It's time for

Decluttering Your House – 3 Easy Questions to Ask

Archive

Clutter. We all have it, whether it’s possessions tossed aside out of complacency or neglect, or items left out with well-meaning intentions of getting to them later. It can exist on our workday desks, in our cars, in our heads and, of course, in our homes. Many agree it is best to declutter where we can, to keep as many parts of our lives as healthy and organized as possible. Let’s look at some declutter ideas, and let’s focus on the most likely culprit for attracting life’s clutter – the home.

At wisnet, we put a focus on keeping a decluttered mind and work environment to help everyone stay fresh and energized for our clients and team members. However, it’s not enough to be decluttered at work and then cluttered at home. By taking a more holistic approach to a decluttered life, it’s important to look at work and at home.

A good first step is to identify any problem spots or “clutter jams.” Since they are problem spots, that means you are probably spending too much time each week tidying them up or you are ignoring them completely and ultimately can never find what you are looking for. Either way, these problem areas cause stress. It’s not uncommon for the home to have several problem spots. Just start with one. No need to cause more stress by thinking you have to do it all at once.

Analyze the problem area. There are 3 basic questions to consider.

1. What is causing the clutter to appear?

sewmanyways.blogspot.com

Identifying the problem can lead to some creative solutions – Is this just a “dump area?” The items lying on the table or counter or floor have a home somewhere else in the house, but they simply are not getting to their proper location. Rectifying this seems easy, but definitely requires all household members to be responsible for their belongings. And many times even you don’t know where these items should go. Does your husband’s screwdriver go in the toolbox in the garage or is it the one from the basement workshop? The one thing you do know is that your husband is in charge of its proper storage. The shoes lying on the floor belong to your son and the necklace on the coffee table is your daughter’s. Random items scattered as if washed ashore without purpose or destination.

A creative solution for this is the “crap basket” – decorative baskets that hold all that “crap” you find around the house that needs to be put away. Each basket is labeled with a household member’s name and they are responsible for putting the contents where they belong. When you find an item lying around the house cluttering things up, you simply drop the item into the basket. No need to hunt down that person or get frustrated. Add a rule that the baskets need to be empty by Monday morning so they don’t get too full.

2. Is the area too small for the items stored there?

whoseideawasit
tobuythishouse.com

Whether it’s recycling products, toys, or clothing, sometimes the designated area is just not large enough to accommodate all of the items. Now you need to get creative. If you’re keeping the recycling bin in the house, it’s probably a smaller size bin that you have located under the sink or in the closet. Maybe it’s time to move the bin into the garage or outside near the back door. You can get a much larger bin that will hold more and if you must store it outside, the “pelican” style garbage bin is perfect. It’s easy to open and close and will keep water out.

When it comes to toys, clothing, or other types of “collectible” item, it’s probably time to go through your collection and thin it out. You know the general rule about clothing – if you didn’t wear it all last season, you probably won’t next year either. And if your child didn’t play with that toy in the past couple of months they may have either outgrown it or lost interest. Either way, it’s time to donate. Analyze your storage areas. Could you add shelves to your closet that would allow you to store more items? If you’re not utilizing the area from top to bottom, then you’re missing out on precious storage space.

If shelves aren’t an option, try storage crates or stacking baskets. Both are great for clothing and toys. Adding storage containers for non-seasonal clothing and hiding them under the bed is a great method for storing clothing that you don’t need until next season.

3. Is this the best area to store these items?

allgloriousblog.com

Sometimes clutter simply appears in an area because it’s convenient; for instance, dropping the mail onto the kitchen counter or dining table. After all, you have to put it down somewhere and there is this big flat surface just waiting for it. If mail and papers clutter up your surfaces and never seem to get cleared away, then you need to decide where you’d like to store these items on a more permanent basis. If you have an office area, designate a place in that room for mail. If you have limited space, try adding a bin, basket or box that you can purchase (or create yourself) to your decor. It can be decorative enough that you don’t mind it sitting on your kitchen counter or stuck to the side of your refrigerator. Mail can be stored here where it is convenient to locate and yet your tabletop and counters are free of clutter.

No matter which creative solution you decide on, you must communicate your decluttering practices to all members of the household. Everyone needs to participate to help keep your home clutter-free.

Decluttering your house may seem daunting at first, but remember to just tackle it one spot at a time. At this point in the article it seems kind of cheesy to tack on a plug for wisnet, but the analogy fits nicely. If things seem a bit cluttered at your place of business, maybe we can help. With our expertise, we can help you declutter your website, your branding message, and even some of your daily routines. Check out all of our services or send an email to [email protected]. We’re always happy to answer your questions.

