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Remembering Scott Kirkpatrick 1961 – 2018

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We are incredibly saddened to share that we lost a dear friend, colleague, and fellow geek & creative, Scott Kirkpatrick.

Scott brought so much to our lives that can’t be described. He approached life with an energy that was unmatched. We will always remember what he did for each of us through the years of knowing him, which now, seem all too short. His ability to push us each to be the best we can be, his desire to always elevate what we deliver to clients, and his passion for those he loved and how he always put their needs over his own.

Scott’s five words ring so true today, just as they did the day we met him. We’re sure many of you experienced these through your interactions with Scott. Each one brings a story, laugh, and memory to mind that we’ll hold on to dearly.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

We love you, Scott.

It’s fairly easy or common to seek distraction in one’s day-to-day even after such a great loss – after all, life inevitably goes on despite our shock, sadness, confusion. That said, there are so many reminders of Scott’s impact on our work and personal lives.

It’s harder to focus on those reminders and memories as they highlight the gaps we’re all experiencing in different ways. Sharing those memories and stories of Scott are sure to bring smiles to faces, as well as some tears – but all in all, help the healing process begin. We’ll keep adding more stories as we continue to reflect and remember our dear friend.

Tracy & I had a fantastic and very amusing call with Scott after his speech at the Governor’s mansion. He was so pumped up and proud, yet incredibly humble, about sharing his story of receiving the gift of life after his heart transplant. On top of that, his remarks about his interactions with Governor Walker were quite entertaining. He kept talking about giving Walker a big french kiss to make his story extreme and keep us laughing.

I remember the day Scott called to offer me a job at wisnet. I was at Six Flags riding roller coasters on a random day off and he thought that was so awesome. We talked about roller coasters more than we talked about anything else during that call – and it was a constant theme/comment when working together.

Countless whiteboard sessions in the Green Room – a.k.a. “War room.” Passionately arm wrestling with words and ideas … one day it got to the point that Scott stopped me and asked if we were arguing and if we were okay –– just one example of many where his care and compassion for people was ever present. No matter how hard he wanted to push for a big idea, he was always concerned about the wellbeing of his team and the relationships between us all.

I can’t remember what day it was technically, but Scott wore a batman mask practically all day – AND maintained talking in a low, deep, scratchy voice to stay in character. Cracks me up every. single. time. I think about it.

Scott’s laugh. Could hear it / pick it out of a crowd. ANYWHERE.

Every morning when I get into work, I usually play country music.  One morning, after Scott was here for a bit, he messaged me “to whomever picks the music… can we have less Country, please?”  I politely said I usually pick the music right away in the morning cause I like country. His response: “I like country… but when it’s over the top I will reach for my ear bugs… so I would like less…” My response: “I could play Christmas music instead :).”  Needless to say, every morning after this, I would make sure I listened to country music before he got in the office. In honor of him, every morning I can, I will play country music.

Scott hates the color purple.  Because of it, he had a hard time wearing his geeks & creatives shirt cause it was so close to purple.

Scott never told Carrie (his wife), but the first day he got his new car and was driving home, he got pulled over because he was swerving in his lane of traffic.  Truth of the matter was he couldn’t figure out how to change the radio station. The cop was super about the whole ordeal and let him off with a warning.

The entertaining & creative word combinations/creations of his email subject lines. Always dramatic about the creative process, but he had so much brilliance there. Examples: “Shitski! This is as far as I got” – “Scott babble” – “Throwing shit at the wall” – “logo farts” – “blurg!!!” – “meatballs are served…” (in reference to his “meatball surgery” idea combinations).

When I first met Scott, he asked me, “What’s wisnet’s brand?” Knowing that’s a big question and one that’s hard to answer (especially for a prospective employee, I wasn’t even hired, yet!), he just wanted to see what kind of a BS-er he might be dealing with.

