5 Types of People To Keep at Arms Length

“People inspire you, or they drain you. Pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen.

Wise words, wouldn’t you agree?

If you take a quick inventory of all those in your life, you’ll naturally be drawn to those who inspire you. Conversely, we naturally tend to keep our distance from those who cause drama and conflict.

And then there’s the personality types that you could do without. These are people in your life where you have to set boundaries. Boundaries that are ultimately drawn to prevent getting hurt.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s there are certain types of people that need to be kept at bay. Specific individuals that need to be shown tremendous kindness and love, yet not allowed too close because their destructive tendencies will only get you emotionally burned. 

Here’s a list of those top 5 types of people that all need love, but need to stay at arms length.

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People who are hyper-critical.

Everyone knows someone like this. (at some point we’ve all most likely been this person)

The hyper-critical person is someone who criticizes everything. They’re critical of all your everyday activities from your bank, to your auto mechanic, your job, and those they work with. The hyper-critical isn’t content with what they have, and every problem that needs solving has to be solved their way or nothing at all. If someone else suggests a method for accomplishing a specific chore, the hyper-critical person considers them the enemy and gets pushed away.

And there’s nothing wrong with good ole fashioned, honest feedback. Nothing at all. That’s how we grow; by receiving feedback that helps us understand our failings. But action needs to be taken with people who engage in perpetual criticism. Perpetual criticism is different than honest feedback, as long as it’s given with care. When criticism doesn’t offer some sort of solution, and fails to be constructive, then you need to consider establishing boundaries around this person. Don’t get rid of them, but you definitely need to think about how to quickly disassociate yourself from them. Bad things come from those who are hyper-critical.

People who are impatient or easily frustrated.

Individuals who become easily frustrated at things or display signs of great impatience are dangerous because this type of personality is typically narcissistic in nature.

You can spot a narcissist a mile away, assuming you know what traits to look for. A narcissistic personality is one which people have traits that cause them to behave in upsetting ways. Their ability to function in relationships is limited, and areas of their life suffer, such as their professional life and personal life. 

Here’s how to spot someone that’s impatient, or a potential narcissist.

  • They’re conceited and always talk about the conquers of their battles.
  • They’re always talking about who they know, and what they’ve done.
  • This person is often times boastful.
  • This person often monopolizes conversations.
  • They belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior.
  • When they don’t get what they want, they stomp their feet in anger like Rumpelstiltskin.  

Those who are impatient or easily frustrated are also the folks who get themselves in trouble because of their penchant to leap before looking. These are family members who burn bridges, colleagues who make perpetual hiring errors, and friends who constantly make poor investments. Making fast decisions and failing quickly is one thing, but being impatient when your goals are being obstructed is cause for concern. Impatient people hate being held up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or not. 

Love those who are easily frustrated and impatient, but do your best to keep space between you and them. 

People who are passive-aggressive.

You’re the sum of the five people who you interact with most.

Naturally, you should desire to interact with those who are direct, and willing to talk through conflict, rather than avoid it. Those who are passive-aggressive don’t possess this quality. I’m not one to say things like ‘get rid of people‘ but those that are passive-aggressive need to go. Don’t surround yourself with them. 

Passive aggressive types have great difficulty receiving feedback, and passive aggression is deadly in the workplace as well as in life. Vulnerability through the sharing of feedback is needed, especially in the workplace, in order for growth and progress to happen. You can’t be vulnerable with passive aggression. 

People who over promise and under deliver.

These are the people in your life that say they’ll do something, but don’t get it done.

The people that commit to one thing and most times don’t deliver. These are yes-men, the ‘A’ types in your life, the sales people, and the ones that rarely take a step back to examine a problem before diving right in. Usually those who over promise are hiding. They’re hiding behind insecurities, and are simply trying to impress everyone around them instead of being an independent thinker. 

Think about a task or a project that you recently handed off to someone. Why did you give this task to them? You trust them. You believe in them. You know they’ll deliver. These people in your life are the ones who you can count on. They’re committed. 

Surround yourself with those who have good critical thinking ability, while passing on those who are simple yes-men.

People who are bullies.

Want to know the best way to identify a bully? Watch who and what they laugh at.

Bullies are arrogant. They don’t laugh at themselves. They instead laugh at others, and they rarely self-deprecate. If somebody makes fun of others but isn’t self deprecating, they’re a taker and not a giver.

Ever hear a loud-mouthed talk show host make a self-deprecating joke? Probably not. Bullies make great television and radio personalities, for sure. I keep those at arms length who can’t laugh at themselves and have zero friends who aren’t objective about themselves and others.

There’s an entire myriad of problems that’s associated with this type of person. Bullies tend to protect others on the condition that others submit. Bullies also use force, threat, or physical manipulation to abuse and dominate others. The behavior of bullies is often repeated and habitual. If you have friends or colleagues who are bullies, I’d keep my distance if I were in your shoes. That’s an unhealthy relationship. 

Are you one of these people?

