Week 3 MNGT 137

After reading the section Principles of Empathetic Communication in The 7 Habits of Highly effective people, I aimed to apply this knowledge to my micro business. The three most important sub topics I took away from my reading were Character and Communication, Empathetic Listening, and Understanding and Perception.

Character Communication refers to the four basic forms of communication; reading, writing, speaking and listening, and how we use them every day. In the reading, Stephen Covey states “communication is the most important skill in life.” As humans, in order to effectively influence others, we must first understand them, and this can only happen by listening to them.

If communication really is the most important skill in life, than applying it to my micro business with help me greatly increase the connection I have with my customers and help me build long lasting relationships based on trust and friendship.

Empathetic Listening comes only after you’ve learned to actively listen and make strides to understand people. “Seek first to understand” is the core of this value, and gives you a great jumping off point for fully embracing this skill. Empathetic Listening is listening for feeling and meaning and listening with your heart instead of just your ears.

Applying this skill to my interactions with people through my micro business will give them a sense of who I am as a person. This ability will allow for me to hear what they are saying in regards to me and my business, and make the necessary changes to make sure that everyone is happy. Creating a strong foundation for a long lasting relationship through Empathetic Listening will be one of the core values of my company.

Understanding and Perception acknowledges that we all have different opinions and ideas, but asks “how do we transcend the limits of our individual perceptions”? How can we work together even if we don’t have the same opinions on everything? How can we come together and understand one another so we can co-exist together and appreciate that each other has different opinions?

Being able to connect with all different kinds of people regardless of beliefs or perceptions in order to appeal to a broad group of customers is important for the success of any business, but especially important for my micro business as any customer purchase (or lack thereof) can directly affect the state of my business.

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Week 3 MNGT 138

Typically when I browse social media sites I am quickly scrolling through until I see pictures or videos that catch my eye, a keyword or hashtag that interests me or a specific person’s post that I’m looking for. It’s pretty rare that I’ll stop to read a long Facebook post because I don’t look to that social media site for reading content. Usually when it comes to social media sites I look at them for instant gratification or as a down time activity.

The same goes for websites for me. Unless it’s a news media site, I’m generally scanning the web site for either the product or information I’m specifically looking for. I enjoy reading news sites on laptops or other devices that have bigger screens because it’s easier on my eyes, and generally try to avoid any lengthy reading on my smartphone. I will invest a lot of time to a news site on articles or short stories I find interesting, but I tend to budget less time for that over something I can just scan quickly.

After reading all of the articles in this module I find that I definitely agree with what I have learned. As a whole, I think people tend to scan instead of research on websites and social media. It’s a learned habit that we’ve all adopted because we live in a fast paced, need everything right now, live streaming kind of world. I believe that social media was a huge catalyst for these habits because of the instant gratification aspect that we all seek when viewing those sites.

Week 3 MNGT 136

UI versus UX. What’s the difference? Long story short, a person who is a UI designer, or user interface designer is creating how the end product is laid out while the UX designer or user experience designer is focused on how the end product feels. When discussing how a product “feels” it’s mostly referring to the flow of the product. They ask questions like “how do you want to move through from one step to another?” or “what is the logical way to navigate this product?” A UI designer’s main concern is, then to lay out the product page(s) to illustrate the UX designers vision of the flow. For the most part UI designers are focused on consistency and analytics, while UX designers deal with in-person testing of a product to see what feels right to a user. These two jobs, that work so closely together, represent two completely different types of thought processes. While one is certainly more geared towards emotions and feelings, the other is completely focused on function and analytical ideas, but both are extremely necessary in the creation of a whole product.

Many companies, unfortunately, try to combine the position into one, creating a blurry job. With two completely different schools of thought working together to create a product, it almost feels like a Jekyll and Hyde type situation for one person to take on both of the roles. It’s also pretty common to see jobs requiring a UI to also plan the role of Visual Designer.

Week 2 MNGT 138

The crucial differences between writing for the web and writing for print all relate to making the website easier to scan over more quickly. This gives the reader the ability to find what they are looking for efficiently, without wasting time trying to find what they need in a sea of text. As someone who tries to pay close attention to my grammar, these rules can be somewhat painful to break when it comes to simplifying for the web. Some quick tips for web writing from the article Break Grammar Rules on Websites for Clarity, by Hoa Loranger include writing the number version of a number instead of the letters such as 3 instead of three or 8 instead of eight, using sentence fragments or “snippets” instead of forming a complete sentence that is text heavy and using one sentence “paragraphs” when necessary instead of the typical 3-5 sentence structure. These allow the reader to focus on what is being emphasized in a quick manner instead of having to read an entire document to understand what a website has to offer, for example.

This manner of writing is often referred to as Plain Language or plain text, and it simply is a style of writing specifically for the web to encourage the reader to quickly find and fully understand what they are looking for. When writing content for the web try to focus on just the facts. I have written out a full sentence on something before, then broken it down into what was really crucial and important to include for the web. Also, thinking more along the lines of bullet points instead of complete sentences has helped me write web content in the past.

