slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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how the world perceives me: i really like wontons.

Comparatively, my work world is relatively small. Everyone here on the 15th floor of Thrivent’s Minneapolis corporate office works at wall-less desks, in pods of four, in a sea of pods placed neatly across an open layout. It can be easy to create relationships with people close in proximity to you, especially because they can hear every phone call you make, are privy to every conversation you have at your desk, and have no trouble spying on your computer screen as they walk past. Plus, our open floor plan is meant to mimic another concept we seem to prize here in Marketing Development: the regular and even distribution of employee talent across multiple initiatives and programs. So it would not be out of line to think that, after a cumulative year of working here, most everyone would recognize me by name.

But you would be wrong.

A couple of days ago my Development Coach broached the topic of personal branding during our one-on-one because, as she tells it, a lot of the senior management only know me by my rather distinctive color of red hair – but not for the things I’ve accomplished during my fellowship. And even that’s not a good enough distinguisher for some, because believe it or not there’s another Shannon with red hair who works 15 feet away from me.

I’m an introvert by nature. My introverted brethren will understand that this doesn’t mean I’m a tortured and shy soul who would rather jump out of a plane than interact with people on a daily basis. I like people a lot. I thrive on maintaining relationships. But to me, the instinct to create a relationship in the first place doesn’t always guide my every action. A very dear friend of mine incorrectly thought I was a little snobby at first blush (what she took for aristocratic indifference from accross the room in our class together was actually an all-consuming focus on staying awake), so it appears I’m doomed to repeat history if I don’t start purposefully seeking out relationships with some of my more illustrious coworkers.

Like any good Millennial I’ve decided to ask the internet for help. Dan Schawbel has graciously come to my aid with his article “Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand”. He outlines the process of creating an entirely outward-facing personality in two easy steps, so I figure this is probably my golden ticket to critical acclaim. Please, follow along with me as I discover who I am by addressing Mr. Schawbel’s questions with your own personal answers.

HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE SO YOUR POPULAR BOSS AND COOL COWORKERS WILL WANT TO TALK TO YOU

Step one: Discover your brand.

According to Dan, “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.”

I’m approaching these questions from a place of honesty and complete personal transparency.

  • What you want to do for the rest of your life: eat jalapeño cream cheese wontons.
  • Setting goals: engage in a brief and steamy encounter with Leonardo DiCaprio at least once before I die.
  • Mission: force everyone I know and love to speak exclusively in Spanglish.
  • Vision: currently it’s pretty poor because I’m nearsighted and have astigmatism in one eye.
  • Personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve): I play the Sims obsessively and I serve the god of jalapeño cream cheese wontons.
  • Development plan: I’ve already gone through the whole puberty thing so I’m pretty confident I’m stuck with barely B cups for the rest of my life.

wontons

jalapeño cream cheese wontons — you are my love and my life. [image credit: here.]

Success! I hope you were able to tackle these gargantuan ideas with as much ease. Let’s move on.

Step two: Create your brand.

As Dan instructs, “Now that you know what you want to do and have claimed a niche, at least in your mind, it’s time to get it on paper and online.” Here’s what Dan suggests you have in your personal branding toolkit:

  • Business cards. Is this really still a thing? I will condescend to ordering these only if someone has created musical business cards (like the Hallmark cards that play music when you open them) and I can hand out my personal brand stamp to the tune of Independent Women Part 1 by Destiny’s Child.
  • Résumé/cover letter/references document. I’d rather not waste all the paper handing these out to everyone and their mom, so I’m planning to screen-print my résumé onto the back of a lime green t-shirt and wear it to work every day.
  • Portfolio. This assumes that I have any artistic or creative talent. I once tried to copy a picture of Taylor Swift from a magazine cover during a particularly boring class, and my horrified friend informed me that the result made the star look like a geriatric loner addicted to crack and plastic surgery. Those are strong words.
  • Blog/website. If you’re reading this post now, you’ll know that I’ve succeeded in blogging to enhance my personal brand! One million points to Gryffindor!
  • LinkedIn profile. I don’t even want to admit how long it took me to figure out that what I thought was an L in the name of this site is actually an I, and that it’s pronounced “Linked-IN” and not “Linked-LN”…which is not a word. Baby steps.
  • Facebook profile. I’m still too lazy to convert to Timeline, even though apparently 115 of my friends have. Whoops.
  • Twitter profile. All I can tell of Twitter is that it’s largely abused by arrogant celebrities to broadcast their tired opinions and by masochistic Americans who take pleasure in torturing the defenseless intricacies of the English language.  I just don’t get it.
  • Video resume. Dan thinks you should create a short, one-minute video to explain why you’re the best for a job and what you’ll bring to the table. My video script would read like this:

SHANNON: I’ve got a college degree and a clean bill of health. You’re not going to get anything better. Hire me.