Fear Forward – especially in the creative & design process

Archive

 

Ask any artist, designer, writer, creator and they’ll likely confirm that staring at a blank page or canvas can be scary. The pressure to create something from nothing can be crippling, if you let it. However, being a part of TEDxFondduLac’s very first event – especially the process of brainstorming the theme possibilities and then designing for it – was quite the rewarding process. Any fear or anxiety experienced was pushed to the side and replaced with excitement for what could be. The energy of the team definitely helped too.

Final TEDxFondduLac #FearForward logo

“Good in, good out,” I say.

And that includes making time to ensure there are good ideas as a foundational part of any event, brand, and website – but also references the design process. It’s easy to jump right to a blank canvas in Illustrator, our logo design program of choice, but I’m intentional on starting on a sketchpad first. It’s not easy or pretty, but it’s instrumental to the end product.
Here’s a little bit of an overview and some insight into how my design brain works…

 

  1. It all starts out with some research…

    I start out looking at other ideas, designs, etc. for inspiration. Then dive into any other reading & research surrounding the topic, industry, audience, etc. In this case, I spent some time reading up on fears – specifically the top one’s inflicting our society. It was super interesting to read about the very tangible fears that top the list … heights, spiders & insects, public speaking, money, death, dentists, flying, snakes, enclosed spaces, mice, dogs, thunder & lightening, terrorism, pain, losing freedom…. But, then dive into another level of fear – the intangible, sometimes hard to name and explain kind. The unknown – no control or darkness, disappointment, misery, loneliness, ridicule, rejection, and failure.

    A little dark & gloomy – sorry about that. But after that exploration, I focused on what the theme needed to say and corresponding logo to represent. I found some great motivational lines – “Admit when you are scared.” “Deal with the heat.” “Develop a new frame of mind.”, as well as a fantastic quote to inspire the next steps even though I had no idea where we would end up…

    Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

     

  2. Then sketches…

     

    What’s the other side of fear look like? It would be backwards, right?

    It’s a little too expected, but I had to explore if/how it would work to feature the “x” of TEDx…

    Fearing forward means a shift or change in perspective… what does that look like visually? Here’s a rough sketch exploring that:

    Moving forward despite fear is a turning point… an individual is turning a corner. Could I make that work visually?

     

  3. Take it digital

    The sketch below is one of the two or three I decided to take into the digial creation stage. In the numerous sketches I did, I realized both “fear” and “forward” had similar characters – “A” and “R” … so I played around with NUMEROUS variations where letterforms overlapped and completed one another. The truth is fear is always a part of actions and moving forward –and I loved how this conceptually conveyed that.

    A new frame of mind around fear is needed!

  4. Refine the final artwork

    A lot of nitty gritty details here, but the gist is that we presented 2-3 variations of the sketch above.

  5. Walk it out

    In addition to the website update, social media graphics, day of programming and other collateral featuring the logo, we also had some fun bringing some fears to life within the context of the theme logo. Its not a common opportunity or challenge to create graphics that evoke an emotional response, so I had to go there.

    What do you think?

 

At the end of the day, the “Fear Forward” theme provided an opportunity to go bold with the design and we all truly enjoyed the creation and design process. We hope you can tell!

Interested in fearing forward with us on your next logo project, brand or event marketing, get in touch with our geeks & creatives.

#BikeBreak – Smarter, Healthier, Happier

Archive

People are designed to move not sit – a #BikeBreak might just be the missing link in your daily grind. Breakaway from the pack for a bit. Just 15 minutes of physical activity and fresh air can increase productivity (both before, during, and after the break). Did you know biking makes you smarter, happier, and oh ya – healthier?

At wisnet, we make a point to get out and ride or walk each day. This encourages team members to wrap up projects efficiently before the ride and we come back refreshed to attack projects after the ride. One of the nice side effects is that we also have great conversations and breakthrough ideas during the ride. It is also a great time to get to know the team outside the office environment. It is an important part of our day that we look forward to. We will see what winter brings… 🙂

‘It’s not about the bike,’ get on your klunker, kruiser, banana seat single gear, mountain bike, or road bike, put on your brain bucket (helmet) and get some fresh air on those trails! It is a great time to break away, socialize, and clear your mind. There’s science behind it!

Join us on the FDL Loop and get 15 minutes of biking (or walking) in 2x a day and / or commute to work.

Need that bike tuned up? We have 2 awesome local bike shops that are ready to get you on the trails:

Attitude Sports
Fond du Lac Cyclery

Get those wheels rolling – see you on the trails!

P.S.  If you are on STRAVA, join the #BikeBreak ‘club’: https://www.strava.com/clubs/bikebreak

3 Super Cool Time Saving G-Suite Inbox Tips

Archive

Inbox management is a constant struggle. All too often, emails come in from all fronts throughout the entire day. Whether it’s clients, team members, family or that pesky sales person who just wants to “connect” and get lunch every other day. How can you stay focused on the messages that matter most when your Inbox stacks up higher than a Man VS Food episode?