As I was writing this, I was really challenged. There were a number of times that I had to stop and do some introspection.

Do I display character flaws that need correction? Am I any of these personality types?

Are you? What do you need to change in your life in order to become better?

9 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy [Including Presidential Elections]

Americans love their politics. I’m no exception.

I love political election seasons. I love watching the ridiculousness of presidential campaigns, the craziness of our countries delegate process, and I enjoy watching highlights of various political races from around the country.

And it’s important. Politics, I mean. It’s important because who we elect impacts the future of how our municipalities govern its citizens.

But politicians and our political process won’t make you happy. I am constantly surprised at how many people I know feel that government should help them by creating a false state of happiness.

Our nation’s political system was never derived from the need to satisfy someone’s lack of a fulfilling lifestyle.

And in this tumultuous season of presidential elections, I’m learning about the things I need to give up in order to be happy. (politics included)

So I created a list of 9 things that will make your life a lot easier, when you give up on them. These are things we typically cling to, concepts we feel should serve us because we embrace them. It’s time to let these things go and ultimately be stress free.

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1. No one likes a Cliff Clavin. (give up always being right)

I hate being wrong. When it happens, I feel foolish. I can’t stand the notion of not being right, and having this result impact my credibility. I’m sure you can relate. Often times when we end up being wrong about something in a conversation, we’ll sacrifice that relationship by attacking the other person just be right when it’s clear as crystal that we’re dead wrong. The feeling of always having to be right often times comes from pride and a sense of ego. To truly be happy, you need to give this up. Embrace being wrong. Instead of having your family or coworkers label you as a ‘Cliff Clavin’ (which is not a compliment) set aside your pride and be willing to be wrong. (Cliff was always right, and never wrong) The outcome of this act is joy in the humility of the moment.

2. Surrender. (give up your need for control)

In order to find happiness, you’re going to need to relinquish control of everything that was never in your control in the first place. It’s called surrender. Surrender is the act of giving up the need to control everything around you. To find joy in your circumstance, you need to learn how to give up controlling life and controlling people. It’s hard, I know. I tend to be a control freak with certain things, and choosing to allow others to freely work or live is difficult. Letting go of life, and trusting God with things is proving to be my biggest challenge. But when I do, I learn to freely live. When surrender happens, and when I choose to trust through surrender, I learn the valuable lesson of what it means to live intentionally. Psalm 118:8 says “It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in humans.” Learn to live without restriction and without control through the action of surrender.

3. Give up on blame.

Quick story; I used to work with a person who’s only goal in our meetings was finding blame. This person was rarely about finding solutions, and more about who we can burn at the stake. It was stressful to work with them. Our team dreaded meetings with this person because their only goal was to find fault. (our team even began avoiding including them in decisions) In the book Difficult Conversations, the author says “blame inhibits our ability to learn what’s really causing the problem and to do anything meaningful to correct it. Blame is about judging and looks backward.

Finding blame in a situation is not helpful. The goal should always be to find contribution. Contribution is about understanding and looks forward. If you have someone on your team, or in your life, who’s only aspiration is to tattoo someone because of some sort of failing, then maybe it’s time to get rid of them, or at very least keep them at arm’s length. There are a lot of gray areas in life, and life isn’t always black or white. That said, it’s not always 100% someone’s fault for every situation. Give up finding fault and blame, seek something more productive.

4. Give up living a defeated lifestyle.

This is one I’ve struggled with until very recently. It’s one of the most dangerous mindsets to live in. Many people I meet struggle with a self-defeating attitude. And they’re only hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted mentality. The trick is to not let yourself believe everything your mind is telling you. We have so much more hope than what’s in our minds, and what’s on this earth. Our minds are incredible tools that are capable of awesome things like feats of ingenuity and amazing acts of inspiration. But our minds can also be our worst weapon against anything that’s good, righteous, and praiseworthy. Focus on these things, and avoid an ethos that robs you of being better than the sum of your thoughts.

5. Stop complaining.

Some of the happiest people in the world, go home smelling to high heaven at the end of each day.” – Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty.

Impoverished kids without shoes in Guatemala have the right to complain. Children in the Middle East that live in fear because of the constant threat of violent attacks from terrorist groups, have the right to complain. Those who are homeless, poor, or disabled, definitely have the right to complain.

The fact that you don’t get your McDonald’s happy meal in three and a half minutes is nothing to lose sleep over. The fact that your little Tommy or Tammy isn’t getting enough playing time on their hockey team, or soccer squad, doesn’t give you the right to lament about it. Nor do you have the right to criticize your boss or coworker for not choosing your idea over theirs. I hate labels, and I’m cautious of labeling perpetual complainers as narcissistic, but there’s truth to it. Most perpetual complainers are selfish and utterly miserable inside. Nobody can make you unhappy, and no circumstance can force you into a state of misery unless you let it. Give up your constant need to complain, and instead spend your energy on learning how to be grateful.