HIRING MANAGER: Sold.

  • Wardrobe. Pffft. I’m all over this one. Banana Republic better watch out for the day I get a pay raise.
  • Email address. This one I should probably pay attention to, since I’ve shared an email address with some other woman for years and every once in a while get her emails about pregnancy and being a vet. Uncomfortable.

    this image shall, from now on, represent my personal brand. [image credit: here.]

Here’s what I’m saying: I recognize the need to make myself relevant in the eyes of my superiors, because they’ll undoubtedly help me get farther in life and because I respect them. But following Dan Schawbel’s suggestions (while they are very thoughtful and elegantly expressed) to build my personal brand seems like way too much work for a devoted slub like myself. I’m just banking on the fact that you’ll like me as I am.

con amor,

shan


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how you know you’re getting old

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week Kat and I were volunteer teachers for JA In a Day at Monticello High School.

Our topic: Careers with Purpose. Our audience: 9th graders.

It took us a while to figure out that the students were dressed up for Decades Day – I’m sad to say that I briefly thought wearing tiger-print baggy pants and a flight suit was potentially a rural Minnesota thing – but it soon became apparent that the 9th graders were more interested in the shenanigans of the afternoon than they were in talking about their life’s noble purpose. While they might have found some value in our time with them, they didn’t care enough to be fully engaged…

…that is, until we attempted to connect our lesson with celebrities.

This is how you know you’re getting old: when none of the kids who are a decade younger than you have ever heard of the following philanthropic public personalities –

Bono.

Or U2 at all, for that matter.

Princess Diana.

Bill Gates.

And only one of the students knew the singing group behind the song Bills Bills Bills (Destiny’s Child):

Still, we wanted the teenagers to understand that you can serve a higher personal calling outside of your career through volunteering your time and resources to a cause that you’re passionate about. This is important stuff. So Kat asked if any of the students knew Miley Cyrus.

The 9th graders flipped. Duh they know who Miley Cyrus is. Miley Cyrus is the best of course. They love Miley Cyrus.

yeah.

The slubs are beginning to find that very few things in life age you more than a younger person who is totally disconnected from your generation’s cherished culture.

Just to get the kids back on the straight and narrow, we forced them to watch a video of U2 performing Beautiful Day live in concert. One day they will understand.

con amor,

shan


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afortunadamente, hablo español

First off, I’d like to give a huge shout out to you readers – Kat’s post last Wednesday has received over 100 views. That is absolutely phenomenal. Thank you all so much for tuning in and keeping in touch with the slubs!

And now, to explain the delay in updating: I’ve been sitting on this post for a few days, trying to think of something to share with you all that could ride well on the coattails of Kat’s beautifully written piece about volunteerism. This is what I’ve come up with…

As many of you know, the slubs graduated from St. Olaf College brandishing sharp minds and hard-won liberal arts degrees. No doubt this is the result of our extremely impressive education as well as tirelessly engaging professors. But the influence of many nights spent lounging in uncomfortable dorm chairs in our Ytterboe pod, discussing our thoughts on the work of this cultural ethnographer or that political theorist, cannot be underestimated. In the slub house, as much as we enjoy spending hours on pointless youtube videos, there is always time for an intellectually stimulating conversation.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read much of anything intellectual lately. Humanities courses at St. Olaf are known for dutifully cramming nonfiction into parts of your brain you didn’t even realize were dormant. I’ve been struck down with an academic sickness: I haven’t been able to finish one book that I’ve cracked this entire summer. So I’ve given up the good fight – for now – and taken to reading the New York Times instead.

Last week, I stumbled across this article.

I know some of you are lazy like me, so I’ll provide you with the summary (although the piece is definitely worth the read and not at all as long as an entire novel): while research in the area is still relatively underdeveloped, scientists are now beginning to unveil the benefits of growing up bilingual.

This is how much cooler bilingual babies are than you and me:

  • Bilingual infants aged 10 to 12 months can discriminate between words uttered in distinct languages. Monolingual babies are stuck muddling through sounds in just the one.
  • Bilingual babies are trained to be more open to neurological experiences, and aren’t as quickly prone to perceptual narrowing as monolingual babies. It’s all peace, love and sunshine for the bilingual babies. Perhaps this means they would make good hippies.
  • Bilingual infants who are 8 months old are able to remain engaged with a silent film in which an actor switches from one language to the next, while same-aged monolingual infants don’t respond to the difference in language. According to Doctor Werker, professor of psychology at the University of British Colombia, “for a baby who’s growing up bilingual, it’s like, ‘Hey, this is important information’”. What’s it like, Dr. Werker? Oh. Bilingual babies are observant and adorable. That’s what it’s like.
  • Due to their bilingualism, babies who learn two languages simultaneously pick up different ways to solve logic problems or to handle multitasking. I will freely admit, as a monolingual child, that I absolutely suck at multitasking. Kathryn, however, is a chronic multitasker and she does it admirably well. Hmmm.
  • Bilingual babies are “more cognitively flexible” and have “precocious development of executive function”. I totally want somebody to describe my baby as cognitively flexibly and precociously developed. There would be no higher honor.

