Archive for January, 2012

Savvy. Competent. Knowledgeable. Well-versed. Polished. Credible. Expert. Proficient. Finesse. Prowess. None of these things come without time or without practice. You can build your level of competency at something by taking a course, but it still doesn’t mean you’re competent.

I’m starting a 10 week Biggest Loser competition tomorrow and it got me thinking about all of the other weight loss attempts I’ve made in my life. My first successful attempt was with Weight Watchers back somewhere around 2002/2003. Following their points system, I dropped about 35 lbs. Through the return of my old eating habits and some not-so-pleasant life experiences, it crept back on. I figured I’d try Herbal Magic next. This was 2004. I had some success there, but kept expecting their magical pills to do more of the work than I was willing to do at the time. Now, there’s no magic pills, there’s no points systems. There’s just me and my eating and exercise habits. Why? Because I know what to do. I just haven’t done it yet.

Stay with me, I do have a point. How many times have you gone to a conference or taken a course to find your world is blown away with all the brand new info and knowledge you’ve just gained? If it’s your first time seeing the material, probably a ton. If it’s a conference for the industry you’re employed in, I’m willing to bet you’re happy if you can even pick up 3 new takeaways. More often than not, we sit there thinking, “Yeah, yeah. I KNOW this stuff already.” Sure you know it. But have you applied it yet?

I know all of the steps I should be taking to fit into my old jeans again. You can sure bet I haven’t been doing them. How can you tell? Well… I’d be wearing my old jeans. But just because I “know” what I “should” be doing, doesn’t mean I’m knowledgeable in the subject. Again, how can you tell? I’m not wearing my old jeans. I haven’t put it to practice… yet.

Watch for people claiming any of the words I’ve listed above. Especially if you know nothing about whatever it is they’re trying to teach you or sell you on. There are plenty of folks out there who aren’t walking the talk, but are happy to be leaving with your moolah anyway. Ask what kind of results they’ve had. Long term results. You should be confident that whatever they will be teaching you is sustainable over the long-term. We all know how well fad diets work. Whether it’s a course on business or marketing (particularly social marketing), a new skill you’re trying to pick up, techniques to improve your performance (mind in gutter or not), do yourself a favour and do your due diligence. Question their savviness, competency, knowledge, well-versedness, polishing, credibility, expertise, proficiency, finesse and/or prowess. And, if it’s something you already “know,” don’t waste their time. Get your butt in gear, apply what you know first and then head back for help. Who knows? With all that practice, maybe you’ll be the one at the head of the class.


I’ve had my Paypal account for AGES. I also haven’t used it in AGES. I attempted to login a couple of days ago to send someone some money and, for the life of me, could not remember my password. I tried the password reset via email, but the link that came in the emails just kept redirecting back to Paypal’s main page. With a request in to their helpdesk, the suggestion that came back was to phone in to have this resolved sooner rather than later.

Today, armed with the last 4 digits of the bank account I’ve got hooked into Paypal, that’s exactly what I did. It was easy, painless, seamless and fast. The steps:

1. I phoned their customer support line. The automated voice was able to confirm who I was using the last 4 digits of my account number.

2. Once I was confirmed, it automatically (and instantly) sent me an email with a password reset link… and it actually worked!

3. I clicked on the link and the automated system gave me a 5 digit code to enter into the page I was on.

Paypal Password Reset

4. Once I clicked “continue,” I was brought to a page to reset my password and security questions.

5. Voila! All logged in and all under 5 minutes.

If you’re using an automated system in conjunction with your website, make it this easy and people will appreciate it almost as much as a talking to a person… almost.

Either way, password recovered, payment made and one happy Paypal customer served!

What made this worth blogging about? Well, for one it’s always nice to shout out companies when they’ve done something right, especially for an area they might not otherwise hear much about (like password reset processes and experiences) and I think it’s an example for the rest of us to strive for. There were no wait queues for the help desk. I didn’t have to press 1 to speak to an agent or try to explain my entire issue to three different people because I phoned the wrong department. They kept it simple, clean and fast. Thanks Paypal!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was an early patron of internet dating sites. Yep, I had profiles on the likes of Lavalife and POF for some years. These early social media sites (yes I call them social media sites, after all, what’s more social than meeting people and dating?) were my way to pre-screen. And it worked pretty well I’d say. I invested a lot of time in talking to people on the site to find those genuinely interested in meeting someone vs. those looking for a quick bootie call or the serial daters. My use of dating sites fell by the wayside probably somewhere in the realm of 5 or 6 years ago. But I kept my profiles, you know, “just in case”. I didn’t have any particular beef with any of them. I had met some genuinely good people (it’s all about the pre-screen).

One day, I got around to cleaning out my inbox. I did one purge a couple of months back, unsubscribing from as many e-newsletters and regular mailouts that I could stand to do in one sitting. But when 300 unread emails still piled up over the course of a few weeks, it was clear more of them had to be on the chopping block. As I scrolled through the unread messages, a POF update came across my line of vision. “A-ha! I haven’t used that in years!” What the hell, I’ll go all in and delete my account altogether. Well, when I clicked on the link from the email to change my profile preferences, guess what I saw?

The message on my POF profile page

There’s nothing wrong with the top one. People pay attention to real people with real photos more so than those with no picture or fake photos, that one’s a no-brainer. My eyes fell on the second notice. Well how about that! Somewhere in the last 5 years, I’ve found myself a husband, managed to get myself hooked on any number of drugs and taken to poisoning myself with a cancer stick. Man, I’ve been busy! Had I logged in to update my POF profile, I could’ve avoided so many problems. And found a nice man to keep me out of trouble. What kind of guy did I marry anyway that would support such habits?

Like I said, I had no beef with POF before deleting my account. But after seeing that? I gleefully, yes gleefully pressed the delete button.

Have you noticed how ridiculous it is that we’ve got a distracted driving law? It’s not ridiculous to want to stop people from chatting on their phones, texting, checking their emails, shaving, putting on their mascara, etc. while driving, but what is ridiculous is we’ve come so far down this road that our own government’s got to impose a law to protect us from ourselves. When did it become okay for us not to pay attention?

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but over the last few months I’ve found myself getting annoyed at the very behaviours I used to model… keeping my cell phone on the table while out for coffee with someone, live tweeting an event, checking for emails or texts or messages so periodically I couldn’t even keep track of the amount of times I would look at my iPhone in a day…

Back in November, I was out with a few of the Calgary yelpers at Craft. We had all pulled out our phones at one point or another, so I decided to impose a no phone rule for 30 minutes. If anyone so much as looked at their phones during that time, they had to buy us all dessert. Ten minutes in, guess who lost at her own game?

It’s not just our phones. It’s the fact that many of us find our self-worth at the mall, we make ourselves feel better by letting out a snarky comment instead of pointing that same finger right back at ourselves, or we find ways not to fix our own problems by dismissing them with a phrase like, “Oh, such a first world problem!” It may be a first world problem, but the fact that we then don’t follow-up with any action to correct it is a slippery slope.

It’s still way too early to tell what kind of impact this new wave of communication will have on us, we’re the ones experimenting with it. But I’ve taken my head out of the sand and I don’t think I want to stick it back in. I feel like it’s irresponsible of us to go forth with so much gusto without examining the impacts it has on our lives. Are we satisfied being friend collectors, having many surface relationships (which in turn are another great way to ensure we don’t ever have to dive too deep)? Or are we consciously finding the balance between these online connections and the deep, personal connections we ultimately need to find happiness and satisfaction in our lives? Some of us do the latter quite well. But the majority of us? Well, I think the existence of The Distracted Driving Law says it all.