Habits – Making Them and Breaking Them

After a wonderful nudge from my intelligent and driven friend, Elisabeth, I find myself returning to my blog after an excessively long absence. I am currently reading Charles Duhigg’s book, ‘The Power of Habit’ which visits how habits are formed (both on a personal and professional level) as well as how we as individuals can alter those habits and ultimately improve their lifestyle. Duhigg, an investigative business reporter for the New York Times, really digs into the scientific side of how our brains are hard-wired and with that understanding gives readers insight into how to harness the science and emerge with new (ideally more positive) habits. The anecdotal references and real-life stories help to create a deeper look into the science behind many of the theories presented.

The cyclical, loop-like nature of habits means that often times people will continue performing the same task until they either reach a breaking-point or find the ability to consciously enact change. I (and many others) operate mostly on auto-pilot – I wake up every morning, do the same series of events to get ready, and hop on the same train to work. The rest of my days is largely similar and adorned with thousands of daily habits. Many of these habits ensure that I do my job effectively (and thus don’t get fired) and exercise well (and thus don’t gain a 100 lbs) but other habits may have counter-productive end results.

As Duhigg reads, “The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.” The snack room at my office is plentiful – one could say beyond plentiful. When I want a break from my computer and demanding clients, I often find myself scooting over the kitchen for a social break and inevitably end up grabbing a few M&M’s or some trail mix. I am usually not hungry, I am simply operating on a habit cycle. In the past week, I have attempted to change that habit by having tea or a glass of water in place of the unnecessary sugar I was previously consuming.

My biggest takeaway thus far is the following: the first step to modifying your behavior is simply noting and acknowledging that behavior. It sounds simple but as depicted by Duhigg, it is not. The book is chock full of inspirational stories and impactful life changes people have made – it brings (at least a bit of) sense to both my everyday life as a 24-year old and many of the practices going on in my work environment.

I will end with a final quote from the book – “Good leaders seize crisis to remake organizational habits.” Sometimes a major life change seems daunting and overwhelming but can lead to radical and positive change!

 

 

 

#twitter

This morning after a lovely brunch on the patio at Zazie’s, I pulled out my laptop and logged into Twitter. I check twitter multiple times a day so this was nothing new. Nina then came sat down next to me and all I had to say was, “Twitter is so amazing.” We then got into a conversation on the usability of hashtags and the social media platform in general.

Now, I am likely slightly biased as I do work for a social media start-up but the potential power behind the website is enormous and only a small portion of that potential is currently being utilized. Obviously, the entire world population will never be connected to Twitter and in fact, I find quite a bit of backlash from my peers -mostly those not located in tech-happy San Fran. That being said, with over 200 million users, Twitter does provide an amazing tool to connect people and share news at an incredibly fast rate.

With only 140 characters at your fingertips, a lot of the usual ‘noise’ is filtered out. Other social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have zero restraints in length and people often use that to their advantage – likely to the dismay of their friends and followers. Twitter can be classified as ‘micro-blogging’- short snippets of daily activities, breaking news, and whatever else people choose to share.

In my view, Twitter’s greatest strength centers around informing and educating others. Through gaining followers and in turn following others, users can gather critical mass and propel their opinions to a larger audience. You gain a window into someones life and hopefully learn something in the process.

One recent example of Twitter’s capability that stands out in my mind is #SFbatkid. Last week, the Make A Wish foundation had planned an amazing city adventure for 5 year-old Miles. He was all set to be a superhero, fight crime, and save the city of San Francisco. I had heard about the event through some friends at work who were really excited to watch right outside our office. The day then rolled around and social media exploded! Social media not only blew up in the city where people unified around a positive message and live-tweeted Miles’ location throughout the day urging supporters to cheer him on. Twitter also erupted on an international scale – millions of people tweeted well wishes of support and created a common platform for many to unite around an inspiring story. President Obama and many other celebrities contributed in the online discussion and it really drew people closer together.

In short – Tweet loud, Tweet often, Be social. Get your word out and learn from others. I will leave you with an article from Business Insider – “The History Of Twitter In 10 Tweets.” Enjoy!

Jackson Hole –> San Francisco

As I was packing up my Jeep a few weeks ago, my good friend in Jackson – Elisabeth, suggested that I keep a blog outlining my transition from Jackson Hole to San Francisco. My initial concerns were around the fact that I didn’t know how to write a blog post but upon further reflection I decided to give it a try!

My first week of work at Hearsay Social was to put it plainly: awesome. I arrived at the office Monday morning to my new desk laden with a MacBook Pro, large computer screen and a Hearsay mug jammed with candy. I think I met about 30 people on the first day- only to go directly to the online directory in the hopes that I would remember half of their names. So far, my favorite part of the job has been the people I am lucky enough to work with as well as the office environment.

Hearsay has around 100 people, headquartered in San Francisco with about 60 people based in our main building and other offices in New York and London. My coworkers in a nutshell hail from great colleges, have adventured around the world, and are hard-working and kind. Everyone thus far has welcomed me with open arms and accepted me as part of the team. The office is constantly abuzz with excitement around the latest tech news and engineers on scooters whiz by at high speeds. People shift  to standing desks and go work in the ‘living room’ and the ocean beckons from beyond our enormous wall of windows.

The transition to living in the bustling city of San Francisco has gone well so far. It helps that I am lucky to live in an amazing apartment with two great friends from college who have both made my first ten days fantastic and easy. We luckily live on a quiet hill (because where else would you live in SF…) and have a beautiful garden and laundry room! All three of us work for start-ups which leads to many vibrant discussions on new ideas and entrepreneurship over dinner in our sunny turret dining room.

Work is sure to pick up this upcoming week – lots of new knowledge is to be learned and hopefully soon I will be able to delve into my professional objectives. I will leave you with a picture of the view from my desk – pretty unreal!
Desk View