The Organized Runner

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Passive Voice Makes You Sound Slimy

Passive Voice Makes You Sound Slimy

Whenever I read something written in passive voice, it makes me think of politicians. “Mistakes were made” is the most political thing to say, and it’s a common example for explaining passive voice. What is passive voice? It’s when you hide the subject of the […]

Thoughts I have while Sick

Thoughts I have while Sick

There are certainly always times where our rational self argues with our irrational self, but this occurs the most often with me when I’m sick. Since it’s such a rarity, I consider it a major inconvenience. Having to take time out of your day to […]

Podcast Recommendations

Podcast Recommendations

I am a late mover to most technologies, and this year is when I fully jumped on the podcast train. Here are some of my favorites, by category.

Professional Development

Office Hours – I don’t care if it’s cheesy to plug the podcast from the company you work for because Office Hours is often pure gold. Isaac and TK take submitted questions as well as riff off of situations they encounter with young professionals, and it’s often unfiltered. One time, Isaac’s initial response to a question was, “What is WRONG with you?”

Masters of Scale – Isaac recommended this podcast to the Praxis staff, and it has been fascinating. If you’re interested in how companies like Google and Facebook grew to current size without imploding or how serial CEOs know when to start a new company, check out this podcast.

How I Built This­ with Guy Raz – Similar to Masters of Scale, this podcast interviews founders of various companies. Some of my favorites have been Stonyfield Yogurt, Rent the Runway, and Buzzfeed. Nearly all of these founders had the odds against them in some way, and it’s inspiring to hear how they overcame them.

Forward Tilt – Yes, I’m plugging another Praxis podcast, but these episodes are little gems and under 10 minutes each, so they’re easy to take a listen.

Intellectually Engaging

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – This is a fun game show style show where contestants compete to tell the most interesting, useful, and true fact based on the night’s theme. The show has gone through a few different versions (used to have a panel of judges, now sometimes the host invites one other guest to be the judge and that’s it), but it has always been very entertaining.

Freakonomics Radio – Economics is everywhere, bro! Since I’m an econ nerd, I like to occasionally listen to this podcast as well. Some of my favorite episodes talk about lying, the war on sugar, the demonization of gluten, and when helping hurts.

Soccer

From being in the car with my husband, I’ve listened to quite a few soccer podcast episodes. My two favorite shows are:

Total Soccer Show – This is the intellectual soccer podcast. They provide in-depth technical breakdowns of matches as well as report on current events in major soccer news. They also have a less serious episode where each host fields a full team based on Parks and Rec characters.

Dirty Tackle– This is the inappropriate NSFW version of analyzing world soccer. They sing their own opening song and have a segment called “True, are ya?” where one of the hosts either reads a fact or makes something up, and the other two have to guess. It’s hilarious.

Pure Entertainment

The Shipping Room Podcast – This podcast is about TV relationships which might sound shallow but I am not ashamed because I really enjoy this show. A friend introduced me a little over a year ago when they did an analysis show of the Gilmore Girls revival. I literally banged on the table a few times in agreement when listening to that episode. I sporadically listened over the next few months before getting hooked this summer. It’s been a fun to have a shared experience with the hosts and other listeners as they discuss famous OTPs (one true pairings), BroTPs (best friend pairings), and NOTPs (people who don’t belong together). [Note: the show is currently on hiatus as one of the hosts just had a baby. You can still listen to the last 2+ years of content, though!]

Good Christian Fun – One of the hosts of this podcast came from Gilmore Guys, which is how I heard about this new show. GFC analyzes Christian pop culture without proselytizing or harshly judging (most of the time) it. Since I grew up very conservative Christian, it’s fun to listen to them talk about things that were normal in my childhood (VeggieTales, Relient K, the Left Behind books/movie) but might not be to the general public. It definitely is borderline (and sometimes definitely is) sacrilegious, so listen with care if you’re easily offended.

 

If you have holiday travel coming up, I just supplied you with endless hours of entertainment. Enjoy!

 

 

Real Life Doesn’t Always Have Closure

Real Life Doesn’t Always Have Closure

A friend told me about the Up and Vanished podcast recently, so I binged it this weekend. Between errands, gift wrapping, and cleaning, I had plenty of time to listen to all 24 episodes, many of which are only half an hour. Now that the […]

Gem Quote from Lady Bird

Gem Quote from Lady Bird

All of the best movies come out in November and December. I went to see Lady Bird today and had pretty high expectations due to its 100% (but now 99%) rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Very tiny number of spoilers below! If you don’t want to […]

Budget Tips for your Wedding

Budget Tips for your Wedding

I’m a planner and a saver, so planning my wedding a few years ago was the typical mix of exhilarating and stressful when you consider the wedding premium placed on everyday party objects.

