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8 Signs You’re an Editor

8 Signs You're an Editor

8 Signs You're an EditorIt takes a very specific kind of person to be an editor. Many people who you may think would make great editors—like writers, teachers, or other people who work with language a lot—just don’t have the right combination of personality quirks required to succeed in this career.

Being an editor is a tricky balance between being really good at following rules and being a jerk. If you can identify with more than half the items on the list below, there’s a good chance you’re already an editor. If you identify with this list but are not currently an editor, I think I may see a career change in your near future.

Here are eight signs that you’re an editor:

1. You laugh when other people suggest that you “like” to read, because you “like” to read about as much as you “like” to sleep. These are not “likes” or “wants”—these are needs. Granted, they are needs that often butt heads, like when you stay up until three in the morning because you have to finish the book you’re reading. (Also, you just giggled at the use of the word “heads” after the word “butt” because nothing amuses you more than what appears to be accidental wordplay.)

2. Inconsistency is the bane of your existence. This applies to everything in your life: subject-verb agreement, plurals, shoe size, the enforcement of rules, etc. If it’s inconsistent, it bothers you. And if it bothers you, you will do whatever you can to change it.

3. You’ve texted friends before to alert them to typos in their most recent Facebook statuses, because what kind of friend would you be if you let them leave errors there for all the world to see? Online typos are the electronic equivalent of food on the face or boogers in the nose, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a fool in your well-written and grammatically correct book.

4. You either have self-restraint down to a science when it comes to correcting the grammar of new acquaintances or people in positions of authority, or else you generally don’t make friends very easily.

5. Your friends and family members often complain that you “always have to be right,” but you know that isn’t true. Unlike them, you understand the importance of spreading knowledge and reducing ignorance, which is why you can’t let them go around saying things that simply aren’t correct. You also encourage them to correct you if you’re ever wrong, though, admittedly, you aren’t sure if that’s ever actually happened before.

6. You actually keep track of which major publishers tend to have the most typos in their books, and this seriously affects your buying choices.

7. While other people may engage in heated debates about current events, movies, or music, you always manage to find someone at the party with whom you can battle about the use of the serial comma. Of course, you can never be persuaded to change your opinion on the matter, and neither can the other person, but that’s what makes the debate so simultaneously engaging, engrossing, and enraging.

8. When it comes to grammar, you believe that perfection is attainable. Being called a perfectionist isn’t an insult; on the contrary, it’s the ultimate compliment.

Image source: Leeroy/Stocksnap.io

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Grammar Errors in Your Favorite Songs

Grammar Errors in Your Favorite

What You Can Learn from These 4 Lyric Mistakes

Grammar Errors in Your Favorite“Music is the universal language of mankind,” according to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But does the same logic apply to lyrics? What about lyrics riddled with grammatical errors?

Some people have a hard time listening to grammar errors in songs. These people believe that rules are rules, and that artists should somehow figure out a way to make tricky lines work without using double negatives or bending the rules of verb moods. Well, I say “Phooey” to those people. That’s right, I just used a slang word! You know why? Because I’m speaking in a casual (rather than formal) tone—the main concern is that I adequately convey my meaning.

When it comes to language, there is a time and a place for everything. When you’re writing a casual blog post, you don’t need to be as strict with your language usage as you do when you’re writing a formal paper. When you’re speaking, you don’t need to follow the rules the same way that you do when you’re writing, and when you’re singing a song, you can toss caution to the wind and make your own rules, as long as the result sounds good. It’s true that song lyrics often have very obvious grammatical errors, but what would you rather passionately belt along to “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” or the much more laborious “There is no sunshine when she’s gone”? You could even make the sentence longer: “There is not any sunshine while she is away.” Is that what you want? To make classic songs unsingable? I didn’t think so.

Still, this is a grammar blog, and as such, I have to assume that you’ve come here to learn about grammar rules. So let’s take a look at some examples of grammatical errors in song lyrics and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Objective versus Subjective Pronouns

The culprit: Lady Gaga

The songs: “Bad Romance,” “You and I”

In her megahit “Bad Romance,” Gaga sings: “I want your love and/I want your revenge/You and me could write a bad romance.” As I’m sure your grandmother has pointed out to you hundreds of times, this should be “you and I.” Ironically, Gaga makes the opposite error in her other single, which is actually titled “You and I“: “Somethin’, somethin’ about my cool Nebraska guy/Yeah something about, baby, you and I.”

Gaga has misused her pronouns in both of these songs. The pronoun I is used when the I in question is the subject of the sentence, while the pronoun me is used when the me that is referred to is the object of the sentence.

The easiest way to remember when to use I versus when to use me is to remove the other noun or pronoun from the sentence. So, in the case of “Bad Romance,” we would test this by saying “I want your revenge/Me could write a bad romance.” When the lyric is written like this, it becomes clear that the correct pronoun here is I, because I is the subject of the sentence in question. Conversely, for “You and I,” we can test the lyric by saying “Somethin’ about, baby, I.” You would never say “something about I.” This should be “something about me,” because me is the object of the sentence. The lyric should thus be “something about, baby, you and me.”

Why we forgive Gaga: First, we can forgive Gaga because Mother Monster is not the first songwriter to make this mistake. Other artists with songs incorrectly named “You and I” include Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, John Legend, and many more. For most of these songs, I has been chosen over me for the sake of rhyming.

