Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hump Day - check

By the time Hump Day is over, I feel like a fish dragged out of sea and onto shore.  Well, OK, not REALLY.  But, it's a bit relieving to think of the work week 60% of the way over.  While I love what I do (Pay-Per-Click marketing for various online clients), when you're in an office all day long, undoubtably a person can get a little restless.

I'm lucky, because I get to work with a variety of industries.  I have clients in retail, service and gift industries, all of whom require different kinds of keywords to bid on, a different set of ads tailored to that specific market, and a different set of platforms to target the ads to, whether it be Google's regular search services, Google's Display Network, Yahoo and Bing search engines, mobile devices, etc. 

Basically, my days are different every day.

While I enjoy the variety of the job and the various day-to-day duties, I certainly do like getting one step closer to the weekend.  That just means we should all work that much harder on Thursdays and Fridays, because, after all, when we work like crazy, the day just flies by, right? 

I recall a conversation I had with a co-worker in the media a few years back.  He said how he longed for a career where he could work a 9-5 Monday through Friday.  He wanted to travel more, plans things more, just basically DO more (besides work).  Ironically, I'm the one that left the industry for the 9-5 job (although down the road who knows what kind of schedule I'll be on!), and he's still there, plugging away on weekends, nights and any other time a story demands he be on scene.

I often think who is better off?  He has a crazy, hectic job that pulls him every which way all day long and basically all year long.  I have a set schedule, with a somewhat structured life.

You have to have worked BOTH type schedules to appreciate both.  And believe me, there are positives and negatives to each which I appreciate.

But, for now, I'm just happy to have a regulary scheduled Hump Day.  Every week.  Happy Hump!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Is Success?

I'm the first to admit sometimes we all get a little too caught up in day-to-day life.  We rush to work, run errands on lunch, get stressed trying to accomplish too much in too little time, barrel down grocery-store aisles after driving through rush hour, attempt to spend time with friends, and pray for the weekend.  The weekend comes and then it goes, leaving many feeling as though they've accomplished far less than they'd hoped.

But, really, does it matter?  Lately I prescribe to the philosophy that every little daily accomplishment is a win.  We need to give ourselves more credit for the little feats in life.  They lead to bigger accomplishments, and ultimately, to success.

So, what is success?  Ralph Waldo Emerson had the answer in the 1800s.  It's about time we all started listening to him.

What Is Success?

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lohan Makes News ... Again

When I think back on times I've publicly embarassed myself (and boy, there have been a few that I'll share down the road in this space), I've reacted.  Not by doing more of the same, but by actively reflecting and, yes, hibernating, until I've come to terms with how to handle myself better in the future.

I've talked to and know many people who aren't afraid to make mistakes in the public eye, but work hard to correct their mistakes and pick themselves back up.  They keep going.  They forge ahead.  And they make things right.

Poor (if that's the right word) "Mean Girl" Lindsay Lohan has not, and all I can think is what a shame.  Here is someone who has what many young people can only hope for:  fame, looks, money - basically, enough of everything.

To think that, yet again, she's in the news for stealing a $2,500 necklace from a Venice jewelry store is troubling and saddening because Lohan, who is the same age as me, clearly knows no limits and takes no responsibilities for her actions.  Whether or not she took the necklace is still not clear, although it's being reported that Lohan was the last person seen wearing the necklace and one of her associates took it back to the store once news broke that it was missing.

I can only wonder if the "Mean Girls" and "Parent Trap" star will still have a following when she returns to acting.  By now, everyone knows about her drug problems and the assault charges currently filed against her.  So, can fans or just average movie goers in general turn a blind eye when supporting her in the theaters?  I think I'll be able to because I believe in second chances, redemption and all that other stuff that makes us human. 

I can only hope she - and those troubled, like her - can pick herself back up and genuinely strive to change the course of her life.  After all, she has many years left, let's hope she makes them worthwhile.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Twitter Addiction - You Have It?

