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A “Must Read”…in My Humble Opinion

16 Jul

We’re all busy, right? Right. Lately – well, the past year – I’ve been juggling ideas of starting my own business, enrolling in an MBA program, and a bunch of other personal and professional endeavors. While I figure things out…or life just figures itself out on the go…I decided to dedicate 2012 towards professional and insightful reading. Sure, the latest Nicholas Sparks book and a few fun ones have been thrown into the mix, but I’ve really embraced this new trend going on in my iPad’s ebook reader.

I’m just 6 months into this resolution to read professional development style books. Can’t. Get. Enough. In conversations, I consistently find myself referring to new ideas or studies I recently learned about. Dan is probably so sick of hearing me say, “This book I’m reading…so interesting! Listen to this….!”

This new-to-me genre has pushed my mind to think in new ways. I’ve developed a broader sense of success. As my reading list continues to grow, my ways of thinking, planning, and problem solving have evolved. This is good. While I still figure out my next few career goals (MBA is the primary question mark right now), I feel like I’m learning more than I have in years.

Now, I leave you with a “must read“: Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. If you are an idea-generator, creative professional, entrepreneur, manager…the list goes on – read this book. While I finished this almost two months ago, it has remained in my thoughts since. Now that’s a sign of a good read.

Since posting (just 10 minutes ago), I’ve already received a few messages about other reading suggestions. Please check out my two public reading lists:

Katie Vojtko on Goodreads

Katie Vojtko’s Book Wishlist (on Amazon)

“He” vs. “She”

29 Jun

Disclaimer: I’m not a feminist. I’m a proponent of earned income, position, and opportunity.

The other day, I was on a call with a client I’ve been working with for several weeks and a nice, professional relationship was developing. This gentleman was without a doubt traditional, conservative, and near retirement. Without getting into detail, we ran into a little hiccup that was beyond my control. During a conversation, I suggested that he speak with our Vice President who’ll be able to handle the issue much better than myself. He replied, “Sure, put him in touch with me.” That “him” is a lady.

Now, this isn’t the issue to me. In reality, “he” is the appropriate, gender-neutral term when speaking of a person who you do not know. However, I couldn’t shake it. There’s a lot in the news recently about women in the workplace, particularly this article on Why Women Can’t Have it All, which was posted first in the Atlantic. To summarize the too-long-for-work essay, Ann-Marie Slaughter, a high profile foreign policy analyst, says that women cannot be both an involved, active mother and a ladder-climbing, advancing professional – at least not at the same time. She points out the generational differences explaining that younger professional women find the idea of having a baller career and being a perfect mother exhausting and impossible. I happen to agree.

There have been a few driving forces and ideas in my life these days: Starting my own business, being creative, growing a stronger network. However, there’s one underlying factor I always dream about. And that is balance. I want to work my ass off for days, weeks, months, years…whatever. But when I need downtime, I’m 100% cool with turning off all of my devices and having some peace. Further, I dream of the day I have a kid or two and it’s perfectly cool to bring them into my office, which is of course well-equipped with a few games to keep them occupied. Running a business and running a household shouldn’t be impossible. With technology, a good partner, and a flexible working environment, women should be able to have it all.

To me, life is all about balance. That balance applies to my diet, schedule, work life, family time, and social schedule…really, every part of my life. I feel like die-hard professional women lose that balance and I won’t have it in my life. Maybe this is coming from the young optimist in me, however I get giddy (and motivated) when thinking about fulfilling all of my dreams – on my own time.

My Weekend in Photos

9 Apr

This weekend included all the right ingredients to make it a great one.

On Thursday, we bowled to celebrate Mr. Mulford’s big day — when’s the last time you went to a bowling birthday party? Great times. Friday included a long lunch with old college friends, downtime with my man, and a tried and true Yinzer Church Fish Fry at Holy Angels Parish. To celebrate my best friend’s 25th, on Saturday we dined at the neighborhood’s new Thai place and continued the night with several drinks. Dan and I wrapped up the weekend with jam-packed Easter at each of our parents’ homes.

To top it off, I have had some incredibly energetic business-related conversations, yielding new ideas and dreams. Somehow, I was able to fit in a few hours to hash out these ideas a little further.

I truly went to bed so happy (yet exhausted) last night.

While I didn’t capture any photos of our Easter craziness, below are some from the rest of the fun, celebratory weekend.

– Katie

Two of my closest buds from my college years, Andrew (left) celebrated his birthday with a BOWLING PARTY! When's the last time you went to a birthday bowling party -- 4th grade???

A long lunch with great girlfriends - nothing better!

The perfect gift for Luke. He's been admiring this little pot for months!

Cousin Time!

Our best friends and neighbors!

Andrew brought a new friend to the party with whom I immediately connected. So fun!

What Energizes You?

2 Apr

This is a question I’ve been asking myself over the last 9 months, and I recently saw it asked in one of my favorite blogs, heyamberrae. Basically since my big move from Pittsburgh to Philly, I’ve been trying to hone in on what truly gets me excited and overly-passionate. I began by asking what makes me happy. But I’m realizing this is a much different question than that of what energizes me. Things that make me happy are simple: happy hours with friends, trying a new restaurant, that first sip of coffee in the morning, pay day.. the list goes on. But am I passionate about those things? Do they enable my creative side, and make me want to do something more? Maybe.

