Visiting an Unassuming Mass Grave

[WARNING: The next few posts will be about my summer experiences: varied, spiritual, and powerful experiences]

In the first few days of my summer internship abroad, the CreativeLab Europe took me to a place called The Roaches in England.  Having nothing to do with the insects, the area hosts rolling hills, mountainous terrain, sheep, llamas, cows, the works. 

It is also the home of one of the more frivolous scenes from the newest Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly.  Think the pensive, piano-background-music-laden scene where her dress is billowing out behind her on a cliff. 

Here is a photo of me not being quite as gracefully elegant on the same rock:  

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Great.  Beautiful. 

Then we went to more breath-taking scenery, and more, and more.  Lest I sound ungrateful, I’ll cut through the sarcasm and admit I loved it. 

Then our savvy local tour guides (just friends of the Lab) took us to something called Lud’s Church.  See below:

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After a little effort to get there, our friend told us of its history.  Apparently Lud’s Church was a gathering place for Catholics during the unrest (to put it mildly) between them and the Protestants a few hundred years ago.  It was literally their church.  The priest would stand towards the top of the slope in the church, the congregation would gather in the lower area below, and listen to the sermon.

Trouble is, one day the Protestants found the Catholics practicing their “heinous” version of the same faith and Protestant archers killed every Catholic in the church.

So I was told this part of the story well into the valley; about where I am in the picture, actually.  It blew me away, needless to say.  The massacre happened over 300 years ago, so the dead were well underground, but it was still mind-boggling.  What if the local wasn’t there to tell me that there were slaughtered people underfoot?  How many other places have I been in these ancient countries that were unassuming mass graves? 

I will address the maddening battles between Protestants and Catholics in the next blog about my experience in Northern Ireland – where the fight between sects is still alive and well.  

Food for thought.

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The Bible as a Management Tool

[WARNING: This post contains the following absurdly-potentially-offensive words: “Bible”, “Christian”, “devil”, and, brace yourselves, “Jesus”.  Breathe.  You’ll make it – and I won’t physically or literarily beat you over the head with any of them.]

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“…and I find answers to all of my problems, both secular and spiritual, with scripture.”

That got my attention.  Sheepishly I admit that the previous parts of the life-altering speech had me floating in and out, largely due to jet lag going from South Florida in America to Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom.

Managing Director of United Christian Broadcasters, and wildly-successful secular businessman David L’Herroux (pronounced “low-roo”, he’s French – can you tell?) sat the CreativeLab Europe down for a chat to get to know us better.

One hour later my feeble jet-lagged mind was blown.

I blame the first quote of this blog.  If you are anything like I was, you think the Bible is a comforting book on your shelf – nice if you were worried about divorce, or lust, or how to live righteously (if anybody got time for dat).

Something I have always known and never applied well is that the devil takes a bit of truth and twists it to make the lie believable.  The greatest lie about the oldest book is that it is no longer relevant.  I once heard it described as tantamount to an appendix in the body – it served a purpose at one point but no longer does, and if it isn’t removed can kill you.

How perfect for Satan!  Of course he wants Christians, and the rest of the world, to look at the Bible but never really consult it – they would grow farther from Christ that way.  I realize the danger of viewing the Bible as antiquated, the danger of an “oh, that’s cute” mentality towards it.

So not only is it relevant in every living situation, but that includes both personal and professional aspects of life.

How can it help a business?

Bible management is a world previously-unknown to me, and still largely is.  I had a follow-up meeting with David this morning, inspiring this blog.

David opened the second meeting calling the Bible God’s “divine manual to life”.  When you put it that way, it seems not just a little dumb not to consult it.  He went on to speak about the incredible Bible characters that came from nothing, all of whom have contributions to make in lessons of leadership.

I asked him to give me an example of a time in which he was met with a business problem and solved it with scripture.  Without blinking he talked about Jeremiah 29, when God makes it clear He wants us to be successful.  So he goes about every day with the confidence and knowledge that it is God’s will that we be successful.

With that in mind, he went on to speak of a lesson in customer service he learned from Jesus.  I cannot think of another more equipped for customer service than Jesus, can you?  “I’m blind!” Jesus: “Not anymore.”  “I can’t walk!” Jesus: “Now you can.”

