Bryan Lindenberger

Résumé, portfolio, published articles and more at BryanBerg.net

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When marketable strengths lead you away from personal goals

It seems crazy to leave a great job after only a year. Solid corporate growth with an outstanding product points to long term, personal advancement. I savor the company culture of constant innovation, and I appreciate better each day that industrial manufacturing is high tech.

The leadership truly cares about its workers and community, a fact that came home when the president honored our veteran workers with a Veterans Day luncheon. I love the company.

The moment I decided to leave came when I recently put a portfolio together. As with most people these days, I keep my ear out, and the application asked for writing samples from the past three years.
I once had quite a lot to choose from. Feature articles for newspapers and consumer magazines, some scholarly research and related published contributions, marketing and feasibility studies for business, reports to major institutions that reflected my expansion of education programs, and major contributions to awarded grants.

This time around, I had press releases (nearly 150 to choose from) and related blogs, web content, and social media materials. I was not so much suddenly, but now exclusively, in marketing.

Years ago as project director, I had written press releases, created web and social media content, and worked with the press. But I had not seen these things as an end in themselves. Marketing served the purpose of growing the projects I loved. I had goals. I followed data. I knew audience and created narrative. Every piece (or byte) of content served a purpose.

Now, I was writing press releases that served no particular strategy or even logistics I knew (I asked!) except that I was told to. "Make it interesting, Bryan. And post about it. On Facebook. Because it's Tuesday, and we post to Facebook on Tuesdays."

This acknowledgement is not a complaint:

Nearly all employed people find themselves in a similar position.
Whether it is a feature writer who finds her gift for 140 character Tweets more marketable, an artist in demand for corporate logo design, or an outreach specialist for Autism Spectrum kids who is hired at a community college writing center, we all give in to what the market demands to move along in our respective careers.

It’s a remarkable win any time someone is willing to invest in hiring you. My personal decision to leave an easy life isn’t advice, and it would be foolish advice for nearly anyone. Probably even me.

But in some cases, for some people, a course correction is worth the gamble. Having an ear out while employed is one thing. Missing one day of work for a first interview followed by three more for travel to a second I simply have not found tenable. It's more a problem of logistics than ethics. Time to go!


Bryan Lindenberger has worked in digital communications since 1996. He caught the bug for entrepreneurialism and assisting small business while at the Arrowhead Entrepreneurial Institute at NMSU, and for community service while with the National Science Foundation for New Mexico State University. His clients have ranged from Disney Television to small farms in New Mexico. He maintains a hobby website and portfolio at bryanberg.net and invites connections and correspondence.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Think of your page header as less of a chapter title, more as a newspaper headline

You go to the bookstore, and you pick up a book. It’s titled, Migratory Patterns of Birds in Eastern North America.
So you’re a bit of a nerd if that’s what you bought, but so far so good. You get home and leaf through it. There are various chapters with titles such as “The North American Thrush” or “Great Blue Heron.”

