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How to Get Better at Thinking on Your Feet

Thinking On Your Feet

In the world of public relations and online community building, your weapon of choice is strategy. You take time to think through your given strategy by setting out clear objectives, goals, and tactics. Time is your friend, and most of us in this profession revel in staying up late to perfect a campaign we’re about to present.

Unfortunately for me and others like me, I’m very decisive. When I like an idea or course of action, I tend to decide on it quickly without thoroughly examining alternative options or the consequences of that idea.

Sure, this comes in handy when I’m on a date and the girl can’t decide what movie we should see, but when you’re too decisive on formulating a campaign for a client or your supervisor, trouble can ensue. That is, when you take a narrow-minded approach to creating your lifeline, expect the boat to sink.

This is because even the “best” idea in the world to you can be shot down in the quickest moment. We can try to defend our decision and approach all we want, but all it takes is that one, seemingly insignificant variable to make your strategy completely dismissive. When that variable is thrown at you by the people you are trying to win over, you’re going to have to take a different, albeit scary approach.

You’re going to have to think on your feet.

In a lot of cases, this is your one chance. No time for do-overs. No time for re-convening. The spotlight is on you, and you’re going to have to deliver. Weirdly, I love these sink-or-swim moments.

To be honest, I’ve always had a knack for this. I was the student in school who made up speeches on the spot. When running for student body president of my high school, I took my pre-approved script, crumpled it up onstage and proceeded without any idea of what I should say (and I won).

This isn’t something I’ve always just known how to do, to be honest. It’s something I learned and practiced. Being put on the spot on tends to get your mind moving at double its speed, and when you’re used to it, you can actually have a fair time assembling what you need to say smoothly and coherently. Eventually, you get to the point where it’s actually a thrill.

One of the secrets to this being good at presenting in general. Specifically, you need to be able to sell an idea. Prove that you think it is the greatest idea in the world (by showing it in your confidence), present the evidence and reasoning behind why you think it is the greatest idea in the world, and get people excited about it.

That’s not to say, however, that you’re just pulling information out of thin air. Good listening skills and the ability to read an audience also plays a huge part in assembling an off-the-cuff response or presentation.

A year ago, I was at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Assembly as a delegate for Liberty University. We had regular seminars covering various ethos in the profession, and I attended one that provided insights on ethics.

For this seminar, we were divided up into groups of 10-15 students each and were given the opportunity to prepare an ethical response on a fabricated crisis assigned to us.

Nonsense ensued. My group was in chaos and disagreement over how to address the problem at hand. Three of the students were bickering incessantly, and the rest of the group seemed to have give up on sharing their opinion.

Sitting on the sidelines, I had been taking notes on what everyone was saying and listened very carefully to everything discussed. Before we knew it, our time was up and we hadn’t even decided on who was going to present our response on behalf of the group.

When called upon, I volunteered and gave one of the most frightening speeches I’ve ever given. I’m in a room full of the country’s best PR students, as well industry professionals and opinion leaders. And I had nothing concrete prepared, just a list of points.

Of course, no one in the group even knew who I was and were probably embarrassed for me, but I went ahead anyway. Then something fantastic happened.

Glancing at my notes, I presented the issue by summarizing the opinions and thoughts shared by our group. I didn’t leave anyone out. Using this information, I came up with a solution on the spot that seemed to satisfy everyone.

Apparently the planets aligned because our response was the best in the seminar, and our group was highly praised. I made a lot of friends (and got a lot of business cards) from the group that day, and some of the older professionals in the room congratulated me personally.

The point isn’t that I’m something special. Honestly, I was pretty lucky, and I relied pretty heavily on the hard work of my group.

Really, my point here is that you need to be resourceful when thinking on your feet. Don’t be too proud to call upon the help of others, as long as you give them their due credit. While this isn’t something you can necessarily learn overnight, it is at least a very accessible option for over-decisive troublemakers like myself.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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Why Our Generation is Depressed

Why Our Generation is Depressed

There are three main things that affect our emotions:

Environment is a big one, since our moods directly correspond with where we are at and our basic sensory concepts.