I posted a link to an article by Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting on Twitter) earlier today because it's one that really resonated with me.  In it, she is open and honest, concise and to-the-point, and happy to offer some great insight into the world of Twitter.

You can read the post here: Bit Rebels Blog

She confesses that she, like so many of us, is a Twitter addict.  She's one of those people who wakes up during the middle of the night and checks her phone that's strategically placed underneath her pillow so that she can stay up-to-date on her Twitter feed. 

For me, someone who's learned to love and really embrace the Twitter world over the last year or so, I completely understand what she's saying.  You become somewhat addicted to checking your Twitter feed, staying up to date on the trending topics and seeing what breaking news is happening all over the world.

Many people out there since don't "get" Twitter.  It's not because it's so difficult to understand; it's because they don't want to get it.  Sometimes, people are far too afraid of the unknown.  Twitter is a great way to share information, connect with people of similiar interests and stay up on pop culture or news from the industry in which you work.

Every time I get an RT, I'm thrilled.  Every time someone DMs me, I try to respond as quickly as possible.  And every time someone @ mentions me, I remember it.  Weird, I know, but it's just the wonderful world of Twitter.

I'm happy to have it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chaos In Cairo

Anderson Cooper.  Katie Couric.  Christiane Amanpour.

They're among the well-known journalists in Cairo reporting on the horror happening right now in Egypt, where more than 300 are reported dead and thousands injured.  Anderson Cooper and his CNN crew were punched and kicked for about five minutes Wednesday morning, virtually every news outlet known-to-man has reported.  And Couric and Amanpour have been on the scene anchoring for CBS and ABC respectively about the troubles there, with the fighting and violence playing out right behind them.

I had to ask myself, "What if I was a part of one of these journalists' families?"  It's a selfish job - going to a country in the middle of a violent uproar to see it firsthand, tell the story and bring it back to viewers who sit in the comfort of their own homes.  But, someone's got to do it.

The New York Times is reporting that, in fact, journalists from all over the country have been attacked.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Cooper said "A man jumped out of the crowd and tried to push us around.  It sort of allowed other people in the crowd to focus on us. Other people came out of the crowd. Somebody punched me in the head, and from there things escalated quickly."

Crowds followed them, hitting and cursing them as they scrambled for safety.  Anderson admitted this was the first time he'd ever been attacked when reporting in such a setting and vowed not to go back to the area where they were attacked.  He told The Huffington Post it's not safe for any journalist to be in Tahrir Square.

Too bad it took four blows to head for him to come to that conclusion, but fortunately, he and his crew are OK.

Imagine being the child or the spouse of a newsperson like Cooper or Couric or Amanpour right now (or any newsperson - producer, cameraman, etc - there).  Knowing that your loved one is so close to harm's way is surely an unsettling feeling.  I can only hope these newspeople are able to communicate to their families back home, let them know they're alive and well and continue on their mission to safely bring the world the unfolding news from Egypt.

God bless them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Internet? Oh, No!

What would you do without the internet?

Surely you've heard the Egyptian government, this week, cut off the internet so Egyptian civilians could not rally or protest the political regime with the use of services such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and email.  Nor can they access any news websites.  It seems that if you have government backing, you can do ANYTHING - even cut off the internet.  It's a move "unprecedented in internet history," according to Renesys, an internet firm from New Hampshire.  Feel free to take the time to read exactly how Egypt cut off the internet.

We don't realize how dependent we are on it until it's, gasp, taken away.   Fortunately for us in America, we're not dealing with what the people in Egypt are.  Thousands have taken to the streets to protest the government, poverty, and unemployment, amongst other issues.  Death tolls from the looting and use of police force is estimated at around 300 right now. 

While we pray for the people in Egypt that order is soon restored and no more deaths occur due to all this unrest, it allows us all to reflect on how lucky we are and ask ourselves "What would we do without the internet?"  How would we get information, how would we talk to our nearest and dearest and how, oh how, would we pass the time?