We’ve got your back! Using the power of G-Suite (fancy name for Gmail for business), here are some killer tips to keep your Inbox looking svelte and efficient.

Empty it out!

Moving from Outlook is a big jump for many people. There is a comforting feeling seeing all 23,543 messages in your inbox. However comforting, it is very distracting and very slow. One of the simplest features of Google’s email service is the ‘archive’ feature. What is the archive feature you ask? Great question! Archive simply gets that message out of your Inbox. But where does it go? Only Google knows that. Ok, not really. There is a ‘label’ in the left column called ‘All Mail’. If you click this, you see all your mail again – both archived and the messages you left in your inbox. Pretty cool.

Being efficient involves ‘touching mail’ as few times as possible. I like to follow the Triple D rule – Do it. Delegate it. Ditch it.

When you are ready to jump into your email tasks (do this when you have set aside time to answer emails – not as a distraction to your ‘real’ tasks), open each email and take one of the following actions:

1) Do It – replying to the email (doing the request / answering questions)

2) Delegate / Forward It – to someone else that will assist, or

3) Ditch It – unsubscribe if it is junk you don’t need, or just delete it

Your inbox will be empty in no time!

My goal is to have an empty Inbox task at the end of each day, which usually does not happen. I am pretty excited though when it drops below 25!

Search: The Final Frontier

The G-Suite Archive feature is one of those uncomfortable features for some people. If you don’t see it in your Inbox, is it still available? You bet! This is where Google really shines – they are the masters of all search. The G-Suite search function is fast and powerful. If you even need a message that you have archived, just start typing the person’s name, subject, or body keyword and you will see your matches. If you need something more specific, use the search dropdown for more advanced search functions. All your archived emails will be a mouse click away.

G Suite tips and tricks

Send and Archive (the secret weapon)

One of my favorite time saving features of G-Suite is a function called ‘Send and Archive’. This feature adds another button next to the ‘Send’ button (when you reply to a message) called ‘Send and Archive’.

G Suite send and archive

When you reply to a message and hit ‘Save and Archive’, the message is sent and moved out of our Inbox all in one step. (Don’t worry – it is still available in the ‘All Mail’ folder or via a search). It is a quick way to Do It or Delegate It and get it out of your Inbox.

If you are not seeing this super cool time saving button, here is how you can activate the ‘Send and Archive’ button:

To enable Send & Archive in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings gear near Gmail’s top right corner
  2. Select Settings from the menu that has appeared
  3. Make sure Show “Send & Archive” button in reply is selected under Send and Archive
  4. Click Save Changes

Now, to send a message and archive its conversation in one go:

  1. Compose your reply
  2. Click Send and archive (instead of Send)

If you have questions or would like to try G-Suite for your business, give us a call. The geeks & creatives of wisnet.com are Google partners (among other things), and we would love to help you out!

Is your mobile menu harder to access than you think?

Archive

We’ve all been on websites where the menu is on top. Heck, the site you’re on right now has the menu at the top (at least at the time of writing this article)! But there’s a good chance we might start seeing menus leave the comforts of the top and bear more weight on their shoulders.

Our team recently read and discussed an article from UX Movement suggesting mobile menus be moved to the bottom of the screen. The article provided research stating that most users hold their phone with one hand and really only use their thumb to interact with the screen. Knowing that, along with the common practice to have the mobile menu at the top of the screen, is it the most functional and efficient placement?

UX Movement builds a strong case for bringing the navigation down to the bottom on mobile.

  • Phones give thumbs a limited range of motion
  • Depending which hand is dominant, you can reach one side of the screen better than the other
  • As screen sizes get larger, the top areas of the screen become harder to reach
  • Larger screens also have lower reach-ability in the corner opposite the users thumb
  • The hardest to reach places for the thumb are at the top of the screen
  • The easiest to reach area for the thumb is the bottom of the screen
  • Placing the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen allows users to select options much faster
  • Placing the menu icon (what we affectionately call the “hamburger” menu) in the center instead of the left or right side, will make it more universal for left and right-handed users

By moving the mobile navigation to the bottom of the screen, UX Movement believes there’s a good chance you will increase user engagement and the user experience. Which, let’s face it, is the ultimate reason to make any change on your site.

After reading the article, our team of geeks & creatives agreed it’s something to consider when designing for mobile and we’re excited to try it out and see for ourselves! If you’re looking for a new website, an upgrade to your current site or just want to chat about last night’s Game of Thrones premiere, hit us up and we’ll find a time to talk!

RE: Using sick days for mental health

Archive

I HATE this bad habit, but while aimlessly wasting time & scrolling through my Facebook feed last night, I found a gold nugget:  this great article – the story of Madalyn Parker, a fellow web developer from Michigan who works for Olark.