6. Stop trying to impress others.

I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Don’t try to work to impress others. You’ll undoubtedly fail because you’re going to miss someone’s expectations, somewhere along the line. Stop trying to be something that you’re not just to make others like you, and ultimately impress them. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, and the moment you take off all your masks, is the moment you’ll be able to accept and embrace the real you.

7. Give up on your fears.

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t really exist. Fear isn’t even an emotion; rather it’s a false sense of being created in our minds. Fear is meant as a tool to be used by the devil himself to render us weak and useless. In the book, Outwitting the Devil, by Napoleon Hill, the author has a direct one on one conversation with the devil himself. In it, Hill uncovers that the devil’s two most powerful weapons to weaken and destroy humanity is fear and addiction. Fear because of the aforementioned, and addiction because it weakens the mind of independent thought. Give up on fear. And a fearless, independent thinker can accomplish awesome things.

8. Give up on the past.

Recently I made a trip to Palm Beach Florida. While there I met an awesome couple from New Jersey named Karen and George. They were enjoying life after a year of terrible tragedy. George was hit by a truck while crossing the street, and flipped over the vehicle that struck him. He could’ve been paralyzed, or even killed. The worst thing that happened to George: A snapped Achilles tendon and some skin grafts to help heal the ankle wound. Talking with them both was extremely inspiring. Despite their crappy accident, and the hassles they endured, they chose to give up on the past and are look forward to the future.

Giving up on the past is a hard task, especially when the past looks so much better than the present, while the future appears incredibly frightening. But you need to let it go. The past is a distant memory that will never change your current situation or help you overcome adversity that lie ahead. Learn from it, but seek to live in the moment you’re in now, and plan for the future. Stop punishing yourself with the what-if’s of the past and instead embrace the instant that you’re living in now, and be present in everything you do, while enjoying life.

9. Give up on stuff.

This can be hard to grasp so let me explain.

If you have a garage or spare bedroom (or multiple spare bedrooms) resembling an episode from the hit television show Hoarders, I think it’s safe to say you have attachment issues. Being attached to stuff, to material possessions, means you’re trying to fill some sort of void in your life that’s most likely the result of an unmet need, or wound from your past.

When I moved to Fargo from the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, less than a year ago, I got rid of a ton of stuff. (and I’m definitely not a hoarder, so for me to get rid of a bunch was even more impressive) I got rid of stuff because I was downsizing into a small apartment, for a temporary period of time. In this moving experience, I realized that this life isn’t about me or stuff. It’s about people and relationships. It should be about connecting with others to share the good news, rather than what new toy I picked up on Craigslist.

I know too many people that have tons of stuff, like hunting gear, cars, jets-skis, houses, knick-knacks, and entire buildings of crap, that live a shallow existence. I can never seem to have a deep and meaningful conversation with them because their life is made up of inanimate objects rather than the ability to encourage others through something of substance.

There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, and living with the wealth of things, but the minute you choose things over people, equals a life of emptiness and void. The moment you detach yourself from these same things, you allow yourself to live at peace and in freedom. Free from the confines of possessions that tie you down.

What are some things you’ve given up to be happy? What’s been a driver of joy in your life?

How To Avoid Being Robbed Of Lifes Joys, One Struggle At a Time

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Life has never been easy for me.

There’s never been an ‘simple-street’ that I got to live on.

My journey on this earth has been one challenge after another, and it often times seems like one monumental conflict.

Can you relate?

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

Tourette Syndrome

When I was seven years old, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that involves uncontrollable repetitive movements or unwanted sounds, called tics.

Some tics that are common to those with Tourette’s are repeatedly blinking the eyes, shrugging shoulders, or blurting out offensive words.

Ever see the Rob Schneider movie, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo? There’s a scene where he goes on a date with a lady that’s afflicted with TS. It’s actually a hilarious scene, but definitely not for little eyes, if you know what I mean. This scene will give you an idea of what TS is..albeit a bit skewed.

TS isn’t catchy, or dangerous. I got because someone in my family has it. It’s a genetic disorder. And it sucks.

Because I was diagnosed with TS back in the 80’s, there was very little knowledge about the disorder. Many of those in my life were incredibly ignorant about what I was going through. (my family excluded; they were amazing)

I was labeled a “trouble-maker” and “weird” by school counselors, and mercilessly picked on from the age of seven through middle school. (the harassment died down the bigger and older I got)

TS is a part of me. I embrace it. I don’t run from it. I also don’t have any super-crazy symptoms that you would notice, today.

But if you ever notice me doing a weird motion with my face, I promise I’m not chewing on lemons.

Chunk

If you’ve ever watched the movie The Goonies, you’d undoubtedly remember Chunk. He was the main character’s best buddy, and he was also the resident chubby kid.

I resembled Chunk’s body-type from about eight years old until I turned twelve. At twelve, my body leaned up and I’ve been the same, semi-fit shape ever since.

As you know, kids can be cruel. Not only was having Tourette’s tough, but I was overweight as well. It’s like having two strikes against me for the kids who enjoyed making fun of others.

I got into fights (just a few), struggled with depression, felt lonely and sad. I was suicidal and a very angry young man.

