A note from our founder

Amazing about.me community,

The last few weeks have unlocked a wide range of emotions for people all around the U.S., the world and for many of us at about.me. I’m sure this issue is personal for many people in the about.me community. I know for our about.me team, this is no exception.

We wholeheartedly support the importance of a sensible, well-vetted and understood immigration policy. We also believe in the equality of every individual, and deeply value every member of our about.me community worldwide. Respect and inclusion have always been foundational to about.me. As everyone who is a team member or has previously worked at about.me knows, we are a company built on diversity. Our team is diverse, not just in professional backgrounds, but demonstrably in gender, nationalities, religions and socio-economic upbringings. Our diversity is our strength. It has fostered an environment that embraces and believes in diversity of ideas and respects different opinions. It is core for us at about.me.

Taking ownership of treating people with care and love can be a profound act. In addition to a personal contribution to the ACLU, we’ve updated our social media icons, replacing it with a colorful heart. This change symbolizes our commitment to use our platform to deliver a message of inclusiveness and respect that empowers our community to authentically present themselves to people interested in learning more about them.

I hope you’ll embrace this design and the symbolism it represents. We are so incredibly thankful for and inspired by the breadth of members of our community – a heartfelt thank you.

Tony Conrad
Co-Founder & CEO, about.me

From the corporate world to Hollywood: Melanie Kannokada

An actress, Melanie Kannokada typically starts her day by meditating, followed by tea and then breakfast. Then she takes some time to focus on her schedule which is usually a mix of meetings, auditions, filming, classes or rehearsals, and writing.

But her days weren’t always this way. Before becoming an actress, Melanie worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. in New York City and before that she graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

So how did the transition from mechanical engineer to consultant to actress, happen? We interviewed Melanie to find out.

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3 Ways My about.me Page Got Me a Job

As a student at Tulane University, nothing about me screamed traditional college student.

Though I had a range of experiences during my undergraduate years, they weren’t all linear. Anything that sparked an interest in me, I explored. This included blogging, organizing food trucks, working at music festivals, assisting event marketing teams and an array of other odd jobs.

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Hip Hop, Ballet, and Contemporary Dancers

“Dancing ballet taught me to be disciplined, patient to achieve good results, work well in groups and balanced with my time.”

Becoming a professional dancer, or even just a great one, is certainly not an easy path and as elaborated by Diana Figueroa‘s words above, takes quite a lot of work and patience. They’ve given up summers to attend dance camps, weekends to attend dance competitions, the list is endless. But it’s a certain drive for excellence and love for the art that sustains these dancers here whose specialties range from ballet to hip hop, to Thai and contemporary dance. 

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writing your visual story

How to Craft Your Visual Story

Last week our friend Patrick Ewers (@PatrickEwers) of Mindmavin told us why you should create a visual story. This week he explains how you can craft your visual story.

The Best Part About Stories is Sharing Them

Stories are powerful because people enjoy sharing them. Think about it. Social media has become so popular, that it has become a perilous addiction for some. It proves that as a culture, we are addicted to staying current with each other’s stories, sharing them and adding our input to those stories.

For that reason, one of your goals should be to empower the people around you to want to share your story. No wants to share a bland, abstract story. A person will be far more likely to share an interesting, visual story. If you can come up with a great visual story, it creates a domino effect: you’ll get mentioned more often simply because it’s fun to mention you; being mentioned often results in more opportunities coming to your doorstep. In sum, great visual stories will allow your network to help you become more successful

Sold? Now that we’ve covered the why, lets move onto the how.

The Art of Storytelling

A visual story is something that evokes an image or a series of images. It’s created using words that possess a certain honesty and vulnerability which describe feelings and pivotal moments in time.

An abstract story would sound something like this: “I have been very passionate about video game development from a young age.” While this gets the point across, you’re not getting the reader’s visual cortex firing. A much better way to tell the very same story would be:

I was 12 years old, sitting in my room playing Call of Duty, loving every second of it. I started to get hungry and wandered out to the kitchen for a snack. On the TV, I saw a commercial for a video game graphic design course. I stopped dead in my tracks. Before that moment, I had never even thought of this possibility. From that moment on, I knew what I had to do. I enrolled in a program to allow me to be that guy who makes those amazing games. Here I am today, ready to do just that.

Stop now and ask yourself what that second story did for you.