For those who haven’t seen/heard of it, long story short, she emailed her team this:

And received this response from her boss:

First of all, freakin’ awesome response, Ben Congleton. We can’t agree more.

Second, it got me thinking more about the culture, the attitudes and support we work to foster across the board for our geeks & creatives team members.

Our everyday culture & team development work includes:

  • celebrating our people & their strengths with tools like StrengthsFinder and other educational events;
  • encouraging personal & professional growth/learning – and then sharing it for the entire team’s benefit;
  • creating a healthy environment with stand-up desks, physical fitness perks & challenges, and healthy snacks & lunches in our cafe;
  • … and our list could go on …

We’ve historically even offered financial wellness perks & programming to our team and recently, I’m thrilled to have incorporated mental & emotional wellbeing into our conversations – including talk about mental health days and their benefits; and how we can foster an environment where we can feel confident being vulnerable and sharing when we’re not in the best, healthiest place, mentally.

More work and conversations are needed – and I feel confident wisnet is on the right track. However, this shared experience by/of Madalyn has encouraged me to evolve my vernacular just a little bit and I believe it can make a big difference! My personal mentality and professional drive have always been to help my team members become their best self … but the truth of the matter is that some days we wake up and our best self just isn’t feasible, for whatever reason.

Going forward, I aspire for our geeks & creatives team to feel confident in being supported as their true, whole self. If that whole self means you’re at your best, fabulous! And if not, know we’re here anytime you want to talk.

How to Teach Google Assistant to Talk to your TiVo

Archive

Why do you need to control your TiVo through Google Assistant?

To that we say, “Why would you NOT?” But in all seriousness, picture this. You’re sitting on the couch. Belly full of dinner, cat on your lap or child sleeping on your shoulder and you need to switch from the Saved by the Bell marathon to the new episode of Game of Thrones that’s about to start. Oh no! The remote is nowhere to be found. Now what? Google to the rescue! Now, all you have to do is say, “Okay, Google. TiVo HBO.” As if by magic, your television cuts off Jessie Spano’s excitement just in time to get caught up on John Snow’s adventures.

Knowledge Needed:

  • Port Forwarding
  • Setting up a Raspberry Pi
    • Installing/configuring apache
    • Installing PHP
    • Installing telnet
  • The Code
  • IFTTT Applet

Difficulty Level: Meh

Before You Get Started

It is important to know before you try to do anything with this, that you need to be able to setup port forwarding on your router. Since there are many different routers and ISPs, I can’t tell you if you can do it. You’ll need to consult Google for this one. Find the make/model of your router and type into google “{make} {model} port forwarding.” This should get you in the right direction. If you can setup port forwarding on your router, then you can teach your Google Assistant to talk to your TiVo! And believe me you, it’s pretty deece.

Step 1: Setting up your Raspberry Pi w/ Apache, PHP & telnet

If you already have your Raspberry Pi initial install, great! If you don’t, go ahead and do that.

Once you are done with that, open a terminal on your Raspberry Pi (ctrl+alt+t). First we need to make sure that we have an updated list of packages. To do this, type in the terminal:

sudo apt-get update

Now that our sources are up-to-date, we can install Apache, PHP, and Telnet.

To install Apache enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 apache2-utils

Once Apache is installed we can continue by installing PHP. To do that enter this command in that same terminal:

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php-pear php5-xcache php5-mysql php5-curl php5-gd

Now that we have your RPI setup as a webserver, we also need it to be able to talk to other devices via telnet.

sudo apt-get install telnet

Now that we have the fun stuff installed, let’s move on to setting up your router to pass the request from the outside world to your Raspberry Pi on your local network.

Step 2: Setting up port forwarding

The same way you referenced port forwarding on your router should be able to help you here. What you need to know is the local IP address of your Raspberry Pi. To find that, in the terminal type

ifconfig | grep -m 1 "inet addr:192"

This will get you something like this:

ifconfig | grep "inet addr:"
inet addr:127.0.0.1  Mask:255.0.0.0
inet addr:192.168.1.122  Bcast:192.168.1.255  Mask:255.255.255.0

The number you are looking for probably looks like: 192.168.1.xxx

NOTE: if you do not get any results, just do: ifconfig

Copy that into the port forwarding destination.

Step 3: Setting up the apache virtual host

If you’re not familiar with setting up your own site, here’s a great reference from our friends at Digital Ocean.

What I did was set up a virtual host for my apache webserver. This allows me to listen to a specific port for this particular application (great if you have other things your Pi controls via Internet). Here is what my virtual host file looks like:


# I listen on 31339 because that’s the port that the TiVo
# listens on.
Listen 31339
<VirtualHost *:31339>
DocumentRoot "/var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/public_html/"
ServerName google-assistant-tivo.com
ServerAlias www.google-assistant-tivo.com
<Directory "/var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/public_html">
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI Includes
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
# Don’t forget to create this directory
ErrorLog /var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/logs/error.log
</VirtualHost>

Step 4: The Code

There is a little bit of extra code added here that isn’t necessary to make this work, but what it does do is allow you to say “Okay, Google. TiVo HGTV” ($channelLookup) which will change the channel on the TiVo to, you guessed it, HGTV (you [most likely] need to modify the channel number that goes with the channel name). It also gets you a quick and dirty request log so you can debug your app and figure out what is going on.