I was working on a community project with a group of friends and a couple of us had the opportunity to present at a conference in Madison regarding our project. I didn’t ask him to come since I knew he was busy, but Scott was genuinely interested and wanted nothing but to support me and this presentation. So of course, he was there as our cheerleader and made the day even brighter, just because it was a nice thing to do.

On many occasions when I was having a crappy day or felt I was not contributing enough, Scott would always tell me “I will never lose faith in you, ever!!”

Many times when I would get an email or talk to him, it would start out with a “Hey Buddy!”  Always made me smile.

Scott ALWAYS wanted to do more for our clients. Not to get paid more, but to give more. To do more. Didn’t matter if he was already booked up with projects, he wanted to give each and every client that “lucky strike extra” so their branding could be that much better. Just because.

I was reviewing the schedule for the day and was covering the agenda for a client meeting that was coming up later. I mentioned that we’d have to ask if anyone had to wrap up by a certain time by saying, “We’ll have to see if anyone has a ‘hard out’ and needs to leave or if it can run long.” Either Scott misheard me (that’s my story) or I misspoke and said something other than “out.” Either way, he never let me live that down.

The first time I saw Scott after his heart attack and accident was at our Christmas party at Fat Joe’s.  We had a long hug and one of the first things he jokingly said was “you had to pick a place with stairs?” I guess I deserved that one. 🙂

Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,  we started sending anonymous superhero gifts to Scott.  They included a Superman Cape, shirt, Superman socks with their own little capes and a few figurines. He soon figured it was us and vowed to wear his Superman garb after his heart transplant, which he graciously followed through on.

Just last month, when I came to work after my mom died, he didn’t say anything, just walked toward me with his arms out and gave me a big hug. He was a “word man” but he also knew when words just weren’t enough.

Moving On

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

My time here at wisnet has been great, it really has. I’ve learned a lot about Communication and about myself too. I’ve learned I can’t simply wait for good/bad things to happen to me – I have to act now. No waiting around for people to tell me what to do & when – because I don’t have time for that and neither does anyone else. It’s difficult though, and yeah everyone else is going to say it is difficult too, but I am just so used to people telling me what is right and wrong – it is near impossible to transition. Take my summer for instance. The duration of my internship I was quiet and shy because I didn’t know what to do. Sure, I did ask but I didn’t really speak my mind and say what I actually wanted to do. The best day I have had at wisnet was actually my last day. I was given a project to complete within the last few weeks of my time here, and the last day was when I thrived. I live for organized chaos, and that’s what my last day was. I was in such a rush to complete my deadline and I am most creative when I am rushed to get things done.

I graduate in May, so that means I have to start getting my act together and looking for jobs now. Not just jobs though, careers, or decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. In this sense, I don’t like to rush because I would like to plan out what I am doing and where I am going for the rest of my life-preferably prior to two months before graduation. I understand that everyone is different though, and some people already have jobs before they graduate, others travel first, and with other people, graduation just doesn’t phase them.

I actually had the chance to intern with a great company. The team saw a need for me, and so I became an intern with the Geeks & Creatives of wisnet.

HTTPS Encryption – The Website Standard

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By: Julie Wild, senior designer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Is Your Website Secure?

On February 8th Google announced that “beginning in July 2018, with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as not secure.” This means that sites without an SSL certificate and an URL that starts with HTTP will be flagged to viewers as an unsecured site. This could scare visitors away from that website, reducing traffic, ultimately leading to less contacts and sales.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS uses encryption to protect the information sent between your browser and the website making it nearly impossible to intercept, protecting you and your data as it is sent across the Internet. Without encryption, it would be possible for a hacker to intercept this information or to inject malware into a web page. HTTPS encryption was introduced in 2003 and was primarily used on portions of websites where customers enter sensitive information such as filling out forms or ordering products online. Google has been a strong advocate of making HTTPS the standard for all web pages since 2014. Flagging unsecured sites in Chrome will be a final push for website owners to update their sites.

How do I add encryption to my website?

HTTPS has become much easier to implement through automated services like Let’s Encrypt. Google also offers its own Lighthouse tool, which includes tools for migrating a website to HTTPS.

