31 Day Writing Challenge

I’ve always enjoyed writing. It’s something I do casually via this blog and my personal journal. I’ve realized through conversation and interactions with colleagues that there’s ample benefit to writing consistently for professional reflection and synthesizing emergent trends.

Aside from professional/ personal goals, I really want to push myself this month to create and ship on a daily basis. A lot of my thoughts and ideas tend to stay in my brain. For this reason, I’m going on a creation spree in July. I’m challenging myself to publish one blog post a day for the whole of July. I’m most likely going to be talking about hip-hop, politics, vc, product management, education, emerging technology, and some random poems, Nigeria, Africa, International Development, current events, and anything else that comes up. 

Lets see how it goes.

Agile Tasks: My New Favorite App

AgileOver the weekend, I randomly stumbled upon (Didn’t find it using StumbleUpon, but someone should make a StumbleUpon for mobile apps) Agile Tasks, a light-weight project manager app that makes it easy to manage your day-to-day projects and to-do lists. I got really excited when I found Agile Tasks because it takes a stab at the challenge of making a universal task app that everyone will appreciate while still understanding that people have unique flows when it comes to managing tasks. As a product manager, I can appreciate the agile process and how it applies to getting tasks done. The interface and the flow of Agile Tasks makes sense to me and makes it way easier for me to apply to my daily routine.

agile Agile Tasks separates tasks into specific projects, tasks that are in the queue, in the process of doing, and done. It’s a pretty simple set up. Agile Tasks also includes the ability to record voice tasks and time sensitivity/ reminders.

So far, its been a pretty smooth transition from my other task manager. (I used Zoho Task Manager because it connected to my email and project platform) While there’s no special integrations for Agile Tasks, I still find its use worthwhile. I’d love to see a desk top version. The more I think about it, Agile Tasks reminds me of a simplified Pivotal Tracker. Pivotal Tracker has been my primary project manager for my dev teams so that is probably why I find it so easy to use Agile Tasks.

I’ll keep on playing around with Agile Tasks and I’ll report back in more detail my experiences.

Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards

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Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards

The Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards celebrate excellence and beauty in data visualizations, infographics and information art . It’s amazing how much information can be displayed in many of the best infographics. Its truly an art to develop infographics that are not overbearing and easy for the viewer to understand.

On writing

During my application process to business schools, I realized  my writing quality had decreased since my college days. In college, I would crank out papers almost mindlessly and overtime I became efficient in making bloated papers focused on pages than quality. It wasn’t until I took an introduction to geopolitics in my senior year  that I worked more on concise writing. We would create memo-like one pagers on our readings which meant I had to summarize forty or fifty pages in one page. For the first time, I had to really focus on main points and leave out irrelevant material. I wish I had more experience in college writing this way.

I feel like I am slowly losing my ability to write in a meaningful way.Two years out of college and working in a setting where most of my writing is emails or in less than 140 characters,I want to get back to the place where I write often and even get better. Here are a couple of things I plan on doing to improve my writing:

Practice

I will write more. By writing in my journal and on here more often, I hope to gain some confidence and get back to where I was at the end of my college career.

Read

I will reading more fictional books. I reading a lot of informational texts but  I need to branch out to the fictional book space to practice identifying style and tone.

Edit

I will take opportunities to help others edit their writing. Practice makes better but helping others practice helps on a whole other level.

I hope to take my writing to the next level and to do that, I have to become a student of words, structures, tone and messaging. Writing, reading and editing more will definitely help me become a great writer.
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Leadership and Communication

Great leaders are effective communicators. Think of MLK, Gandhi, Lincoln, and FDR. They were all leaders who understood the value of their words and how it would translate to action. Why did their messages hit so hard with the crowds that, at times, hung on to their every word?

I think it comes down to two very simple strategies that anyone can apply when talking to a group of people.

1. Believe, know and live your message. Have an understanding of what you’re saying to the point where people could understand your message without hearing you speak. Gandhi is one of the best examples. He preached non-violence and acted in accordance to his beliefs. Embodying your message gives you the unshakable confidence when communicating your message.

2. Know your audience. The great leaders always know their followers. They empathize, sympathize and understand where they are and where they come from. MLK understood that his followers needed the big picture and sought inspiration in his words. His sermon style speeches naturally gave his listeners hope and courage to work for a brighter future.

This is not an exhaustive list. I think that you’re half way to victory if you know your message well and the audience that will receive the message. At the end of the day, great leaders communicate well to inspire others or to call them to action. These two skills go hand in hand. Great leaders communicate well and effective communicators make for great leaders. I wonder which came first?