Attention Parents: Baking a Cake is Engineering

swimming-pigs-chocolate-kit-kat-cake

When I was a 12-year-old girl, I loved baking cookies. It was fun. I would have a friend over on a Saturday afternoon; we would bake and then snack on the cookies. I didn’t know at the time, but I discovered recently, as a mom and engineer, that baking a cake has a lot of skills in common with basic engineering projects.

This past weekend my daughter had one of her friends over. They both love to bake and decorate cupcakes, so I expected they’d be in my kitchen creating something. I didn’t know they were going to engineer such an unusual product – a swimming pigs cake!

Here are some of the engineering skills the two girls used over the course of the afternoon.

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Three Tried and True Ways to Let Your Inner Leader Shine

Summer landscape: beauty sunset over sunflowers field

So you are not the CEO, not even the manager, but you can hone your leadership skills and start behaving like a leader no matter what you do or what level you are in the company. The HBR article “Act like a Leader before You Are One,” author Amy Gallo outlines several strategies to start acting like a leader.

I have been employing a few of these over the past few years. Here are the ones I know work.

  1. Knock your responsibilities out of the park
    This one is a given. You have to be a rock star in your current job. Which means you have to pick jobs and assignments where there are meaty project you are passionate about. Make sure they are challenging enough to keep you engaged and that there are clear key performance indicators, so it’s obvious when you have nailed it. Or hopefully over-nailed it. And don’t be shy about letting others know what you have done. A great way to do this is to send a thank you to the people you worked with on the project thanking them for making the project successful. Build visibility and good will at the same time.
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Sometimes You Have to Unplug to Connect

Relax

If your job is social media or working on a hot project or a project with executive visibility (or in my case, both), you are plugged in a lot – maybe even while brushing your teeth at night, flipping through your streams of communications. If you volunteer in the evenings or have kids on sports teams, you are plugged there too. It’s the only way you can keep all of that going. It’s modern life. Always being plugged in is how we communicate and stay in touch.

I am fortunate enough to work at a company that provides employees an amazing benefit – a two-month employee sabbatical every seven years. I took my second sabbatical this summer and it was great! It was great because I made some tough decisions on my plugged-in-ness. Although my job was going awesome and I was super motivated by my work, I did a full hand-off of all of my activities (and even used it as an opportunity to ditch some things that really weren’t high value). I handed off my duties at the non-profit and let everyone else who depends on me know I was going to be gone and truly not available. And I have to admit, I didn’t do all of the pre-unplugging planning that Baratunde Thurston did, as he documents in his article on unplugging, “Baratunde Thurston Leaves the Internet.” In fact, I just kind of told a few people, set out of office on my laptop, and walked out the door.

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Slow Down Ma’am!

Police Motorcycle Cop Mirror

I didn’t even realize it. In our modern world, it just creeps up on you, you know. I’m talking about busy-ness. Before you know it, you are taking on more juicy projects on top of your already full workload, signing your kids up for more and more activities, volunteering at school and in the community, pledging to cook healthy meals and exercise, and on and on. Then you have to make it all work. You have the entire day planned completely back to back. You have to make cuts. Drive time between events starts to seem frivolous, so you snip and cut to make everything fit into the day. And things like getting your hair cut is pretty low on the list. But you resolve to yourself that that’s the way it is.

Several months ago, I had to travel for work. My hair was a wreck, so I squeezed in getting my haircut during the day. The appointment was going to be tight, but I was pretty sure I could drive to downtown Portland and get back to my office for a meeting right after. In reality, the drive and the appointment both took longer than I thought they would. It’s a good thing I have a car with some guts! I broke out of the downtown traffic and the road opened up. I hit the pedal and I was going 45 MPH…55 MPH…65 MPH… I would make it back to my meeting on time, with good hair. Hooray!

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You Are Irrelevant in Social Media: 7 Things to Do

Social media chart

Working in social media really puts you are out there. People you don’t know or ones haven’t met face to face can easily draw some assumptions about you, socially speaking, by doing a quick scan of your Twitter feed or checking out your Klout score. I learned this the hard way.

I had a colleague tell me he didn’t think I could lead a social media project because he had checked my Twitter feed and basically I was irrelevant. Ouch. But I respect this person. And while the criticism was harsh, there was truth within it. I asked myself whether I was I truly irrelevant (i.e., not adding value). Or was I not doing a good job communicating the value of what I do?