You could probably see his story: you can see the boy in his room playing video games, it isa dark room, you can see him walk past a TV, see him stop, eyes widening at the idea of apotential dream come true, forgetting all about his snack. The point is, you can see, understand and resonate with his “A-ha” moment. You probably have a few similar ones of your own.

The fatal error in the first story is that abstract concepts or descriptors like “I am passionate” will be quickly overlooked because it’s an empty claim and unproven. The images are what cause the reader’s brain to infer and understand those qualities you’re trying to get across.

The reason this inference is so important is because when somebody infers something, they own it, they believe it, because they constructed it in their own mind. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than if a person thinks that they were the one who came up with the idea that you are passionate and motivated. Most importantly, they will want to share it.

Work It Out

It may seem daunting, you may think your story is boring, you may not be the “creative type”.

Fear not, there are four simple steps that you can take to create your story.

  1. Come up with a bullet point list of the abstract type of strengths that you have that you want to show off to the world, such as: dedicated, motivated, intellectually stimulating, etc.
  1. Think about events or scenarios that were able to illustrate those attributes about you. Specifically, try to come up with some moments that were unique, pivotal or simply powerful. Write these examples as sub-bullets as they pertain to each attribute.
  1. Try to tell a very visual story for each one in a very brief paragraph, not more than 3-5 lines. If you need some help here, you can try out The Visual Thesaurus.
  1. Tell the story to someone who knows you well and afterwards, ask them, “What did that story make you think of me in terms of who I am?” If that story works, it should circle back to one of the original attributes from your list.

Today’s header photo is by our friend @DavidSherry36 from @deathtostock

Living the Dream: Diana Doroftei

The way to create a miracle is to believe that you can do it. The rest is easy.

~ Nicolae Iorga, Romanian writer and philosopher

A few weeks ago, in our post on Romania, we highlighted Diana Doroftei and her book on the country, which helped us learn about her homeland.  Today, however, we’re learning more about Diana, her story and her life as an entrepreneur and author.

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Empowering Women through Sports: Katie Beringer

“I love all sports and I am on a mission to empower women in any path they choose- but ESPECIALLY male-dominated sports,” says backpacker, Katie Beringer (if you recognize Katie, it’s probably because you saw her in our post on about.me backpackers!).

Katie grew up playing many traditional sports, including soccer. It wasn’t until college, however, that she got into adventure sports like climbing and backpacking. As she graduated from high school, her father died, changing her perspective on life.

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She’s Got the [Visually Creative] Power: USC Student Jordan Caldwell

“Visuals play into my day-to-day life as I am preparing images and digital animations,” said Jordan Caldwell, a student at the University of Southern California.

In the spring, the work that she is doing now will be showcased in an installation about color and music at USC. Do you recognize Jordan from the most recent Students of the Week post where we featured USC?

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Life Themes

Editor’s note: Patrick Ewers is a leading Executive Coach and start-up Advisor. We have asked Patrick to share his wisdom with the about.me community in a series of posts designed to help professionals develop a sense of sustained fulfillment in their work.

My life themes are very simple to explain. One of the beautiful things about life themes is they’re usually very simple and very clear. In my case, I have four.

Optimizing

I’ve always enjoyed optimizing and it’s something I’ve always done, even as a small child. When I was young, if I was given five hours to solve a problem, I was the type that would spend four hours figuring out the best way to solve the problem, and only one hour get it done.

There are only two ways to optimize: Through designing Process and leveraging Technology

My passion for problem-solving and process analysis is why I enjoy coming up with best practices and work flows. Because I enjoy it so much, I’ve become very good at it.

I’m also a huge tech geek and find that utilizing technology to optimize processes can greatly enhance workflows. That’s why, I suspect, I ended up living in the Silicon Valley.

Wisdom

The next theme was the realization that I always received a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction after having offered valuable advice. I’ve always enjoyed when people glean meaningful insights from my shared thoughts and it helps them create powerful change. Payday for me is when they let me know how impactful my influence on them was.

People

I’ve always been intrigued by people and I love listening to them as well. I enjoy trying to understand people and what motivates them. There is a reason they say: “One each gravestone lies a world history.” Leading a more fulfilled life and navigating the paths to reach your full potential can sometimes present puzzling challenges. I love learning about fundamental human condition and using that knowledge to solve those puzzles.