The wedding premium is when the price automatically increases just by being classified for a wedding. For instance:

House warming, birthday party, graduation invitations: $0.50 – $1.00 per card

Wedding invitations: $6.00 per card

You get the idea. So here are some tips on how to avoid the wedding premium:

Find a dress you like and order it in white.

This tip came from a friend who posted about it on Facebook, inspiring today’s blog post!

Arrange your own flowers.

I do not possess the talent know as flower arranging, but I have some friends who do, and their wedding flower bouquets and arrangements have been gorgeous! If you have that skill or a close friend with that skill, hit up the local grocery store or Costco to get season flowers a few days before your ceremony and save yourself a ton of money.

Outer envelopes are not necessary.

Have you ever received a wedding invitation and opened it to find another envelope containing the invitation, response card, and response card envelope? Why the double envelope? I actually Googled this when I was engaged, and it allegedly dates back to the Pony Express days (might be an exaggeration) when mail tended to get dirty during transport. To preserve the cleanliness of the invitation, people would use an outer envelope like a rain jacket. Now that we get our mail delivered in climate controlled vehicles to little rainproof boxes, outer envelopes are just extra paper.

If people are going to throw it away, avoid it or look for inexpensive options.

Similar to outer envelopes, I didn’t want to spend a significant money on anything people were going to throw away. The two biggest things that came to mind were invitations and programs. While I might keep them and frame them, my guests won’t, so I didn’t want the paper products to break the bank.

I used Vistaprint for both. They always have coupon codes, and their prices are often below other printing services as well. I used a wedding invitation template and designed my programs myself. It was a lot of trial and error with Microsoft word, but I pulled it off! The programs were my favorite because I used the “rack card” product for programs. This was my greatest hack in terms of spending way less money than was expected since the template for wedding programs were significantly more expensive.

Other options: you can also use emailed invitations which are free and there’s nothing for guests to throw away. If you want to have physical invitations that go in the mail and want them to look nice, consider enlisting the help of a friend with graphic design skills or hiring one on Upwork or another peer to peer network.

Keep an eye on stamp prices.

If you go the route of mailing invitations and include pre-stamped return envelopes, the cost can add up quickly! Luckily the government announces forever stamp price increases well in advance of them taking place, so you can save 2-3 cents per invitation if you buy stamps before the price increase. As the name suggests, they are good forever, and depending on the size of your wedding, you could save over $100.

Decide what you care about.

This is obviously a catch-all, but it can be overwhelming to create an event that lives up to the expectations of all of your guests. Luckily, you don’t have to! You (and the person you’re marrying) and the only one(s) who need to be satisfied with the day.

I struggled with the decision between real dishes and plastic (but the nice-looking plastic that almost convinces you it’s real). The price differential was extreme, not to mention the fact that actual dishes have an additional cleaning fee, run the risk of being broken, etc. I finally decided to go with plastic because if someone was going to judge me negatively as a person based on my cutlery, they weren’t the type of person I would invite/want at my wedding anyway.

There will be things you care about, though, and that’s ok! It’s just important to remember that the only things you actually need to get married are an officiant and someone who also wants to marry you.

The Curse of Mississippi

The Curse of Mississippi

Mississippi is the worst state. Let me give you anecdotal evidence to scientifically prove my point. Every time my team went to Mississippi in college, something bad happened. In January 2010, we came back to Berry a few days before the semester started, so we […]

Women’s Elite Field for Boston 2018

Women’s Elite Field for Boston 2018

I encountered a Twitter storm Monday afternoon as the Boston Athletic Association announced the elite field for the 2018 Boston Marathon. My (biased) opinion is that US women marathoners are the most exciting segment of distance running right now, so I wanted to take a […]

One Year at Praxis

One Year at Praxis

A little over a year ago today. Isaac Morehouse turned my life upside down by sending me an email: “Got ten minutes for a quick phone call?” That quick phone call led to me giving notice at my job – my first job out of college where I had been for 4.5 years – and embarking on the new adventure of working for Praxis. Here are some of my favorite memories from the last 12 months:

November

I dove straight in by getting to know the product better, getting to know the team better, and getting caught up on the implementation of Salesforce and Hubspot. I found Hubspot to be very intimidating since I had never worked with a marketing automaton software before but I quickly became a fan. Anything that gives you stalker level data (page views, email opens, etc) is fascinating to me.

December

My first trip to Charleston! I witnessed a Ceterus vs. Praxis basketball game and burned more calories from laughing than I would have if I played myself.

I got to meet some team members in person, and Isaac asked me to do a presentation on Salesforce for everyone. I was extremely nervous for this (funny looking back how nervous I was about literally everything), but it went well! I love Salesforce, and talking about something you love and use for 90% of your job is fun, not scary.

January

January was an exciting month because it was a fresh start in terms of data for the year. Since we got Salesforce in November, I spent 2 months importing and organizing all of the past customer/applicant data. When you import hundreds of new leads one week, it kind of throws off your lead capture tracking! January marked a month where all of that was finally over, and we could have consistent metrics going forward.

