My Thoughts

All posts in the My Thoughts category

An ‘Expert,’ Huh? Who Isn’t These Days?

Published August 2, 2010 by heatherksmith

Do you ever wonder what constitutes an ‘expert?’ I considered my professors in college experts, I trust my doctor to be an expert, my mechanic, my two year-old niece an aficionado of cuteness, you get the idea.

Other than my niece whose expertise is self-evident, most experts carry some type of credential. A degree, license, certification. But there’s a plethora of ‘experts’ rising out there without any specific diplomas or alma mater that prove their so-called proficiency.

Enter social media experts.

Once social media became more than sites for high school and college students to procrastinate during finals week and evolved into an effective tool for marketing, advertising, and public relations, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. But no one had mastered steering the wagon.

I open invite after invite to social media webinars, workshops, and conferences. All of which presented by an ‘expert.’ There’s always debate about the proper use of Facebook, Twitter etiquette, LinkedIn strategy, etc. I often wonder how many of these debaters actually understand what they’re talking about. How many actually HAVE and USE a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIN Account or write his or her own blog?

The best lessons I’ve learned in social media are from people who refuse to call themselves experts. They work with various forms of social media everyday for a variety of businesses, nonprofits, organizations, associations, etc. They spend time studying, reading, and testing best practices while working to find a way to measure its success.

They’ll tell you there is no ‘cookie cutter’ method behind social media. Let’s face it, there isn’t. What’s effect for one person may be completely opposite for someone else.

If you’re looking for a tutorial on the social media ropes, seek out someone who fits your needs. Are you in the travel and tourism industry? Medical field? Education? There’s probably someone who fits your niche. Take Beth Kanter for example, she’s an expert on nonprofit technology and just wrote a new book, The Networked Nonprofit. She’s well known in the nonprofit world because she knows what she’s talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty capable people out there. But don’t be fooled be everyone who has ‘expert’ on a business card.


Just So You Know…You Sound Like A Total Jerk Right Now

Published May 23, 2010 by heatherksmith
I try to live by the advice my mother gave me that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’ll admit that sometimes that’s easier said than done, but I give it my best effort.  But some people don’t try as hard as I do, if they even try at all.
A good amount of people seem to think that adding one of the following phrases into a sentence makes any comment he or she makes OK. Guess what, it doesn’t. I may not be a communications expert, but if you often use this lingo in every-day conversation, I highly recommended you stop. Check it out:
  1. I’m just being honest……
    Has this sentence ever been followed or preceded by something nice? You never hear, “I’m just being honest, but you look great today!” Nope, it’s always nasty. Before using this phrase, think to yourself, am I being honest, or a total jerk? Is it a fact that girl is annoying, or am I just in a bad mood today?
  2. Just so you know…..
    Again, does good news ever follow this?  Nope, never. Think about it, “Just so you know, your boyfriend is cheating on you,” “Just so you know, your butt looks huge in that.” Just so you know, when you use this phrase, you’re being an ass.
  3. I would want to know…..
    Yes, I’m sure you would wan’t to know that your hair looks terrible that way or the sound of your voice resembles nails on a chalkboard. This seemed like a good idea to you why?
  4. Bless his/her heart…..
    I love this one. It’s usually used to make saying something mean behind someone’s back perfectly acceptable. By all means, go ahead and verbally degrade someone, just as long as you ‘bless his/her heart’ afterwards.

I’m just being honest, but I these comments never make for a good conversation. Just so you know, you should probably take my mom’s advice. After all, I would want to know if I was being a jerk. I hope you liked this post. Bless your heart.

7 Reasons You’re the Best Mom

Published May 10, 2010 by heatherksmith

Today is for all the moms in the world. Where would we be without you? All of the kissed ouchies, the proud hugs, the shoulder to cry on, and the advice have been everything we ever needed and more. Moms, you are amazing.

I, of course, have an unfair bias to one mother in particular. My mother, Janelle, is the world’s greatest in my eyes. So Mom, I’d like to let you know what makes you the best.

  1. Ravishing through the jungle of curls that were my hair as a toddler. Yes, I had those gorgeous little ringlets that were totally cheek-pinch worthy. Can you imagine trying to comb through those on a 2 year-old? Thanks for not shaving my head, Mom.
  2. Spider Seek and Destroy: Thank you for all the nights of saving me from the spiders the size of a penny or smaller. What would I have done without you!
  3. Doctor Office Therapist: Mom, I can’t thank you enough for all the times you held my hand (or even held down my entire body) every time I had to get a shot. Not that that has changed much.
  4. My Biggest Fan: You cheered me on at everything you could-The concerts, the pageants, the FCCLA events, the plays, the basketball and football games, the cross-country meets. I swear you must have had a clone to be in so many places! How did you do it?!
  5. My Handkerchief: You did more than your fair share of wiping my tears throughout high school over broken hearts and gossip. Thanks for all of those late night chats, pep talks, and hugs.
  6. Doing the Work of Two: You got us through some rough times, Mom. Now that I’m older, I look back and realize how truly amazing you were. So many people would have just crumbled and given up. But not you. God blessed Justin and me by giving us you as a mother.
  7. The Best Friend: I couldn’t ask for more, a mother and BFF in one. No one knows me better than you. I have more fun with you than anyone else in the world. Not so many people can be so lucky.

I love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day! I hope I can be a mom just like you someday!

