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SILVER OAKS COMMUNICATIONS BLOG

Inspiration is Everywhere!
June 30, 2017
As a word nerd, one of the sites I frequent for inspiration is Merriam-Webster.com.  Yep, they’re the dictionary people. But their website is not exactly like thumbing through a dusty old volume for the word perspicuous. They have features like the Word of the Day, various vocab games and spelling quizzes, plus interesting musings on trending words like “scurrilous.” I go there to look up spellings, and sometimes I just need a little creative inspiration! This made me wonder where my fellow Silver Oaksians go to be inspired… Mark Weitzel, Hardware Engineer: “I love ebay. It’s a great place to find model and part numbers.” Julia Evans, Project Manager, Museum Services: “Buzzfeed. I love all their 'feel good' lists and ways to organize stuff. And it’s inspirational to know which Disney Princess I am based on my favorite candy bar. Just sayin'.” Clint Thomas, Designer: “Dribbble is a cool community site for designers. And Pinterest gives me logo and web design inspiration. I also flip through actual magazines for ideas as well.” Tracey Sands, Project Manager, Marketing: “Every day I read articles from The Medium, which is an online platform for leaders, artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs and every day citizens to share a story, idea or perspective. I also enjoy meeting with like-minded people to discuss marketing, influencers, brands, current community and international events. In summary, I'd say my inspiration comes from reading, writing, and talking with other people from all walks of life.” Dylan Atwater, IT Specialist: “I like Reddit for multiple opinions on different issues. I also go to tomshardware.com for anything IT related.” Joe Zerull, Videographer: “I go to IMDB a lot to watch new movie trailers – if I like them, I use the site to find out more about the directors and the actors. Also, the video crew likes to invite co-workers to movies that we find interesting and cool. Last time it was Alien: Covenant. This time it will be Baby Driver.” Grace Burt, Project Manager, Museum Services: “Pinterest – and news and reviews (via e-blast and Facebook) by other creative producers in the industry.”  
The Scary Side of Business Isn’t All That Scary.
April 30, 2018
When was the last time you walked into a crowded room and sought out a stranger to talk to instead of making a beeline toward a familiar face? Not lately, huh?  It seems we fear what we don’t know, and as creatures of habit, we tend to enjoy our comfortably lined security nests, and don’t veer easily toward what is foreign to us. When it comes to business networking, many of us wince.   We immediately think about a pushy salesperson with a sweaty stack of business cards, but that’s not what it should be about. It should be about getting to know people. New people. And that can be scary stuff. This week, however, I pushed the boundaries of my comfort level. Jacqueline Holm, Assistant General Manager for the Quad Cities River Bandits, gave a presentation at the PR Network Half Day Workshop on networking, and her words resonated with me. Here’s the thing about walking up to a perfect stranger and introducing yourself—it’s a little scary for everyone.  But there’s a good chance we’ll have something in common with that person, because at our core, we’re all just people. And those similarities? They make new people less scary because once we learn we have something in common, we feel as if we know them—at least a little—because they are like us. Jacqueline had us break into groups of two (yes, groups of two strangers!), gave us a list of icebreaker questions and within a few minutes, we all knew something—and had things in common with—a perfect stranger. It’s likely that we all had anxiety to some degree, but no one fled the room, no one cried, and no one was exiled from the village. I’d say it was a success.   All of this got me to thinking about the Quad Cities Big Table event that took place the week before. Over 5000 people participated in over 500 tables throughout the Quad Cities, giving residents and businesses a chance to voice their opinions on how they would like to see the area grow. The table I participated in discussed how to foster diversity and inclusion. The consensus was that we tend to gravitate toward people we know and shy away from people we don’t, and if we can overcome that, we’ll be a more inclusive society. This leads me back to that issue of fear and comfort. If we don’t get out of our comfort zones—if we don’t meet new people and go new places—we’ll do little to foster diversity and inclusion. We—all of us—need to be willing to strike up a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like us or think like us. We need to be willing to listen to an opinion that is different from our own, and we need to be willing to hear it. We need to be willing to experience things that force us to shed our security blankets. For the Quad Cities Big Table group I participated in, this means choosing to frequent locally owned businesses owned by people whose backgrounds are different than our own and intentionally saying hello to new people. We may feel uncomfortable at first, but that’s just the fear of the unknown whispering in our ear.   And let’s face it—our best memories are not usually created doing those humdrum things that are part of our everyday routine. They’re usually created doing new things that challenged us, surprised us or inspired us. People are much the same way. It can be those new people who will challenge, surprise or inspire us. I think it’s time we go meet them.

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