You’re interested in the chapter on “Great Blue Herons.” You already have the book in your hands, you know it’s about migratory habits, and what you want to know about is the migratory habits of Great Blue Herons.
What you get instead is information on how to identify these birds. But you can already do that! Reading further, you get more pictures and then information on their mating habits. Somewhat related to migration, but it doesn’t go into any detail about migratory flight patterns.
Welcome to the Internet at its worst, and the world of bad header <H1> tags: the basic html tag that visually defines the title of a page or post. It usually appears at or near the top of a webpage as the largest text. If you don't work in HTML but use a content management system such as WordPress or Drupal, no worries. It is the page's headline, and you've probably seen it referred to as <h1>.
Now open a newspaper. Any newspaper, it doesn’t matter what title or what town because it’s filled with AP and API stories. Instead of chapters, you now see headlines.
And the headlines tell you exactly what the article is about. Whether it’s the Dallas Sunor the Backwater Daily, the headline now reads: “SpaceX makes aerospace history with successful launch and landing of used rocket.” Grabbed that one today and exactlywhat I was looking for.
Welcome to the Internet at its best, and the world of great header <H1> tags.
It comes naturally to us when writing a news headline or blog. But we often still think in terms of books rather than newspapers when building a website.
That is, our Main/Home/Front/Index page gives the title and subject matter. Supporting pages go into detail. Our home page makes clear we sell shoes. Supporting pages might be titled and have the header, “Platforms.”
But guess what? In 2017, when content marketing is no longer a catch-phrase but a reality, few new users are entering your website through the front page.
Whether through search engines or social, new users are skipping past the obligatory nonsense and going straight to what they want to know.
Your page "titles" (referring here to the header or <H1> tag, not the meta tag) should be limited to one per page and as explicit and attention-grabbing as a great headline.
Where I work, we have a product called the HP XX, the Xs standing for numbers. I Googled it. I came up with printer cartridges made by Hewlett-Packard. Note: I don’t work for Hewlett-Packard.
But that’s what I found even though we don’t make printer cartridges. We make Widgets. So Widgets should be in our headlines, no matter how many pages deep.
Stop thinking of your website as a book with chapter titles. Every page is a landing page with unique and useful content. Every page's <H1> is your headline.
Bryan Lindenberger is not a guru and this article does not link to a “Read the Full Article” page with a self-published book to sell.
But he has worked in digital communications since 1996. He caught the bug for entrepreneurialism and assisting small business while at the Arrowhead Entrepreneurial Institute at NMSU, and for community service while with the National Science Foundation. His clients have ranged from Disney Television to small farms in New Mexico. He maintains a hobby website and portfolio at bryanberg.net and invites open correspondence and connections.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Are you more risk averse as an associate than as a leader?

There are people who drive their own car as though it’s made from million dollar eggshells. Built "Ford Tough" but gotta protect their rims: they cross the tracks like it's a minefield. But put them in a rental…the road terror comes out to see if they can clear the tracks at 120 mph.
I’m not one of those people. And if you are, there’s no reason to read further – you’re set.
The rest of us will take personal risks with the things we own. But we shy away from taking risks with the things others own.
That can be car, a website, or an advertising campaign. On our own, we’ll try anything because we own it and are willing to test it. But when a chance needs taken on another’s behalf, we become overly-cautious, afraid of breaking someone else’s stuff.
In my case, it seems like yesterday where I led a sizeable staff, had dozens of students, volunteers, and others depending on me. I took chances, sometimes big ones. When something didn’t work, I knew it fell on me to fix…and fast! Lots of midnight oil burned there, and our outcomes were often amazing.
With career change, I’ve been in a non-leadership role for a while now. It’s a pattern for three years counting, and there is no one to blame but myself. Familiar? It goes like this:
Here is something that needs done, can you do it?
I don’t know…here are the obstacles, so I might not—
An associate pipes up: Let me try!
The associate gets the gig.
Nine times out of ten, they screw it up for a while. You might even be the one who fixes it, but guess what? Everything works out and the sun still rises the next day. The person who took the risk on someone else’s behalf got it done. You’re the person who didn’t try.
Remember, it’s the role of the director to be risk-averse, not yours. So get over yourself. If you are considered to take a challenge, it’s because that leader trusts you enough to take the heat for themselves when things don’t go smoothly at first.
Better yet, you are working for someone who is not in the least risk averse and admires a can do spirit. Either way, you will be remembered for the chances you took, the challenges you met head on and not what you broke along the way.
We’ve all seen the ADVANCED tab in software.
We’ve all felt that moment of hesitation before the click, before diving in. But dive in you must. If you couldn’t be trusted with it, it wouldn’t be there. With the right attitude, you might find yourself in a position to take your own chances again, and not someone else’s. You’ll be much more comfortable there.

From Bryan Lindenberger at LinkedIn

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Seeking the Land of Enchantment