Not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

Anyways, Jesus said something to the effect of “love your neighbor as thyself”.  David L’Herroux took incredible implications from this because he asked the Holy Spirit to speak to him through the word.  From this sentence, David gathered that in order for a company to have great customer service:

  1. The employees need to love themselves.  They need to have a passion for what they do, understand why they are doing it, and their personal needs have to be met.
  2. The employees need to serve one another.  Until they learn to create an atmosphere of internal service, they will lack in external customer service.

Two pretty heavy implications.  Definitely easier said than done.  David sits down with his employees to make sure they understand why they are doing what they do, and if they like what it is they do.  He makes them have off time, strictly to build their relationship with God.  He also fosters a high level of servant-leadership and servant-minded individuals within his organization.

Together during that meeting we walked through Psalms 13, 15, Genesis 26, Jeremiah 12:7, Mark 3, John 12, Matthew 11:11, and more.

I am in no way an expert at this yet.  Often I’ll read a verse and say “great.  So?”  I mean, Jesus spoke of farmers!  It is easy to shrug it off as unimportant.  Don’t fall into this trap, if you’ve gotten this far into the blog.  The Bible is relevant BECAUSE it is one of the oldest texts.  Isn’t it interesting that it’s stuck around this long?

Food for thought.

Meet Taylor Brown, New CreativeLab Europe Intern

[WARNING: This is a post I wrote for my summer internship, about my summer internship – I did not plagiarize, it’s my work 😉 ]

God is good.  Can I get an “amen”?

I generally don’t like it when a pastor asks “can I get an ‘amen’?”  But it works here.

It’s so crazy how things work out.  As cliché as that sounds, those words ring true in my current situation.  I find myself sitting at a desk in Stoke on Trent, England, looking outside a window to a sunny, beautiful day.  To my left is a white board calendar detailing the social media and upcoming events for the Creative Lab Europe team.  On it is a Liverpool trip the team and I just got back from, and a Belfast, Ireland trip we’ll embark on tomorrow.  Greece will be on next month’s calendar.  I am blessed to be a part of this team; for them I’ll be handling the social media and project information management.

Bethany Kay graciously showed me the ropes before she left the Creative Lab to embark on the next step of her life journey.  We wish her well and I thank her for empowering me to do my job that much better.

Therefore, I’ll be the one filling up your Twitter feed, hangin’ with you on Google+ (our account coming soon!), sharing pictures of our escapades on Facebook, chatting with you over a blog, and getting you a vlog over the next few precious weeks.

Here is a short bio so you can get to know me a little better:

I hail from Coconut Creek, South Florida – a little town with a feeble claim-to-fame as the butterfly capital of the world (we’re kind of a big deal).  I am the youngest of three, and a part of a tight-knit family.  In the Fall I’ll go back to Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale as a junior (third year) for my Business Management and Entrepreneurship Bachelor degree.

As a life-long Christian, I used to doubt that God could use someone like me to reach people.  I operated under the misconception that only those healed from great brokenness once receiving Christ, such as victims of abuse or drug use, could have powerful testimony.  I have come to learn and believe in God’s plan for every person in every trade as a means to spread the good news and be a light.  This belief continues to be my goal for starting my professional journey with the Creative Lab.  As someone who will pursue a more secular career, I feel comforted by this.

I was introduced to OneHope by one of the executives whom I used to babysit for at the age of fourteen.  Back then it was called Book of Hope.  I remember thinking how cool an opportunity it sounded, and how fulfilling working for God’s kingdom must be.  Here I am six years later, on this wonderful opportunity and life-changing trip.  Although I am still getting used to all-things-UK, check the pic, it has been outstanding so far.

Why is there a cord..?  #21stCenturyGirl

Why is there a cord..? #21stCenturyGirl

While my previous perception of my weak testimony was wrong, my thought about One Hope was absolutely spot-on – I have never come across more fulfilling work.

Check out more posts at creativelabeurope1.wordpress.com

 

Food for thought.

 

The Importance of To-do Lists and How to Maintain Them

[WARNING: I am going out of town soon, and my brain may be a bit jumbled with prep needs, stick with me.]

I’m freakin’ out.  

Sitting here in my little cubicle at an orientation for an internship that will send me abroad for two months, my brain is balancing worries about getting all of my ducks in a row mixed with excitement.  

With all of this in mind, it is difficult for me to keep my head straight to get those said ducklings in said row (who coined that term, anyways?).

To stay as productive as possible, I have developed a few tips to make and maintain a tidy to-do list through my little preparation journey for my greatest adventure yet!

