Praxis Module 1

Today I submitted my final deliverables for Module 1 of Praxis. So it’s time for another program recap!

I have a post specifically about week 1.

As I mentioned in that post, for the first week we had orientation and two blog posts to write. The two posts were my Top Three Skills post and the Five People Experiment post. We gave feedback on each other’s deliverables as well. In addition to these activities, I went above and beyond by writing Recap posts for Episodes 9, 29, and 36 of the Forward Tilt Podcast.

Week two we revised our pre-program deliverables (more on that here) and talked about productivity. I wrote a post reviewing the workshops we watched, and as a result of those workshops, a few other members of my cohort and I made an accountability group. I also wrote my How I Work post. During the Praxis Wednesday call, we talked about how our website and LinkedIn tell people about us, and worked on refining how we are perceived. We also discussed productivity and habits and such.

Week three was the hardest week. I made my about me pitch video (also on my Home page) and a video discussing the two articles we read. I also wrote a Recap post about one of them. As hard as it was making the videos, especially the pitch video, I discovered that I enjoyed the process! I actually wrote two posts about making videos, The Difficulty of Video Making and What I Learned About Video Making. I also have plans for another video that I will make over the next few days. Instead of just “I want to make more videos,” I will make a video over the next few days. If I haven’t posted a video and shared it on the blog by Wednesday night feel free to call me out on it.

Week four, this last week, we finished the month by learning about the apprenticeship and planning our project for next month. We filled out a placement survey, took the DISC assesment and the MBTI personality test, and wrote a Project Ideas blog post. (I wrote about the MBTI here, because I find it fascinating though it is pseudoscience.)

It’s been a really busy month, and next month will be just as busy! I’ll be marketing my poetry collection, which I just finished! It will be releasing the first of November as an ebook and a physical copy will be available for pre-order until December. I will have a few exclusive signed copies available. Very few, so if you want one, email me as soon as possible at alyssachantelwright@gmail.com to secure yours now.

A Review/Shoutout

As you probably know, I’m publishing a poetry collection called Inside a Writer’s Head very soon. One important part of a book or ebook is the cover. I was strapped for time and while I could make my own book cover, I thought I’d be better off hiring someone else to do it.

I’m glad I did!

I worked with Jacob Beman, a fellow Praxian, who designs and sells apparel. He did a fantastic job! He sent me a few different versions of what I said I wanted, then created a second draft based on what I liked. His work was great and he was really nice and helpful the whole time!

Recap: Niche Down

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

Niche Down: How to┬áBecome┬áLegendary by Being Different is a book by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy. Christopher Lochhead is the host of the Legends and Losers podcast, and there is a Recap post about Episode 181. Heather Clancy is a journalist. The subtitle serves as a great synopsis of the book — it is Christopher’s and Heather’s observation of “how to become legendary by being different.”

I just finished Niche Down, and it’s fantastic. Anyone who want to do something big should read it. It’s chock full of excellent examples of people and companies who embody the mindset and approach Heather and Christopher are pushing. Many of the people don’t know either of them, and “niched down” without that term existing to describe their actions.

I did not take detailed, structured notes while reading. My notes are then, mostly my recollection of the book overall. The chapters bleed into each other. Each chapter has a main focus, but they’re interconnected.

Notes:

That by being different, doing something differently, or viewing the world and solving problems in a new way, you will stand out. In order to become legendary, have a household name, be wildly successful, whatever it is, you have to stand out, you have to be different. If you do things like everyone else, play by other people’s rules, you will not be the best. You have to set yourself apart, become a “category king or queen” and set the rules to have the majority of the marketshare for that type of item, service, etc.

You have to identify a problem you care about solving (this is important), find the solution, and sell it. This should be a problem people don’t know they have, or that you can solve in a new way. You have to tell people what the problem is, convince them it is a problem, and then explain why they should take your solution. You can’t “be a mercenary,” you have to “be a missionary.” You have to be so sold out to the problem and your solution that you don’t just gain customers, you gain followers, who are sold out to your perspective. When you do this, you become a cateogry king or queen.

Don’t make something like an existing thing. If you are doing something like someone else, you won’t stand out. You will be compared to whoever did it first. That’s not what you want. You want to redefine the problem, solve a new problem, create a new category entirely. Then people will follow your lead, your ideas, be compared to you. Most people wanting your solution will go to you, not the competitors in your category.

In winning people to your solution, evangelizing them, sharing your unique perspective is vital. You have to build social capital as well and increase your presence online. Have a digital body of work and use it to signal that existing “similar” products/companies/etc. should pay attention. That the problem and solution you are working with are important, that people care about it, and so should they.

Niching down is a scary thing. To do it, you have to go against the crowd, you have to stand out, you can’t stay in the safe zone with everyone else and their ideas. You have to position yourself as a leader rather than a follower.

Response:

There’s so much in this short book (only 110 pages) that’s so good. I could go on so many tangents.

While reading, I thought about myself, my goals, what I love in relation to the content. I found a lot of questions, but very few, if any answers to them as of yet.