I know, for me, I wouldn't be able to get any work done.  I rely heavily on email, instant messaging, visiting websites and working within advertising sections of Google, Bing and Facebook for my job.  I know I'd miss the social interaction that comes from Facebook where I can instantly agree with a pal's statement by clicking the "like" button underneath their latest post.  I know I'd simply go insane without seeing what was happening in my Twitter stream at least a few times a day.  I'd be asking myself what the biggest trending topic of the day was, what eCommerce articles I was missing and what entertainment controversies were just beginning to brew.


Hopefully, with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak announcing his resignation today, we can see an end to this turmoil - and a restoration of one of our greatest freedoms in this world: the use of the internet.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Try, Try Again

For those of you on Facebook, you probably saw a quote I posted earlier today by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It goes like this: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better."

It's one of those quotes that, unless you sit back and read it again and again, you can read through without thinking about its true meaning.  Therefore, I figure there's no time like the present to use this space to reflect on a quote that I think many of us can resonate with.

Now, I know I'm certainly no philospher, but here are some of the ways I look at that sentiment:

  • Life is meant to be tested.  Try different things.  Don't sit back and wait for things to come your way - go and out and sample them all.  Try, try, and try different things over and over.  We're lucky to be here, so we might as well test as many waters as possible. During college, I did this with every different internship I went after.  During my professional career, I've done this with every different story subject I've tackled and every different marketing strategy I've employed.  That's not to say I can't be more creative at times or more open to new viewpoints, but I try - as often as possible - to keep testing different ideas and immersing myself in new situations.
  • The more people you surround yourself with, the more understanding and appreciation you'll have for the truly loyal people in your life.  I've been blessed to have a lot of people around me - from friends and family members to colleagues and former classmates.  Opening my life up to so many groups of diverse people has helped me narrow down the people with whom I truly trust and enjoy being around more so than any others.  While I still make it a point to spend time with many people, I always know who has my back.  That's important and vital to a person's well-being (or at least I think it is).
  • See what's just over the horizon.  Sometimes there are so many new things or places to sample, that we get overwhelmed.  Make it a habit at least once a week to try a new restaurant, read a new book or watch a new TV show.  Over the weekend, I sampled some immpeccable cuisine at a restaurant near my house that's been open for several months and I walked away in complete satisfaction.  Had I stuck to the normal eatiers I frequent, I might never have sampled the tastiest pasta dish I've had in a long time.
While I don't think I have to preach anyone, I will leave with just one more thought:  None of us are perfect, but I do believe in this life we let ourselves get too satisfied with our lives and don't always reach for more.  That's a thought that scares me and it's one that I vehemently fight against on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow, Snow ... Don't Stop

As I watch Tom Clark from WNEP-TV forecast the weather, it looks like it's snowing mightly heavily up in Moosic, Pa.  I'm sure area kids are sitting home, hoping and wishing they'll be off of school tomorrow. Teachers are doing the same.  Parents may or may not be doing it, too.  Me?  Well, it really doesn't affect me one way or the other.  Either way, I'll work - whether from home or the office, but during these times I always hope it keeps coming -- for the kids.

I have the best memories watching the TV all night, praying for a school delay or closing so I could awaken early and head out with all the neighborhood kids to throw snowballs and sled down plow-made hills. My best neighborhood pal during my youth would knock on the door in the mornings and we'd set out to conquer the street by making mazes, slipping and sliding and getting lost under all that fluffy white stuff.

I always felt that snow was a reason to stay home for kids.  It gives kids new games to play, new atmospheres to interact in and a way to bond with all the other kids in the neighborhood you might not forge such ties with if it wasn't for the snow days (when you're forced to).  See, I didn't go to school with any of the kids in my neighborhood.  They attended a school nearby and I attended a school several miles away, so snow days were the times when we were forced to hang together.  Basically, I guess I have the snow to thank for some of my best childhood friends.

But, besides the kids, my dog, Riley, is another reason I hope for snow. Seeing the look on his face and the excitement in his tail as he rolls around the yard is enough for me. 

