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Posts tagged ‘SFU’

Diary of a Marketing Co-op: Improv Tips From Tina Fey

Originally posted May 21, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

I love Tina Fey. She’s hilarious, smart, and she doesn’t just play in what is traditionally a man’s game, she beats them at it. Plus one of my best friends has claimed Liz Lemon as her TV soul mate, because they are essentially the same person. Sure, Liz is 40-ish and runs a somewhat horrible late night TV show, and my friend is 21 and does not, but she does have better hair flashbacks, so it evens out.

Now, returning to the subject at hand, Tina Fey is an awesome person, and so is her book, Bossypants. This is why I’ve decided to let Ms. Fey guest post on my marketing blog, and help relate ‘The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life’ contained in her book to the rules for a successful co-op term.

Rule One: Always Say Yes

Improv scenes require all involved to be willing to say “Yes” and agree with whatever their scene partner just said. If one person holds up a stick and declares it King Arthur’s sword, it’s no fun if you scoff and call it a stupid stick. Your scene will be over before it begins.

Now, I should point out, that no, this does not mean you should say “Yes” to everything in life. If someone comes up to you on the street and tries to convince you that they are King Arthur you really shouldn’t go along with that. On the job, you shouldn’t say “Yes” to everything; if something makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t follow along just to be a team player. The point here is to at least start from an open-minded place. Respect where the other person is coming from, and give their idea proper consideration. If there are no immediate objections than try saying “Yes” and see what can happen.

Rule Two: Yes, And…

For an improv scene to succeed everyone needs to contribute. If one person is always the one pushing a scene forward, while the other contributes nothing more than mono-syllable answers then it doesn’t make for a very entertaining scene.

When it comes to your job, this rule means that you shouldn’t be afraid to contribute. Don’t assume that just because you’re new it means that your ideas are bad, or aren’t worth voicing. You are there for a reason, and your contributions are worthwhile. This doesn’t mean that the middle of a company-wide staff meeting is the forum to discuss your ideas to revolutionize the company, but it does mean that if you think the current stat-tracking system you’re using is inefficient that you shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

Rule Three: Make Statements

If you’ve ever done improv, then you know that if one person is always asking questions and creating obstacles while expecting you to solve them, that it creates far too much pressure, and isn’t much fun for either of you.

What this really means is don’t ask questions and bring up obstacles all the time. Yes, asking questions is important, especially when you’re in a new situation, and yes, being able to spot potential road blocks to a project is an essential skill, but someone needs to find solutions to these problems. Instead of shooting down an outdoor event while asking what to do if it rains, offer to look into tent rentals and outdoor heaters. People who put up endless roadblocks stop being invited out to lunch. People who solve problems get to put lunch on the company tab.

Rule Four: There Are No Mistakes

If you forget that your character was paralyzed in a hippo fighting accident and leap up mid-scene, don’t go back, go forward. This mis-step could be a huge mistake, and you could ruin the scene, or you could declare that you’ve been faking an injury for the insurance money, and make the scene even better.

You will make a mistake at work. It’s just a fact, accept it now, and you’ll be better prepared to deal with it when it happens. When this inevitable mistake is found out, you just need to accept responsibility, apologize if necessary, work on finding a way to fix it, figure out how it happened and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and finally find a way to move forward from there. Mistakes can be forgiven and forgotten about, as long as you take the correct actions in the aftermath.

Since starting my Co-op term in January I can think of times when I’ve followed this advice, and I can certainly find examples of times when I didn’t. I am fairly confident when I say that this applies to pretty much everyone, nevertheless, I think Tina Fey is on to something here.

Looking for more to read? Make sure you check out the rest of my Diary of a Marketing Co-op series, or go read Bossypants for yourself. If you want to share in my Tina Fey love, leave a comment, or reach out to me on Twitter @lizzmoffat or @SFU_OLC.


Jumping Into the BIG Fair

Originally posted September 28, 2011 on Sfu.ca/olc

Today was day one of two on Burnaby campus for the BIG fair, and the name is not an exaggeration. Tables lined the halls of three sides of the AQ, presenting students with volunteer, career and further education opportunities.

This was the first year I took an active interest in any of the career fairs on campus. Sure, I had walked through them on the way to class before, maybe grabbed a few free pens, but I never really stopped to talk to anyone.