This is also a common error that people make in everyday speech, probably because somewhere down the grammar line someone started the rumor that it’s never correct to say “you and me.” As for the “Bad Romance” error, we’re going to give Gaga some credit and say she purposefully used bad grammar in her lyric about a bad romance. Plus, you know, this line had to fit in with the rest of the song’s lyrics: “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah/Roma-ro-ma-ma/Ga-ga-oo-la-lah.” Much words. Very lyric.

2. Moody Verbs

Elvis Presley.The culprit: Elvis Presley

The song: “Hound Dog”

“When they said you was high class, well that was just a lie…” And when they said Elvis was a grammar nerd, well, that was clearly just a lie as well. The problem with this lyric is the use of the word was. The word were should be used here instead, but why? Because this sentence calls for the subjunctive mood of the verb to be. The subjunctive mood is used when referring to something that hasn’t happened/isn’t going to happen (like a wish, a desire, or a possible future event), or to something that is not true. In this case, the claims that the “hound dog” was high class were untrue, hence the need for the subjunctive were.

Why we forgive Elvis: Have you ever watched a late-1950s video of Elvis Presley performing “Hound Dog”? Have you seen this man dance? Have you seen the way his legs move as if independent from his body? I’m sure you haven’t, because if you had, you wouldn’t be concerned with such trifles as incorrect verb moods in his lyrics. Come on now, people—priorities!

3. Double Negatives

The culprit: The Rolling Stones

The song: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
What’s wrong with saying “I can’t get no satisfaction“? Nothing, as long as your name is Mick Jagger and you’re singing this classic rock song. The grammatical problem with this lyric is the use of the double negative. If the Stones are not getting “no satisfaction,” does this mean they are indeed getting some satisfaction? This unclear meaning is the reason why double negatives are generally not acceptable in written language, though the intended meaning of these statements is usually clear enough in a colloquial spoken context.

Why we forgive The Rolling Stones: Because saying “I can’t get any satisfaction” just doesn’t have the same punch to it, and because this is widely considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time. Besides that, what fun would rock stars be if they followed all the rules?

4. Lay versus Lie

The culprit: Bob Dylan

The song: “Lay Lady Lay”

In this oft-covered classic, Dylan entreats his lady not to leave. “Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed,” he croons over and over again. The problem here? Dylan is repeatedly using the wrong word. Technically speaking, the lyrics here should be “Lie, lady, lie, lie across my big brass bed.” Why is this?

The word lay should only be used when a direct object is involved. An easier way to think of this is to remember that you have to be talking about the act of laying something, usually as in laying something down. If Dylan were laying his lady down, or if he was asking her to lay herself down, his lyrics would be correct. On a side note, Bon Jovi clearly knew what’s up here, as evidenced by the lyrics of their song “Bed of Roses”: “I wanna lay you down on a bed of roses.” So, Jon Bon Jovi can lay his lady down on a bed of roses, someone can lay down their arms, or you can lay something on me. But when I’m sleepy, I have to go lie down.

Why we forgive Bob: For one thing, this is a very common error in spoken language. It’s one of those mistakes that do not really change the intended meaning of what a person is trying to say, so it’s generally an acceptable error to make when speaking. The problem that we’re sure Dylan was facing here was the fact that the proper word choice, lie, has more than one meaning. To lie means to recline or rest, yes, but it also means saying something that’s not true. Dylan probably didn’t want people to think that he was inviting a big fat liar to hang out in his big brass bed with him, so he opted to use the wrong word because it actually gave the song a clearer meaning.

Final Thoughts

I’ve used some specific examples for the sake of this article, but in reality, these same errors occur in songs all the time. You can choose to harp incessantly on the artists who make these errors in their music, or you can pull an Adele Dazeem and let it go. If you can’t listen to the magical ballad that is “Let It Go” without criticizing the lyrics, I don’t think I can help you.

Image sources: SplitShire.com, skeeze/Pixabay.com
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6 Job Interview Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

How to Botch an Interview

How to Botch an InterviewInterviewing for a new job is a stressful process. How do you convince a total stranger that you’re a competent, qualified adult? Well, start by making sure that you are, in fact, a competent and qualified adult, and then study these six job interview mistakes so that you can avoid them during your own quest for employment. We all make mistakes, but if you prepare yourself properly, you’ll never have to make these mistakes. Ever.

Mistake #1: Going in blind

Interviewer: So, what do you know about our company?

You: Oh. Um, I read that you, um, make cardboard boxes? You’re a cardboard box manufacturer.

Interviewer: Well, that’s not quite right, actually. What we really do is provide hospital supplies to third world countries. We do send the supplies in cardboard boxes, though.

You: I’ll just let myself out.

What to learn from this mistake: When you’re on the hunt for a new job, sometimes all the positions you’ve applied for start to blend together in your mind. It’s easy enough to get mixed up about which jobs you’ve applied for, but if you’re asked to interview for a position, you need to do your research before the interview takes place. If interviewers can tell that you didn’t even take the time to Google the company, they’re going to assume you’re lazy, an assumption that won’t be entirely off base.

Mistake #2: Not asking any questions, or asking irrelevant questions

Interviewer: So, potential employee-to-be, do you have any questions for me? Anything more you’d like to know about the position or about the company?

You: No, I don’t think so.

Interviewer: Really? There’s nothing you’re curious about?

You: Um . . . no, I think I’m good.

Interviewer: So you don’t want to know what kind of software we use, what your work schedule would be like, how large your team would be, or what I meant when I referred to your moral and ethical obligation to treat my pet iguana, Harold, as though he were your own child? You’re not curious or concerned about any of those things?

