Conversation Starter for All Ages

I work for Amazon, specifically the AWS team. There are many reasons I love this team. One of the genius exercises they do is an icebreaker at the beginning of each weekly team meeting. Questions range from what is your favorite cartoon to at age five, what did you want to be when you grew up? These questions are not only thought-provoking but also tell me something unique and interesting about my colleagues.

The process of generating questions is not easy and coming up with new and interesting questions is a big task that one person takes on each week. In honor of Hana who generates the questions, I have come up with a list that you can use in your next team meeting.

Would you rather:
be lost at sea or lost in the desert?
be an amazing singer or an amazing dancer?
always feel a little too hot or a little too cold?
have the power of flight versus invisibility?
travel back in time or into the future?
adopt a puppy or kitten?
eat only savory food or only sweet food?
speak any language or be a math genius?

An Ode to Coffee

I like to start each day slowly with an international pause as I savor a hot cup of coffee.

It is such a simple pleasure.

Nothing awakens my senses more than my coffee ritual: the aromas, the sound, the sight, and the taste. The meditative process of brewing coffee forces me to slow down, reflect, and contemplate the day I am about to begin.

My morning coffee is part of my daily routine that sets the tone for the rest of the day.

The Art of Relaxing

The way we work has changed forever, and it seems like there’s no going back.

We all love doing Zoom meetings in our pajama pants and hanging out with our pets all day. That’s a given. But remote work also has its drawbacks.

The trend of remote work was already growing before 2020. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it skyrocketed.

In 2021, the pandemic continues to affect the way we work. Forty-five percent of remote workers report that they are working from home because of the outbreak. While 46% say their organizations plan on making remote work permanent.

With no buffer between home and work, it is more important than ever to make time to relax after a hard day’s work. Being able to relax after a hard day is something, we often take for granted, but sometimes it seems really hard to switch off and focus your mind on anything other than what you have been doing.

This is not good for your health and can cause stress levels to grow and illness to creep into your life. If this is the case for you, perhaps you need a new hobby or pastime, something which will get your mind intrigued or your taste buds tantalized.

Ways to relax
Being able to sit comfortably in a quiet room with music from your favorite band playing softly in the background. Reading a good book accompanied with a glass of wine, bottle of cold beer or a giant cup of coffee is the perfect evening for many of us.

So, may took up backing and cooking during the pandemic and found the culinary arts relaxing and very satisfying. Watching your favorite sports team or try watching a sport you normally do not watch can be the

A simple change to your routine or a new interest or hobby would be beneficial.  Whatever you do to bringing closure to your day and helps offer some escapism and letting your mind wander with it, is great for relieving stress in this very stressful world.

A 5-Minute Habit That Will Change Your Career

I read something about networking that hit me hard…
Now that we can meet in person again, I’ve been making more of an effort to connect with people in my industry — both chatting with peers at events and introducing myself to leaders I look up to. I’ve always known the importance of sending a thank-you letter after interviews, but I typically didn’t do anything else until I read this:

“I’m just stunned at how few people know how to follow up on a connection,” Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, recently told The Cut. “Make sure that you stay in touch with the people you’re interested in, make sure they’re aware of you, that you stay on their radar… It’s remarkable how much these people appreciate hearing from you when you don’t want something from them.”

Sending emails just for the sake of staying in touch changes everything. It makes me think back to how I met some of my greatest friends and mentors. Even the simplest notes — the ones that latch on to something the person and I had discussed, like a restaurant recommendation for an upcoming trip or a link to an upcoming movie starring your favorite actor can solidify a connection. What I  try to keep in mind is; Everyone you work with is a human being behind their title, and when I finally applied this to networking, it made small talk much easier. People love to find common ground in pop culture, relationships and humor. It will stand out in a sea of corporate speak.”

Networking might be one of the cringiest words out there, but the more I think of it as just building relationships, it’s so much easier.

Retargeting vs. Remarking: What is the Difference?

When designing marketing strategies to bring existing and interested customers back to your business, you may find yourself comparing retargeting vs. remarketing. Both are effective ways to re-engage warm prospects who have already shown interest in your brand. And while there is some overlap in these two strategies, there are also key differences in the specific tactics used to drive customers into your sales funnel.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: Similarities and Differences
Retargeting and remarketing are both lead nurturing tactics that help support a complete customer lifecycle marketing plan. They each put your brand back in front of warm audiences and drive leads and customers into your purchase funnel.