So, here it is:

https://bitbucket.org/mdahlke/google-assistant-tivo/

Step 5: IFTTT

Setting up your applet on ifttt.com is as straightforward as it gets. If you’ve set one up before then you’ll have no problems with this step.

  1. Create New Applet
  2. For “this” select “Google Assistant
  3. For your trigger, select “Say a phrase with a text ingredient
  4. In the “What do you want to say” field enter: “TiVo $” (without the quotes)
  5. In the “What do you want the Assistant to say in response?” this is up to you. I have it responding with “Okay, TiVo $” so it echoes back what I said so I know it’s doing the right thing
  6. Click “Create Trigger
  7. Click “that
  8. Select “Maker Webhooks” for the action service
  9. Select “Make a web request
  10. Fill in the fields:
    • URL: This will be your public IP address followed by the port that your virtual host is listening on. In my virtual hosts I have it set to listen on port 31339. So I entered in this field http://192.168.1.122:31339 (this will also be what the port you forwarded the request to on your router to)NOTE: The IP address I used in the example above is an internal IP that is not publicly accessible. To find your public IP address, ask Google what it is
    • Method: POST
    • Content Type: application/json
    • Body: {“type”:”default”,”command”: “{{NumberField}}”}
  11. Double check your inputs and click “Save”

Now you should be able to control your TiVo via your Google Assistant. That in itself is AWESOME!!! But one thing you may have noticed is changing channels via the channel number is not that awesome. Example, you try to say “Okay, Google. TiVo channel six two nine” and it sends the request as “6 – 9” (or that’s what I’ve found in the request.log). So to get around this I made another applet that specifically handles the channel request by accepting only a number. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create New Applet
  2. For “this” select “Google Assistant
  3. For your trigger, select “Say a phrase with a number ingredient
  4. In the “What do you want to say” field enter: “TiVo channel $” (without the quotes)
  5. In the “What do you want the Assistant to say in response?” field enter: “Okay, changing channel to $”
  6. Click “Create Trigger
  7. Click “that
  8. Select “Maker Webhooks” for the action service
  9. Select “Make a web request
  10. Fill in the fields:
    • URL: This will be your public IP address followed by the port that your virtual host is listening on. In my virtual hosts I have it set to listen on port 31339. So I entered in this field http://192.168.1.122:31339 (this will also be the port you forwarded the request to on your router to) NOTE: The IP address I used in the example above is an internal IP that is not publicly accessible. To find your public IP address, ask Google what it is
    • Method: POST
    • Content Type: application/json
    • Body: {“type”:”default”,”command”: “{{NumberField}}”}
  11. Double check your inputs and click “Save”

Congratulations

You’re now among the elite TiVo users who can control their watching by the soothing sound of your own voice. Want more geeky & creative ideas? Stay tuned to the musings of the geeks & creatives of wisnet, or hit us up if you have questions on deploying a project. We’ve got you covered to go fearless into the net.

Issues?

If you run into any issues you can submit a an issue via the Bitbucket Repo.

More than websites

Archive

At wisnet.com, we approach every single project as a small piece to a larger puzzle. It’s not just a website, it’s an extension (and often first impression) of your brand. It’s not just an application, it’s removing hurdles for your customers to continue to work with you. It’s not just digital signage, it’s communicating to a captive audience about how awesome you are. It’s not just… Well, you get the point.

So when we had the chance to work with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on some new messaging, we were so excited to be able to help them turn it up to 11. If you’ve ever been to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game, you know that it’s so much more than baseball. There’s great food, hilarious games between innings, playgrounds for kids and a whole lot more. But, just like anything in our communities, it can be something we take for granted after a few years.

The geeks & creatives of wisnet jumped into action to bring to life a way for fans and community members alike to think about the Rattlers in a new light. To ditch the same old, same old of going shopping or a movie and instead, “Rattle Your Summer” with the Timber Rattlers! One way for us to bring this to life and really let the personality shine through was creating some radio spots that shows the enlightened path of what tickets to the T-Rats can do for your family.

In the first spot, “Did you hear that?” there’s a scary noise that’s causing some concern:

In the second, “Carol,” we learn how to keep the kids engaged once school is out:

Beyond the radio scripts and production, wisnet and the Timber Rattlers worked together on a campaign graphic, landing page and more to help their surrounding communities “Rattle Your Summer!”