1. Preprare a list that can be found on either electronic or written mediums.  I prefer being able to access my to-do list on my phone and computer.  Some prefer the written method, keeping a written planner and a desk calendar.  Don’t try to mix them, it doesn’t work.  For electronic methods, you can get an app that syncs with your calendar, or simply use G-mail or Outlook and link it to your phone.  If you have written methods, make sure to allot time each day to sync your calendars together by hand so there is consistency.

2.  Update your tasks daily.  It is difficult to start, and I have been struggling as my routines have been changing over summer, but try to set a time each day to update your to-do’s.  I have found mornings work best, as you can indicate which you will get done that day.  Try to avoid nighttime updates, or you’ll train your brain to think of things you need to get done as you are trying to go to sleep – ain’t nobody got time for dat.

3. Develop a system for prioritization.  If you have a written calendar, highlight imperative tasks or color-code based on urgency.  If you’re using electronic mediums, it depends on the method but there are ways to show which tasks need the most attention when. 

4.  Develop a system of rewards for yourself.  I struggle with this one.  Right now, my best reward is quieting the inner beast that demands I do more.  Try to make a system of little rewards you can do for yourself after you complete a task, but keep the discipline to make the rewards little.  If you give yourself 5 minutes break after every task completed, don’t cheat and take 10, or worse 15 or 20.  

5. Stick with it.  To-do lists don’t work if you stop updating, or revert to your mental check-list capabilities.    

If you are able to maintain a tight schedule and to-do list, you will be light-years ahead of the rest of the rat race struggling with time management.  This is not to say I am perfect at it, but these are tried and true methods to help you on your trek to productivity.

Food for thought.

 

11 Tips to Make Your LinkedIn Profile an All-Star

[WARNING: With a mother like mine, I had a resume when I was eleven.  I may be a little bit of a know-it-all here]

So you want a job.  Great.  The question you are going to have to answer in every employer’s mind is “why should I hire you?”

Fortunately for you, LinkedIn is a great tool to answer just that.  If you don’t already know, LinkedIn is an electronic resume platform – the “professional Facebook”.  People create resumes, post job and internship openings, and make company profiles on the social media site.  For personal pages, LinkedIn rates your profile based on your updates and how beefy your profile is.

The badge of honor

The badge of honor

How do you beef up a profile page to make it “all-star” level?  See the steps below:

1.  Get started: if you haven’t made one before, for shame.  It is easy, however, to sign up for a free LinkedIn account.  In my experience, you really don’t need premium if you use the free version well.

2.  Make an interesting summary statement.  Here is where all of that “online branding” comes into play.  Notice how some of the strongest brand statements are also the shortest?  Just do it.  That’s the power of the Home Depot.  Is it in you?  Make a relatively short statement about who you are as a brand.

3.  Fill out contact information.  Make it superly-duperly easy for an employer to contact you.  Put full name, email, phone, address, website, Twitter, whatever.  Keep it to what you are comfortable with – I didn’t add an address, but added just about everything else.

4.  Fill out as many other sections as you can. LinkedIn gives you bragging sections for awards, publications, projects, experience, languages, volunteer experience, and more.  Use them.  Don’t be shy – LinkedIn doesn’t follow the “one page” rule that printed resumes do.

5.  Put things under the appropriate heading.  Are all of the things under “experience” really best under experience?  I had an unpaid social media internship for a few months, but didn’t clutter up my experience section with it; rather, I put it under Volunteering Experiences & Causes because it was for military appreciation at http://www.browardnavydaysinc.org/.  It also beefed up what could be considered a wimpy volunteering section, putting relevant professional details under this heading.

6.  That being said, don’t get too obscure with your additions.  Make sure you have relevant experience to the field you want to go into.  I was a babysitter from about eleven to seventeen, but you do not see that on my profile.  I still have an all-star profile without my years of “childcare”.  Avoid fluff to keep your profile interesting.

7.  Add multimedia to the sections.  I am currently working on this, too.  Does the company you work for or have worked for have a website?  Better yet, do they have a section detailing what you or your team did?  Add the URL!  Is there a video on YouTube somewhere about your work?  Add it!  Photos?  Presentations?  Do you have an, ehem, blog?  Add the link!  Do you have a professional Twitter?  Add the handle!  Google likes links, so use ‘em.

8.  Connect with people based on value, not on numbers.  Yes, it is impressive to see a profile of someone with 500+ connections.  But do not let the Facebook mentality muddy up your LinkedIn – quality over quantity any day.  Why?  A potential employer may reach out to a connection of yours to ask for a recommendation.  If they don’t know you they are not going to make you look so hot, right?  Make sure just about everyone in your connections can speak well of you.