You: Nope. I honestly just need a job. I really don’t care what it is, as long as I get paid to do it. Plus, I think reptiles are where it’s at, if you know what I mean.

What to learn from this mistake: Again, this job interview mistake comes down to you looking like you don’t care about the position you’re applying for. If you don’t display genuine interest in learning about the job, why would the interviewer think you actually want that particular position? Don’t let the interviewer think you’re just looking for any old job.

Mistake #3: Not dressing properly

Mistake #3 is not dressing appropriately.Interviewer: Hi, I’m Mr. Stefanopo—is that a Led Zeppelin T-shirt?

You: Yes, yes, it is.

Interviewer: Are you aware that this is a highly respected law firm?

You: Yes. Are you aware that Led Zeppelin is a highly respected rock band?

Interviewer: I’m afraid we’re going to have to go in a different direction for this position. That being said, would you be interested in going out for drinks later? I’d like to buy you and your T-shirt a beer.

What to learn from this mistake: The solution to this one is simple: dress appropriately! Maybe you’re not after a law office job—heck, maybe you’re not after an office job at all. Even if you’re looking to get hired as a retail employee or a factory worker, you need to look neat, clean, and well groomed for your interview. If you can’t take the time to shave your stubble, trim your beard, brush your hair, or wear clean clothes to an interview, how on earth can an employer trust you to dress or behave appropriately when it’s time to actually start working?

Mistake #4: Lying or exaggerating

Interviewer: What would you say your flaws are as an employee?

You: Well, I’m definitely a perfectionist, and sometimes that makes it hard for me to have realistic goals and expectations for myself.

Interviewer: I see. Can you give me an example of a time when your perfectionism worked against you?

You: Oh—um, yes, of course. OK. So last week I was, um, finishing up this big project. It’s complicated, so I won’t get into the details now, but basically, the fate of my department rested on this work. Anyway, I wanted the uh . . . the one part . . . I wanted it done a certain way. But I didn’t have time to do it that way. So, like, that was pretty frustrating. Because, you know, I’m a perfectionist and stuff.

Interviewer: But did the quality of the project actually suffer?

You: Oh, no. No, I never actually let my obsessiveness affect my work. I’m far too much of a perfectionist for that.

What to learn from this mistake: Two lessons here: First, you will always find yourself caught in a lie you tell in an interview. It might not be right away, but sooner or later, it will come back to bite you, and not in a fun way. The second lesson is that your interviewer has probably been around the proverbial block a few times. Interviewers will know if you’re giving them the answers you think they want rather than answering honestly, and they won’t like it. Respect yourself and your interviewer: don’t lie. If you’re qualified for the job, your real accomplishments will speak for themselves.

Mistake #5: Bad-mouthing former or current workplaces

Mistake #5 is bad-mouthing former or current workplaces.Interviewer: So, why are you looking to leave your current position at ThisPlaceSucks Inc.?

You: It’s terrible there. Everyone is so petty and inconsiderate, and no one ever acknowledges all the hard work I do. Do you know that I haven’t had a raise in four years? Everyone is always complaining about something—you know how they say that small minds talk about people? Well, yesterday I heard Kevin tell Mark that Jamie hadn’t gotten his reports done on time because Carol didn’t send him the data quickly enough. That is so like Carol. I told my boss about all this, and he just shrugged. He never takes me seriously. Typical.

Interviewer: And you don’t think it’s possible that you might become annoyed by the people who work here as well?

You: Nah, I don’t think so. Things seem much better here. I think the people here are probably all actually robots, which is great because no one will ever make mistakes or get on my nerves. No mouth breathers among robots either, so that’s a win.

What to learn from this mistake: This job interview mistake occurs when people are frustrated with their current positions and are desperately seeking change. Regardless of your feelings of frustration, you shouldn’t bad-mouth past or current coworkers, bosses, or workplaces. You’ll just come off sounding either petty or mean—not exactly qualities employers are searching for. You also never know who your interviewer might be—it’s very easy to burn bridges when you don’t know you’re talking smack about someone’s sister-in-law.

Mistake #6: Not following up

You: Ah, what a wonderful interview! I’m so excited about how well that went. I think I will reward myself by sitting at home, watching Netflix, and definitely not sending a thank-you note to the interviewer. I look forward to her completely forgetting me by five o’clock tonight. Ah, what a great day!

What to learn from this mistake: The final major job interview mistake you can make? Allowing your interviewer to lump you together with all those other applicants. Send a polite note or email, depending on the circumstances, and then you can congratulate yourself on a job well done. Unless, of course, you’ve made one of the other five mistakes above, in which case, you may want to go back to the job-search drawing board.

How to Write a Cover Letter

Image sources: Michal Kulesza/Stocksnap.io, Yastremska/BigStockPhoto.com, lolostock/BigStockPhoto.com

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8 Comics to Help You Avoid Unfortunate Punctuation Errors

Ah, punctuation errors. Once a missed keystroke on a typewriter, now the fodder of Internet memes, viral screenshots, and endless Tumblr posts. We’ve all seen the public restrooms reserved for elderly pregnant disabled children, the unsettling connotations of a restaurant that serves “fresh” sushi, the PR disasters that could have been averted with critical commas. In an online world where every little mistake is photographed and shared, understanding punctuation is more important than ever to maintain a credible reputation.

1. Obey the Terminator

The importance of periods.