Being overweight was nothing short of terrible, coupled with having Tourette’s.

A brush with death

To add to the messiness of life, I then almost died in horrendous skiing accident in December of 1994. I was skiing over Christmas break with my brothers and was attempting to keep up with them.

Trying to keep up with my brothers was my first mistake, as they’re both much better athletes than I am.

In my feeble attempt to chase them, I decided to hug inanimate object, while traveling at a high speed.

I was rushed to a regional hospital where I was immediately thrown into surgery.

While on the operating table, my blood pressure dropped and my heart stopped.

Twice.

I had lost so much blood because of internal bleeding that my heart was fighting to keep beating. I didn’t know any of this, of course, as I was sedated during surgery, but found out afterwards.

Post surgery, I’ll never forget the conversation with the doctors. I remember the doctors giving me their grim prognosis. They told me that I may not walk again, and probably wouldn’t run again due to the injuries. (I fractured my hip, shattered my pelvis, and broke my tailbone)

Life was not awesome in my teens.

I’m also not sure which was worse: being diagnosed with a weird, neurological disorder, the consequences of being overweight, or being paralyzed for a period of time.

The encouragement of your experience

During all this, I heard something incredibly profound.

I heard a pastor say “your experience is your testimony.

This is one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard. The meaning of this nugget of wisdom is simple: your journey in life, however tumultuous, is a period of time that when shared, can encourage others.

My life-experiences have shaped who I am, today. I’m proud of them. I’m grateful for them, despite the pain.

But my story, and yours, shouldn’t be be kept a secret. The intent is to share them, with the appropriate persons and under the right situation.

The trick is to use your experience as a tool to encourage others to rise above their current pain and become better.

Not finding joy

It’s hard to find joy when you’re in a heartbreaking season. There was a time that I was miserable, going through what I did.

You might have a lot of unhappiness in your life. The idea of joy in your everyday routine may seem like a distant memory.

You might have a physical ailment that’s limiting you. You may be suffering from some rare physical condition that’s not ideal. Or you might have a terrible addiction, or be in a marriage that’s completely dead.

Perhaps you’re living through a time of financial or professional stress. Maybe you’re about to become an empty-nester as your child goes off to college only to be faced with the reality of having to get reacquainted with your spouse after years and years of putting the needs of your kids first, and your marriage second.

Whatever you’re going through, there are definitely plenty of reasons that can keep us from finding joy.

You have 2 choices

As humans we were created with a thing called freewill.

Whatever your circumstance, you have the power of freewill, which is the ability to make choices that affect your overall mindset.

When faced with these times, we have 2 options:

  1. Let your circumstance consume you with fear, anger, and self-doubt.
  2. Choose to use your current condition to as a stepping stone to something bigger.

When the doctors gave me my grave outlook, I was angry. I was so angry. But within a year, I was running, jogging and playing soccer. The joy I found took years to find. I had freewill and made the decision to change my mindset, and as a result, the joy came over time.

With my Tourette’s, instead of avoiding people in public for the fear of ridicule, I chose to walk with my head high and chest out, with a sense of God-given confidence that no one could shatter.

I was determined not to let what I was going through define me or keep me down.

What’s your mindset?

Or are you depressed and playing the victim? Or are you willing to approach life differently by choosing joy, instead of being defeated?

Is your choice to simply say ‘I can’t‘, thus self-defeating yourself before you get started, or is your decision one that finds joy in a mindset that lives in confidence that you can accomplish anything through the power of your Creator.

It’s okay to be emotional

Let me add a disclaimer here, so you don’t think that what I’m saying is some kind of always-be-positive-mantra from a Joel Osteen book, or a Deepak Chopra meme.

It is more than okay to be emotional, when facing a difficult period in your life.

In the book, The Emotionally Church by Peter Scazzero, he’s very clear about grieving. Grieving is a natural part of our DNA as humans. It’s how we were created.

Grieving, and more importantly grieving your limitations, is normal and should be celebrated.

It is okay to allow grief and sadness to be a part of your emotional journey, in order to get through hard times. You need to allow this to be a part of your emotional process.

But you can’t live here forever.

Bitterness, anger, and generally treating people around you like a jerk, is not part of the healing process when experiencing hardships.

And perhaps that’s you. If you’ve spent a period of time in your life, whatever the length, being mean, letting bitterness, anger and frustration rule your emotions then you have some apologizing and reconciling to do. I’d encourage you to do some introspection and then create a list of people that you need to reconcile with, because chances are you’ve allowed your feelings to hurt those around you.

Again, it’s okay to be emotional and extend yourself grace. We are often our worst enemies when it comes to self-criticism. So go easy on yourself, and instead have a plan to grieve, and then eventually you’ll heal and be able to successfully move forward.

Don’t rob yourself

In life you’ll encounter trials. You’ll have moments where you simply want to give up, because you’re facing insurmountable odds. Times where the joy may seem like complete darkness.

But it’s not. Joy is present. It always is.