Part of the reason was because  I have no desire to go to graduate school, and I seemed hopelessly unqualified for jobs at any of the companies participating. I don’t want to be an accountant, or do IT work or computer programming, or quite honestly anything that involves an abundance of math. Walking through the fair this year I spotted a whole bunch of accounting and banking firms, some insurance agencies, and some IT and engineering places I’d never even heard of.

Then there was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and who knows what kind of skills they look for…probably some sort of combination of kickboxing and Dan Brown style decoding skills…is there even a degree for that?

I was pretty sure that being able to write clever blog posts would not be high on their qualifications list.

Instead of being discouraged, however, I just walked myself up to some booths and started asking questions.

The CSIS probably wasn’t right for me, but  the Communications Security Establishment of Canada might be (although I didn’t ask about their kickboxing requirements).

SAP focuses on software development, but they have a marketing internship. My Loud Speaker specifically hires employees with less than five years experience, Clearly Contacts has openings for email marketers.

Even Microsoft could help me out, at today‘s fair they were only recruiting for technical internships, but I introduced myself and was given a website to find marketing internships this summer.

If I wanted to brush up on some tech skills BCIT was there too, with tons of brochures on full and part time classes.

So to sum up todays lesson: Don’t be intimidated if you think  the companies at a career fair have no use for you. Just ask. At the very least you’ll score yourself a free pen.

Taking it One Day at a Time with Roger Takahashi

Originally posted December 19, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

On November 15th BPK Co-op and the Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology Student Association (BPKSA) hosted an event celebrating the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists (BCAK) 20th Anniversary, and featuring a talk from Roger Takahashi, strength & conditioning coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

The OLC also Storifed the event where Craig Asmundson and Nancy Johnston, founding  BCAK members, were presented with lifetime honours. Following a brief talk on the history of BPCAK Roger Takahashi took the stage.

Roger began by reflecting on the fact that not long ago kinesiology was regarded as a mystery by the general public, few outside of the field took the practise seriously, but this has clearly changed in recent years. BPK grads no longer have to justify their degree choice at every turn, and Roger hopes that as programs grow students will continue to champion the practice.

Roger earned a BA in General Science from the University of Waterloo before returning to complete a Bachelor of Science in Honours Kinesiology. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and a member of BPAK. Roger also recommends students take some psychology courses if they strive to work with athletes.

Before joining the Vancouver Canucks, Roger trained various athletes through his own company as well as working as the strength and conditioning coach for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets. Although he was with the team to train the players, as with many minor league teams he ended up doing a little of everything, from darning socks to mopping up locker rooms.

While working in the minors wasn’t exactly a glamorous gig, it allowed Roger to work at something he loved. He believes that this passion is important, saying that if you work hard and “do what you love, the money will eventually follow.”

Roger also played hockey until he was fourteen, but admits that he was simply too small and not good enough to continue playing at the level he would have liked. Little did he know, this hands-on hockey experience would one day help him land his dream job.

Roger heard that the Canucks were looking for strength and conditioning coach through his job with the Hornets, a few months after submitting his resume he was called in for a group interview. To his surprise the interview focused as much on day-to-day hockey knowledge as it did on his kinesiology background. Having spent years playing, working with, and watching hockey Roger had gained an advantage in the interview, and landed the job.

Now his job consists of early mornings and numerous road trips. He travels with the team, arrives at the arena before every practice, works with injured players on off-days, and occasionally sleeps over at the arena.

Still, he knows that he has it easier than his predecessors. Players take their overall health more seriously now, staying in shape year-round rather than spending their summer on less productive activities.

A lot of students had questions about Roger’s day-to-day training regime, but he couldn’t provide a simple answer. He told us about his first year on the team, when he tried to plan every day weeks in advance. He soon found out, however, that it was impossible. There are simply too many unexpected changes, some players may need more attention than others, and the head coach can suddenly decide the team needs an off day, or that some players need on-ice practice while others should hit the gym. Now he sets out broad general plan for the season.

Roger also revealed that most of his time isn’t spent how most students expected, doing hours of one-on-one training with players. Instead, he spends most of his time following up on injuries and doing a lot of research (that’s right, the hours you spend studying won’t end when you graduate.) He needs to research constantly, staying on top of the latest in changes to hockey gear (stronger sticks and rigid skates make a bigger physical difference than you might expect,) and making sure players that players are taking the right supplements – and that they’re legal. Working for a West coast team adds another layer of difficulty, as travel takes a toll on the team, and he often needs to help newly acquired East coast players adapt.