Week 2 MNGT 136

Chapter 3 in the book Don’t Make Me Think Revisited by Steve Krug is all about using design to make a web page easy to navigate. The most important pieces of advice in the chapter are using conventional design methods (i.e. a stop sign translates almost worldwide), effective visual hierarchies (headlines, bold text for important information), defining areas of the page clearly (i.e. the nav bar with links to everything the website offers),  obvious clickable links, less is more (keeping images, and other “noise” down to what is necessary as to not distract from everything else on the page), and shorten text to make the page easy to scan ( back to headlines and shortening explanation text to something easy to scan). Some of the design rules that I always tended to stick by when it came to this sort of design were convention for clarity, and less is more with images and text. I think it’s important to consider you only have a split second to capture your audience’s attention and the most effective ways to do that are going back to the basics of bold, short and sweet.

Some really great examples of this method are well designed websites for mobile because they can only keep the most important information on a mobile site in order to facilitate easy navigation, and infographics. I love an infographics simplicity in getting the message across to the reader quickly and efficiently and I have hopes that websites will start to use this simplistic and effective method when creating websites.

When working with images, certain file formats may be better than others, depending on what your goals are. This infographic showcases the best uses for JPEG, GIF, and PNG file formats.Need to make a PowerPoint presentation? Take your presentation and design up a notch with these tips.

Week 2 MNGT 137

For this weeks post I want to talk about how changing a habit relates to the first habit in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

The first habit is Principles of Personal Vision. What this habit boils down to is “Proactivity”, as the book calls it. They define this as more than just taking initiative. It’s actually taking responsibility for our own lives. There is no blaming circumstances, conditions or conditioning for behavior, but instead being self-aware and conscious of our decisions and choices.

One of my favorite parts in the discussion of being proactive is the difference in language of someone who is reactive versus someone who is proactive. Some great examples are:

Reactive                                                                  Proactive

There’s nothing I can do.            VS           Let’s look at our alternatives.

I can’t.                                         VS           I choose.

That’s just the way I am.             VS           I can choose a different approach.

It’s all a matter of changing your mindset everyday from negative to positive. From “I can’t” to “I will”. It’s a daily task and exercise and something that I feel is very important to spend a lifetime perfecting. At the end of the chapter there are suggestions for application of Proactivity. Here’s a couple to help you develop your Proactivity:

1. For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as “If only,” “I can’t,” or “I have to”?

2. Identify an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past experience, you would probably behave reactively. How could you respond proactively? Make a commitment to yourself to exercise your freedom to choose.

All content borrowed from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Antonio Paraiso does a great TED Talk about the Power of Proactivity. Enojy!

Week 1 MNGT 136

As a project manager, besides having an understanding of the project you are working on, you need to have extensive knowledge in things such as time management, planning and budgeting, employee management, contracts, communication and research. Therefore, project management is important in the creation of a website for a customer because it requires most of those skills. Some of the more obvious factors in creating a website are multiple technical experts are required in the creation of a website, different customers have different budgets for their projects and a lot of clients require a strict timeline for their site launch date and content. In order for the design to go smoothly, a project manager must make sure the project is executed efficiently by keeping the team on track with time, budget and the agreed upon plan or design for the website.

With all the intricacies that go into developing and designing a website, there are many people to manage and keep on a strict timeline as well as a constant open line of communication with the client. Without a project manager the development of a website could easily get off track and things could fall through the cracks. Having one person to keep a team on track and keep a client in the loop is arguably the most important role in the creation of a website.

Week 1 MNGT138

I’m really happy to have the ability to take this class online so that I can have a flexible schedule around my job and I’m excited to dive into more of the technical aspects for the web, and be able to apply my design background to what I learn. Specifically, I can’t wait to learn more about writing for the web and information design, and what the difference between the two is. I’ve done very little code writing in the way of web design and am curious if that will tie into this class at all. I was surprised to find out that I actually do a bit of technical writing in my job in the way of emails and memos.

I’m taking this class because it is one of the required courses in order to receive the new Social Media Marketing Certificate on my way to getting my associate’s degree in business. I am so thrilled that this certificate option is now available to us students, and have loved both classes I’ve taken from Professor Givenchy so far. At this point I don’t know how this class ties into social media marketing, but I look forward to learning how everything ties together and all the new skills I will learn through this class.

Overall, because I know very little about the content of this course, I’m looking forward to coming out of this having learned new skills and hopefully being able to apply them somehow to my current career path.

Week 1 Post #2 MNGT 137

“Make small commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” – Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

I love quotes that make you self-evaluate, like this one. And I especially like that this quote gives you an alternative to a negative habit, instead of just telling the reader not to do something. As a person that is continually trying to better myself, I think it’s important to read things like this and interpret them into my life context.

For me, sometimes it’s easier to be negative and judgmental instead of trying to seek a solution for myself, but when I’m able to read quotes like this often, it becomes easier to take the time to make a positive decision or thought instead of defaulting to a negative head space.

Week 1 MNGT 137

My blog posts for MNGT 137 – Independent Contracting will mostly pertain to what I read in the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and how they translate into creating a business plan for a micro-business. Through my readings I hope to gain perspective on maintaining a small business and sharing my thoughts here, on my blog.