Retargeting and remarketing are similar because have the same goals:
Target audiences who are already aware of your brand
Engage qualified audiences who are most likely to make a purchase
Build lasting brand awareness and recognition

The differences between retargeting vs. remarketing are in the tactics used to accomplish these goals.
Retargeting primarily uses paid ads to re-engage audiences who have visited your website or social profiles.
Remarketing primarily uses email to re-engage past customers who have already done business with your brand.

Let’s look at the complete retargeting and remarketing definitions to dive deeper into the differences between these two types of targeting in marketing.

What is Retargeting?
Retargeting is the process of identifying people who have taken some action online (ex. visited your website or social profile) and then targeting them with digital ads. Retargeting delivers online or display ads to audiences based on their past behaviors or interactions with your site, such as the pages visited, or the time spent on the site.

If you have ever visited a website and then later saw an ad for the brand while visiting another website or scrolling through Facebook, you’ve experienced retargeting.

Retargeting works by adding a pixel to a brand’s website. The pixel captures data about the people who visit the website and what they do on the site. The data is used to create audiences based on those interactions, and the audiences are then targeted through Google display or social media ads.

Here’s an example of a retargeting strategy for a clothing brand:
The brand adds a Facebook and Google pixel to their website.
Customers visit the brand’s “summer dresses” page.
The same customers leave without taking any action.
While browsing other sites, the customers who visited the brand’s “summer dresses” page see retargeting ads featuring new summer dresses.
The brand might also create a Google display ad with a coupon for summer dresses. This ad is only shown to people who have visited the “summer dresses” page on their website.

According to a study by ReTargeter, only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit to a website. Retargeting solutions enable advertisers to drive audiences back to a website so that they are more likely to convert. Consumer goods company Kimberly-Clark saw a 50% to 60% conversion rate from website visitors who were retargeted.

Only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit to a website.

What is Remarketing
Remarketing refers to the process of reaching out to current or past customers and re-engaging them based on their previous purchases or actions. Remarketing typically uses email to reconnect with audiences. Having a customer email list is required for remarketing, whereas it is not needed for retargeting.

The definitions of remarketing and retargeting can be a bit confusing because remarketing is sometimes used as a broad term to include both remarketing and retargeting tactics. For example, Google refers to its retargeting ad tools as Google Remarketing Tools.

But for the most part, remarketing specifically refers to the tactic of reconnecting with current or past customers through email. Often, remarketing is used as part of a larger retention marketing strategy.

Remarketing examples include sending emails that:
Highlight sales or deals on products related to the customer’s past purchases.
Promote products and services that are complementary to the customer’s past purchases.
Introduce new offerings that are related to the customer’s past purchases.
Remind a customer that they have something in their cart.
Include a coupon when a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a few weeks or months.

Like retargeting, remarketing is also an effective way to drive conversions from warm audiences. eMarketer reported that 81% of customers were at least somewhat likely to make additional purchases as a result of targeted emails, and Campaign Monitor found that segmented email campaigns could drive a 760% increase in revenue.

Segmented email campaigns have been shown to drive up to a 760% increase in revenue.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: What’s Better?
When comparing retargeting vs. remarketing, remember that both have the same goal: Reengage and nurture audiences who have already shown interest in your brand.

The difference is in the marketing strategies they use to re-engage these audiences. Retargeting uses ads to reach people who visit your website or social profiles and take a certain action. Remarketing uses email to reach current or past customers.

The main difference between retargeting and remarketing is the marketing strategies used to re-engage audiences.

So, which one is right for you? It depends on the types of market segmentation you’re using and the goals you have.

Try retargeting if:
You want to focus on attracting new customers
You’re driving a lot of site traffic but not triggering conversions
You don’t have an email list of interested prospects

Try remarketing if:
You want to focus on re-engaging current or past customers
You don’t have a budget for ads
You already have an engaged email list

When it comes to retargeting vs. remarketing you don’t have to choose. You can use both strategies at the same time to maximize your results and drive even more interested prospects into your sales funnel. Support your customer lifecycle marketing with retargeting, remarketing, or both.

What Charles and Ray Eames Taught Us

Today the Eames would have celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. To honor these amazing designers, I wanted to look at what they have taught us and continue to teach us.

Charles and Ray Eames ran off to Los Angeles shortly after marrying on June 20, 1941. In the decades that followed, they created a world around themselves filled with love, exploration, diligence, and play.

They instilled in those they knew deep respect for learning; they set a standard for an exemplary work ethic; and they demonstrated that we can always make something better—even an already iconic design—by treating projects as though they’re never really done.

In addition to the many concepts Charles and Ray taught us, they also created things during their partnership to make our world a better place. They gave us furniture designs that we still enjoy; films that we continue to watch and show our kids; exhibitions that, nearly 80 years later, are still on display; and inspirational architectural structures, one of which is a National Historic Landmark.

