AWARD | Michelle Sander Named Top 200 Content Strategist for 2016 by Michelle Sander

Congratulations to Michelle Sander for being named to the Top 200 Content Strategists by MindTouch.

MindTouch evaluated thousands and created a measurement that takes into account a wide range of metrics including internet presence, influence, and community engagement and Michelle Sander made the cut!

The list includes the likes of Google, Airbnb, Meetup, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Microsoft, so Michelle is in some great company.

Content strategy and content marketing aren't something that everyone is familiar with, so let's take a moment to clarify. Content marketing is the creation and distribution of online material (videos, blogs, and social media posts) that don't explicitly promote a brand, but, instead, stimulate interest in its products or services. The end result is an increase in brand engagement, conversion rates and, ultimately, sales. Creating quality, relevant content is also key in building Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Content marketing is all about aligning content production to a strategy that is focused on creating devoted followers. Content marketing paired with a solid strategy allows you to create customers and future customers who are die-hard, loyal fans of your brand. 

Content marketing focuses your brand squarely on a target market. Creating quality, impossible-not-to-share content establishes you and your brand as an expert in your respective field, it builds trust, and it creates more opportunities for engagement and ultimately sales opportunities. This is what good content strategy can do for you and your brand.

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If you need help with your content marketing strategy and how to implement it, send a note on the Contact page. Michelle Sander is one of the top content strategists and she can't wait to chat about how to build engaging content for your brand.

PRESS | Remote Marketing Consulting with Michelle Sander by Michelle Sander

It wasn’t exactly wanderlust that spurred Michelle Sander to set out to work with Marketing clients remotely in Malaysia, then Thailand — with plans to hit several other spots around the globe over the following year.

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This story was originally published in Josephine Magazine.

It wasn’t wanderlust because it wasn’t about the places, per se. But even without that traditional motivation, Michelle Sander did have good reason for embracing the adventure.

“For me, traveling is really about the people,” she says. “The idea of collecting people’s stories: That’s what drives me.”

Sander grew up in St. Joseph and graduated from Benton High School before attending the University of Utah on a dance scholarship. She ultimately graduated with a journalism degree, going on to write for various publications before transitioning into marketing and branding.

In the years after college, she remained mainly in Utah before finding herself back home about a year ago. Her dad was sick, and after his passing, she stayed to help her mom — all the while maintaining her marketing career, with her employer allowing her to work remotely.

Although this work situation came about by default, it also came with the epiphany that she could work — and live — just about anywhere in the world.

“Home is where the Wi-fi is,” she says. “As long as you have a good connection, you’re fine.”

Currently, home for her is in Thailand. And her work is with her own business, Michelle Sander Consulting, which helps other businesses discover and communicate their brands.

Sander is with a small group of like-minded world-travelers, many of them also Americans. She notes that they all can be described as vocation independent or digital nomads or even a little tribe of expats — but not as tourists. And that, really, was a significant part of her aim in choosing this adventure: To experience the world not as a visitor hitting the high points but as a resident getting a real feel for the people and culture of a place.

“It feels like I’m collecting hometowns,” she says, adding that putting down roots for a longer period of time allows for experiences she couldn’t have otherwise — such as an adventure trip to find hidden waterfalls that didn’t turn out as planned, since the rainy season was yet to start and the waterfalls were dry. But in having plenty of time to wander, her group happened upon a breathtaking ocean vista accompanied by a beautiful beach.

“Those are the kind of things you can’t plan for,” Sander says. “They’re what you see when you decide to live in a place for a while.”

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Her travel itinerary thus far, beginning in late August, had her in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for about a month before moving to Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, in October. In November, she relocated to the neighboring island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, then spent time in Hanoi, Vietnam, before returning to Thailand to spend most of December in Chiang Mai.

Along with several other travelers, she’ll spend Christmas in a castle in Florence, Italy, and will remain in Europe to kick off the new year — with plans to also immerse herself in Portugal and Spain before moving on to the Netherlands.