What are you facing today that is requiring a mindset change, and a good dose of joy?

What joy can you find in your life?

The Dangerous Nature of Not Being Fit in Fargo [part #2]

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In part one of my blog series, I shared how I got fit after a great business trip gone bad (not because of the trip itself, rather due to the terrible food I ate) that gained me weight, while losing me years on my life.

In that piece I talked about things like:

  • How I stuffed my face with greasy food from food trucks.
  • The misery of eating larger portions of home-made-waffle-meals, custom chicken sandwiches, and toasted panini.
  • The misery that ultimately set in after eating unhealthy, large amounts of food.
  • How my CEO and his wife convinced me to “shock” my body through a 4-day cleanse. (I am incredibly grateful for them and their convincing!)

This piece is a follow up to that, complete with step-by-step instructions of how I trimmed down and ultimately put myself in a position to feel better on a daily basis.

Starts with this 

I’m not gonna lie; when my friend and CEO told me about the cleanse, my first thought was “yuck.” 

Why would anyone want to do it? Why would anyone want to drink some nasty drink for 4 days, while starving their bodies?

And what’s this drink? 1 cup of maple syrup, 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus one-part water? That’s just nuts. 

But…I’d never tried it before, I had not experienced a liquid cleanse, nor had I tasted this concoction that my friend was convincing me that would make me feel better. 

My attitude stunk, as did my overall mindset.

If you’re going to get physically healthy, it first starts in your mind. If your attitude sucks, so will the result of any lifestyle change you want to make. 

Get your overall attitude right, and the rest is much easier to fall into place. 

The process

 After I made the decision to get it done, here’s how it works and here’s what you need. 

(note: men and women are different, and the recipe amounts are a bit different as well) 

Essentially, you’ll need organic maple syrup, hand-squeezed lemon juice and water. (a lot of water. I’m talking about fire-hose quantities of water)

Why organic maple syrup?

The maple syrup ingredient part of the cleanse keeps you from passing out. The organic maple syrup gives your body empty calories, to make sure you don’t lose too much energy, and pass out.

Why organic maple syrup?

For starters, the stuff you buy at Cub Foods or your local grocery store contains lot of sugar, and is mostly garbage to begin with. Organic stuff has less preservatives, less nasty chemicals, etc.

Second, the purpose of the organic maple syrup as a part of the cleanse is to rid your body of toxins.

Following logic here, it makes sense to use pure, organic ingredients during your fast, while avoiding foods with sugars, pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals that may contain residues of toxins. Many of the toxins found in the body come from foods after you consume them. Needless to say, these chemicals have harmful effects.

Then what

Next, you need lemons and water. A lot of fresh lemons. When I say alot, I’m talking about a large bag full that you can purchase in bulk at Costco, Sam’s Club or someplace similar.

For a nice video to watch, that walks you through the actual lemon squeezing, while showing you how to create the overall liquid-recipe, take a look here. (warning: the video is educational in nature, not the best quality)

Watch here. 

Drink water like Niagara Falls

Once you’ve created the master cleanse formula, you’ll need to drink once ounce of water per half pound of body weight. 

Example: I weighed 180 lbs when I began the master cleanse, which means I needed to drink 90 ounces of water every day, for four days. 

Sounds like a lot, and it was. I’ve never consumed as much water in my entire life. But it was important to cleanse my body, and drinking gallons of water helped my body accomplish this. 

Lastly, remember this: you ultimately shrink your stomach through this entire process.

You see, many Americans are overweight because we overeat. Our food portions are out of control and because we eat way too much food at each meal, we stretch our stomachs. By stretching our stomachs, we artificially allow more food into our bodies than what’s healthy. 

So, not only will you shock and cleanse your body through this process, you’ll be helping your body return to it’s original means of modus-operandi. 

Set some goals and get to work

Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to help yourself get fit in Fargo, as I did, be sure and set some goals. Hold yourself accountable and even consider a workout partner that can help you be accountable as well. 

3 Tried-and-True Methods Sure to Help College Students Get a Job In Marketing Before Graduation [part #2]

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In part 2 of this blog series about how college students can get a job before graduation, I’ll share a few more tidbits.

I’ll also share some wisdom that doesn’t necessarily apply to the tactical pieces of marketing, but nuggets that are just as important for you, a college student, when looking for your first job, post-graduation ceremony.

Let’s get started.

Quick review

In email #1 of how NDSU or MSUM students can get a job before graduation, we touched on 3 points for college student to be aware of. 