Terminal punctuation can seem like a no-brainer, and it’s for this very reason that many mistakes occur. Sometimes we overlook glaring errors simply because they’re so obvious. We assume we haven’t made them and don’t think to check. There are, of course, guidelines to keep in mind: Exclamation points in sequence are the written equivalent of shouting (right up there with all caps); some indirect questions actually end in periods, not question marks; and different styles of writing use different rules for terminal punctuation in quotes, parentheses, or abbreviations. The bottom line? Proofread!

2. A comma, a comma. My kingdom for a comma!

The importance of commas.

This little devil is the culprit in the most infamous punctuation blunders. Commas can be tricky things, what with the many, many rules that apply to their usage. Some of the more common gaffes are forgetting to include a comma between items in a list, after introductory phrases, or between independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. If you’re thinking those mistakes sound innocent enough, take a look at the magazine cover that declares that Rachael Ray finds happiness in cooking her family and her dog. Although the cover was found to have been Photoshopped, this punctuation error is easy to make, so be vigilant!

3. Say “no” to sketchy quotation marks

The importance of quotation marks.

I’ll say this once: Never use quotation marks for emphasis. Inappropriate use of these teeny little marks creates a written implication that something is, well, questionable. If the text at hand isn’t actually a quotation or the title of a work, using quotation marks brings to mind the image of someone saying the word or phrase while employing air quotes and waggling their eyebrows. Would you eat at a grill serving “beef” steaks?

4. Hyphens and en dashes and em dashes—oh my!

The importance of hyphenation.

Finding error in the length of horizontal lines may seem like nitpicking. Many won’t even realize these little dashes are different! However, ignoring the circumstances that call for hyphens, en dashes, or em dashes can lead to embarrassing changes in the meaning of a written phrase. As a cheat sheet: Em dashes (the longest of the three, equal in length to the typed letter m) are used in place of commas or parentheses to create emphasis. En dashes (equal in length to the letter n) connect values or ranges (e.g., 2002–2008), and hyphens join words that are logically connected (e.g., state-of-the-art, anti-war, long-term relationship).

5. Don’t eclipse the ellipsis

The importance of ellipses.

(For those of you who don’t get the reference, check out this YouTube clip, and go watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show as soon as you finish this article!)

Ellipses, consisting of three periods in succession, are useful tools that allow writers to indicate an omission (usually in quoted text), the trailing-off of a thought, or a hesitation. As with exclamation points, the rule of less is more applies. A page overzealously spotted and dotted with ellipses will only look messy.

6. Apostrophe catastrophe

The importance of apostrophes.

Pet peeve of editors, proofreaders, and grammar gurus worldwide is the misguided use of apostrophes to form plural nouns. Let’s take a moment to be absolutely clear: Apostrophes denote ownership or conjoined words; never should an -s at the end of a plural noun be preceded by an apostrophe. So please, noble writer, apostrophize the teacher’s office, the dog’s bowl, and let’s get out of here, but stay your hand when telling us about the 1980s or dinner with the Andersons.

7. Serious about semicolons

The importance of semicolons.

(This is another reference for film buffs; if you don’t get the above reference, you’ll enjoy it more after checking out this YouTube clip from the 1976 movie Network.)

Semicolons represent a pause longer than that of a comma but shorter than the full stop of a period. Before you start applying semicolons willy-nilly, however, remember some simple rules: Use a semicolon to join two sentences without a conjunction; before transitional phrases, such as meanwhile, however, and for example, when they connect independent clauses into a single sentence; and in lists of this sort that include commas within list elements.

8. The dreaded grammatical colonoscopy

The importance of colons.

The colon means serious business. Mild toilet humor aside, the use of a colon in writing is a signal that something important is about to follow. Use a colon to introduce a list, to lead into a second sentence that explains or adds to the first without using a conjunction, or simply to add emphasis to whatever follows. To make sure your colon is clean (ew), you may wish to consult your style guide about whether the sentence following the colon requires capitalization.

Still worried about succumbing to punctuation errors? Here’s a cheat sheet from Scribendi.com’s GrammarCamp course to make things easy.

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So, You’re New to Canada, Eh?

So, You're New to Canada, Eh?I hear you’ve just moved to Canada. I bet you’re wondering just how to fit into Canadian culture. If you’ve done any research online, you’ve surely found that to act like a Canadian, you’ll need to say “eh” a lot, eat maple syrup-covered bacon, play hockey, be super nice to everyone, and pronounce it “a-boot” instead of “about.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but most of that stereotypically “Canadian” stuff is a bunch of over-exaggerated bologna. Sure, these things make for great punchlines in jokes about Canada, but they aren’t going to be much help if you actually find yourself in the land of the maple leaf. So, for you who are new to Canada, here are some dos and don’ts that will actually help you navigate the True North Strong and Free.

Do be nice

Canada has a reputation for being one of the nicest countries in the world. And while you shouldn’t expect every Canadian you encounter to shower you with love and affection, you definitely can expect us, as a group, to be very nice to you. For example, in Canada, it is generally considered pretty rude not to hold the door open for someone—even a stranger—who is entering a room or building behind you.

So, what can you, as a recent immigrant to Canada, do to fit in when out and about? The easiest thing you can do to be accepted by Canadians is just to be excessively polite. When you’re buying something at a store, being served at a restaurant, or receiving any other type of service, say “thank you.” And when somebody else thanks you, be sure to accept that thanks with a “you’re welcome.” Here is an example of a typical conversation between a cashier at a store and a customer in Canada:

Cashier: Hi, how are you today?

Customer: I’m great, thanks. How are you?

Cashier: I’m good, thank you. Did you find everything you were looking for today?

