Friday Open Thread | #1

It’s November, which means Small Business Saturday is coming up. Who are some of your favorite small businesses, local or online? Tell us who they are and how they make a difference in their communities.

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What Caught My Eye | #2

Emotions, cats, metro cards, oh my.

Hey you,

Is it just me or has October felt like the longest October in the history of Octobers?! It’s been a busy week across the interwebs, so here are a few things that piqued my interest.

📱 Has social media destroyed a generation? I’m sure you’ve heard the claim about giving children smartphones is the same as giving them a gram of cocaine. But a closer look at social media use shows that those claims may be overstated. (Go figure). This Scientific American article explores the diverging viewpoints.

The results of Orben’s, Przybylski’s and Hancock’s efforts are now in. Studies from these researchers and others, published or presented in 2019, have brought some context to the question of what exactly digital technology is doing to our mental health. Their evidence makes several things clear. The results to date have been mixed because the effects measured are themselves mixed. “Using social media is essentially a trade-off,” Hancock says. “You get very small but significant advantages for your well-being that come with very small but statistically significant costs.” 

“We’re asking the wrong questions,” Hancock says. And results are regularly overstated—sometimes by the scientists, often by the media. “Social media research is the perfect storm showing us where all the problems are with our scientific methodology,” Orben says. “This challenges us as scientists to think about how we measure things and what sort of effect size we think is important.”

🎙This is for the teachers in the audience! (Definitely pass this on to the teachers you have in your lives). The NPR Student Podcast Challenge is back. “Beginning in January, teachers or qualified educators can submit student entries in two basic categories: grades 5-8 and grades 9-12. Entries can be as short as 3 minutes and as long as 12 minutes.” You can find all the details here.

📅 Whether you’re a community organizer or you belong to a group, you may have heard the news from Meetup a couple of weeks ago. Or at least heard the grumblings about it. Community expert Carrie Melissa Jones breaks down what went wrong and makes recommendations for Meetup.

🚇If you or someone you know lives/spends a significant time in NYC, this one is for you, especially if you like to pay it forward.

🤝 Dear white men, we are not out to get you. This article, “How to Show White Men That Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Need Them” has me feeling a little conflicted. While it’s important for us to have constructive conversations, this part particularly stood out to me.

Sociologist Robin DiAngelo calls these sorts of defensive overreactions to race-based criticisms “White Fragility,” and argues that it stems from a lack of “racial stamina” due to white people’s insulation from genuine conversations about race. Put simply, they haven’t had a safe space to explore these topics and for many people, this is the first time they’ve thought carefully about their identity.

It’s clear we all, especially D&I practitioners, need to offer psychologically safe spaces for white people and privileged people to explore these conversations. Otherwise, we will continue to encounter defensiveness and won’t get the support we seek from these leaders.

💕Speaking of feelings, we all know that emotion sells. So how can marketers create better customer experiences with emotions? In this article, Dan Argintaru explores this question and one of his recommendations is to use AI to build real connections.

💖Listen, we all need a break from the news and all the stress/anxiety that it’s causing us, so I recommend heading to this thread to read some true love stories. But be warned: It may cause your eyes to leak heavily.

🙀 Have you met Cinderblock?! This precious feline has won all of our hearts. Go Cinderblock go. I have faith in you.

That’s all for now! Hope you’re having a lovely week, and if you’re reading this on the web & haven’t subscribed, what are you waiting for? 😁

Cheers,

Berrak

The next big adventure

Hi friend,

What’s one of your favorite earliest memories?

I have a few and they all revolve around words.

I always say that my mom taught me how to read and write when I was four years old and I haven’t stopped since.

Except I have.

I don’t read as much as I want to and my writing has taken a hit since I began writing for my clients.

I spent the majority of the past few years using my creativity to help my clients and not having enough energy leftover for my own stories. My personal writing became stagnant, distilled into 140 character updates on Twitter, and a personal blog once in a while.

Turns out creativity isn’t just unlimited, though as an over-thinker, there’s no limit to the worst-case scenarios I can come up with in my daily life. Don’t even get me started on coming up with sassy comebacks to disagreements weeks after the fact.

The point is, for the past few years, when it comes to my personal writing, I’ve been blocked, stuck, stunned, aghast, overcome.

What? I’m a writer after all.

I digress.

If you had to make one assumption about me based on the past couple of minutes, it would probably be that I’ve always wanted to write a book.

You would be wrong.

As much as I love immersing myself in others’ books and love sharing my stories, a book has never really been a goal. As close as I’ve gotten to it is a self-published book of poems (20-something angst for the win) and maybe a day would come that I would put together some of my favorite essays together in a compilation.

But a book?

A book with a BIG IDEA?

Research?