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Building your Ability to Bounce Back

Resilience road sign

Originally posted August 9, 2012 on Women’s Center for Leadership

I was impressed by the determination and focus of the US and Canadian women’s teams in the Olympic Women Soccer Semi-finals earlier this week.

What made the biggest impression on me when I watched the game was the display of resiliency on both teams throughout the entire game – after every set-back, injury, questionable call, and penalty kicks. The teams rallied on. These female athletes exemplify resiliency – and it has stuck with me over the past two days.

We have all had career setbacks:  projects canceled, employees leave, funding dries up, and on and on. We all have had to adapt and rally.

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The Gift of Advice

Gift woman

Originally posted June 5, 2012  on Women’s Center for Leadership

Recently, the 2012 Fortune 500 list was released.  When I first saw the list I had no idea that there were a record number of female executives, until I saw in a blog that detailed, “The 2012 ranking of the 500 largest corporations in the United States includes a record 18 firms helmed by female CEOs, up from 12 companies in 2011. The previous record for women-led companies in the Fortune 500 was set in 2009, and included 15 firms run by female executives. Just seven Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs in 2002 and 2003.”

There are 2.5x more female CEOs than there were 10 years ago. So what advice do these accomplished 18 women have to share?  In Career advice from Fortune 500’s women CEOs, KeyCorp CEO Beth Mooney advises, “If somebody hands you a torch, what do you do with it? And I think the answer is easy. You light the way for others to follow.”

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IT Social Heroes for Employee Social Activation

Young businessman acting like a super hero and tearing his shirt

Originally posted June 27, 2013 on intel.com

In my blog, “Why Intel IT Experts Should Use Social Media” <LINK> I mentioned that I was working on a pilot program is called “IT Social Heroes.”

The goal of IT Social Heroes is to help our busy IT SMEs (subject matter experts) build solid peer relationships and increase their social authority (and that of Intel IT… and Intel) within the IT industry. We wanted the Intel IT SMEs to build social authority by:

  • Building equity in their name plus their area of expertise (by using a unique key equity term (KET)).
  • Improving the SME’s search-ability (SEO for higher Google Rank) over time.
  • Growing social influence (i.e., Klout/Kred score, # of followers & connections)

The pilot started with a few Intel IT SMEs in December 2012. For each SME, we did an assessment (to establish a baseline) and then advised each of them, creating a game plan of focused actions and metrics. We provided metrics to help quantify the value of time and effort they put in — and the impact when they slacked off the plan.

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Why Intel IT Experts Should Use Social Media

Expert

Originally posted October 17, 2012 on intel.com

In my role as the Social Media Manager for Intel IT, I talk a lot with our Intel IT Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and other IT employees about why they should get involved in social media.

The Intel IT subject matter experts share IT best practices with our customers and the industry at large at events, customer meetings and publish white papers, videos, and blogs through the IT@Intel program – in addition to their day jobs.  A lot of these men and women ask, “Why should I add social media to my already busy days and my workload?” And that’s a fair question. I make sure we discuss some of the benefits of using in social media and see if it really aligns with the IT employee’s own career goals.

Why use social media?

Being able to articulate why you want to use social media (or why you don’t) and knowing what your goal is – that’s half the battle. Most of our IT SMEs I talk with want to build their industry knowledge and share their expertise with their peers. (This is awesome, huh?)

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Short Cut to Get Intel IT employees on Social Media

Concept vector graphic- social network of colorful people icons(

Originally posted July 13, 2012 on intel.com

This week our CIO Kim Stevenson (@kimsstevenson) posted her first public blog in the Intel Open Port IT Community stating her intent to build a social IT organization at Intel. This totally flipped my job on its head and I couldn’t be happier.

My job as the social media manager for Intel IT has to share best practices http://www.intel.com/IT from Intel IT experts with the industry and to help our top IT experts blog in our community.  In that priority order.  Sharing the best practices, it’s really straightforward, programmatic social distribution – it’s not rocket science. I tweet from our handle @IntelITS, post content on Slideshare and Scribd.

The second part, the helping our top IT experts blog is actually the trickier part. That is, until Kim’s blog, which clearly provides the leadership direction (and hopefully the motivation) to our org. The part where she says, “Being a new CIO, I made a commitment to myself that I would be a part of the 10% [of social CIOs] and bring many IT professionals along with me.”  So when you CIO’s goal is bigger than just getting the top 10-20 experts blogging, you’ve got to short cut your process and re-examine your approach.

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