At wisnet.com, newer sites created with WordPress are set up as HTTPS from the start. To make things even better, all WordPress sites at wisnet.com come with a free SSL Certificate. If you have an older WordPress site that is not HTTPS, contact us so we can help you get more secure. Whether your site is created in WordPress or another format, wisnet.com can answer all of your questions about your website’s security and help you convert to HTTPS.

Resource Links:

The Creative Flow

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

Now that I am halfway through my internship at wisnet, I have learned a lot. But not necessarily about web design, which is what I initially wanted to do when I came here. It makes sense that I didn’t learn a whole lot though, because that is not my specialty. Working with people and figuring out ways to make their lives better is what I am good at, and the people at wisnet have helped me realize how much good I can actually do.

I still don’t have a specific idea in mind of what I want to do as a career, in life after college, and I doubt that I will ever have that in mind, because I think that would narrow my search too much of what I want to do. I know for sure I love working with people, event planning and collaborating with others to create social media campaigns. I have figured out that I do not want to work in web design business, but here at wisnet there is a good distinction between web design and customer care. I have amazing team members who are willing to help me get from point A to point B in a way different from what I am used to. After all, wisnet is a team of Geeks & Creatives. Here, the geeks and creatives work together as a team, and there is no distinction between them. The wisnet team includes everyone, no matter what their background may be.

Overall I enjoy my internship here at wisnet, because I feel like I am appreciated and have a purpose. I am not the typical intern that goes on coffee runs and serves as more of a secretary. I have made my mark here, expanding on social media campaigns for clients and working on client onboarding and tutorials, and I am glad I had the opportunity to become a part of this team. I am excited to see what the future (well actually the rest of the summer) holds here at wisnet.

Geek Throwback: Fountain Pens

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By: Steve Maass, senior application programmer / geek & creative @ wisnet

I’m a programmer. I type on a keyboard for a living. In fact, while the backspace key is my best friend, I type pretty fast, despite being self-taught. Typing is such a big part of my life that if I need to make a note of something at work, I type it into a text editing app. About the only time I grab a pen and paper is if I’m heading to a meeting, and that’s only because I find it too distracting to type while I’m listening.

Which brings me to the point of this post. About a year ago, my wife expressed an interest in getting a fountain pen. “Why?” I asked her. Why not use a ballpoint? They work well, they’re inexpensive, and they don’t leak (fountain pens leak, right?).

She gave her reasons, but I wasn’t convinced. Luckily, we have a great pen store not far away, so we paid them a visit to see what was what and to ask lots of questions. We did settle on a pen for her, but personally, I still didn’t get it. (She loved using the pen, so that first visit was far from our last, but I digress.)

Eventually, after picking up a couple of nice ballpoints for myself (hey, I knew what I liked), I started wondering what all the fuss was about, and I decided to get my first fountain pen. And then I got it. It really is a whole different world.

Fountain pens certainly aren’t for everyone. They need to be cleaned occasionally, they can run out of ink and require a refill, and they don’t always work well on cheap paper (think copy paper and the like). And depending on the ink you use and how much ink your pen lays down, it can take several seconds for your writing to completely dry.

As for leaking, it’s a joke in the pen world that a fountain pen is basically a controlled leak. And it’s true that if you take one on an airplane, the changes in air pressure can cause the pen to “burp” into the cap. But if your pens stay on the ground (or fly empty), you shouldn’t have a problem.

So, why fountain pens?

With a nice, fountain pen-friendly notebook, the writing experience can be almost magical. You barely need to apply any pressure when putting pen to paper. The nib (the part that touches the paper) glides across the page. And the ink colors! Unlike with ballpoints where you’re generally stuck with blue or black or red, there’s a literal rainbow of colors of ink to choose from: oranges, purples, turquoises, pinks, greens, every possible shade of blue or brown, and on and on.