Rattle Your Summer

And we had a blast helping their Northwoods League team, the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders bring “A New Spin on Summer” to life as well!

A New Spin on Summer

To get to campaigns that bring your personality and brand to life, whether through radio spots, design work, websites or more, the team of geeks & creatives here at wisnet can take you through our unique branding process. Because, let’s face it, you’re way better than the average lot. And wisnet can help you share that!

Team wisnet now partnering with TEDx organizers!

Archive

Our geeks & creatives strive to create marketing, web and app solutions that build up big ideas for our clients to share with the world. This is exactly why we love the mission of TED so much – and are thrilled to now be partnering with TEDx organizers all over the world – and last, but most definitely not least, TEDxFondduLac.


TLTR:
Team wisnet is now providing an in-kind/free WordPress template for TEDx organizers anywhere and everywhere in the world based on our work with the amazing TEDxFondduLac. Stay tuned for the official release on TED Sponsor Marketplace and in the wordpress.org/themes/ listing.

Rad, but what does that mean?

It all started with our team being invited to join forces with the Fond du Lac planning team – lead by the mighty Sarah Spang – to bring a TEDx event to Fond du Lac. It has been a big undertaking – but this #StubbornlyOptimistic team is pulling it together.

Part of that work together involved the creation of www.TEDxFondduLac.com, where wisnet was given a blank canvas to design and build a website to feature information unique to our independent event. Including, but not limited to: theme, speakers, sponsors, program details, news and other local pride revolving around the event.


What does this mean for other TEDx organizers around the world?

The work of a TEDx organizer is demanding, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. Team wisnet was honored to be able to serve our local community by sharing our knowledge and skills to help ensure the event succeeds AND make Sarah’s (TEDxFondduLac license holder) job just a wee bit easier (or at least one less thing to fret about).

Which got us to thinking . . . why should any TEDx organizer – a person going out of their way to spread great ideas and make a difference in their community – have to worry about finding a quick, easy, budget-friendly and great looking resource for their TEDx website!?!

This is exactly why we proceeded with submitting our work as an in-kind/free WordPress template for TEDx organizers anywhere and everywhere in the world. All we ask is to be listed as an in-kind donor on your independent TEDx website partner/sponsor page.

With this TEDx template, you’ll enjoy:

  • Ready-to-go TED branded site, but easily updated to fit your individual event identity & theme. See full example at www.TEDxFondduLac.com.
  • Theme settings allow for quick and easy updating of your TEDx logo, theme, event date and location, social channels, and contact details.
  • “Speaker” post type provides ease in adding and showcasing the stars of your show
  • And don’t forget your planning team! Quickly and easily highlight the behind-the-scenes rock stars who make your event happen.
  • A “Partner” post type also allows you to customize and set up your donor levels – giving credit where credit is respectfully due.
  • Integrated blog functionality for ease of sharing news, ideas and more.
  • Theme comes installed with MailChimp for WP plugin to make subscriber integration a breeze. Just tie in your API key and you are good to go!
  • Additional content callouts allow you to inspire your followers with other “TALKS WE LOVE” and more.
  • Mobile friendly, because you shouldn’t expect anything less.
  • Easily add pages and build out your navigational menu with top level and children pages.

Check out these screenshots of the template layout and WordPress theme updates in the backend editor below:

 

Official release to come on the TED Sponsor Marketplace, next to the work of other techy providers and supporters like Basecamp, Tumblr, MailChimp, and more!


Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of geeks & creatives by shooting us a note at [email protected]. Whether you have a quick question on how to update your site or you’re looking for anything else wisnet can help with!

Ready to kickstart your web presence with the help of our geeks & creatives? We have your WordPress TEDx theme ready to go! We’re excited to help bring your ideas and event to life!

Need assistance on any other brand/theme marketing, WordPress integration, apps, or anything else? Learn more at wisnet.com


FAQs and other goodies:

What is a TEDx event, you ask?
Imagine a day filled with brilliant speakers, thought-provoking video and mind-blowing conversation. A TEDx event creates a unique gathering in your community that will unleash new ideas, inspire and inform on a variety of topics. Watch this video to learn more about TED and TEDx!

TEDx is coming to Fond du Lac Saturday August 19, 2017 hosted at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. For more information on TEDx Fond du Lac, visit http://www.tedxfonddulac.com/

Local & looking for tickets? Too bad for you! This inaugural event sold out in one day! The TEDxFondduLac team has done an amazing job of lining up presenters and promoting the conference. Stay tuned for the presentations available online for viewing after big day!


Geeking out over this article? You might also be interested in:
Be #StubbornlyOptimistic and create the community you love

Rethinking Mentors

Archive

At wisnet, we love sharing our experiences, ideas and even reflections for the betterment of our own team –and our community! Check out the “Growing the Next Generation of Women in Management” talk on mentorship and overcoming challenges by our art director, Jenny Knuth. Jenny had the privilege of sharing her experience with Women In Management – Fond du Lac Chapter this June.