  1. Know who you serve. Whether you’re blogging, creating email campaigns, or writing website copy, the end goal should always be to serve the consumer. They demand value, so give it to them with byte-sized chunks of educational, yet compelling content. 
  2. Blog. Employer’s and bosses want to see initiative. Any company looking to hire a college student that’s soon to graduate should be looking to see how creative and motivated they are. If you’re skill-set is the same as all your peers, life’s going to be hard for you. If you’re able to differentiate yourself through some sort of unique project, like blogging, then this is good because you’re able to show initiative which will help you ultimately land a gig. 
  3. Avoid the career-killing attitude of entitlement. Entitlement is when someone thinks they should “get” something when they haven’t worked for it. Entitlement is when you think that because you have a degree, you deserve something. Just because you have a 4 year degree, doesn’t mean a potential employer will give you the keys to the castle. You need to earn it. You have a tremendous amount to learn post-graduation and in your 20’s. The next few years of your post-graduation-life should be spent learning, listening and being patient. You won’t be a manager right away, and you won’t make $50k, $60k, or $100k right away. It’s also easy to be a martyr when this happens. Don’t fall into this trap. This is rooted in entitlement and this attitude will kill your newly budding job-adventure. See what Jon Acuff and Michael Hyatt have to say about entitlement here. 

Enough reviewing, here are 6 tidbits of wisdom that will help you land a job before you graduate from North Dakota State University or any college in America, for that matter.  

Tried-and-True Method #1: Learn about technology

Unless you move from Fargo to the Twin Cities and land a gig at Best Buy, Cargill, 3M, or Medtronic, you’ll undoubtedly be working for a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB).

What does this mean? It means that most SMB’s use website platforms, like WordPress, to run and launch their websites.

Learn about platforms like WordPress before you graduate. This will not only help you get a job as you’ll have some experience, but learning this skill-set will carry into other jobs you may have later. 

What sort of aspects of WordPress should you learn about?

  1. Learn how to build effective landing pages.
  2. Learn how to effectively use SEO plug-ins, like SEO Yoast, in order to get the best search value from your site. 
  3. Understand how to find and use WordPress themes that will get you the best user-experience possible. 
  4. Figure out how to impact the little things when building or updating a WordPress site like page titles, alt tags for images, tagging video’s that are linked to your site, and how to use forms applications, like Gravity forms.

(if you don’t know what the above mentioned terms mean, that’s okay. but you need to start researching them if you don’t. Use Google and the web to learn about them)

Other technology to learn would range from social media automation tools to SEO tools.

Get to know social media software like Sprout Social and HootSuite Pro. You’ll also want to understand more robust marketing automation software like Infusionsoft, Hubspot, and Act-On

What does marketing automation software do and why is it important?

When you cut your lawn, you can use scissors or a lawn-mower. Both will get the job done, but only one saves you time and makes the job more efficient. 

Marketing automation software is the lawn-mower of digital marketing activities, and learning about these technologies will make you a smarter marketer. 

Tried-and-True Method #2: Everything begins with copy

Copy, as in copywriting, should be a heavily stressed part of every marketing degree.

And I’m not talking about journalism, as in writing large, cumbersome paragraphs as seen in the Sunday newspaper.

I’m talking about web copy. Web copy is defined as copy that’s published on webpages, blogs, e-books, landing pages, social media accounts, etc. 

Everything starts with copy. 

Let’s take blogging as an example. There’s a science and an art in setting up the layout of an impressive company blog.

You need to consider how to write effective headlines, create calls-to-action that drive prospect and customer engagement, and how to develop blog topics that answer questions for prospects. 

That all starts with copy. Copy is anything in the form of written word that ultimately gets in front of your customers or prospective clients. 

Learn how to write and write well. Check out some resources here that will help you write amazing copy.

Tried-and-True Method #3: Play nice in the sandbox

When finally getting your first job out of college, whether the career field is marketing or not, you need to learn how to work with others. 

This may sound easy, but it’s not. It is very complicated. 

In working in a small business environment in Fargo, or working for a billion dollar company in Minneapolis, working with others can be challenging. You need to learn how to productively express yourself when frustrated, you need to know how to constructively work through conflict, and most importantly you need to learn to listen when working with others. 

Listening, truly listening, means not interrupting others and hearing what someone else is saying. This is a tremendously tough skill to learn, but learning it in your 20’s will save you all kinds of crazy-headaches when arriving in your 30’s and 40’s. 

Learn these 3 things when working with a team of people, and you’ll instantly catapult your career to new heights.  

Tried-and-True Method #4: Don’t gossip

I once worked in an environment where almost everyone gossiped. There was constant backstabbing, plenty of tittle-tattle, and more scandalmongers than a Hollywood tabloid. 

Few trusted each other, everyone was hypersensitive, and most were afraid of making mistakes. It was awful. 

There’s nothing worse than office gossip, and there’s nothing more hurtful than when you find out a co-worker, who’s trust you thought you’d gained, sacrifices your professional friendship for selfish reasons.

If you choose to be a “busybody”, do so at your own peril. Because once you break that bond of trust, it’s very hard to ever get it back. And when you have a professional reputation of distrust, it will follow you, and no one likes a gossip or a busybody. 

Rise above negativity, don’t talk about others behind their backs, and tackle issues that you have with others directly, by talking things out. You’ll be better off in the end, and certainly won’t burn any bridges either. 

Tried-and-True Method #5: Don’t quit

Many marketing professionals I know job hop. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, as have many others. When I see marketers that job hop, one thing comes to mind: Quitter.