Throughout their careers, they sought to answers the following questions with every piece they designed.
This small but impactful list became the cornerstone of their achievements.

* how to produce affordable, yet high-quality furniture
* how to build economical, yet well-designed space for living and working
* how to help people see beauty in the everyday
* how to help Americans and other cultures understand each other
* how to make fundamental scientific principles accessible to laypeople.

The 15 Things Charles & Ray Eames Taught Us

1. Keep good company
2. Notice the ordinary
3. Preserve the ephemeral
4. Design not for the elite but for the masses
5. Explain it to a child
6. Get lost in the content
7. Get to the heart of the matter
8. Never tolerate “O.K. anything.”
9. Remember your responsibility as a storyteller
10. Zoom out
11. Switch
12. Prototype it
13. Pun
14. Make design your life… and life, your design.
15. Leave something behind.

Thank you Charles and Ray Eames for all you continue to share with us.

One Year into The Pandemic: What Have We Learned About Work

One year has passed since we all moved to remote working. The kitchen used to be the place of our informal reunions. We’d gather, a tea or coffee mug in hand, and talk about our weekend, a Netflix must-watch, or the new incoming project. These times are far gone. Nowadays, our workstations are more likely our kitchen or living room tables, maybe even our beds. We spend about 8 hours a day in front of our screens, going from one zoom meeting to another. The only people that we get to shout at are our family and our pets. This year has brought a lot of changes, and with it, a lot of valuable insights.

We saved a lot of time
Remote working allowed us to save a lot of commuting time. Everyone I know took this time to explore new hobbies or expand their skill set. Some friends started cooking or baking some raiser service dogs, others picked up certifications that would help them in their careers. Overall, gaining a few hours a day allowed us all to have a healthier, more balanced way of living.

We saved money and learned new skills
With everything closing around us, 2020 has been the year of savings. Between the money usually spent on commuting, dining out, clothing, coffee, etc. we’ve been able to pocket all that money. It also taught some of us the delights of a nice home-cooked meal, the challenges of a homemade haircut, the hard work of refurbishing furniture.

Sweatpants became our new work attire
The days we’d spend hours getting ready, making sure our outfits matched and we looked professional enough are dead. Sweatpants, for most of us, became our new work attire. This lockdown allowed us the freedom to wear what felt good and what was comfortable. No matter what happens in the next few months, this freedom is too good to let it go and return to our restrictive tight jeans. There is no turning back from the sweatpants era.

We have developed a love-hate relationship with Zoom
This pandemic put Zoom software at the forefront of everybody’s remote work life. In many ways, it felt like a godsend, allowing us to be in touch with each other and our co-workers at all times. But in others, let’s be real, Zoom felt like hell on earth. We’ve all had the experience of our zoom window freezing, a zoom meeting not starting or ending abruptly on you, and the many audio and video issues that can and do arise. Zoom can be that person we desperately want to hug or that piece of trash we can’t wait to throw out the window in desperation. Either way, we all can relate.

We realized connection is essential
One thing we did notice this year is the importance of human contact. Even for the most introverted of us, being secluded from our peers for so long took its toll on our mental health. Therapists have been overbooked for months. The importance and necessity for connections made itself crystal clear in 2020. In those lonely times, our pets have been life-saviors. Our dogs, cats, or even goldfish, have been the only connection to a sentient being we’ve had for months. They delivered support and unconditional love during the hardest times. We are deeply social creatures after all.

We will never work 5 days a week at the office schedule anymore
While it did take us a while to get accustomed to a fully remote working situation, we are now well acclimated to it and, for the most part, enjoy it. One big realization throughout this pandemic was that, yes, we can work well remotely and be as productive as before. Our work efficiency did not suffer, and our workflow adjusted quite well to the remote situation. Once we are all safe and vaccinated and everything reopens, we will probably go back to work in the office, yes, but in a very different capacity. Some of us will probably go for a couple of days a week, and some others, only one, or up to four. The work schedule will be more relaxed and flexible to the needs of everyone. This, we learned, truly allows us to be as efficient and productive as possible while keeping a connection with each other.

This pandemic taught us that working from home does not impede productivity. Instead, it allowed us to have a more balanced and healthier lifestyle. We saved on commute time and money, which in turn let us have more time with family, start a new routine, volunteer, or do anything that we kept putting aside prior to March 11, 2020.
Whenever the time to return to the office arises, we’ll come back with a more flexible and healthy vision of our work schedule, and will keep up with everything we learned during the quarantine. There is no way to go back to the way things were before. All we can do is move forward, and forward looks pretty good right now.