Customer: Oh yes, thank you.

Cashier: Good. Okay, your total comes to $15.00, please.

Customer: That will be on my Visa, please.

Cashier: Okay, you’re all set (sets up the Visa machine).

Customer: Thank you (completes the Visa transaction).

Cashier: Thank you. Here’s your receipt.

Customer: Great, thanks.

Cashier: No problem. You have a great day.

Customer: Thanks, you too.

Cashier: Thank you.

You may think that conversation is an exaggeration, but as someone who worked in retail for a long time, I can assure you that it isn’t. Most courteous Canadians treat service workers as if they are friends doing us extremely generous favors rather than as employees who are simply doing their jobs. The service workers, in turn, act as if the customers are their grandmothers, teachers, or other people who are generally treated with a high degree of respect. Of course, there are some rotten people who don’t treat service workers very well at all, but we prefer to believe that the mean people are actually all secretly American.

In addition to thanking people excessively, we Canadians tend to apologize profusely, usually when we have done nothing even remotely wrong. Some studies have shown that about 70 percent of Canadians will apologize when someone else bumps into them. That’s right––we say “sorry” for being in the way of people who aren’t paying attention to us. We also apologize when we don’t know what to order at a restaurant, when we can’t get our credit cards out of our wallets fast enough when there is a line behind us, when our small children cry in public, and so on. Even though it’s ridiculous, not apologizing for such things just seems rude.

Don’t say “eh”

The art of naturally integrating the word “eh” into a sentence is one that takes years of practice to master. Just like you can’t walk into a synagogue and toss around the few slang Hebrew words you know, you can’t just come into Canada and start saying “eh.” Most people who aren’t Canadian seem to think that we say “eh” in every other sentence. It takes a certain level of finesse to integrate it into your speech, and while some Canadians might be liberal with their “ehs,” most of us tack it onto sentences without even knowing it. Here are some proper and improper uses of the Canadian catchphrase that are good to know for those new to Canada:

Correct: “I know, eh?”

Translation: “I agree completely with what you’ve already said.”

Incorrect: “So, eh, I hear you’re an, eh, Canadian!”

Translation: “I’m doing a very poor imitation of a Canadian based on what I’ve seen on television.”

Correct: “It’s beautiful outside, eh?”

Translation: “Don’t you agree that the weather today is very pleasant?”

Incorrect: “Eh, don’t look at me like that.”

Translation: “What I really wanted to say was ‘hey,’ but I was trying to be clever.”

Unless you start saying “eh” without thinking about it, you would probably be better off avoiding its usage altogether. While we’ll probably just think it’s cute that you’re trying to be like us, we may be slightly annoyed if we think you’re mocking us (though it’s not likely that we’ll express that annoyance; instead, we’ll probably just offer you a beer).

Do accept hockey as a regular part of your life

You know that joke about all Canadians loving hockey? Well, it’s kind of true. I mean, no, we don’t all play, and I dare say, we don’t all even like hockey. But even those of us who don’t give a hoot about the sport itself do tend to take a certain amount of pride in our nation’s ability to dominate on the ice. Canada is a very large country, and hockey is one of the only universally Canadian things out there. From British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland, you’ll find small towns whose members regularly congregate at the local arena for hockey games. Many young girls and boys across the country grow up playing, and the amount of time, energy, and passion put into our hockey leagues can’t be ignored. We raise good hockey players, then proudly send them out into the world to represent us on our Olympic team and in the National Hockey League.

You don’t have to play hockey to live in Canada, but learning a thing or two about the game certainly won’t hamper your efforts to integrate into Canadian society. Tune in to Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday evenings once in a while to get an idea of what this hockey thing is all about.

Don’t think that all Canadians are the same

This may be an ironic bit of advice in an article on how to fit into Canadian society, but trust me, it’s still very valid advice for those new to Canada. Ever looked at a map of Canada before? If not, take a gander. If you haven’t noticed, Canada is huge. In terms of land area (no water), Canada is the fourth-largest country in the world. (If you count the water, we’re second only to Russia.)

This huge geographic span means that Canada has some pretty intensely different climates and intensely different people. For example, someone who grew up in Ontario would have a much easier time relating to a person from Michigan, USA than with a person from Newfoundland, Canada.

So, no, it isn’t always cold everywhere in Canada—in fact, not many people live in the places where it is always cold. And no, Canadians don’t all have the same “Canadian” accent. And no, we didn’t all share the same culture growing up. Saying so would be like saying that someone who grew up in Hollywood had the same upbringing as someone who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. While stereotypical Canadian jokes are fine, people need to realize that they are just that—jokes. In reality, Canada is a uniquely diverse country.

Do ask questions, make friends, and feel welcome

I hope you’ve read the above points and thought to yourself, “Gee, I’m glad I moved to Canada.” If you are, I can’t blame you. It is a great place to be. We Canadians are fun people to get to know. We’re pretty accepting of others, too––if you respect us, we’ll respect you. So, come on in. Take off your shoes, get comfy on the couch (never the “sofa”), crack a pop (never a “soda”), and get to know us a bit better. I promise, you won’t regret it.

 

Image source: ylart/BigStockPhoto.com

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5 Types of (Not So) Professional Emails You’re Sure to Encounter

Types of (Not So) Professional Emails

Types of (Not So) Professional Emails Coffee brews, keyboards click, and professional emails fly. Office life is one of constant correspondence, sometimes even with people you could reach out and swat if the desire struck—which, undeniably, it does from time to time (especially when you find yourself the recipient of one of these five common—and irritating—types of professional emails.

