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Opinion Editorials

Gale Sayers, an inspiration regardless of your industry

“Price, quality and service are what’s important in business, not the fact that I used to run with a football 25 years ago,” said Gale Sayers.

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gale sayers

Gale Sayers: Leaders on leading

I don’t usually get too worked up about sports figures and their respective biographies but one in particular has stayed with me throughout my life: The story of Gale Sayers is a story about leading by example, fellowship and giving back to your community.

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Gale Sayers was a heck of a football player (you can marvel at his on-field dynamics on Youtube) but an even more successful entrepreneur. When I was a kid and deep into sports I was immediately attracted to the Sayers’ work ethic and dedication on the football field. His best-selling autobiography “I am Third” was even required reading when I was in school.

Prepare to play, prepare to quit

When he retired due to knee injuries, Sayers set out to prove that he wasn’t just an ex-jock who was living off his name. He went back to school and completed his Bachelor’s Degree and then his Master’s Degree in Athletics Administration. Commented Sayers, “…When I played the game of pro football back in the 1960s-70’s there wasn’t a lot of money to be made, so I had to do other things after I left football to make a living. I continue to tell a lot of players ‘As you prepare to play, you must prepare to quit.'”

He continued, “…I was looking for a field of the future. I got into computers, and I’ve been doing that ever since. We started out selling hardware, software and network integration services and have continued to expand.”

Vision

Granted, Gale Sayers had a few things going for him: he was a well-known and respected football player. He was the youngest player ever to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. As a man of color he was able to attract minority business to his computer.

According to his second biography, “My Life and Times, Sayers chose the computer field and began his company in 1982.

Sayers initial efforts started out very small: he called businesses and connected with their respective purchasing departments. Regarding those first years in the business, Sayers underscored the importance of persistence saying, “I didn’t have a lot of product knowledge at first, but I knew that computers were the field of the future. I found out what my customers needed, worked out a price and got the product delivered.”

Going the distance

In his second biography “My life and Times”, Sayers points out that during the boom years of the late 1980’s and early 90’s his company was pulling in almost 300 million dollars annually. By the mid-90’s the bubble had burst and Sayers was forced to re-structure yet he did so while being able to avoid declaring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. To that end, Sayers’ biggest success and challenge was a two-edge sword: the pre dot.com technology boom of the early 90’s allowed Sayers to borrow money and expand in quantum leap fashion, yet when the bubble broke he had to reconfigure his company and holdings in a way that allowed his to continue moving forward.

Quote me on that

I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it.”
Said during an interview after his Sayers’ comeback from knee-surgery to once again lead the NFL in rushing.

The same words are easily applicable to his efforts to re-structure his company in 2003 after getting hammered by market fluctuations and the threat of bankruptcy.

The choice at the time was for him to cut his losses and move on to something else or figure out how to rise above it. He chose the latter and rebounded to even more success.

When you step on the field, you cannot concede a thing.
Whether it’s a football field or the arena of competition in the business world, you have to do your research, know your opponent and do what you have to do to win.

The Lord is First, my friends are second and I am Third.
A phrase Sayers learned from his college track. Really embodies what playing it forward is all about. You can’t just take; you have to give back as well. You give back without thinking “What’s in it for me?”  Even before Sayers had the success and money to be involved in the type of philanthropy and fund-raising that he currently does, he was always supporting a number of causes both big and small that were within his means.

A life story that is full of examples of what embracing the entrepreneurial spirit is all about. Gale Sayers has led by example, led by doing and in later years has surrounded himself with a staff that embodies the characteristics that made him great in the first place.

Check it out. Ol’ Gar gives it 10 stars!

#GaleSayers

Opinion Editorials

Job listings are popping up left and right, so what exactly *is* UX writing?

(EDITORIAL) While UX writing is not technically new, it is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent. The job titles are everywhere, so what is it?

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UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across every day. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints these writers work on are interface copy, emails, and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find these writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must-have. Excellent communication skills are a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post. But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater user experience design team. In larger companies, some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of the writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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