Quitting doesn’t just apply to those in the marketing field, either.  It applies to everyone. 

Too many people in our modern-day-society choose to quit. They quit on life, they quit on their marriages, they quit on each other. It’s easy to quit…and it’s extremely lazy. 

When hard times come, in your new career journey, don’t quit. Keeping hustling, keep grinding, and do not give up.

Life in the working world will be very hard at times. You’ll encounter bosses who never compliment you, executives who micro-manage you, and work with customers who generally make life unbearable. 

But don’t give up. Don’t quit. Stick it out. As Jon Acuff says, Show up helpful. Show up grateful. Show up humble.”

Tried-and-True Method #6: Learn to sell

Whether you work for a non-profit, or a for profit company, you’re always selling.

You’re selling a product/service to your prospects, you’re potentially selling an idea to investors, you’re pitching a concept or a budget to your bosses, and you’re selling suggestions to your fellow peers.

Before you start selling, however, you need to have empathy. Empathy is when you put yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you’re selling. 

For example, if you’re selling to a prospect, imagine yourself in their situation. Maybe they’re hesitant to buy because they’ve been burned before and don’t want to commit.

Or maybe your boss can’t support your idea because he doesn’t have the budget to support it.

Or perhaps your co-worker can’t quite grasp your recommendation because they’re strapped for time, and their schedule is completely full.

Either way, have empathy. Your audience deserves to have you walk a mile in their shoes. That’s what makes someone great at sales. 

And always remember: don’t sell your product, rather solve peoples problems.

Punch fear in the face

Take each day one day at a time, and enjoy this season in your life, post-graduation.

And if you would, leave a comment below and share if you can relate to anything you just read.

3 Tried-and-True Methods Sure to Help College Students Get a Job In Marketing Before Graduation [part #1]

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(credit: shutterstock)

I see a growing trend in college grads, specifically those who are pursuing a degree in marketing, PR, or communications.

That trend is this: most college graduates do not possess the applicable digital marketing skill-sets that allow them to positively impact potential businesses that wish to hire them.

And that’s certainly not the fault of college students.

After all, most North Dakota State University (NDSU) or Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) students enter their college years expecting to get an education that allows them to find success and happiness, along with a few Bison games in between. 

More importantly, as a graduate or soon-to-be grad, you would hope that your Alma mater has prepared you for the coming work-world, so that you can tackle earth-shattering marketing campaigns, graphic design and PR strategies. 

But the learning curve is steep, and students simply are not being trained in many of the strategic and tactical aspects of digital marketing.

Some of the most basic core competencies are being missed.

An aptitude for things like web-copywriting ability, (not to be confused with journalism) email marketing expertise, basic knowledge of blogging, and how to create measurable marketing strategies are being buried under a mound of expensive books and old-school teachings that aren’t relevant.

Enough is enough

I’m passionate about helping college students.

And it’s time that those in the professional working world step up to help the future generations of marketers tell better stories, that ultimately help businesses grow. 

In light of this revelation, (not a recent revelation by any means) I’ve decided to help any college student that wants to get a job after college.

If you’re a marketing major, communications major or journalism major at North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, or Concordia College, then this blog piece is for you and I’d like to offer a lifeline. 

If you’re REALLY serious about getting a job after college, I’m even willing to help.

Email me (dave.s@bngteam.com) and I’ll email you all kinds of great resources, knowledge and wisdom in the marketing industry, that can help you get a job faster and make you a better marketer and writer.

Onto the three ways you, as a college student, can land your first gig out of college…

Tried-and-True Method #1: Prospects and customers, not you, demand value

The first step in getting a job in marketing before your graduate is to understand who you serve.

You need to know why businesses and organizations function and how marketing is a part of this equation.

Organizations, whether it be for-profit businesses or non-profits, function because they have clients and customers that demand something. 

It doesn’t matter if the business is B2B, B2C, or non-profit, they all exist to serve a customer. 

Customers and clients of your future employer(s) are demanding you to educate them, and inform them. Customers and consumers of your future employer ultimately find value from whatever it is you happen to be schlepping.

The product or service that you’re offering must give prospective customers/clients some sort of return on investment (ROI), which is the definition of value.

As a writer, marketer, content creator, your job is not to create awesome social media campaigns or storyboard the next viral YouTube video.

Your job is to create web-based content that creates value for customers and prospective clients, thus creating revenue and sales opportunities for the company.

The marketing campaigns you develop are simply a tactic to accomplish this, and embracing this mindset of serving the customer first is paramount in your career path. Own it.

Tried-and-True Method #2: Take initiative

How does a college grad create value for my future employer?

By showing initiative, that’s how. One awesome way to show that you’re taking initiative is by by creating online content that customers and prospects will love.

One excellent tactic that helps businesses engage customers is with a blog.

I would encourage every single college student to unabashedly dive into blogging. 

Blogging, when done right, can educate buyers, build trust, and drive traffic to a businesses website. Blogging is not expensive, rather simple to learn, and a great way to engage prospects and potential buyers. 