Of course, as exciting and enriching as all of this is, living in foreign countries while also maintaining a career does come with challenges. In Thailand, for example, the power sometimes goes out — which limits her ability to work and communicate with clients. And even things that are inherently positive, like a workspace with an ocean view, can be a distraction until she’s had a chance to adjust.

Then, of course, are all the issues that can come up when you’re halfway around the world from the comforts and conveniences of your native country. Sander has found, though, that these difficulties often are also opportunities to see the best in others.

“Once you travel, you really see how nice people are,” she says. “Wherever you go, people are keen to help. It really helps establish the idea that we’re all just trying to make our way in the world and help where we can.”

Life-affirming experiences like these provide plenty of inspiration for her other chosen adventure: Writing.

“Whenever I put pen to paper, I never know where it’s going to go,” she says.

She adds that her passion for storytelling plays out not only in her consulting work but also in her personal writing, including a book and a travel blog. Anyone interested in these can follow her Facebook profile at facebook.com/MichelleSanderMedia or visit her website at lomicsa.com. She also has a business website for her Marketing Consultation services, michellesander.com.

And for those with an urge to follow their own adventures, she has some words of advice.

“Whatever your adventure is, start today,” she says. “You don’t need much; just put your plan in motion, take the first step and keep taking steps day after day.”

As for her next steps, she knows she may not know all the specifics of how her future will pan out — but she does have a great template for shaping it.

“I wouldn’t mind if my future looks like the last few months, over and over again,” she says.

Written by Erin Wisdom

The Paradox of Self-Acceptance and Perfectionism by Michelle Sander

I often have conversations where I gently encourage a growth mindset and self-acceptance. Being OK with trying new things, doing things you aren’t great at (yet), and daring to “ship it” and put it out there even when you just might fail.

Perhaps 1 out of every 10 conversations — yep, I don’t shut up about this stuff — I run into someone who at the end of the conversation says, “Well, I’m a perfectionist. It’s just the way I am.”

I’m here to tell you, that’s the same as saying, “I’m a racist. It’s just the way I am.” I’m not saying that to be provocative, rather, I’m saying that to illustrate an idea. Like racism, perfectionism is learned and it can be overcome through reasoning and changes in judgement and decision-making frameworks. It’s a tendency toward specific assumptions about yourself and the world around you.

Perfectionism is a framework for understanding yourself, your behavior and performance, and where you fit in this big, oft-confusing the world.

Brene Brown likens perfectionism is a 20-ton shield. (Watch the talk about it.) It protects us, sure, but it also it makes it difficult to connect with others and is exhausting to carry around all the time. I like to think of it as a security blanket. I was so close to taking that worn-down square to college (the University of Utah’s selective Modern Dance program). I didn’t, however, but I did take my perfectionism and I wore it like a badge of honor.

The badge held me back more often than not from auditioning when I thought I wasn’t ______ enough. The blank was filled in with an endless supply of adjectives. Over time, the blank disappeared and what perfectionism left me with was simply, “I’m not enough.”

It took years for me to realize that I didn’t treat myself with the same regard that I treated strangers on the street, let alone friends. For others I would chime, “It’s the journey. It’s the trying. The bravery is in the speaking up, the pressing Send, the reaching out for the hand come what may.” But for me it was different. For me, I: “needed to know better,” “should’ve seen it coming,” “made the mistake yet again,” “would never learn.”

My inner dialogue was filled with black-and-white thinking — also called all-or-nothing thinking or dichotomous thinking — “should” statements, and frankly a lack of compassion for myself and my story: the hallmarks of a fixed mindset and a lack of self-compassion.

So, (and maybe you’ve been waiting for this part) how did I change it?

Practice, lots of practice. Seeing yourself as a WIP (work in-progress) means everything is practice. It’s all learning. It’s all growing. With practice and with a lot of help from friends, and from family, and from my therapist, Diana, I learned that while perfectionism is saying, I’m not enough today and tomorrow will never come; self-acceptance is saying, I tried my best today and I’m going to try my best to practice on x and y for tomorrow and that’s enough. I’m enough.