1. The “I don’t want to bother you, but…”

What it looks like: Someone asking very politely for a favor.

What it really is: A desperate, clinging, last-ditch cry for help.

RE: A Quick Favor

Hi Kathryn,

How are you? How’s the reboot going? I hope you’re not too busy. How are the kids? I hope everything is well. I’m so sorry to do this to you, but I could really use your help with the project I’m working on. I really thought I could complete it by the 12th, but it wasn’t until I really got going that I realized how massive of a project it really was. If you could help me out, I would really appreciate it. I’ve attached a spreadsheet with the tasks that still need to be completed—could you please let me know if you’re available to take on any of these tasks? Thank you so much! I can’t tell you how big of a help it would be. I don’t think I could do this without your help. Just let me know as soon as you can how many tasks you’ll be taking on. You’re amazing. I’ll be in my office until 3, so feel free to pop by with any questions you may have. You’re the best!

Gratefully yours,

William

2. The short (and not-so-sweet) request

What it looks like: A quick email including a brief instruction about something important.

What it really is: A very clear message that somebody (you know who you are) has done something unacceptable.

RE: Holidays

All time-off requests for July must be submitted by this Friday. Requests received after this will not be processed. Don’t even bother asking. Thank you.

3. The TMI and then some

What it looks like: A professional email about something office-related.

What it really is: Thinly veiled office gossip.

RE: Tuesday’s Meeting

Hey Heather,

I’ve been asked to send you the minutes from Tuesday’s meeting. I’ve attached them to this email. In case you haven’t already heard, the meeting was an absolute disaster. Julie threw a fit about the late reports, and I thought that Erica was going to lose it when Julie accused her of “not caring” about the completion of that competitor analysis. It was pretty intense. I don’t want to name any names, but let’s just say that a certain IT guy probably won’t be writing code for very much longer, if you catch my drift. It’s probably lucky that you missed it. Don’t worry, though—I’ll get you up to speed when we go out for drinks on Saturday. That’s if Bryan agrees to take care of Koen while I go out. If not, Ko will have to come with us. We may have to reconsider the bar scene. Anyway, here are the minutes. See you at lunch!

Kim

4. The “Ha-ha, I’m not here”

This dog is appalled at an unprofessional email he just received.What it looks like: A polite out-of-office message.

What it really is: A co-worker bragging about the fact that he or she is on vacation while you are stuck at work sending emails.

RE: Out of Office

Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, I am out of the office, and will be until June 26th. If you have an urgent need to contact me, please stop, think, and remember that there is literally no such thing as an “urgent” Human Resources matter. You may consider contacting my assistant, Karen, who—for the next three weeks—will be taking on five times her regular amount of responsibility and receiving absolutely no compensation for this extra work. Thank you.

Kindest regards,

Sarah

5. The passive-aggressive “You’re wrong”

What it looks like: A helpful, professional email containing important information.

What it really is: A claim on professional territory—a metaphorical lifting of the leg, if you will.

RE: Memo Color

Hello Taylor,

I was just going over last week’s meeting minutes, and I noticed that some concern was voiced over the color of paper the memos have been printed on lately. Of course, I understand this concern, as memo color is a very important office issue that needs to be properly addressed. The minutes state that you personally suggested the memos should be printed on pink paper. While I agree with you that, aesthetically, pink would absolutely be the ideal memo color, I regret that I must be the one to inform you that such a color does not comply with our company’s policy on memos. I’ve attached a copy of our memo policy to this email; as you will see, this policy clearly states that all memos must be printed on yellow paper. Luckily, this is the measure I have been complying with during my five-year tenure as the company’s official memo printer. So we really dodged a bullet there. I hope that clears up any confusion you may have had about the memo paper color. Thank you.

Yours,

Mary

Conclusion

These examples may be a bit on the extreme side, but I’m sure we can all think of a time when we’ve received a professional email that was just a little off in tone. If you’re worried about accidentally sending a professional email like one of the five shown above, you may want to consider checking out a professional editing service before hitting the Send button. When it comes to communication, it’s often better to be safe than sorry!

 

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What Successful People Are Doing While You Are Sleeping In

What Successful People are Doing While You are Sleeping In

What Successful People are Doing While You are Sleeping InThere are few things more delicious than sleeping in, burrowing deeper into a heap of clean sheets and having breakfast brought in on a tray. Reality probably strikes closer to groggy protests and the inevitable panic when you realize you’ve hit the snooze button a few too many times. In either situation­—whether you’re lounging in luxury or running for the dry shampoo in lieu of a shower—people far more successful have already been up for hours. Have early risers caught on to something, or is the relationship between an early start time and success just coincidence? This is what the world’s most successful people—CEOs, self-made millionaires, industry tycoons, and world leaders—are doing while you’re still snoozing.

They’re staying fit

While it’s easy to want to exercise, the follow-through is much more problematic, especially when hectic schedules and innumerable life hiccups get in the way. It makes sense that those most successful get in their workouts in the morning before energy levels and willpower wane. President Obama starts every day with a workout at 6:45 a.m., by which time Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue, has already played tennis for an hour. Former Pepsi CEO Steve Reinemund wakes at 5:00 a.m. daily to run four miles, and Condoleezza Rice sets her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to fit in a sweat session. In this Yahoo! Finance study, more than 70 percent of executives exercise in the morning, and as such, benefit from revved up metabolisms, increased energy, better moods, lower stress levels, and higher productivity. A consistent morning exercise plan also brings that sense of control and empowerment so often exhibited by the world’s most powerful.