Events obviously have a lot to do with our mental states, as they typically reflect how we react and interact with the circumstances of our lives.

Well, I want to talk about people. How do people fit into what we’re feeling either positively or (gasp) negatively?

Depression is the topic at hand here, and I believe the onset of negative emotions in relation to people is typically chalked up to very basic suspects. Things like failed relationships and a troubled family life are usually discussed.

I want to go deeper, though! I want to address something I think a lot of new professionals like me go through once college is over and the next chapter of life takes hold. I don’t think I need to underscore how intense of a transition that can be, after all, so just bear with me.

I was a bit of an extracurricular nerd back when I was a sophomore in college. I remember being in a psychology lecture held late at night for no extra credit. It was just a special speaker talking about developmental psychology, and I’ll never forget her key anecdote that addressed the first time she went through depression.

The basic story is that a shift in her environment, moving away after college with her husband, caused her to experience a gradual rise in depression without her even realizing it. It was almost a year before she even recognized she was depressed.

Now, this example involves environment (in this case, a new one), an event (moving), and people (losing close relationships). These factors and more led to her becoming, well unhappy with her life. She talked about how she couldn’t even describe what was bothering her, but it negatively affected many aspects of her life. She couldn’t sleep well, eat right, or even find work rewarding.

I say all this because I’ve noticed to a degree that this is very common, not only because it has in fact happened to me, but also because I see it in the lives of friends I know all over the country. Obviously, the severity is varied, but this problem seems to resonate with a lot of postgrad millennials (I would love to do a study on this by the way).

We can analyze all day about why millennials are going through this. Some great theories have to do with how collective mentality is far more prominent within our demographic compared to more individualistic generations before us. That would explain why social pressures and expectations may impact us more than they probably should.

Of course, my boss would say it’s because the concept of actually working and facing tangible problems is something our generation wasn’t prepared well enough for. Few can argue with me that millennials are lazy. While we may have fantastic, creative minds, a lot of us have more trouble actually executing the work.

I certainly don’t have any concrete answers, but I do have my own experiences to call on, and I am quickly becoming more aware of what societal mood changer affects me the most. People.

One of my mentors left me with this notion many years ago: “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll either tell you who you are are or who you are going to be.” 

I’ll never admit it to him, but I’ve shaped almost every friendship according to this credence ever since he first said this to me. And it rings true. The people we surround ourselves with have a lot more to do with our emotions and mental states than we sometimes realize.

This has definitely been a beneficial concept to live by in the sense that I’ve surrounded myself with good people with fantastic ambitions and morals, but my emotional state has also been greatly impacted by these people over this past year since becoming a new professional.

 

I’m not saying my friends make me depressed or anything like that (not all of them at least), but I have found incredible data relating to my most productive, positive phases in life.

Surprisingly, the best times I’ve had this past year where I was the most driven, focused, and mentally healthy were times when I was investing my emotional energy into close relationships, especially family.

Of course, my most lethargic and scattered phases have been times when my life has basically been an episode of Dawson’s Creek. 

Without getting too personal here, I’ll conclude what seems to work for me when wrestling with these problems. If you’re not sharing your life with people and allowing others to affect your mental being positively, then you’re only letting yourself take in the negative.

It’s not the deepest statement in the world, but let’s hope that at least got you thinking.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

Control Your Doubt

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One year ago, I thought I had my entire life mapped out ahead of me. I had just landed my first professional job, more than a month before graduation. I had conquered my last semester of college with high marks. Life was good, and it only seemed downhill from there.

There are two types of people reading this. The people who have experienced this and those who haven’t. Those who have know firsthand just how foolish I was to believe that life was finished with me.

Take my advice. Don’t get comfortable in where you are at and where you think life is taking you, because you are in for a surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, confidence is a beautiful tool that hopefully many of you will use to get what you want and need. But doubt is so much more satisfying to control. The day you are able to master the ability to use doubt as an asset rather than fear is a day I look forward to as well.

This is because doubt pushes us forward. It negates lethargy and prevents needless failure. When we doubt ourselves, it i
s because we are aware of what is better than us.

