Do we dream differently on the trail?


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According to the Dream Dictionary, travel plays a significant role in our dreams. Places we’ve been, places we’d love to go, and places we’ll never go. But what if we are already out there traveling?

Three weeks before leaving Sydney, my dreams took a sharp turn. Waking drenched in sweat, I would feel the passionate, mind-bending visions coiling around me.

Radioactive monkey-spiders. A talking dog, that also plays the harmonica. Jimmy Fallon trapped inside the body of a mongoose.

After 2 years living abroad, I was preparing to quit my job, pack up my life, say goodbye to a continent of friends, and take off on a grand Trans-Siberian journey. Outwardly, I was tranquil, collected, primed. Inside, my soul was screaming out like a canary snatched from a windowsill and sling-shot into Narnia.

Traveling brings thrill, passion, adventure, romance, and inspiration into our lives – but it also brings risk and uncertainty. Fortunately, we have dreams that allow us to process the complex emotions and disabling fears that we’re unable or unwilling to contend with in our waking lives.

For me, interpreting my dreams in those precarious weeks before and during my travels enabled me to process the colossal changes and uncertainty. I found that ‘angry monkey spiders’ turned out to mean-I don’t like packing. But should stop avoiding it.

Then mongoose Jimmy Fallon actually had a lot of useful information on how to make friends in Russia.

Some scientists believe that dreaming is the same state of mind that schizophrenics experience. It’s an environment where all our wildest passions can explode to extremes we would never conceive of in reality; and it feels great.

By this logic, our “nightly madness” clears the cobwebs of doubt that inhibit us from expressing ourselves fully and listening to our souls guidance. Tally ho!

 

Battling unemployment in the digital dimension


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“She needs me now but I can’t seem to find the time.  I’ve got a new job now in the unemployment line. And we don’t know how we got into this mess, it’s a god’s test, someone help us cause we’re doing our best.”

With an increasingly unstable world economy, the lyrics from the Script’s 2012 chart-topping hit have never rung more true.

According to a recent study conducted by Rutgers University in the United States, less than half of all 2009 graduates secured a full-time job within a year. Of that percentage, only half of these lucky hires reported satisfaction in their role.

That’s roughly 90,000 people struggling with unemployment and career dissatisfaction.

Experienced professionals are constantly forced to seek below their level, squeezing newbies out of the value-chain altogether.

The question stands: As a job seeker, what can you do to elevate yourself above a cess pool of stagnant talent?

What many people don’t realize, is that applying for jobs is now only one per cent of the battle. With the rise of the digital dimension, the tools now exist to self-promote your most valuable commodity; you.

Networking

The internet is a resource, not a solution. Job seeking professionals should use it as a tool to engineer genuine, real-world relationships rather than treating it as the means to an end.

After over a decade of polls, CareerXroads’ ‘Sources of Hire Survey‘ continues to show referrals as the primary hiring source across all industry sectors. Employers want to know as much as possible about potential candidates, including who you know and who else values you as a commodity.

Likewise, networking opens the door to jobs that have not yet been posted or may never be formally advertised. There is a whole volcano of sneaky career opportunities smoldering under the radar of main-stream recruitment.

Social Media

Most job seekers don’t bother to develop an online identity and feel that social media doesn’t apply to their industry. But the truth is, social media is multilateral.

At the end of the day, professional success comes down to one thing; confidence. If you don’t show any self-interest, why should anyone else? An active social media presence shows confidence in your skills, confidence in your industry, and  most importantly, confidence in yourself.

By posting examples of your work, re-tweeting industry news, blogging about your latest triumphs, you are providing tangible proof of your dedication and enthusiasm for what you do.

When your application eventually lands on their desk, employers will notice and applaud your multidimensional commitment.

The Direct Approach

The email inbox is where all good job opportunities go to die.

From the instant you click send, that email turns into Nemo, the clown fish. If you don’t follow it up with hyperactive persistence, an ocean of carnivorous sea creatures will descend to swallow your dreams whole. Not exactly, but close enough.

With today’s digital hiring procedures, HR in-boxes are flooded with hundreds of emails. Often you will never receive a reply. I have been told by several interviewers that I would not have been considered, had I failed to follow up.

Additionally, stalking businesses through social media portals is not only a good idea, it is expected. The editor of a magazine asked me in an interview, “have you liked us on Facebook yet?” Of course…

The Glory of LinkedIn

God help you if you are not on linkedIn.

As one of the most commanding social media networks, LinkedIn allows companies to pool their prospects within a single platform. Most importantly, it facilitates conversation between all walks of business.

By merging my Facebook friends with my account, I was shocked by the people I was suddenly connected to.

This is how I came to connect with Michael Lohan, the unfortunate brother of the drug slugging sensation we all know and probably don’t love. I can’t wait to harness that resource.

The Way Forward

The biggest mistake first-world entrepreneurs make is to view digital platforms as the soft copy extension of the CV. While a CV is a static, inactive slab, your online identity is a calico cat; purring your animated message to a pliant pool of potentials.

