchat is making big changes this fall in order to stay prominent and relevant. What do you think about all these major changes Snapchat is implementing? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Thoughts on iPhone 7 from an Android User

Thoughts on iPhone 7

I have some shocking news to tell you: I don’t own an iPhone–I’m an Android user. Maybe I’m just exposed to a biased group of people, but many people I encounter are often surprised by this news. The Apple vs Android rivalry is real, and people are very brand loyal to whichever side they root for. Since I currently own a Samsung Galaxy S6, I am a bit biased towards the Android side, but it doesn’t mean that I hate Apple. In fact, I really like Apple and their products–I just happen to own an Android phone. If you’ve been on the Internet this past week, you know that Apple recently held their Keynote Event on 7 September. At this event, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 7:

The iPhone 7 was my favorite product announced at the event because it was the most controversial and highly anticipated product to be released at the Apple Keynote. Over the past few months, rumors that the iPhone 7 was going to ditch the headphone plug have created a lot of media buzz. At the Apple Keynote on Wednesday, Apple did in fact confirm that the new iPhone 7 would not have a headphone plug. iPhone 7 users will now plug in their headphones into the Lighting port or connect through Bluetooth. This is a very bold move for Apple, and it has received a mixture of positive and negative reactions from the public:

Soon after the Apple Keynote Event, College Humor released this parody video of Apple’s iPhone 7 introduction video. The video makes fun of Apple and iPhone 7 and argues that it is actually worse: 

Although many iPhone users are upset that the new iPhone 7 ditched the traditional headphone plug, I think that it is a significant improvement in design to the iPhone. Apple is a company that strongly believes in simplicity and innovation and they did exactly that with this bold move. Contrary to popular belief, the iPhone 7 is not the first smartphone to get rid of the headphone plug. Motorola already beat Apple to it earlier this year with the Moto Z Droid, which connects audio through a USB-C port. Globally, there are more iPhone users than Moto Z Droid users, which is why Apple’s decision to take away the headphone plug from the iPhone 7 is such a big deal–it impacts more people.

Efficient technology strives for minimalism and efficiency. Apple was able to find a way for audio through the Lightning port, so why should they keep two ports on the iPhone that can serve the same purpose? By removing the headphone port, the iPhone 7 is thinner and has more internal real estate for other features. It will be a big move for iPhone 7 users to convert all of their audio accessories and equipment to the Lightning port, but Apple has done this before when they took away the DVD drive from their MacBooks. iPhone 7 users now only have to worry about one port of connection on their phones.

One design element that Apple did not focus on that I would have liked to have seen added is wireless charging with the iPhone. The Lightning port is the plug that iPhone users charge their phones. Since Apple gave the port dual functionality now with the iPhone 7, how are iPhone 7 users going to be able to charge their phones and listen to audio at the same time? Wireless charging would have been a useful feature for Apple to release with the iPhone 7 so that users could do both. Apple’s biggest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy, has had the wireless charging capability since the Galaxy S6, so why couldn’t the iPhone 7 have this feature also?

I do believe that Apple values the user experience above all else. Like I mentioned before, Apple strives for simplicity and innovation. Each time they release new generations of their products features are either added or taken away with purpose. By doing this, Apple is finding ways to improve upon their products and create a positive user experience. Although there are mixed reactions towards the iPhone 7, I believe that Apple is doing an excellent job at adapting smartphones for the future– and that is a good thing, especially coming from an Android user.

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How Netflix Caters to Nostalgic Millennials

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Pop culture in 2016 has been experiencing a blast from the past. You might have recently noticed the growing trend of bringing back popular movies, TV shows, and characters from the ’80s to early ’00s. This year we’ve even seen several comebacks from popular franchises including Harry Potter, Pokémon, and Ghostbusters.The rise of the Internet disrupted the entertainment industry and has forever changed how we distribute and view media. Movie theaters and cable TV providers are struggling to retain and bring in new customers, especially within the Millennial demographic. So how exactly does bringing back fan favorites from the ’80s to early ’00s help the entertainment industry? They’ve found a sweet spot with Millennials and it is called nostalgia marketing.

Nostalgia marketing is marketing aimed at evoking a feeling of nostalgia in customers. The Millennial demographic covers a wide range of people including younger Millennials (like myself) who are in college, to older Millennials who are settling down and starting families. Millennials are in a transitional state in their lives. As we get older, our desire to hold on to our childhood increases. Millennials grew up with the rise of the Internet and saw it evolve into the Internet we know today. Many Millennials would argue that due to our exposure to technology from a young age, we grew up too fast and didn’t get to properly enjoy our childhood. The lack of experiencing childhood is why Millennials respond so well to nostalgia marketing. Nostalgia targets feelings and emotions from the past, and Millennials actively seek media and entertainment that reminds them of the good old days. This is where Netflix comes into the picture:

Life is full again…VERY full. #FullerHouse A new generation is moving into the Tanner home on February 26th!