They’re staying current

According to CNBC, Warren Buffet’s morning reading includes the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Omaha World-Herald, and the American Banker. Bill Gates takes in the national news and various economic and business publications. Others add checking social media feeds to their morning news routines. Whatever the medium, leaders are making sure they are up-to-date on the world before going out into it.

They’re staying sharp

Icons of success use mornings to get a head start on important projects, before the slew of daily distractions, meetings, and interruptions compete for attention. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, is known to send out the day’s important emails at 4:30 a.m. Pre-dawn hours may be the best to tackle difficult projects as not only are you freshly recharged but you’re also primed for creative problem-solving directly after REM sleep. The peak energy levels you experience throughout the day are determined by your personal circadian rhythms, but that’s not to say that night owls should write off their mornings as unproductive. According to this article, your creative potential is actually at its best when you aren’t, so if you’re typically alert at night, you’re most likely to experience problem-solving breakthroughs in the early hours of dawn.

Successful people also take time in the early hours to cultivate mental health through meditation. The billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund said in this interview that he attributes his success to early meditation. Bill Ford of the Ford Motor Company built meditation into his morning routine when he realized he needed a way to bring positivity to the workplace during difficult economic times. If in doubt, ask Oprah; she swears by at least 20 minutes of quiet to set the tone for a successful work day.

They’re staying personal

Demanding family schedules make it more and more difficult to organize evening meals. TV writer Nell Scovell found that her career responsibilities often ate into dinner hours, so she changed her family’s main meal to breakfast instead. Sharing your morning time with loved ones also creates a positive mental space to carry throughout the day. Morning family time for successful figures isn’t just about kids; morning sex triggers a boost from happy hormones that keep moods elevated and stress levels down as the day goes on.

The morning routines of the world’s leaders are absolutely achievable. While that snooze button may be tempting, rejecting excuses and adopting a few habits of the successful can only bring greater physical, mental, and spiritual health to your life. Take it from morning lark Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Set your coffee machine on a timer, unroll the yoga mat, and give up your bed a little earlier for some well-deserved self-improvement.

Image source: arka38/Shutterstock.com

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The Honest Guide to Content Marketing Jargon

The Honest Guide to Content Marketing Jargon

The Honest Guide to Content Marketing JargonUpon entering the always glamorous world of content marketing, I found myself overwhelmed by what I initially thought to be a lot of really important terminology. It seemed for a while like no one was even speaking English; content marketing had a language all its own. Terms like bounce rate, conversion, unique visitors, anchor text, buyer’s journey, and search engine optimization seemed to be thrown around in conversation and in content marketing blog posts in a steady stream, and I had no idea what any of these words meant.

As a newbie, I was pretty concerned about my lack of knowledge. I lost sleep about it. Well, I considered losing sleep about it. Then I had a nap.

Anyway, now I do know what those terms mean, and I finally understand why no one ever wanted to explain them to me. This is because after working in content marketing for a while, you realize what these principles are really about. Sure, there are real, technical definitions for each of the following terms, but anyone who’s ever worked in content marketing knows that these honest explanations are far more accurate.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How do I make search engines like me? What do I have to do to be popular? Cut my hair differently? Wear designer clothes? Drive a nicer car? No matter how desperately I try to keep up with the trends, I’m always a step behind. What do you mean, Google has a new algorithm?! Can’t they just pick a bird already?

2. Call-to-action (CTA)

Dear Website Visitor: I bought you flowers, took you out on a lovely date, and told you how beautiful you are. And I even meant it. Then I texted you today, and I got no response. I’m not asking you to marry me, for goodness’ sake––I just want to know if you like me! I just want some positive attention! Can’t you reciprocate a little bit? (Answer a CTA, though, and you’re basically asking me to propose. Just so you know.)

3. Evergreen Content

You know what never goes out of style? Puppies. You always have a safe bet with puppies in your content. Puppies drinking water, puppies running in fields, puppies falling over their own clumsy little feet—anything with puppies will do. Who cares if it’s relevant to your company? It’s evergreen.

4. Twitter Marketing

You might not even know what my company sells, but you do know that we’re really good at being clever in under 140 characters. #winning

5. A/B Testing

Which jeans make me look less fat: the blue ones or the red ones? Red? Are you sure? Will I get more dates if I wear these? How many more dates? Can you please give me some quantified data here?

6. HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

I’m sorry. I don’t speak Computer.

7. PageRank

I’m thinking about running for homecoming queen, but I’m a bit concerned that I won’t be able to get enough votes to win. I’m trying to introduce myself to as many of my classmates as possible, but it turns out that people don’t want to be your friend when you clearly just want them to vote for you. It’s not that I don’t have any friends––it’s just that none of them happen to go to this school, and apparently that means their votes “don’t count.” The injustice of life’s popularity contest, I tell you!

8. “The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing”

The Barely Adequate Excuse for Information that May or May Not Be Vaguely Related to Content Marketing.

9. Landing Page

Muahaha! Now that I have you here, there’s only one way out! Bye bye, navigation! Hello, conversions! (What’s that, you say? You don’t like giving up your personal information? Well, tough cookies, bub! You’re going to have to give me something valuable for this ebook I’ve been slaving over!)

10. Content Marketer

A brilliant mind who can spin anything to make it relate to almost any industry. Fueled by coffee, this magical creature is constantly seeking ways to make even the most mundane information exciting. As a highly trained wizard, this professional can bring a once-invisible brand into the public eye. Though generally even-tempered, the content marketer does not take well to ill-placed puns or bad grammar.