All of that makes a fountain pen great for journaling, drawing, writing letters, adding a note to a birthday card, or even just jotting down a reminder.

Now granted, for the sake of convenience, you may find that a ballpoint is still the best option at work, and I won’t argue the “point.” But for de-stressing and just enjoying something the way it used to be, fountain pens can be a real delight. And an addiction. But I’m getting help. 😉

What does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean for you?

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We’re confident you’re received a number of privacy policy update emails, but do you know why and how this might impact your website and communications? Here’s our attempt at a synopsis and if GDPR impacts you.


Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice. We’re not lawyers.

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU) and also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. This new set of rules is designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. But this law affects any organization doing business with or collecting information from an EU citizen.

What do you mean by “personal data”?

Your name, address, credit card number and more all collected, analyzed and, perhaps most importantly, stored by organizations. The types of data considered personal under the existing legislation include name, address, and photos. GDPR extends the definition of personal data to cover:
– Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
– Health and genetic data
– Biometric data
– Racial or ethnic data
– Political opinions
– Sexual orientation

Does it affect my company or organization?

If you hold any EU citizen data via your website, app, or service you MUST act now (in fact you’re super late to the party). All organizations are expected to be compliant with GDPR as of May 25, 2018.

If you have international reach with your website, social, email – really any online media, you should probably still pay attention to GDPR and take some action.

What happens if I don’t comply?

There is a fine for not being compliant. The maximum fine for noncompliance with the GDPR is up to 4% of the annual global revenue generated by the company.

So, what do I need to do?

  1. Get permission of data collection.
    The GDPR requires companies to clearly state the purposes of data collection to the customer, when and how it will be used, and when it will be destroyed. It cannot be hidden in a privacy policy statement nor recorded by default. If you are collecting data from a form page then you must ask customers to give consent to use their personal information. (unless it is for compliance with a legal obligation). And the data cannot be kept indefinitely.
  2. Protect the data that is collected.
    Make sure your company has the proper security measures in place should be first on your task list. Contact your IT administrator, find out what you need to have in place to be compliant, and then create a protection plan.
  3. Inform all persons of a data breach.
    Your company must inform victims individually of any breach within 72 hours.
  4. Respond to data collection requests.
    Any customer can request what type of data is being collected and stored about them (Right to Portability), as well as the right to request that it be deleted (Right to Erasure).

Here’s what a lot of other companies and organizations have been doing:

  • Updating their privacy policy on their website.
  • Adding notices about personal data collection on all form pages.
  • Emailing their updated privacy policy to current customers, and providing opt out requests for email lists, etc.
  • Adding an opt in on websites addressing acknowledgement of data collection

If you are concerned that you may not be GDPR compliant, please contact your lawyer to help guide you.

Online Resources:
https://www.zdnet.com/article/gdpr-an-executive-guide-to-what-you-need-to-know/
https://www.csoonline.com/article/3202771/data-protection/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-requirements-deadlines-and-facts.html
https://www.cio.com/article/3256086/privacy/becoming-gdpr-compliant-quickly-effectively-and-risk-free.html
https://www.ogury-gdpr.com/

 

No Screens Attached: Balancing a Fast-Paced Development Career

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By: Ben Knier, developer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Life in the tech industry can be tempestuous.

Quality time away from work is just as, if not more important for career growth…

Whether you’ve been in the game for 30 years or are just starting out, staying on top of the latest trends, devices, programming languages, and everything else that goes into web development is part of being the best developer you can be. On top of that, you have to infuse those changes into your projects, lest you fall behind the times. With that in mind, you can’t just go to a conference for a day to get a break from the hubbub of the office: you have to engage with the speaker(s) and absorb the content. You have to follow blogs, read articles, watch tutorials, and take courses in order to bring the latest and greatest back to your customer (after all, that’s what they’re paying you for).