My 5 Email Response Pet Peeves

Published May 3, 2010 by heatherksmith

From bigpresh on Flickr

I should start out by saying I by no means consider myself an internet or social media etiquette guru. But I am an expert on things that irritate me. I bet you can relate to some of my gripes, like these:

My 5 E-mail Response Pet Peeves

1. The ‘Half Answer’

Hello Professor John Doe,
Did you receive the paper I e-mailed you? Also, would it be possible to get another copy of the syllabus?

Yes, I received your paper. 


So does that mean I can’t get another syllabus? Fresh out? Did you miss that part? Is there a 1 answer limit to your messages? You do realize I’m going to e-mail you again, right?

2.  The ‘Work Around the Question’

Hello Mr. X,
I know that biology 101 is required to graduate. Would it be possible to substitute chemistry? If so, how do I go about doing this?

It is possible to substitute certain classes to make graduation requirements.

Mr. X

Soooooo, I take that as a yes? That’s what you meant, right?

3. The’ Blatant Avoidance’

Hello Mr. Smith from Tech Support,
I e-mailed you a few weeks ago about my computer problem. The steps you told me to follow didn’t work. I’ve tried to get into contact with for the past 3 weeks by phone and e-mail. What’s going on? What should I do?

Hello customer.

Your inquiry has been sent to a new representative. They will be with you soon.

Customer Support

What happened to Mr. Smith? Did he quit or something?  I’m beginning to think you guys don’t know the answer. Are you avoiding me? If you don’t know the answer, please just tell me that. I’ll never e-mail you again, I promise. Because I’ll be e-mailing someone that can fix the problem!

4. The ‘One-Worder’

Hello Mr. Smith,
Do you have all of the information you need from me? If not, I’d be more than happy to provide you with more.


Well, at least you answered the question. Did you have a major scheduling conflict that prevented your from typing a full sentence? Just didn’t feel like talking much today? You may as well have not answered at all, which leads me to…

5. The’ Oh-So-Common No Reply’

Hello Sir,
I’m inquiring as to whether or not you received my application and resume. Is the position still open?


Um, did you get my message? Or is this a way to tell me I’ve been rejected? Could you at least take the minute to type out and send “We did receive your information, but the position has been filled. Good luck on your job search.”

Thanks for listening to my ranting. It feels good to have gotten that off my chest.

I Won’t Be Blind to 39.8 Million

Published March 29, 2010 by heatherksmith

My tendency to drift off into thought was in high effect this weekend while I pulled weeds at Steele Indian School Park in honor of Cesar Chavez Day with HandsOn Greater Phoenix. With each pull I reminisced about home, thought about grad school in Denver, wondered how it was possible I was sweating and getting sunburnt in March, and craved some boneless wings from Applebee’s. The usual.

My mind eventually wandered to poverty. Part of the VISTA experience is living below the poverty line. For the past 7 months, I’ve been living off of a modest stipend and grocery shopping with food stamps. I suppose you could call me poor, and every so often things get a little frustrating (Remember my post about my car’s transmission going out? Well, that still isn’t fixed). But being single, no children, and in my 20-somethings, I’ve been able to make it work just fine.

What I mainly pondered over as I uprooted desert weeds was the fact that so many people look negatively at and stereotype the impoverished. Honestly, it’s something that now breaks my heart.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. “Why don’t they just get a job?” “They’re  living off the government.” “They’re just too lazy to work.” “Waste of my tax dollars.” It goes far beyond words…

When you were a little kid, did your parents want you playing at the ‘poor kid’s’ house? Was that kid and his/her family considered ‘dirty?’ What about that family you knew with an alcoholic parent? That was their problem, right? How about when you see someone begging on the street? Do you just look past them, pretend they’re not there?

Some of the most recent data I found regarding poverty came from a press release from the US Census Bureau in September of 2009 . According to their research, about 13.2% of americans lived below the poverty level in 2008. That means nearly 39.8 million people were living in poverty!

Could that possibly be each of their own faults? Do you really think they’re all  purposely trying to ‘just live off the government?’ Maybe there are some people out there who try to slide by and live off of benefits or have managed to put themselves in financial despair. But I don’t believe there are over 39 million.

Think about that ‘poor kid’ who you weren’t suppose to play with. Was it their fault they were born into poverty? No, it wasn’t.  It wouldn’t be their fault if it was because their mother or father had an alcohol or gambling addiction either. 

The people on the streets are really there, even if you try not to see them. Do you believe they choose to sleep on the streets and beg? Do you trully think that they are ‘just too lazy’ to provide a home for their children? I don’t.

I also don’t believe it’s that easy for someone to ‘just get a job.’  If you had someone in tattered clothing you expected of living on the streets walk into your restaurant/store asking for a job, would your hire them? I don’t doubt that there are people out there that would, but be completely honest with yourself. Would you?

I’m no expert on poverty, and I’ve only been living below the poverty line for a few months. Like I said, I’m making it work just fine (food, a warm house, and a little bit of money on the side). My family went through some rought times when I was a kid, but my mother and father were always able to provide for me. I also know that if I really needed it, my mother could help me now. Sadly, that’s not the case for everyone.

I was fortunate. I still am very fortunate. But I refuse to be blind to the 39.8 million that aren’t. I’m proud to be spending this year trying to make a difference.

Moved by the phote? Check out more by Ed Yourdon here.