9.  Ask for recommendations for specific positions.  If you had an internship at an awesome company, ask one of your colleagues or bosses to write a recommendation for you in that position.  If they fill it out for you correctly, the position in LinkedIn will read: title, company, dates, description, and (number) recommendation(s).  It looks pretty darn good to have multiple for one position.

10.  A great way to drive recommendations is to recommend others.  You may find it cold, but reciprocity is alive and well in LinkedIn.  If you want your past supervisor to recommend you, brag on them a bit.  They may do it without asking as a thank you for the great recommendation.  I have gotten two recommendations from this so far, and have given some from people who gave me one.

11.  Change the URL to something you can remember, and put it on your business card.  In “How to Become a Networking Ninja,” I mentioned how you should put your LinkedIn URL on your business card (see https://taylynbrown.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/ow-to-become-a-networking-ninja/).  You need to make sure it isn’t linkedin.com/in/taylor56748lynne889938brown4372, or else nobody is going to write it down in the URL box off your card.  I changed mine to linkedin.com/in/taylynbrown.  Same alias as my blog, Gmail, Twitter, aaaaaand LINKEDIN!  To change yours to something you can remember, go to “edit profile”, and under your picture and your contact info you should see your profile URL.  Next to it, click “edit” and get one that isn’t taken.

I wish you luck on your LinkedIn journey!

Have a tip not included above?  Comment it!  Lovin’ the sharing of information over the internet.

Food for thought.

4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should STAY In College

(WARNING: The following should be a no-brainer, but sometimes isn’t.  I am a student, not a teacher, but anecdotal stupidity from others imminent.)

When did the world change?  As a small lass, I used to be unable to escape messages pleading with me to stay in school, but it seems like the second I decided to become an entrepreneur over a decade later, or even have an entrepreneurial mind, a host of people descended on me telling me to leave school and start straight away.

Just recently at an entrepreneur summit, I met an award-winning entrepreneur catalyst.  She’s awesome, and something of what I want to be as someone who empowers other entrepreneurs.  Interestingly enough, this woman holds a doctoral degree, and said that I should leave school to pursue my entrepreneurial desires.  She even told me to not even think about graduate school.

Seriously?

Fortunately for my future I am deciding to ignore this nugget of knowledge.  Here are a few reasons why entrepreneurs should stay in school, especially me:

  1. You have no idea what you are doing.  This is not to say that you will magically find out in four years, or even that school will be what teaches you what to know, but in my albeit-limited experience a college campus is one of the safest atmospheres in which to try new ideas.  Which brings me to my next point:
  2.  Collegiate atmospheres are perfect for entrepreneurs.  Sans the often-unproductive classroom, think about it: 1) you have all the human capital you need (students who need jobs and experience, professors who have likely been-there-done-that), 2) you have a captive audience in the campus for a potential market, and 3) you have the perfect opportunity to start a brand loyalty in your customers in the tender college years.  Why should I leave, again?
  3. Who is going to buy into a college drop-out?  Unless you are a psycho-crazy-good tech entrepreneur, you probably do not have the credentials to land a serious investor.  Entrepreneurship is either about track record, or potential ability.  What message do you send venture capitalists when you decided to skip the classes that were supposed to teach you accounting, marketing, economics, and more?  “I’m passionate” at absolute best and “I’m impatient,” or “I think I’m too cool for school” at worst.  If VC’s truly invest in the entrepreneur rather than the product, make yourself invest-able!  Especially for me this applies—I want to become a consultant for other entreps one day.  I obviously need a track record of knowledge to make the assumption that anyone should listen to me—duh!
  4. What’s the rush?  I get it, school is often boring and you feel like there are a thousand things you could be doing rather than listen to your economics professor ramble for the bazillionth time about supply and demand (if you were lucky enough to get one that actually talked about economics rather than, like, his grandmother’s medication…never again).  Stick it out though.  As the youngest of three who spent most of her childhood hell-bent on speeding through her childhood, I can say it won’t go by any quicker if you stare at a clock, so enjoy it.  Many people tell me and I am starting to believe them when they say that we never get this time back.

So as one of my first consultative pieces of advice (free of charge for my lovely readers), I’ll say what is the rush?  Stay in school; it’s what we’ve heard the first eighteen years of our lives and it still holds true in college.  I won’t touch graduate school for now.

Food for thought.