January was a lot of dashboard building. I had experience building reports at my old job but never dashboards, so that was a new project to tackle. Having visual representations of our data is incredibly useful for team members who want the “at-a-glance” summary of what’s going on.

February

February had a very memorable phone call. Accepted applicants typically set up a time to talk with me about tuition questions or start date questions while they’re making their decision. An applicant scheduled a call with me and let me know his dad was joining the call. I had never spoken with a parent before and immediately feared the worst – he was going to think we were a scam or not the right path for his son (aka not college), and he was going to take out his doubts and frustrations on me.

In reality, the call was fantastic. Yes, they both had some logistical questions, but the dad was on board and a huge fan. He was one of those parents who say, “I wish this had been around when I was younger!” I left that call feeling on top of the world.

March

March was a crazy month for the team because Isaac went on Fox Business News, and our website traffic (and every other metric) blew up. Everyone on the team went into recon mode, and we were working around the clock to keep up with all of the emails and calls and applications. It was managed chaos that had moments of stress but was mostly a blast – that sweet spot of having a full (and interesting) plate without being detrimentally overwhelmed.

March was also our second team get together in Charleston! This trip was centered around a Rugged Maniac race – a 5k course with 25 obstacles along the way. Some of us enjoyed it more than others.

April

I started this blog! Since our participants build a website and blog for 30 days during the bootcamp portion of the program, I thought it was probably time for me to get on board and tackle the challenge on my own. My coworker Chuck built my website and I got up 30 blog posts over the next month.

I kept telling myself April was a terrible time to start since we bought a new house, did a week’s worth of renovations, sold our old house, and moved during that month, but it actually provided some good material for writing.

May

May started our first discussions on upgrading our Salesforce from Professional to Enterprise level. I visited the Salesforce office in Buckhead and had a meeting with our account’s team, and then we had many, many meetings over the course of the month. While I was eager to get the functionality of workflows back in my life, in the end we weren’t able to justify the huge jump in cost (for now – keep reading!). It was a good exercise for me to quantify the benefits rather than just be excited about “all the cool things we could do!”

June

In June I created my first custom object in Salesforce! With our program growing, it became more important to have an accessible record of what all of the participants are up to. I created a simple object where advisors can log their notes as well as the advising session date, so we could track sessions by date. I also had to make a new user profile for advisor permissions – more new territory in customizing Salesforce.

June is also when FEEcon happened! It was a fun mix of my past FEEple and current Praxians, and it was the first time I met many of our participants and alumni in person.

July

I further delved into the customization of Salesforce and built my second custom object. Our participants complete deliverables each month, and I worked with Chuck to make the submission forms and mapped all of the information into the new Deliverable object in Salesforce. Since each deliverable has different fields, I made a different page layout for each deliverable record type and then created a report to show participants with and without deliverables, so our Education team can easily see who has submitted what.

When your job doesn’t consistently create a tangible product in the same way a carpenter or a painter does, it’s incredibly fulfilling to build something new.

August

Praxis came to Atlanta! We had about 70 participants, alumni, advisors, and staff gather downtown for a Praxis Weekend. I gave a talk for the first time in my life (not counting being a moderator or running an activity) and enjoyed meeting people in real life as opposed to conversing over chat or email.

We also made a huge change in August: we switched our marketing from Hubspot to a mix of Salesforce (upgrading to Enterprise, reuniting me with my one true love – workflows) and MailChimp. We had to remake our entire marketing and sales funnel by the end of August before Hubspot turned off on September 1st. Chuck, Brian, and Derek flew to Atlanta and stayed at my house, so we could grind through the 12+ hour days together. I was insanely excited to move to Enterprise and work with Salesforce workflows, but there were certainly some frustrations along the way (like how formula fields and workflows can’t kick off other workflows and how annoying it is to design HTML emails inside Salesforce). We made the deadline, though, and successfully transitioned into a new marketing funnel and application process.

September

The beginning of September was juggling practice as I had August applicants in the old application process who needed certain emails manually and September applicants in the new application process who were in automated workflows. It all worked out fine, but I was counting down the days until everyone was successfully transitioned to the new system!

October

I started advising sessions with participants! I’ve been interviewing applicants since I began working at Praxis but have had little involvement in the education experience. Isaac asked all staff to be open to advising sessions, so I set up my calendar and got a booking! Even though I was nervous about the new territory, all of my sessions so far have been a blast. I leave the sessions with energy and excitement for what the participants can accomplish. #thePraxianeffect

 

It’s been an awesome year, and I can’t wait for what’s next! Here’s to 2018.

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 2

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 2

Recap: The book is split in half – the first half on black paper/white text from Seth’s perspective and the second half on white paper/black text from Chandler’s perspective. I reviewed Seth’s half here.   PROS: Considering the long break between my reading the first […]