So beware.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

 

Why Hollywood Needs to Stop Making These Movies

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You’ve probably noticed a recent trend in recent years when it comes to Hollywood’s big “gambles.” It’s hard to pinpoint the originator of the films I’m getting at, so let’s start somewhere meager: Alice in Wonderland (2010).

This movie cost $200 million to make and grossed over $330 million, which is definitely not bad for a Disney movie. Sure, the movie had a lot going for it like Johnny Depp and Tim Burton driving the marketing, but I can get behind the producers who have since looked at this model for reigniting old franchises and mythology to new audiences.

Two Snow White movies, a revival of John Carter, and Hansel and Gretel’s latest witch hunting later, we have Jack the Giant Slayer, debuting at an abysmal $28 million this past weekend. That may not sound bad to some, but if you follow what these “kids” movies are expected to gross to meet production budget, then you’ll see that this is a huge misstep for New Line and Warner Bros, who made the film.

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At a budget of $300 million, Jack the Giant Slayer needed to debut at much higher numbers. Why? Well, for one thing, the opening weekend is almost always the biggest. Most people are only willing to shell out money for movie tickets when a movie first arrives, so profits dwindle as weeks go by (there are very few exceptions to this). This is a disaster, especially when you consider how the movie boasted both Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) and Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge).

Just to compare, John Carter, a Disney movie you might not have even heard of came out last year making $30 million its first weekend, and the budget for that movie was only $200 million. So in comparison, a franchise featuring a story barely anyone actually knows about beat out a movie about Jack and the Beanstalk, a timeless classic. There is no doubt that Hollywood is missing something here

The first question we can ask ourselves is, “Why are they making these movies if they flop?”

I personally think that Hollywood should be catching on by now, but these movies are years in the making. By the time Alice in Wonderland was sweeping the box office back in 2010, film executives were no doubt getting into preproduction mode for the inevitable failures coming out now.

Look at Battleship for example. It was in the works because Transformers managed to make a ton of money with a solid trilogy. Unfortunately, Battleship didn’t fix anything that was wrong with Transformers, which was like everything, so the movie bombed. In the potential audience’s mind, Battleship was just another CGI fest being used to cash in a Hasbro brand that really had nothing to do with original board game.

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and I mean nothing.

The same is happening with these schlock movies that keep coming out in March or April, which is terrible timing to open a movie with a huge budget by the way, that are based on fairy tales and classic franchises.

It wouldn’t be that big of a deal if these movies were any good right?

Image Courtesy of filmofilia.comWell, I personally disliked all of the movies mentioned here, including the new Alice in Wonderland. But that really has nothing to do with why they flopped. They flopped because these studios are making huge gambles on the basis of “Well that movie worked when they revived this,” when instead they should be spending no more than $100 million on these movies and focus more on crafting a critic-friendly production.

Don’t tell me that the Jack and the Beanstalk story can’t be told onscreen with that kind of budget, especially with the talented Nicholas Hoult at the helm. Yes, marketing takes a huge chunk out of the equation, but Hollywood frankly needs to adapt to the new media. Has anyone else noticed that films are some of the biggest under-users of social media and online guerrilla marketing? Aside from obtrusive video ads, they aren’t really doing much, and it shows.

All that aside, these movies don’t work because they don’t resonate with audiences. Creatives and writers are producing a movie that has no focus on who its targeting. Jack the Giant Slayer wants to please everyone. It wants to look like Lord of the Rings,  have a complicated narrative for the adults, and then still  fulfill the nostalgia factor.

It does nothing to be good in its own right, which it could learn from Lord of the Rings. The same can be said of many of these CGI retellings that depend solely on their name to drive tickets. Well, that doesn’t really cut it anymore, not when television has managed to dominate the entertainment sphere this past decade, making the movie theater less and less appealing. I can do an entire article on how that’s the case.

The secret good news is that the major studios have probably gotten the hint by now. Disney sure has. Look at what’s coming out next weekend.

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Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

 

The Key To Everything That’s Great Right Now

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It’s pretty simple really. Everything good we’ve been getting our hands on lately boils down to one concept, whether we’re talking about the social media boom, the advent of streaming television, or even the gaming revolution.