Here are some amazing stats about blogging from, Lee Odden, author of Optimize and CEO of Minneapolis-based marketing agency TopRank Marketing.

  • 76% of B2B marketing leaders use blogging as a marketing tactic.
  • 62% of B2B marketers rate blogs as effective.
  • B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
  • Blogs have been rated as the 4th most trusted source for accurate online information.
  • The only thing blogging costs you: your time.

As a college student, blogging, and showing that you blog consistently, shows employer’s that you’re passionate about your craft, and that you are purposeful with the knowledge that you’ve learned.

It will immediately differentiate you as a job candidate.

Tried-and-True Method #3: Check your attitude

One of the worse elements of a bad attitude is entitlement. The character flaw will kill your career, fast. 

This one thing won’t necessarily help you land your first gig, but will derail it.

Keep this in mind: most professionals don’t really find a career rhythm until their 30’s, most of your wealth will come in your 40’s, and you’ll spend the first 5 years or so working on tasks that aren’t awe-inspiring, but very necessary.

And you’re also not entitled to anything, nor do you deserve anything. You are not going to make $50k a year, right away, nor will you have job security or awesome benefits provided to you.

Early on in your marketing career you’ll be challenged with what will seem like crappy, menial tasks. Projects like organizing tradeshows, writing printed collateral for crusty sales-guys, and dealing with a myriad of tasks that seem silly at the time.

But these tasks are not silly, rather a very normal part of your development process.

Even though entitlement doesn’t have much to do with skill-set, it is super important as its part of your overall mindset.

Mindset is much more important than skill-set, and way more critical to your career path, so be sure to constantly check your attitude and mindset to make sure entitlement doesn’t take root.

Punch fear in the face

In anticipation of your famed graduation day, you’ll undoubtedly be hit with a tidal wave of fear and emotions…especially if you don’t have a job lined up.

This is normal. It’s happened to all of us before. So remember to breath. You will survive and you will eventually get a job.

Take each day one day at a time, and enjoy this season in your young life…and remember to get busy blogging.

How To Kill Boredom In Fargo Once And For All

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Boredom and bored. These words make me shutter.

These words make me tremble like the evil hyena’s, Ed and Shenzi, from the movie The Lion King, when they playfully tease one another by saying the name of Mufasa, the great Lion King.

As a young lad growing up, I learned that the “b” word was a swear word. And rightfully so.

I always felt that being bored is nothing more than a bad attitude or a mindset, which can easily be overcome. Overcome by activities like reading, going outdoors, and eating ice cream.

I’m grateful that my dad, grandparents, and especially my aunt, taught me the value of how to avoid this mindset.

Kicking the stupefied state of mind

When we made the decision to take the steps necessary to move from the Twin Cities to Fargo, we knew there would be cool things to enjoy, once we actually got to Fargo.

Cool stuff to do, like attending ballgames, blogging, enjoying miles of walking/biking trails, and loving good food.

And then there’s the pleasure of being able to savor ice cream at one of the most iconic ice cream shops in the entire country.

An ice cream shop that gets annual press from newspapers from around the country, for it’s menu items that are basically deemed criminal by the heads of it’s corporate franchise.

And this splendid place is right across the river from Fargo, in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Of all the awesome things we’ve experienced in the Fargo-area this summer, the old-fashioned Dairy Queen in Moorhead is the one place that’s helped keep our summer interesting for me and my family.

The excitement and mystique of being naughty

Ah, glorious Dairy Queen. I heart Dairy Queen.

This one place has brought me incredible joy while in Fargo this summer, ultimately helping me and my family avoid the blues that can come from the dog days of summer.

But eating frozen treats, at this historical Fargo-Moorhead eatery, is considered naughty in some circles.

This historic DQ, that’s been operating since 1949, (that’s 66 years) has been called rogue, been shunned, and has even been labeled as “criminal” by it’s own corporate mother-ship.

Eating ice cream, and other rare menu items that you cannot find at a typical Dairy Queen, almost makes you feel like you’re breaking the law, or committing an act of ‘naughtiness.’

And yet, there’s an excitement in doing something that’s right by supporting something that breaks the status quo. Like a protest against the “man” or by celebrating a cause that’s been long forgotten. There’s a thrilling sense of mystique that comes from dining at this DQ.

And to those of you who say I have an addiction to the infamous treats of this famous Minnesota franchise…well…you’re right. I do.

And if that makes me naughty, then I will proudly wear that badge.

How to avoid boredom once and for all

Earl Nightingale famously said “you’ll find boredom where there is the absence of a good idea.”

(you’re welcome for the free wisdom)

When you’re bored, you need to simply put on your thinking cap, write down some places to go, or consider the process of elimination in order to figure out something fun to do.

And when all else fails, there’s always Google, Tripadvisor, and Yelp to help you overcome daily apathy.

When you and your family are bored, how do you overcome this?

What are some great places in the Fargo-Moorhead area that can help keep the brain and body active?