A video posted by Fuller House (@fullerhouse) on

Netflix has figured out a way to draw more Millennial customers to their service through nostalgia marketing. By supporting revivals of fan favorite TV shows from the 80’s to early 00’s, Netflix is definitely winning at the nostalgia game. We’ve seen new Netflix Original content for shows such as Fuller House, Arrested Development, Degrassi, and the soon to be released Gilmore Girls. All of these shows already have well-established fanbases among Millennials and are shows that viewers are familiar with. Through the revivals, Netflix is targeting the already established fanbase and growing it even more with all the media buzz created from news outlets like BuzzFeed. A prime example of this is Netflix’s revival of Full House with their show, Fuller House. Older Millennials grew up watching Full House when it aired on TV. Now that they are starting their own families, they are more likely to watch Fuller House because it is already a show they are familiar with and is a piece of their childhood they want to share with their children. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

When Gilmore Girls ended  in 2007, fans were extremely upset that the show was over. Due to a dispute between the creator of Gilmore Girls and the network, Gilmore Girls fans did not get a proper conclusion in the series finale. Thanks to reruns of Gilmore Girls on ABC Family, the show became a household staple for many and continued to build the fanbase of viewers who were not able to watch it when it was live. Since its finale, devout fans started a movement to bring back Gilmore Girls in order to have a more satisfying conclusion. Thanks to the Internet, Netflix noticed the loud cries of Gilmore Girls fans and agreed to bring back the show for a four part miniseries to air in November. The revival Gilmore Girls series is creating lots of buzz around the Internet and is anticipated to perform extremely well for Netflix.

A photo posted by @gilmoregirls on

Not only is Netflix reviving fan favorite TV shows from the ’80s to early ’00s, but they are also attempting to create new original series that are inspired from nostalgic time periods. The newly released show, Stranger Things, is a prime example of this. Stranger Things is set in the ’80s and is inspired by sci-fi from the decade. It draws on elements from Stephen King novels and has the aesthetic of  an ’80s horror movie. Even the soundtrack of the TV show sounds like it was created in the ’80s . In the video below, Vox investigates how the iconic title sequence for Stranger Things came to be and what inspired it. Stranger Things has been a very successful show for Netflix and proves that nostalgia marketing is the best way for them to bring in audiences.

We all want to remember the good old days of our childhood and Netflix is doing exactly that with nostalgia marketing. What’s your favorite revival show on Netflix? Do you have any requests for shows to come back? Let me know in the comments!

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Virtual Reality is Evolving Video Marketing

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The term, “virtual reality,” has been a trending buzzword in the world of technology recently. We’ve been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) since as early as the nineteenth century, but the rise of computing technologies and 3D graphics have really accelerated our ability to create and capture images in 360°.  The development of VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and the Samsung Gear VR have made VR a more affordable and desirable reality. The growing popularity and number of VR headset users are pushing for more content to be created for their devices–this is where 360° video fits into the picture.

In March 2015, YouTube unveiled the ability for users to upload and watch 360° videos on their website and mobile app. Soon after, Facebook launched 360° video and photos in September 2015. The rise of 360° photos and videos have completely change how we view images online. It allows us to literally “see the full picture” and adds a new element of depth and dimension. Now that we’ve had a year to experiment with VR features on YouTube and Facebook, we have a better understanding of what VR is and how it fits into our lives. Marketers are taking advantage of VR technologies to reach out to their audiences through new methods. Here are four ways how video marketing is evolving with virtual reality:

*NOTE: To get the full 360° experience of the videos below, they must be viewed on Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer browsers (not compatible with Safari).

1. Opportunity for Companies to Showcase Products

360° video gives companies the opportunity to be transparent to their customers and showcase their products at the same time. In the example below, NESCAFÉ takes their viewers on a virtual ride through a farm where they source their coffee beans from. Through the 360° video, viewers develop a connection with NESCAFÉ’s coffee because they are learning about the coffee’s source and interacting with the product.

2. Promoting Destinations

The travel and hospitality industries are also taking advantage of VR technologies to attract tourists to destinations around the world. 360° videos allow people see the scenery and attractions of a destination as if they were actually there. Hilton created a 360° video to advertise their hotels and resorts as family-friendly and relaxing destinations with the video below:

3. Enhancing Personal Brands

As VR technology becomes more affordable, an increasing number of vloggers are posting 360° videos to YouTube. 360° vlogs allow vloggers to enhance their personal brands by giving their viewers a full view into their lives and developing a sense of personal connection. Viewers can watch vlogs from a different perspective each time and focus on the areas of a vlog that interest them the most. Below is an example of a 360° vlog:

4. Audience Engagement

Finally, brands are using 360° videos to create advertisements that engage audiences. These sponsored videos are fun, entertaining, and don’t feel like ads. Dos Equis created this murder-mystery themed video below to attract customers to their brand:

Now that you’ve learned more about marketing through VR and 360° videos, do you think is it just a buzzing trend or a lasting innovation? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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