Many in the room were also surprised to learn that a win or a loss does not necessarily equal a change to the next days workouts. Unless the coaches see a need to work on something specific Roger tries to keep work outs consistent.

When asked about how much input he has on choosing draft picks, Roger downplayed his role while offering some good advice for any student. He said that he tries not to put too much stake in the annual physical tests prospects and draftees go through. After all, these tests only represent “one hour of one day of his life.” There can be a million factors that contribute to the end result. Did they just fly in? How long was their last season and did they have to recover from injuries? What else was happening that hampered their ability to train?

These are all valid points that can translate to any number of situations in life. So if I took one thing away from this event, it won’t be the fun behind the scenes hockey info. It will be the reminder that when it comes down to it, any big interview, test, or presentation is really only one hour of one day of the rest of my life.

The Wisdom of Oprah

Originally posted May 27, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

“I was never given any advice. I had to figure it out for myself. But my best advice is to let your passion lead your purpose. There is a sea of desire inside every person, and if you get still enough, you can feel it. You can’t feel it if you allow your mother, friends, school or everybody else to tell you who it is you’re supposed to be. But there is a seed of heart’s desire that burns in every person and your real job on earth is to figure out what that thing feels like and then spend the rest of your life following it!” – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah, Oprah, Oprah.

I’m well aware that Ms. Oprah Winfrey may not be the saint some think she is, but really, who among us is? In general, she is a fabulously successful woman who came from essentially nothing, became insanely successful (launching your own network is hard) and does a whole lot of good. Whether she’s giving away a parking lot full of cars, establishing new schools in Africa, or just generally boosting self esteem across the nation, no one can argue that she’s made some real change in the world.

She also has some excellent advice to share, as the above quote proves. Now, at first glance, it appears to be yet another inspirational, if unrealistic gem about following your dreams. The truth is that few people end up in their dream job, no matter how hard they try. And that’s OK. You don’t need your job to fulfil your dreams. Do you want to be a published author? Start a blog and practice writing. Always dreamed of acting opposite Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp? Join a local theatre group and discover some amazing talent closer to home.

The point isn’t that you follow your passions, regardless of everything else, the point is that you have a passion, and more importantly that the passion is yours. You can’t pursue anything that requires hard work and is worthwhile if you’re not following it with a passion that comes from within. If you’re following the wrong path while choosing a simple hobby then you won’t lose much more than a few hours of your time, but if you try pursuing the kind of career or education that requires deep commitment with a passion that rings false you could end up spinning your wheels and getting increasingly frustrated for years.

When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer, but more importantly, my parents wanted me to be one. Throughout high school I liked the idea of becoming a lawyer, and as my parents would easily attest to, I’ve always been skilled at putting together logical arguments. I’ve always been skeptical of unsupported claims, able to catch details that lead to loopholes, and generally pick apart any argument I come across. Even now, I find certain aspects of the law more interesting than most. My parents weren’t wrong in pushing me towards law school.

The problem was that I don’t particularly enjoy any of this. I hate long arguments, partly because I work myself up far too much, and I eventually get bored of picking at loopholes and piecing together debates. Actually reading a legal document causes my eyes to glaze over. Now there’s nothing wrong with ending up with a job that includes details that are too boring to deal with, but law school involves a lot of commitment and a lot of competition. If I went I’d be competing against people who have a real passion for the stuff, and all the natural talent in the world isn’t going to overcome that. I would have been miserable and would have probably performed mediocre at best.

So how did I eventually realize that this lawyer dream was my parents doing and not my own? More importantly, how was I sure that it really just wasn’t the extra school work that turned me off?

I thought about the things I chose to commit my time to. I wasn’t on debate club in school, I was in theatre, and I wasn’t looking up case studies online when I couldn’t sleep, I was reading about Coke’s latest ad campaign. That is what I was passionate about, and that is what I was willing to put in the extra hours for.

I wasted a lot of time looking up law school requirements and debating the merits of a Criminology major while following a passion that I never really had. I had always been told I was good at something, and I never really questioned it, until I realized that I couldn’t answer why I cared.

Borrowing someone else’s passion for something can get you pretty far, but it will never take you as far as a passion that comes from yourself.

So the question to ask yourself is: What do you choose to care about? What do you willingly put extra time and effort into, even if you’ll be the only one who ever knows? Find whatever that is, figure out what you need to do to make it a part of your life, and make that the passion that drives you forward.