In a profession where processes and protocols change more frequently than my son’s diapers, it’s easy for any developer to become overwhelmed by it all (particularly one as green as myself). Some people simply can’t handle it: they bow out before their career takes off. Others will stick it out for a time, but will ultimately either drive themselves crazy trying to keep it together (think Bing Crosby when he first took on the farming life in “Holiday Inn”), or will stop growing as a developer and produce the same site over and over, with no regard to improvements and changes in the industry. The ones who will stick it out, however, are the ones who can use “the Force” to bring balance to their inner universe.

For me personally, I like to balance the speed of a web development career with what most people would call an uneventful, laid-back lifestyle. I’m a homebody: I prefer to spend my time away from wisnet at home with my family rather than going out. I have a couple acres of land that I enjoy mowing every five days in an unincorporated village where the average resident is in his/her 60s. My neighbors and I make a point of stopping to talk when we see each other outside or lend a hand when we see each other struggling with something. We even know each other by our first names (isn’t that a novelty nowadays).

My wife, son, and I spend most evenings outside away from all the screens (I spend the majority of the day in front of three after all). Whether we’re playing yard games, shooting basketballs, or sitting around a campfire looking out at the cornfield and listening to the crickets, we’re spending quality time together. More importantly, we are actively present while spending that time together. After all, family is even more important than work, so I strive to make sure that my family receives just as much attention as my career.

On top of quality family time, I enjoy reading and exercising. Science-fiction and fantasy novels, when joined with my over-active imagination, are an escape from both the rigors and doldrums of everyday life. My daily 5:00am weight-training session functions as my “me-time” and helps me shake loose from the shackles of frustration and stress.

In short, those are the activities and the lifestyle that balance out my fast-paced career. The peace and quiet of a relatively screen-free home-life gives me the ability to focus intently on my screen-laden work-life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If we plant it, will it grow?

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By: Tracy Freund, account manager / geek & creative @ wisnet

About this time last year, wisnet was lucky enough to become the owners of an LGarden.  It wasn’t until this year that we kicked ourselves in gear and purchased the soil, seeds, and plants and started planting. We were intrigued to see if our true “green thumbs” would yield an actual harvest.

For our first go-round (May 25, 2018), we planted Power Greens, carrots, celery, onions, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, radishes and salad onions.  In the hanging trays, we planted an array of flowers.

Now, a month later, we harvested our radishes and started on the Power greens.  Everything else we planted is flourishing. We are on a roll!

The greatest advantage besides the healthy treats for the office, is being able to garden standing up! No aching back or knees here! And, the little bit of upkeep/maintenance makes for a nice refreshing break away from our desks and computer screens.

Stay tuned for more about our LGarden as we continue our green-thumbery at the geeks & creatives office.

P.S. Check out this great LGarden website. I wonder who designed it… 😉

 

Freedom from email – during and AFTER vacation!

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By: Rick Kolstad, owner / geek & creative @ wisnet

Serious vacationing calls for serious email stress relief measures….

Deleting all your emails?
Seems a bit crazy.

But so is spending the next few days after vacation following up on emails that have already been addressed, social updates, links to cat videos, bike break updates, doughnuts and asparagus in the cafe (usually not at the same time), and messages that have passed their prime.

The office knows how to contact me if needed for emergencies, the rest can go to the email landfills.

If you know the Geeks & Creatives @ wisnet, you know that we work hard, and we work hard to have a strong culture to keep our team engaged both mentally and physically.  Time away from the office lets our brains recharge so we come back energized and full of new ideas and inspiration. Enjoying our time away from the office is an important part of making our team and culture as strong as possible.

The key to success for this unthinkable cultural shift is simple…

Encourage your team to COMPLETELY disconnect from work when on vacation.  

Here is how to do it:
1. Clearly state in your out of office message & subject that your messages are being deleted until you return. If information or questions are specifically for you, encourage them to email you back after your return.

2. Let your office team know that you are doing this – and you have some serious vacationing to do. Trust and know you have the right people in place. If emergencies arise, provide options to contact you for just these cases.