I want to make money to at least partially support myself by writing. How can I niche down in that? What problem can I solve with my writing, either a finished product or my skill of writing? I know I want to stand out, I don’t want to be like everyone else, but how do I do that? When there is such a saturation of creative work nowadays with the advent of the internet, how do I stand out from a crowd of writers?

I don’t have answers now, but I’m still at the start of my journey. I only really started seriously pursuing writing earlier this year. I have time, I know that. I’m not using that as an excuse for complacency, however, just an encouragement to myself that I still have days and weeks and months and years to figure this out and refine my approach and define myself and establish my niche.

Most well-known authors are recognized by their works. Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Raven, Inkheart, Eragon, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and others. But it depends on readers what sticks, what has staying power, what is recognizable years, decades, centuries later. (And often times publishers, at least traditionally, but self-publishing is a growing alternative that does not have any approval process limiting what becomes available to readers.)

The Coffee Explorations: Sam’s Choice Mandheling Sumatra

I bought a French press a couple months ago and want to figure out what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra, the Papa Nicholas House Roast, and the Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast.

I actually still haven’t finished the Hawaiian Roast, but my dad bought some Sumatra so I wanted to try it.

It had a strong, rich dark smell when I opened it. The finished coffee smells the same.

With cream and raw sugar it is smooth and dark and sweet but not too sweet. I want to taste the coffee, not hide it.

It’s really good. I’m not sure how it compares taste-wise to the Fresh Thyme, but it’s far better than the Starbucks.

It seems I like medium and dark roasts better. Perhaps that is due to my experience with espresso after mostly not having coffee for years. I’ll never know.

The rating: 7/10.

(Today’s rating is based solely on taste with no adjustment for the price as I didn’t purchase it.)

Praxis Module 1, Week 1 Review

In the same vein of the Praxis Pre-Program Review, I thought I would share what I worked on over the last week for Praxis.

I officially started the Praxis bootcamp last Monday. It’s been a wild ride so far, but I’m loving it and can’t wait to keep going.

I got to work immediately on the work for week one, watching the videos and drafting my Top Three Skills post and my Five People Experiment post. In addition to these activities, I went above and beyond by writing Recap posts for Episodes 9, 29, and 36 of the Forward Tilt Podcast.

On Wednesday, my cohort (a fancy term for the group of participants who started the program in October with me) had Orientation. It was a three hour Zoom call consisting of three sessions, Kicking Ass 101, Bootcamp and Placement Overview, and then a discussion with two Praxis alumni about their experience and where they are now.

As other people in my cohort shared their work in Slack, I got to know them better and practiced constructive criticism. We share feedback on at least two other participants’ deliverables each week both to benefit them and to give us ideas to improve our own work. (This works in other areas as well, which is why I’m always eager to critique other people’s writing if I know I have time available to do so.)

It’s been a great first week and I will be working just as hard through the rest of the bootcamp as well.

Praxis Pre-Program Review

Tonight I submitted my pre-program deliverables for Praxis. In honor of this, I thought I would discuss the deliverables and the work I did to complete them.

1. Professional Headshot, a photo featuring me wearing nice clothes as for an interview. I enlisted my dad to help me, and we went into our backyard to take the photo.

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You can’t even tell that it’s weeds behind me!

 

2. Email 101, a professional email address and a lesson on email etiquette.

3. Professional Testimony, two reviews of working with me were required, I had three. I reached out to my youth pastor, Tim, the owner and editor of the Millstadt News, Abbie, and the co-owner of Over the Invisible Wall, Justine.

4. LinkedIn Profile, update it to tell a story and engage visitors. I added more detail to my work experience, including a link to my Panera Job Review. I looked at some other participants’ LinkedIns for examples to help me.

5. Personal Website, post about how I’m “breaking the mold” and a site to build my brand. If you’re reading this blog, you’re on my website now! I had built my website before I started any of the work, back in June. My breaking the mold post is my birthday reflection post describing how I worked toward my goals over the last year.

6. Pitch Deck, a slide show that tells my story and showcases my skills and projects and makes a value proposition to business partners. This was the hardest of the deliverables for me. I labored over the design, presentation, wording, and big picture.

The Coffee Explorations: Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast

This is perhaps an unusual post for a mostly creative-content blog. I bought a French press a month or so ago and don’t know what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra and the Papa Nicholas House Roast.

This addition to the series has been a long time coming, as it took a while to drink a whole bag of coffee.

When I opened the bag this morning, I liked the smell of the grounds. It was not quite as “Wow that smells amazing” as the House Roast, but it was good. After steeping the grounds in boiling water in my French press, the coffee smelled slightly bitter but with a noticeable tinge of another smell. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, I’m still trying to decipher it, but it was good.

My first taste, after raw cane sugar and heavy whipping cream, was that it is very smooth. It has a stereotypically coffee flavor to it, followed by a sweet and tangy after taste reminiscent of the second smell I noticed.

It’s good, but I would like it to be stronger. It’s a light roast, so perhaps I prefer medium or dark roasts.

Overall, I give this coffee a 7/10 for flavor.

I’ll try brewing it with additional scoops of coffee in the press to see if that makes any difference.