The key to the evolution of entertainment and connectivity?

User-generated content. Self-publishing. The impact of the individual.

This concept of the individual being empowered by the marketplace is the reason we have authors publishing their e-books without major publishers tampering with their work. Two guys can get together with some engineers and create something like “Words With Friends.” I can watch an incredibly entertaining show like House of Cards on Netflix with no commercials.

When content creators like you or me have the power to set the rules, the best work comes out. It’s the reason why us iPhone users are obsessed with iFunny. It’s the reason why I find myself obsessed with discovering new music with Spotify. It’s even why something as ludicrous as Snapchat is becoming an obsession for many people (like myself.)

Put simply, user-generated content is the key to a good experience. Luckily, groups of resourceful people across the globe are exploiting this beautifully.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

5 Things You Must Do After College

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Being a post-grad is one of the most exciting, yet trying, periods of time you will face as your education finally reaches its climax. I’m writing this in February, then, as a way to hopefully help get people thinking about this now, rather than later.

This is the time to prove yourself. Really, your 20’s are all about proving yourself. This is it! Your first step into the so-called real world you’ve heard so much about.

It’s only been 1 year since I began my post-grad journey, so I’ve compiled a list of things that will hopefully benefit you once you’ve finally finished your undergrad.

Keep in mind that some of these tips are more or less applicable depending on what you actually studied in school, with communications being my experience for writing this.

1. Learn How to Budget

Yes, you may already know how this works and have been doing a fine job through school. This tip isn’t for you. This is for the post-grads who didn’t work much during school and had their parents handle their finances.

It’s time to get it together. Learn how to do your taxes. Learn how to save money. Watch your parents do it. Figure out what you need to make and how much you can spend before you make other big decisions, like where you’re going to live and what kind of job you’re going to apply for.

It amazes me when people don’t know how much money they want to negotiate for a salary. How do you even have grounds for what salary is “necessary” when you have no idea how much money it will take for you to survive? Think about this now so you can be ready.

2. Plan for your Student Loans

Most of us have plenty of loans to pay for once we’re done with school, and this is something you absolutely cannot go into unplanned. You don’t have much time after school ends before the bills start coming in, so plan ahead. Find out how much you’re going to have to pay and apply for different payment plans if you need to early, so you don’t end up paying way more than you can afford.

3. Stay Busy

In other words, do part-time work. This may mean putting other things on hold, such as relationships and social activities. Why? This is a time of rough transition, and you need to be prepared for anything. As a new professional, you are the most susceptible employee to unexpected layoffs and pay-cuts.

Be prepared. Part-time work, especially related to your profession, helps supplement income and develop even more skills that you will need as your career advances. I highly recommend online tutoring. It’s flexible, pays pretty well, and is a great way to keep your mind active when you’re tempted to zone out on the weekend.

4. Avoid Commitments

I say this with a heavy heart, especially since many people I know get married and have kids shortly after college. That’s fine for them, but I don’t recommend it. This is mostly because you have no idea where your profession is going to take you, and making lifelong commitments with someone who may not align with your career creates intense problems.

Plus, most people just aren’t ready for that level of commitment during this time of transition. I highly recommend that you take a year or more to get settled into your new lifestyle and worry about family life later, when you are more ready for it. You will avoid a lot of problems if you do.

5. Develop a TON of Experience

This is especially important for those of you going for grad school. Education is a great asset to your resume, but don’t rely on it too much. Other people just as educated as you are applying for that same job down the road, only they probably have experience along with their education.

If you wait too long to develop experience through internships or part-time work related to your career, that makes your resume extremely unattractive to employers. This obviously doesn’t apply to every field of study, but it is mostly relevant for people in communications.

The bottom-line is: don’t get lazy or complacent. Once you’re done with school, plan for your future and be prepared for anything. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one thing, because you might get stuck with it for the rest of your life. Experiment. Have fun. Get your life off to a great start. Prove yourself.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

How to Respond to Hateful People

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The Internet can be a rough place. People are ready to bombard you with strong (if not flimsy) opinions about emotionally charged topics, and anonymity plays a huge role in the cause of this.

Go on…How to Respond to Hateful People

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