So basically, the argument of the article is: you should probably raise your child bilingual.

Obviously this isn’t the simplest thing to do if you yourself are monolingual and marry someone who is equally as language handicapped. It is my deepest darkest dream to get hitched to a Spaniard, but let’s face it, reality is working against me on that one.

Here’s the sticking point: babies are like sponges. They have to start from scratch with the whole ‘becoming a functional member of society’ routine, so naturally they absorb anything and everything thrown at them. Ideally, this would include communication skills. And research is showing that you won’t permanently screw your baby up if you teach the little one how to speak two languages within the home. Huzzah! My baby will be proficient in Spanish by the time he’s 3.

But what’s the advantage of raising your child bilingual? Well, primarily, you get to be the egomaniacal parent who boasts to the other parents at daycare that your baby is cognitively flexible, and that’s obviously why she’s chewing on two toys at once as opposed to just one. What a proud moment. On top of that, though, there’s this totally random thing called globalization that everyone’s talking about lately. As our world shrinks (what a funny phrase), it’s becoming increasingly important to know more than one language. Many colleges now require students to meet some level of proficiency in a second language before he or she can graduate. Large American corporations have fleets of international business associates who are hired for their dual-language capabilities. Walk down any street in downtown Minneapolis and you’re bound to hear at least four different spoken languages within a five block jaunt. I don’t want to get political here, but it is an inescapable reality of our modern nation that knowing English does not automatically classify an individual as an American citizen. If knowing a second language is such a useful capability, why not teach your child to speak Spanish, or Mandarin, or French, or Swahili, when they’re young and most likely to retain what they learn?

I think I can speak for the rest of the slubs when I assert our house’s solid belief in the beauty of multilingualism. Nora, Kat and I all studied Spanish during parts of high school and college, and are at least conversationally fluent. Anna and Laura have taken French, a seriously undervalued language in our public school system. Anna, Kat, Nora and I all learned a bit of Arabic on our study abroad trip (Anna and Nora more so than the rest of us), and Laura picked up some measure of Italian during her semester in Italy. Think of your own life: how many of you were taught a second language in school? Have you ever been in a situation where you thought, ‘if only I knew another language’? Have you ever traveled abroad and tried to learn the native tongue in order to be more culturally sensitive? How many different languages do you come into contact with on a daily basis?

Like the article argues, bilingualism isn’t a thing to be feared: it should, and must, be embraced.

I’m going to end this on a light note – if you want a more serious and heart-tugging post, you’re going to have to hit Kat up for more of her well-penned prose. Just imagine how cute your child/grandchild/niece/nephew/stolen baby would be if they babbled partly in English and partly in Hindi. I know. It’s almost too much to handle.

con amor (do you see what I did there?!),

shan


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sorr ’bout the post

To all who stumble upon this blog:

One day, while describing what I was wearing when I was asked to my senior prom, I created a word.

Slub: A person who wears casual, pajama-like clothing.

(Slubby: the adjective used to describe a casual outfit. For example: “I was wearing a tshirt and sweatpants…I just looked really slubby.”)

Everyone thought the word was ridiculous and embarrassing, until we realized that my made-up vocabulary was actually in the dictionary —

Slub: a lump in yarn or fabric, often made intentionally to give a knobbly effect.

After that, we saw slub everywhere. Pottery Barn has Fabric by the Yard in Slubby Canvas and Slubby Basketweave. Banana Republic has the Cotton Slub Cardigan. Anthropologie has the Slubby Tulip Dress. Given it’s popularity, slub became a part of our St. Olaf senior year vernacular. We used it whenever the mood hit us. We were slubs, slubbin, and slubby. We slubbed.

After Anna, Kat, Laura, Nora and I had decided to create a blog that would document our lives from graduation up until one year after college (and perhaps beyond), we unanimously and almost instantaneously agreed on a title for that blog.

So welcome to slubs in the city.

I did some internet research on the word “slub”, and found a website called Slub Design. The creators of that website had listed one final definition for our favorite word:

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.

I think that definition suits the five of us slubs perfectly.

I’m so glad that you’re here. Check this blog often. I promise we won’t disappoint.

con amor,

Shannon