3. Let clients / vendors you communicate with often know you will be out and unplugged well in advance.

4. Provide alternative contacts clients and other email senders can work with in your absence.

5. Set up a delete filter in your email (or at least a filter to archive messages to temp folder if you want to cheat).

6. Make sure you use work email for work – friends and other social updates should run through your personal email

7. Kick back and chill. Enjoy your time off and breath easier knowing that emails will not be your main focus (a.k.a. a major pain in your….)  when you return.


Here is a sample ‘out of office’ that covers the bases:

SUBJECT:
Out Of Office – Your email to {insert name} has been sent to an email landfill

BODY:
I’ll be out of the office until {insert date here}. IMPORTANT FYI – ALL MY MESSAGES ARE BEING DELETED WHILE I AM OUT.  

Why, you ask? You just might want to give this a try next time you are out of the office.

If you need immediate assistance, please email {insert email} or call our office at {insert phone number}.

If it can wait – and you have information or questions specifically for me, please resend them in/after {insert your return to office date}.


Go ahead – copy/paste.

So, next time you are out of the office taking a brain break, we hope you give this a try (with support from your team of course).

Good luck – I’m out for the week!

Be more colorful & explicit at work

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Nope. Sorry. Not talking about cuss words around the office. We’re talking digital signage!

We know digital signage works for B2C… at point of purchase while shopping… figuring out what to eat off that menu board … or helping you find your way at the clinic.

But why & how does Markey digital signage work in our work lives?

1.Communication is EVERYTHING.

Many inboxes are overflowing. IMs and Slack even exploding. And, ugh, please not another meeting. Our very own team and so many others have found Markey digital signage as an amazing tool to not only tell the story of brands, companies or organizations, but more importantly, remind fellow associates of their purpose in their day-to-day work. Why the heck are we all here? Why should we be pumped up about it? Additionally, transparency about the day-to-day big and small matters in your organization SQUASH gossip and build a sense of ownership, inclusion and even pride.

2. It’s SUPER visual.

Visual cues in the workplace … be it the silly signs next to your coffee maker/keurig … or the couch next to your retro arcade game, have the power to influence the energy, attitudes and more in your workspace. They can sustain unspoken ideas, feelings and/or behaviors, good or bad. They can also be subtle ways of saying, “we care and we’ve got your back here” or “thank you for working so hard and sharing your talent here. Now take a break and bring out a fun, new side of yourself while at work.” These subtle attitude builders, behavior reinforcers and reminders of the awesome place you work are extremely important to building & supporting your positive culture. With Markey digital signage, throw subtleties out the window. There’s no time for that. Now you can be much more explicit in your visual stimulation and communication about what you believe and why your team rocks.

3. Made you look.

I mean, come on… who can’t help but look at a TV screen while they sit in the team cafe/ lunchroom or walk through the lobby. The beauty, in this case (maybe not when you’re trying to get your significant other to listen to you at home), is the distraction power. Pair that with some kickass messaging on your company core values or celebrating team members and you’ve got gold! At least that’s what we like to think.

Markey digital signage will be a great addition to your team.

What are you waiting for?
Try Markey digital signage for your workplace culture today!

 


Resources:
Culture Code from Culture Labx
12 Signs Your Company Has An Enviable Workplace Culture by Fast Company
6 Ways Visual Cues In The Workplace Impact Company Culture

What should I do?

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

Being an intern at wisnet is amazing, but certainly doesn’t come without challenges. Not being the most skilled in technology poses a problem for me at wisnet. However, working with the Customer Care team shows that communication is a field where all innovative thinking is welcome. Creativity is never right or wrong, everyone has different ideas to bring to the table.

We all understand that everyone is different, and has different views and opinions, which makes our team unique. After all, wisnet is not a group of geeks & creatives just for show. We all actively try to become better leaders, thinkers and learners every day. That’s why I choose wisnet. We are all different, and when everyone comes together, there is no judgement. No question is a dumb question, just like no answer is the wrong answer, and I have come to learn that it is better to ask too many questions than not enough, especially in the business world.