He's a 2-year-old Golden Retriever, so he's still a puppy, which makes it even more fun every time I let him loose in the yard on a snow day.  Maybe when he's 5 he won't get as excited, but for now all I want to do is roll around in the snow with my pup.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nothin' Like A New York Time

The title of this post says it all: There's nothing better than a weekend spent in New York City, especially with a great group of people.

Here's how my weekend went: I woke up early Saturday morning (6 a.m. didn't seem so bad until, oh, say 3 p.m.) and headed to the newly built Intermodal Transportation Center in Wilkes-Barre to catch a bus to NYC.  The game plan was to get there by 10 a.m. (ish) so we could settle in at my friend Caila's apartment and head to the Sunburnt Calf, an Australian restaurant and bar on the Upper West Side, where, upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly bartender who immediately began counting how many of us were in our party so he could supply us with a round of shots.  "Everyone gets a shot when they walk in," he said.  (Hey, that's quite alright with me!)

We waited no longer than 15 minutes before sitting down for a nice breakfast (mine consisted of over-easy eggs, toast, sausage and Screwdrivers) and a barrel of laughs - many of which came at my expense, but hey, I'm an easy-going guy who enjoy making fun of himself.  I figure I might as well let my friends do the same.

SIDE NOTE: I kept my Twitter followers up-to-date throughout the day by checking in to various locations on foursquare and sending way-too-many tweets about our adventures.

That said, our next "check in" location was Central Park, where we took pictures, commented on the many activities taking place and watched some ice-skating.  Sightseeing in the park and shopping (well, only one member of our party opted to drop cash on 5th Ave., but he shall remain nameless) is how we spent the bulk of Saturday afternoon.

For me, though, I have to say I enjoyed people-watching and making small conversation with store clerks and customers.  There's something so special about NYC in that people are so diverse.  Whether friendly or grumpy, I like hearing what people in the city have to say, watching how quickly they move about and seeing the families stroll down the street together.  I know I don't have to say in this space that NYC - or any big city for that matter - is a far cry from life in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (disclaimer: I love living in Wilkes-Barre, but it is nice to look at the world in another light from time to time).

Our evening was spent at M1-5, a club in Tribeca, where some members of our party knew a girl celebrating her birthday.   After a bit of confusion over who purchased what drinks, some pushing to make our way to the bar, and some laughs as some group members couldn't help but crack the rest of us up, we ended the night at a place called Jake's Dilemma, also on the Upper West Side.  The only dilemma? Bars are open 'til 4 a.m. in NYC and my bedtime is much earlier than that, especially having not slept well the night before.  But, instead of wimping out and retiring early, I promised myself to prove that I could last 'til the hour of 4 a.m.  Surprisingly, I did.  Not so surprisingly, I was the first to sleep when we returned back to the apartment.

What can I say?  I need my sleep.  And lots of it.  Good thing Monday is here and normalcy is returned to all.  But, even today, I can't help but ask: When am I going back?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Goodbyes Can Be Gifts

Last night I had some drinks with a good friend of mine, Kristy.  A few months ago, she made a decision that she was tired of living in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.  Tired of the same people.  Tired of the cold weather. Tired of the familiarity. 
She's wanted out for awhile, so when her best friend moved to Florida several months ago, she decided now was the time to go.  To explore a different area (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to be exact.  To meet new people. Basically, to expand her horizons. 

I figured I'd be sad. I'm known to hold friends near and dear and really depend on them as vital parts of my life. But last night, sitting with her, I realized she's getting over her fear of leaving her hometown and making something happen for herself.  She doesn't have a job, but she has a place to live and her best friend there to ease the transition.  The job will eventually come, I'm sure of it. 
I thought "Wouldn't it be selfish of me to be upset? Or sad?"  She is basically leaving her life behind and going into the unknown, albeit with a safety net. I realized I couldn't be more happy for her. She'll still come home to visit, she'll still call, and, believe me, I can't wait to visit.
So while most look at goodbyes as sad times or reasons to put their heads down, I've decided, at least in this particular instance, that a goodbye can be a gift.  It's a gift for her to get over any type of fears of leaving, as well as for having the drive to go out in the world and embrace new situations and experiences.
She's following her gut and looking to better her life.  We should all be so lucky to do so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Old Is TOO Old For Spring Break?