Drafts?

Interviews?

More drafts?

A book proposal?

*whispers* a publisher?

Never actually crossed my mind…until one of my mentors, whose books have had a huge impact on my career, put a bug in my ear.

“You should write a book.”

nervous chuckle

Fast forward two weeks and I had to come to terms with the truth: I’ve actually had an idea for the first book I want to write for a couple of years but I’ve been afraid to start writing because I feel like a failure as a writer.

I’ve also been waiting for someone more accomplished than me to write the book.

They haven’t.

So, I guess I have to because the big idea is in my head and it needs to get the hell out somehow.

Welcome to the next big journey of my life.

This is going to be painful, for all of us probably, so thanks in advance for your support and patience.

I will also accept support in the form of whiskey and coffee, please and thank you.

So, tell me, what’s the next big goal on your list?

With love,

Berrak

(Pssst…if you know someone who might like these newsletters, maybe share it with them?)

What Caught My Eye | #1

Just some random topics from this week

📚 This is something that hit me on a very personal level. As someone who literally hasn’t put books down since I was 4 years old, the past few years have been difficult for me because I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to and then going into a shame spiral about it. Turns out, there may be a deeper reason.

💃I’m sure you’ve seen the French Olympic logo but if you haven’t seen this thread on who she is, you’re truly missing out.

🙄 Did you know that we’ve been complaining about the “decline of the younger generation” since 624 BCE? According to research, the pervasiveness of “kids these days” complaints across the millennia "suggests that these criticisms are neither accurate nor due to the idiosyncrasies of a particular culture or time."

📑 Would you like a simit? One of the defining foods of my childhood and Turkish identity as a whole was just added to the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “a type of bread often coated with molasses and covered in sesame seeds, originating in Turkey.”

Now I’m homesick again…

The Nostalgia Conundrum

Hello from somewhere in the air…

2019 has been the year of “homecomings” for me, both personally and professionally. If you’ve spent any time talking to me or have read anything I’ve written, you know that an important part of my journey has been remembering the defining moments of my past as I move forward in life. Personally, before I moved to Seattle, my prominent years were split between two places I called home: Turkey, and the Washington, DC area.

Nostalgia is a huge source of inspiration for me and reconnecting with familiar places opens the floodgates (I have pages and pages of handwritten notes I have yet to convert to essays from my summer trip to Turkey).

When returning home, it can be fun to revisit the places that defined your experiences. When I went back to Turkey, it was an incredible experience to go to the Aegean coast and experience it as an adult. It reignited a passion in me that had been lost for years.

But how important is it to visit every single place where a defining moment took place? Yes, it’s important to acknowledge how far you’ve come, how much you’ve healed, but there’s a line that can cross into traumatizing yourself all over again.

It has been a few years since I’ve been back in Washington, DC. A part of me was all gung-ho about revisiting the neighborhood where I lived before I moved to Seattle. I wanted to walk the streets that saw some of the toughest years of my life to remind myself of my strength, but when the time came, my feet were encased in cement.

Was it really necessary? Did I need to relive the trauma to validate the healing I’ve worked so hard for over the past 7 years?

The answer was no.

Thinking about the way I experience nostalgia in my personal life, I came to the startling conclusion that I’ve been doing the same thing in my professional life in a way that’s been counterproductive.

The reason I was in the Washington, DC area this past week was to speak at a conference. It wasn’t my first time speaking at a conference but it was my first time at this particular conference, which was a homecoming moment because I hadn’t been back since the first time I attended as a consultant years ago. (Funny thing about the passage of time - I kept thinking it was 6 years ago that I attended this conference but my records tell me that it was 2015). Being able to say that I now got to speak at the conference that opened many doors for me professionally was incredible.

But I had to remember to stop myself there.

I don’t know about you but I tend to get stuck in the past.

I refer to milestone projects from years ago, instead of highlighting the accomplishments of today.

If I don’t actively have a present mindset, I let impostor syndrome take over, making me shrink when surrounded by my peers and mentors.

Anyone who was at MarketingProfs B2BForum this year will attest to the fact that there was no shrinking. In addition to my session, I was on camera for 2 different interviews as an industry expert. I had engaging conversations with other experts who I absolutely would consider mentors but I did not just nod along. I interjected with my insights when the conversation called for it.

Nostalgia is not a weakness, unless we get stuck in the comfort zone of the past, never allowing ourselves to move forward when the time comes.

Think of it this way.

How credible would a 2020 trends article be if the most recent piece of data cited was from 2015?

That's my challenge to you this week. Reflect on the way you talk about your accomplishments. Are you still referring to milestones from years ago, completely neglecting the work you've accomplished since then?

Wishing you forward momentum,

Berrak


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