Sundays are a good day for weekly rumination and prayer, even when not particularly religious.
So I was 24 and up at Fenton Lake, NM in February. My girlfriend - very smart and quite ambitious - lived in El Paso, TX. This was my day off from that sort of long distance relationship, and I went hiking alone.
Recorded some bird calls, listened to snow fall from the pines, and quickly filled my boots with slush trying to walk across the frozen lake. My feet were cold, I laughed that I might lose a toe.
I got back to my little sports car just as snow began to fall at dusk. Rock back and forth as I might, that car wasn't going to move anywhere - digging in deeper.
Purely, inarguably, stuck.
With the smell of burning oil and rubber around me, I decided to stay the night. And the night got cold. Fast. Cold and fast as a slap across the face.
Remember thinking that there were worse places to freeze. I'd heard - sweaty as I was from shoveling - that hypothermia wasn't the worst way to go. In fact, the last thing you'd feel was sort of warmth. I liked that. I'd either see morning or experience that warmth. Foolish or not, that seemed the choice.
While I still had some battery left, I put a song on the casette tape deck. I slept for a bit, and the night fell black as pitch outside.
I woke, and simply pulled out of the space.
It must have been a Sunday.
"Someone or something watched out for me today," I thought.
Too giddy, I got lost along the drive home and didn't care. A 90 minute drive turned into hours taking weird turns around Los Alamos. There, the hum in the air puts Taos to shame.
Made it to Jemez. Chatted with an Indian at a convenience store around midnight while devouring the Lays chips he sold me. So hungry, I couldn't shovel them into my face fast enough.
Drove home to Albuquerque, got there after two, and didn't call that gal I knew in El Paso even though I'd promised, didn't listen to the messages she'd left for me. The bed was too warm, and I floated into it surprised at how hard it was to sleep.
Next thing I knew, it was late morning.
So why could I suddenly pull away from a place where I was stuck? Why had I settled into just staying in the comfort of a bad situation when exit was so simple? What was the purpose? There probably was none.
Probably just easily quantifiable and basic bullshit at work here, slush freezing to ice on the tires to take hold for that one lucky moment. Why blame God on a Sunday for physics?
But if there ever was a purpose to not freezing there, to not finding that warmth of never having to wake again, suffering fools and asking permission to turn sideways at a mundane job for which you are not suited just to keep public stock options safe most likely isn't it.
Why safe?
Who does it benefit?
What is a better way to spend your night?
Here is an image of Fenton Lake in summer.

Introverts: Never Make the Coffee

Never make the coffee. I’m gearing this short article toward the more introverted among us. Too often, we attempt to fit in by taking on tasks and “small favors” for which we were not hired or even suited. Such behavior is never good for your career.
Working at the Entrepreneurial Institute at New Mexico State University, our CEO and former state governor would, in fact, come in and make the coffee. But academia tends to have flatter hierarchies – at least among staff. They are less risk-averse and have more open communication structures than most institutions. Students and administrative assistants regularly attended high-level meetings and not to take notes. Their perspectives and experiences were valued equally as part of the conversation.
Associates know and remember you by your most immediate utility.
Most businesses, outside of more progressive industries such as high tech, are understandably more risk averse. Roles and the inherent value of those roles are starkly defined. Introverts will, in a misguided attempt to seem outgoing or even to ingratiate themselves, too often volunteer for mundane duties. If you are a young engineer or graphic designer who volunteers to take notes at a particular meeting, be prepared to find your role become that of Official Keeper of the Minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve

Hiking Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve in Alchua County - Hawthorne, Florida.

With 3000 acres of pine forest to explore near Gainesville, this is one of those cases where maps point you to the forest without you knowing where to park, or even from which street. I added a parking lot to Google Maps to help you on your way! It is an off-street, earthen area that is fenced in and you'll have no problem with any type of vehicle.


More including map to get there, trail map, and info at:
BryanBerg.net >> Live Florida Beauty >> Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve

Some pics! :-)

Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve - Alachua County

Morning Fog Hiking Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve

Sunlight Breaks through along the Hike


Hiking Adventure Begins at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve

http://bryanberg.net/longleaf-flatwoods-reserve.html

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Alachua County
Gainesville, Florida
Entry Fee: $5 per vehicle

You won't identify this many birds just anywhere!

 

Sweetwater Wetlands Park doesn't offer great hiking. What it does offer is a three and a half of wheelchair accessible strolling with some of the best wetlands birding opportunities you will find in central Florida. Those couple of miles can take you hours if you stop to absorb the sites and take each of the beautiful, absorbing boardwalks.



Great Blue Heron

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks

Limpkin


More at BryanBerg.net
Live Florida Beauty - Sweetwater Wetlands Park