23? 24? 25? At what age does it get inappropriate to still go on Spring Break?  If you ask this 24-year-old, NEVER!  Now, first things first: I actually never went on Spring Break during college.  I was too busy asking for extra hours at my part-time job at Wegmans in order to pay for books for the following semester.  Or I was using the week to gain extra experience at my college internships. Or I simply didn't have the necessary funding to go.
Finally, at age 24, I can say that I - along with 10 other brave men - am embarking on a week of sand, sun and clubs, Mexican style.  At the spur of the moment on Monday, after a bit of discussion, we booked flights and hotel accommodations for Cancun, Mexico.

Some of the Spring Break crew have been there before, others have not, and some like myself haven't been on a plane since age 10, so this should be interesting.
What am I most looking forward to, you ask?
Relaxation is what first comes to mind.  Exploring a different area comes second.  While I like seeing sights in America, there's something about the experience of traveling to a different country that excites me.  Not to mention it never rains there and clubs, I hear, stay open 'til about 4 a.m.  Let's hope I stay awake that long!
For those who don't know, Cancun is a part of Mexico nestled next to the Caribbean Sea that was specifically created for tourism, and I'm told has all the makings of a fun-filled tropical vacation.  It's a favorite spot among younger generations because it's relatively cheap to get there from the United States - a major plus for twenty somethings on a budget.
Heck, the passport alone costs more than $100.  I'll consider that my latest donation to the United States Government.
I'll have more to share as the date gets closer, but for now, it's nice having something to look forward to during these dreary January days.    

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Legacy That Won't Soon Be Forgotten

You've heard of the Peace Corps. Or Head Start. Or VISTA. Or The Special Olympics.

If you haven't, throw a rock at your head and wake up.  All of the mentioned organizations have one common denominator: the influence of R. Sargent Shriver, an extraordinary advocate for peace, justice and social welfare who fought diligently to fight the many wrongs in society.

He died today at age 95 in a hospital near Washington D.C.

Credited as the founder of the Peace Corps, Shriver's work and lifelong public service helped establish numerous charitable organizations, including the Special Olympics, which his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded in the backyard of their Maryland home in the 1960s.

A former ambassador to France and one-time vice-presidential nominee, Shriver's marriage to one of the most well-known Kennedy women of JFK's generation only helped heighten his reach in the political world.  Many say he would have risen to such positions even if he hadn't married a member of American's most-storied political family.

Read USA Today's Article On Sarge

He was, by all accounts, a force to reckoned with: someone who worked hard to achieve his goals, but who, as his son-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger recently said via Twitter, encouraged people to "Tear down the mirror in front of you - the one that makes you look at yourself. Tear down the mirror and you will see the millions of people that need your help."

So, while his five children and 19 grandchildren mourn his passing this evening, let's hope that as his story is told in the media over the coming days, he's viewed as an inspiration to young people of our time and that his legacy lingers for many years to come.

I'm baaaack ... and better

It’s been years since I left the blogosphere, and I must say in those years since college where blogging was like my Twitter obsession of today, I’ve grown up a lot.  I’ve changed jobs, made new friends, traveled here and there and had new, challenging experiences that have taught me about strength of character and the desire to succeed.  Needless to say, this will be a blog of random ramblings from my somewhat crazy life.  And I’m excited.  I hope you are, too.

I’ll use this as a place to express thoughts, share eCommerce and news information, and most importantly connect with others.  After all, that’s why we’re put on this Earth, isn’t it?  To build relationships, make a difference and enjoy the ride.

It’s a natural extension, for me, of my somewhat strong (I think) presence on social media sites Facebook and Twitter, so I’m excited to see where this new adventure leads.

If you have some down time, feel free to check out my tweets at @Mike_McGinley.  There, you’ll get a better feel for what you can expect from me on here.

Thanks for reading.  Many posts to come.