In a global professional climate where value is measured in eminence and billion dollar ideas are a brain-fart away, we all have to work a little bit harder to promote the unique within ourselves.

The next time you find yourself second-man down in an interview line up, log in, link up, and look sharp!

If content is king, images are the crown jewels


Image

It seems that every day there’s another groundbreaking social media tool to play with, but when it comes to selling a brand, pictures pack the punch.

According to a review of the top 10 Facebook brands by marketing analytics company Simply Measured, photos are liked 200 per cent more than text updates and videos are shared 1,200 per cent more than links and text posts combined.

Instagram, purchased by Facebook in September of 2012 for more than $700m, holds strong as the worlds fastest growing social media platform. The site has more than tripled in growth in the last 12 months alone, exploding from 30m to 100m active users.

The question is, do you want your page to engage?

Interacting with your market audience

The most important side of social media is participation and in the right hands, photo-centric tools are the best way to interact with an audience. The truth is, people love taking photos as much as they love looking at them!

By encouraging users to join in the fun with their own snapshots, you invite creativity and quirkiness into your brand while spreading your message at the same time.

So what’s the secret to saddling this superpower?

Number one, get creative. Nobody wants to see 15 photos of the same thing from the same angle with the same filter. It’s almost as bad as those girls posting pouty-face pucker shots; the only way to distinguish one frame from the next is the subtle shifting of her snaggletooth.

Second, use hashtags with every post! Tags give your brand a sense of reliability and promote community engagement, the bread and butter of social media success. Your consistency has a snow ball effect, as photo prowlers pounce on your dependable messages.

Last, use photos that are REAL. Authenticity is the true power behind online images and instead of chasing photos airbrushed to infinity, users will target your brand because it represents something believable…and therefore, achievable.

Online dating: Social media at its best…and worst

For proof of visual impact, one has only to look to online dating.

Tired of the game and keen for a new way to entertain myself, I decided to give it a shot. In addition to scoring some good stories, I learned that setting up a dating profile is not all that different from any good social media strategy.

Marketing your brand is all about constructing a positive image that stands out among the crowd and is faithful to who you are. Guys trolling through matches need a reason to click, just like any consumer reviewing a product.

I learned quickly that being redundant and cliche is critical to avoid. Are you using the same vanilla opening lines as every other guy? “So, I’ve never tried online dating before, but I guess I’ll give it a shot, here goes.” We don’t need to hear your inner monologue, cut to the chase.

The real shocker was, despite a general effort by most to appear humble and objective, the pictures people chose to represent themselves spoke 1000 fold louder than the rest of their profiles. And God help you if you had no photo at all.

Call me conceited, but when deciding whether to meet a guy, I certainly steered clear of shirtless-selfie guy and dribble-faced drunkard. And let’s not forget all the ways we can be cliche through photos, thanks Freddie Prince Jr.

After all, what photo you choose to market your brand says a lot more about you than just what you look like!

Prolonged engagement

Give those photos some mojo because in addition to the interactive originality visual media infuses into the social media matrix, they hold attention longer and stronger. The explosive development of Pinterest, a site that allows users to accumulate a cyber-collage of visual content, is shocking marketers with users averaging 97.8 minutes per use.

Studies have shown that posts on the site are generating far more traffic than social media giants Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn and Google+, making it one of the most influential social media platforms of all time.

Unlike with text, consumers are not simply skimming content, but actually slowing down and submerging themselves in a headspace that engineers long-term connections.With a more organic feel than text, visual media is dominating the communications frontier because seeing is believing.

The images shared time and time again are the ones that hit a nerve with people, evoking emotion and tapping into a sense of humanity. Maybe that’s humour or inspiration, sadness or a rush of adrenaline, but as I learned in my brief foray into internet dating, you get a lot more out of an image than just what you see.

Keeping it real


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I was riding the bus when a boy no longer amused with his video game chucked it aside and began ferociously digging through a tote. Wailing his displeasure when all he produced was a half eaten pack of crackers and some hand wipes, his digital needs went unsatisfied.

At his age, my brothers and I were swaddled in fluff and kicked out the back door with nothing but our imaginations, five km of wilderness and whatever the cat dropped on the doorstep.

Entertainment was entirely dependent on creative cunning. We spent our days galloping through the underbrush, building bug-city mud mansions and catching salamanders.

We once amused ourselves for three days straight just digging a big hole.

At at what point along the way did we stop being comfortable inside our own heads? In the digital age, people have become too impatient to actually sit back, relax, and enjoy the solitude of an uncharted moment.

This is when true genius strikes, after all; a lesson I learned when locked in a bedroom led to 4’x4′ of tubing, a slingshot, and a hamster.

Today, immediacy rules every sphere of human interaction. We want to know it, we want to know it now, and we want to move on. The world is at our fingertips every second of every day and as a result, some of the greatest opportunities to commune with a moment pass by unappreciated.

It’s convenient to wake up and check my three emails, Facebook, SMS and Snap Chat before  getting out of bed, but sometimes I need to leave the smartphone at home and reconnect with raw reality; the kind you can see, smell, taste, touch and love.