Let’s take my love of shoes for example. I’m pretty obsessed. I’d like to say it’s my only true girly characteristic, but I’m sure it’s not. You can ask anyone who has ever looked at my shoe closet.. or the overflow of neatly organized heels and flats on my shoe mat by the door.. and we can’t forget my boot corner. I have a “shoe guy” back home who will message me to let me know a perfect pair that I’ll just love have arrived, and they’re saving a pair in my size for me. So it’s safe to say that I LOVE shoes. But do I see myself finding inspiration from my purchases, aside from the inspiration for an outfit? Not really. At the end of the day for me, shoes are just shoes. Beautiful pieces of artwork for my feet that make my heart beat a little faster when I see a pair I have to have.

So I have things like shoes, material items that make me happy, but fall short of giving me creative energy. Then there are experiences that make me feel alive. I’ve taken note over the past few weeks that the second I get home on a Friday, it feels like I am being reborn. No matter how long or tough of a work week it was, no matter how tired I was on that hour long drive home, when I walk into my apartment knowing I have approximately 56 hours in a row just for me, I am a new woman. Anything is possible, and I have all the time in the world to explore my new(ish) city. This it what gives me energy. It is now that I can surround myself by people: old friends, recent acquaintances, and strangers whose brains I can pick for the first time. This is the time that the unexpected happens.

What, then, is the source of this energy? Is it the mere fact that I’m not at work? The knowledge that I don’t have any homework that I’m putting off until Sunday night? (As a recent college grad, this is a huge perk for me.) I’m still working on the answer to this question. But I’m leaning towards the idea that I’m gaining energy from being surrounded by people, new and old, and gathering information, making friends, and creating memories. These are the things that make me think harder, form strong opinions, and analyze those around me more closely. The next step in this for me: What does this mean on a bigger scale? What does it mean for my career, my aspirations?

I’m still trying to figure that one out.

-Liz

Where I’ve Been Finding Inspiration this Week…

29 Mar

I’m not sure about you, but inspiration can, at times, be hard to find. This month, I’ve had heavy weight on my shoulders due to a few large-scale copywriting projects (talk about writer’s block!), work on my mind all hours of the day, and a budding side business which desperately needs focus and attention. With my energy all over the place, I’m left with wondering how to maintain my creativity, energy, and inspiration needed to do great work.

Cue a week of self exploration. The past few days have been full of internal debates, self-criticism, and a personal need to bring positivity and new energy back into my world. My job requires me to be active and moving 8am-5pm M-F. To be successful, I can’t allow my brain to get into this rut for too often and for too long. This is why when a string of fun, thought-provoking events, ideas, and content came into my world – I wrapped my arms around them all and was thankful. Here’s what happened:

Social Media Professionals Network – Just meeting and collaborating with peer professionals can provide a boat load of ideas. Our first Pittsburgh Social Media Professionals Speaker Series event was last week in the beautiful Pennsylvanian on Liberty Ave. Our round table conversation provided me with a reminder to never settle. Never stop learning. (PS – you should plan to join us for the next event.)

This Book: Social Media ROI  by Oliver Blanchard – If you are in online or digital marketing, pick up this book. Written specifically for C-level execs, Blanchard reviews everything from hiring strategic digital marketing managers to introducing a social media program to your corporation. Fascinating read. Found new perspective and outlook from this one.

The Stairmaster. No joke. Stepping away from the problem (either physically or mentally) helps to think about the issue from a different perspective. Dealing with writer’s block is difficult while I feel pressure to type. On the stairmaster, I think about the topic and words seem to just flow like water.

Long, Lost Friends – Energy found from friends and connections. Last week, I reconnected with a close friend during a wake. Yes, the reason for our reunion was pretty sad and is still is a weight on my mind (related blog post in progress) but seeing her has been a source of excitement and energy in my world. Conversations with an old friend bring up ideas and plans from that stage of life that I had long since forgotten. Conversing with her has brought up a sense of optimism. I cannot wait to continue these discussions.

Entrepreneurs – Finally, D and I have begun working with onlyinpgh.com. If you aren’t following them on Twitter, do so quickly. Their new project called Scenable is going to be seriously groundbreaking. The excitement, drive, and passion start-ups have is probably the best place to find inspiration. Especially from this one. Their drive to improve Pittsburgh communities is seriously remarkable. Not to mention, their 60-70+ hours/week of dedication makes my standard work week look pitiful!

I’m a true karma believer. Good things come in your life if you welcome them in. This week, I begged the world for new energy and that’s certainly what came. Thanks, yinz.

-Katie

Fresh Outlook: Spring Plans and Projects

22 Mar

Growing up, my dad would spend the early months of the year prepping his garden in a makeshift greenhouse in our basement. I found a lot of excitement from looking forward to higher temperatures, sunshine, and the promise of spending more time outdoors. My dad’s gardening was the first true indication that my favorite season was on the way.

Of course, as I grew older, my father’s passions became less cool. I moved to Pittsburgh and began soaking up all that urban life can offer. All was well, until I developed a passion for cooking about a year ago when my schedule balanced out and I gained a +1 who enjoys my food just as much as I enjoy cooking. That was the first time I began lusting over homegrown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce…ahh EVERYTHING! BTW – Pittsburghers adore their homegrown tomatoes. We are the proudest bunch over fresh produce from our garden.

It was then decided. I’m going to try out this gardening thing.

Enter Problem : We live in a lovely, East End apartment with not one blade of grass. NONE. The horror for this…ahem…”country” girl.

We decided to get creative and do an entire above-ground garden. I got the seeds going for herbs and veggies a few weeks ago. While those are sprouting, we are looking for inspiration for funky, interesting ‘vessels’ for our delicious homegrown goods. Below is an image of my herbs at week 1 as well as images of our “OMG THAT’S COOL” ideas. Happy Spring!

Do you have any projects coming up? Would love to get some inspiration from your ideas, too!

-Katie