If you’re still new to the world of content marketing, the above list must have confused the heck out of you. Never fear—there’s still lots of time for you to learn how to use landing pages with CTAs to improve your ROI and PageRank with evergreen content and SEO tactics. In other words, there’s still lots of time for you to learn how to become well-liked by (a) your target audience members and (b) search engines; all it takes is creating and distributing quality content.

Image sources: Khakimullin/BigStockPhoto.com, Marc Chouinard/StockSnap.io, Stux/Pixabay.com, Baruska/Pixabay.com

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10 Things Unhappy People Do Not Do

10 Things Unhappy People Do Not Do

10 Things Unhappy People Do Not Do There are so many self-help books and articles out there for people who seek happiness. They advise their readers to live kind, balanced lives—or so they say. They encourage meditating, and donating to charity, and avoiding gossip at all costs. They tell their readers to wake up, exercise, and eat a well-balanced breakfast, all before eight a.m. They advise kindness, and calmness, and preparedness, and acceptance, and flossing. Basically, these books and articles tell people that the key to happiness is being a flawless superhuman.

But what about those of us who don’t strive to be perfect? What about the people who can honestly find contentment with a bag of Cheetos, a beer, and a golden retriever to snuggle with on a Friday evening? What about the people who just want to go to bed each night with a smile on their faces? What are the really important things a person has to do to be happy?

This isn’t a “how to be happy” list. This is a “how to be a balanced human” list. Because, really, balance is what most people sorely lack in their lives, and it’s what they will never find if they are constantly striving to become “happy.” Here are 10 things that unhappy people don’t do and the reasons why doing these things may just make an unhappy person happier. Not happy, as in perfectly content with everything ever, but happier. Hopefully, you’ll read this list and realize that you’re doing all right. Maybe you’ll learn a few things and decide to make some changes.

1. Unhappy people don’t say thank you

Saying thank you—and, more importantly, meaning it—has actually been proven to make people happier. Feeling and expressing gratitude is a win for everyone involved. The person being thanked feels happy for being appreciated, and the person doing the thanking feels good for making the other person happy. So if you’re ever feeling down, ask yourself: Have I been acting like a jerk lately? If the answer is yes, the odds are pretty good that this behavior is affecting more than just the people you’re being rude to; it’s also making you unhappy.

2. Unhappy people don’t take active roles in their relationships

It’s all well and good to have lots of friends and family members, but if you never make an effort to work on or maintain those relationships, you won’t be getting nearly as much out of them as you could be. This is one of several examples of ways that being nice to others can benefit you.

3. Unhappy people don’t pray or meditate

Don’t get us wrong—prayer and meditation are not for everyone. You don’t have to be a member of an organized religion to be happy. The real issue here is spirituality and finding peace. Maybe you need to write in a journal, or play the violin, or paint. Whatever you need to do to get in touch with something beyond the physical world and to find some peace of mind, do it.

4. Unhappy people don’t change the things that make them unhappy

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” These wise words from a famous fictional high school student couldn’t be truer. Getting stuck in an unwanted situation can be a cause of unhappiness for many people. The solution to this problem is simple: change. Now, we’re not suggesting you skip school, steal your friend’s father’s sports car (now that’s a mouthful of possessives!), and lip sync to the Beatles in a parade. All we’re saying is that change, scary as it may be, can be good for you.

5. Unhappy people don’t give gifts

Remember earlier, when we mentioned that being nice to others is really good for a person’s happiness? Well, here we are again. Being stingy never helped anyone. Being realistically generous makes other people thankful, and making other people thankful makes you happy. Isn’t that great?

6. Unhappy people don’t sleep like normal humans

Okay, so this isn’t exactly true for everyone, but good sleep habits are associated with greater levels of happiness. Even though many university and college students have managed to live the nocturnal life for years on end, this is not how humans are actually wired. Try to sleep at night, and stay awake (and relatively productive) throughout the day.

7. Unhappy people don’t laugh as much

Contrary to popular hipster belief, finding funny things funny actually is cool. You know what else is cool? People who can laugh at themselves. Finding the humor in your own life is a great coping mechanism, and people who can cope are people who can be happy.

8. Unhappy people don’t manage their money well

Ugh, money. Nobody likes to admit that money is related to happiness. We would all like to believe that we are beyond the materialistic joys of life, but let’s be real here: being in debt sucks. The stress of being unable to pay off debt or, you know, to provide yourself with the basic needs of living is obviously a huge happiness-sucker. It’s nearly impossible to concern yourself with happiness when you’re busy trying to figure out how to feed yourself or keep a roof over your head. So while money doesn’t buy happiness, it does allow us to focus on happiness.

9. Unhappy people don’t let things go

At the 2014 Academy Awards, John Travolta absolutely botched Idina Menzel’s name while introducing her performance. The Internet exploded with references to the performer Travolta introduced as “Adele Dazeem.” Now, Idina could have been pretty ticked about that, considering her performance was kind of a big deal and her role in Frozen was kind of her first big Hollywood “moment.” But what did she do? She let it go. (See what we did there?) And you know what? She seems like a pretty happy lady.

10. Unhappy people don’t exercise

We know, we know! Much like you were hoping to lose that winter weight you’ve been meaning to get rid of for the past five years without working out, you were probably also hoping to skip the whole physical exercise thing on your quest to happiness. But the fact of the matter is, your brain is connected to your body; treat one well, and the other will benefit.

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