That being said, it’s no surprise that the academic world is vastly different than the business world, though I never really understood how different until I joined wisnet. I have been told by my parents, colleagues and professors that there are still deadlines and assignments, which I understand are everywhere, not just in school. Here, people have projects to work on, and there is no assignment list. The team just happens to know what they need to work on, and everyone works well together to get the project done.

Overall my experience at wisnet has been life-changing to say the least (it really has, I’m not just saying that). When I think back to sophomore year when I was choosing what internships to complete, many people told me to just get an internship on campus, it’s easier. I was a bit stunned when I heard this. I didn’t want easier, I wanted challenging. I wanted to experience both an internship at school and in the community. The way I see it, the more experience a person has the better off they will be. I would much rather have too much experience than too little experience, especially when I graduate next May.

Lather. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

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A geeky book review on “10% Happier” by Dan Harris

By: Joe Truesdale, account manager / geek & creative @ wisnet

If you know me, you know that I’m not a great reader. I’m slow. I often get a few pages along when my mind starts wandering and then I realize, “Wait… what did I just read?” Only to have to go back and read it over again. And if those two things don’t happen, then I simply fall asleep mid-read and don’t get anywhere.

I’ve always loved learning new things, though. So what’s one to do when they can’t read efficiently but they want to keep expanding their knowledge base? Audiobooks! I love listening to podcasts (primarily about video games, work culture, and the Packers) so I thought this might be a good way to get back on track with continued learning.

So I laid out my plan:

1. Find some audiobooks on Audible to queue up on my phone
2. Purchase a waterproof bluetooth speaker to listen to books in the shower (sorry if that’s TMI)
3. Learn!

I started my new adventure with a book by Dan Harris, national reporter and news anchor, titled, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.” I’ve always heard about meditation being such a positive influence once people start doing it, but every time I considered it or thought I’d give it a shot, I just felt silly or self-conscious (even though I was alone). I figured that if I could knock out the reading limitations with a book that would get me another life skill right out of the gate, it’d be that much better.

After a few mornings of getting the book started, I found myself looking forward to listening more each morning. So not only was I absorbing the material from the book, it was motivating me to get out of bed so that I could listen to more of the book. Bonus! I also realized that I had similar attention span issues with this long-form content as well. So in the middle of a listening session, I’d catch myself thinking ahead to what’s on today’s agenda or thinking about what happened yesterday instead of being mindful and present in the audio. Thankfully, I was able to recalibrate pretty quickly for the most part and only had to scrub backward a few times here and there to catch what I had missed.

I quickly became a fan of Dan Harris over the course of the book. His storytelling ability is absolutely phenomenal. He delivers his book in such a conversational way that it’s like he’s right there with you telling stories (which might be a little weird given that I was in the bathroom everytime I listened). I won’t get into the next book I’ve started listening to, but I’m quickly noticing how good Harris is and how important it is to have a really good performer to hold your attention.

Harris begins by talking about his life as if it’s a memoir, but quickly diverted into his initial reactions to meditation and mindfulness. Seeing them as “hippy-dippy” and not really worth his time of day. Feeling silly when he gave it a shot for the first time. The struggles he had staying focused and carving out the time for it. Slowly but surely, Harris then comes around on it and begins to see and feel the impact on his life, outlook, and performance at work. Some truly enlightening stuff. While he won’t claim that it’s an amazing, revelatory thing, he consistently mentions that it makes him about 10% happier (hence the name of the book). Which is a great return on investment when you think about it. If we could guarantee a 10% return on a lot of things, that’d be rad, right?

My next goal is to try and start small and begin daily meditation sessions of five or ten minutes apiece. I’ve consistently toyed around with the notion of different apps to help facilitate meditation like Headspace (Harris even has his own 10% Happier app), but I think I’m going to try going cold turkey first and see how that goes. I’ll be sure to report back on my success or failure, but either way, I’m glad I “read” the book. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to find just 10% more happiness!