Entertaining

This is probably the simplest and most enjoyable theme. I enjoy entertaining people. As a high school student, I always threw parties and would DJ to provide the entertainment. Chills ran down my back when I managed to get the dance floor packed with people having a good time.  Today, I love giving speeches and presentations to a crowded room, especially when that crowd walks out inspired and ready to change their lives for the better.

Mindmavin and Network Relationship Management

What all this meant was I had to go back to San Francisco and get a job that had most, if not all, of my life’s themes represented in it. You can probably already imagine what happened. As I looked through the available options, not a single position or opportunity allowed me to engage in all the things I desired at the same time. I quickly came to the realization that I had to bravely take the step of creating that ideal job myself – and that insight led directly to the creation of Mindmavin and the practice of Network Relationship Management.

It’s been more than six years since I decided to let go and take that leap. In hindsight, that decision was the third best decision I’ve ever made in my life. (I’ll let you guess what my first and second best decisions were.) It allowed me to firmly grab hold of my future and begin climbing the heights of my full potential.

How to Define Your Life’s Themes

The good news for you is, you don’t need to journey to Thailand to get into a meditative state in order to figure out your life’s themes. There are simpler techniques and ways to identify what your driving influences are and how to harness them. Here’s a link to a recent blog post I’ve written that can help you. Enjoy!

You Deserve to be Happy

Editor’s note: Patrick Ewers is a leading Executive Coach and start-up Advisor. We have asked Patrick to share his wisdom with the about.me community in a series of posts designed to help professionals develop a sense of sustained fulfillment in their work.

I believe you deserve a job that charges you up, gives you energy and lets you go home with a profound sense of fulfillment almost every day.

Your work life is a substantial part of ‘you’ and when that part is fulfilled, you’ll notice that it produces an infectious vibe that permeates into all the other parts of your life. It energizes your relationships with those around you who matter most.

The perfect job may sound like a fantasy, but attaining it is easier than you think. You may already have it, but for mysterious reasons, you’re just not attuned to it.

findingYourLifesThemes

Experiencing the happiness and fulfillment in life can only come when your day-to-day endeavors perfectly align with your life’s themes. You’re life’s themes are the few things that describe who you truly are at your core. These are the themes that have traveled with you throughout your life and have always been on your side.

I’m a strong believer that everything in your life becomes more meaningful and satisfying when you find and follow your life’s themes. Everyone has them and they’re usually based on the simplest things. But the problem is that the larger things and struggles we have in our lives make them hard to identify. Our life’s themes become elusive to grasp and that makes them challenging to pursue. Have you ever had the feeling of drifting or being lost?

It took me thousands of miles enduring many hardships on the road to discover my life’s themes, but the result has helped me become one of the Silicon Valley’s leading Network relationship coaches. More importantly, it has helped me see the full potential life has to offer.

So what are life’s themes and how do you find them?

To Get Hold of Your Future, Let Go

In 2007, my wife and I were leading a ‘typical’ life and entrenched in our daily Silicon Valley routines. But something was missing. We felt like we were experiencing life through a skewed lens of reality.

Imagine looking at a coral reef from above the crystal clear waters. The formations, colors and marine life are visible below. You can recognize them for what they are, but there’s an invisible barrier that’s altering the true reality of their appearance. Things often look bigger and more important than they are. It’s only when we pierce the barrier and experience the reef up close, view it from within the water, that the full richness of the ecosystem reveals itself.

As the notion of our skewed perception grew stronger, we decided to set out on an epic 10-month journey we called the ‘Circle the Pacific Tour’ with the goal of discovering how others viewed reality. If you’re intrigued about what backpacking through several continents, visiting remote villages and becoming immersed in their cultures was like, you can read our chronicle of the full adventure here.

During that time, the amount we learned about life and relationships was staggering and beyond any expectations we had for our trip. It spurred profound personal discoveries and a much-needed reality check that still positively reverberates through our lives today.

Our travels certainly tested our relationship and challenged the long-standing views we held that guided us through life up to that point. It’s amazing what you encounter while traveling to the Bolivian salt plains, or deep in the Amazon jungle. Life is very different when experienced from a remote Laotian village in Southeast Asia. Though, large families shared sparse dwellings that were no larger than a small garage, there was still a buoyant pride and calm satisfaction in their facial expression. They can provide all of us with important insights on how to lead fulfilled lives with less.

Upon our return, a casual stroll down Market Street would never be the same.

For more on finding your theme, check out Patrick’s post “How To Find Your Dream Job In Six Easy Steps“. Stay tuned for the second installment of Patrick’s series!

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