Twenty six years ago, I was described as a timid, quiet little mouse. I recall remarks from Mrs. Bitter, my second grade elementary teacher, telling my parents that I barely talked in class and when I did, she could barely make out my squeaks and whispers. I was quite shy and VERY introverted, and to this day, I’m not quite sure why….

Over the years, I did find my place and voice in many different settings. Fast forward to kicking off my career in the design/marketing industry and I can recall the essence of that “mouse” still present in my work and interactions. I struggled with how to prove myself, and at that time – in my head – unless I had felt I had something worthwhile or different to say, I didn’t say much of anything at all.

Looking at present day … with my interactions at work and in the community – yes, of course there is some anxiety in a new or different setting, but I don’t let that stop me. I now joke that if you ask for my opinion, you can’t get me to stop talking.

So what changed?

Well, I’m a strong believer in the idea that the person we are today is not who we were 5-10-15+ years ago – or who we’ll be in the future. There is a great TED Talk by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert about “The Psychology of Your Future Self.” where he talks about our disconnect with our future self… specifically how we don’t see ourselves changing much at all – be it our values, personality or even personal preferences. But the truth is, it all does … and  more than we think. He emphasizes “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”

I was a work-in-progress in 2nd grade – obviously.

I was not “finished” when I started my career.

And, I’m still not. And, neither are any of you… be it you’re 18 – right out of high school and ready to conquer the world; in your early/mid 20’s and kicking off your career with uncertainty; in your 30’s and just feeling like you’ve finally figured it out; in your 40’s and 50’s, settling into your mastery and teaching others; or in your 60’s and beyond, still looking for that growth & challenge.

Throughout that span of ages, change is inevitable.

A lot of that change may be uncontrollable. But some is – specifically growth as an individual.

You can let that change hinder you, be afraid of it – or choose to embrace it in all of its messiness – the twists, turns, backpedals and all.

For me, embracing and encouraging change in myself is what allowed me to overcome challenges and learn a lot along the way.

I personally can attribute that back to 3 things:

  1. Experience – which is the learnings you pick up along the way
  2. Mentors – the people in our lives who help guide us
  3. Mindset – one’s internal thought process, mental model — personally developed, but can grow with personal work and/or external influence

Life and work experiences brought a lot of confidence – which I believe most would echo. However, unless you have a time machine or a crystal ball, you just can’t control or foresee what those experiences will exactly be. What I could control was the influence & impact of mindset and mentors in my life … and those things were extraordinary in helping me grow and change for the better.

Those 3 things – experience + mindset + mentors – help me overcome the following (for the most part)…

  • A fear of ridicule — the social fear of not projecting a good enough image of ourselves
  • A feeling that I had to do everything perfectly and make everyone happy in the process
  • The idea that I couldn’t show any signs of weakness or too much emotion in my work. Vulnerability was and is hard for me.
  • The mindset that I aspired to be a leader, but that I didn’t feel I had the charisma to do so … or the title to do so
  • Thinking I was alone in creating and shaping my personal growth and professional future

Which brings me to my mentors….

When I was first asked to share my experience with mentorship, I had an unexpected reaction of “Sure! I’d love to” knowing it would be a great reflection – followed by “Wait, what the heck do I know about mentorship!?!” What ensued was some reflection, reading, and you guessed it, mentorship guidance which lead me to define and rethink what mentoring meant to me and my growth over the years.

At that point, I had another intriguing internal response to the concept of mentors in my life: the idea of having them was important, and I knew I did … but I was also quite intimidated by the idea. After all, another truth –I’ve NEVER asked someone to be a mentor! I credit this to the idea that on the surface I followed more of the traditional definition of a mentor relationship – where someone “more experienced or more knowledgeable helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.”

As a mentee, isn’t that scary?!?

Admitting we know less than perhaps we could/should, pulling down our defenses and welcoming critique with open arms. Perhaps even hearing somethings about ourselves that we might not want to hear, but totally need to. Eeeek. Definitely some strong mindset and willpower needed there!

And as a mentor…

being one just sounds like a lot of work when we’re all so busy – work, family, community commitments, you name it. And, what do I get out of it?

Then came redefining and rethinking a mentor.

As soon as I broke mentorship down to a conversation – the simple exchange of questions, ideas, thoughts with the goal of supporting & empowering individuals, I experienced a sense of ease & clarity around mentorship – specifically regarding all the women in my life who have helped shape or guide me in one way or another.

I also came upon a number of revelations or highlights that can help us all be more conscious of the mentor relationships we may have in our lives currently AND more intentional in our pursuit for that kind of guidance in our growth.

#1 – Mentors are not always named.

Shouldn’t come as a surprise … as I stated I’ve never asked anyone to be my mentor – nor have I officially acknowledged them as one, until writing this up. I’ve had some great women role models, teachers, and leaders in my life, but my takeaway was how important it is to contemplate and leverage the relationships I currently have. I realized this meant that the mentor roles we seek/need may not just be someone “above” us, but could be individuals to our left and to our right – our colleagues in work, in the community, that peer support network, and our friends.

But not just any friend or colleague…
Who do you go to when you need to think/talk through an idea or issue?

Who cares for you but will be real & honest with you?

Who makes you feel like your best self?

#2 – Understand your intent or need.

My mentors over the years have fit many different purposes and places in my life.

  • Sharing industry insights & knowledge – more of the typical coworker/new hire mentorship
  • Fueling ideas and igniting passions
  • Providing clarity and honesty – someone who asks difficult questions and challenges thinking
  • Support in a tough or uncertain time – the cheerleader who told me I was a rockstar when I needed it the most

As mentors, we don’t need to be experts in all areas. And as mentees, we need to realize it might be beneficial to seek out 4-5 different mentors in the area they can help most.

 

#3 – Mentors can take on many different shapes & forms.

It’s not always a long-term relationship nor does it always incorporate regular communications.

Many women come to mind who I might only have an in depth interaction with a couple times of year – some planned, some unexpected, but always extremely helpful.

In one of the more recent mentee experiences I’ve had, we’d never met in person … only talked over the phone. But, the relationship and foundation for trust was there. On one call in particular this wonderful woman acknowledged my struggles of feeling like I didn’t measure up. She continued to share a story from her past. She ended the story by passing on something someone had once told her.

She said, “Jenny, you are enough.”
She left a lasting impact on me.
Who knows if our paths will cross again.

 

#4 – Mentors may not have all the answers.

They do not have to think their job is to give advice. As with my previous, it’s the sharing of their stories, experiences, lessons learned. Or providing connections to the right or different people. And, for me the most beneficial mentors, have been those who ask questions of me and don’t always expect a response. The value in that exchange comes in the reflections that follow – be it clearing what’s on my head or heart in that conversation, or spending time on my own sitting in the question.

 

#5 – You don’t have to look too far for a mentor…

Yes, your inner self/inner wisdom can be a mentor! It all comes back to mindset and our self talk. And guess what? Your inner mentor is not going to be too busy to talk to you (at least it shouldn’t be!)

A little out there maybe, but think about it … who usually stands in your way when it comes to change, or stepping outside of our comfort zone? Many analogies can be made when it comes to being conscious of your mindset: the voices on your left/right shoulders … I’ve heard others reference it as “the annoying roommate”, or the now you being mentored by your future you. Initially I thought I might be a bit crazy for this idea but jumped online and found a great quote:

By dialing down your inner critic and turning up your inner mentor, you’ll find that sometimes the advice you need is hidden within – hushed by your own fears or lingering beyond your personal comfort zone.

 

The takeaway: Some days the most important conversations we have are the conversations we have with ourself. What mindset are you going to feed?

 

The Challenge

In the pursuit to show up as our best, true self in everything we do – from our relationships at home, to those at work & in our community, I’ve challenged myself in regard to the three tenets shared earlier and ask you to join me in:

  1. Mindset. As women we really need to stop judging each other so harshly, but we especially need to stop letting others judgement of ourselves cause so much anxiety. We must make decisions based on what we want to do… not what we feel others want us to do. Trust and listen to your gut/intuition/inner mentor – the power is there. A must read if you struggle in this area is Mindset, by Carol Dweck
  2. Experience. Experience is time. And time flies by, so it’s important to make space/time for this work in your day or week. It truly is a commitment.

    Not ready to be your own mentor or seek out one? Start out small… watch a TED talk, absorb as much as you can at a conference, listen to a podcast, curl up with a good book … and allow that source to challenge your thinking or to get you thinking more deeply about a topic, issue or frustration you currently face.

    As a mentor — are you concerned about finding time to provide guidance to another? Highly recommend you check out  One Minute Mentoring by Ken Blanchard & Claire Diaz-Ortiz – which was actually a joint writing venture between a mentor and a mentee. The book features some great tips about a more structured mentorship agreement with suggestions for developing an understanding and outlining commitments.
  3. Lastly, mentors. When it comes to your mentors – past or present – show gratitude. Identify those mentors who may be unnamed or discovered over the years, months, days and thank them! Let them know how much they’ve impacted you. You’ll make them feel amazing. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you hear back.

By identifying my mentors, embracing change, the good and bad experiences, and converting self-talk that was holding me back into my own, internal mentor, I was able to see myself grow from that timid, quiet little mouse in Mrs. Bitter’s second grade class into someone much different today.

How have you grown and changed over the years? And, what’s your plan for continual growth?