Marketing Stuff Ninja and Communications Rockstar by Michelle Sander

Job titles aren’t just a matter of semantics. They can tell you a lot about what a company values and what it might be like to work with them.

After working on my own startup for a while, the build-measure-learn framework for iterative decision making lodged itself deep into my overall thought processes. Not too many things in my life are left unmeasured or analyzed and now that I have a nice sampling of Job Hunt data, I decided to take a deeper look.

 
Job titles aren’t just a matter of semantics. They can tell you a lot about what a company values and what it might be like to work with them.
— Michelle Sander
 

Since I embarked on my Job Hunt in the marketing and branding space, I have applied for about 50 jobs with various titles to fit my skills and ambitions. Here is the list of job titles as they appeared in alphabetical order.

Associate Manager, Social Content
Communication Manager
Content Marketer and Writer
Content Writer
Creative Digital Designer
Designer
Developer / Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing & Project Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
Digital Product Manager
Director of Growth (remote)
Director of Marketing
Director, Product Management
Executive Marketing Assistant
Growth Hacker
Growth Marketer
Head of Digital Team
Internal Communications Manager
Learning Consultant
Marketing Automation Consultant
Marketing Designer
Marketing Director
Marketing Director Position
Marketing Generalist
Marketing Position
Marketing Product Specialist
Marketing Product Specialist
Marketing Product Specialist Position
Marketing Stuff Creator
Online Marketing Manager
Partner Marketing Manager
Presentationist
Product Designer
Product Marketing and Communications Manager
Product Marketing Manager
Senior Manager Channel Marketing Operations
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Senior UX Designer
Social Editor
Social Media Campaign Assoc
Sr. Marketing Manager
Travel Writer
UX/UI Designer
Web Developer and Technical Marketer
 

I’m not interested in working for a company that employs ninjas, rockstars, or evangelists. (I’m a writer so of course I take myself far too seriously for that.) And, while I’m still trying to sort this out, it also seems to strike me as coded language that says “startup,” or “we hire only millennials.” While I am a millennial, I’m at the far end of that classification and jobs like these may also be encoded subconsciously as “low paying.” Either way, I always seem to find a reason not to apply.

The jobs that I find myself most excited about and usually interview with are the positions that:

Are titled Director of Marketing or Marketing Director

This is the same title as my previous title.
60% of the interviews I’ve had are for jobs with this title.

Include emphasis in communications, branding, marketing strategy, or product management in the job description

Include a social good aim/connection

It’s important to me. Like one company said during an interview, “We don’t just build websites that sell deodorant anymore. They have to make the world better.” (I suppose you could argue that deodorant makes the world better.)

Allow for remote work

I’ve been a remote worker for a year now and I’ve decided the modern office is where the wifi is.

Some use the term digital nomad to describe this, but for me I really love the freedom to walk my dog when I take breaks.

Remote work is also about balance, so I utilize a coworking space as well.

 

The companies that are the most impressive to me incorporate job titles into their overall business strategy. It’s not merely semantics, it’s starting with why and knowing that something as seemingly trivial as a job title, might attract the right candidate.

Indigo Children Reboot by Michelle Sander

One of my cover stories was about a phenomenon known as Indigo Children. Precocious kids who seemed to be wise beyond their years and usually prodigious in the arts. When I saw the video of Grace VanderWaal that was being passed around last week, I immediately thought of the story. Read the incredibly interesting Indigo Children story here and take a look at the video. 

Gobbledegook, Poppycock, Whimsy and Spam by Michelle Sander

Julius Comroe said, "Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter." 

 Style | Faulkner House Books | New Orleans, Louisiana | 2016

 Style | Faulkner House Books | New Orleans, Louisiana | 2016

In 1754, the word "serendipity" was first coined. It's defined by Merriam-Webster as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." It was recently listed by a U.K. translation company as one of the English language's 10 most difficult words to translate. Other words to make their list include plenipotentiary, gobbledegook, poppycock, whimsy, spam, and kitsch.

The invention of many wonderful things have been attributed to "serendipity," including Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Charles Goodyear's vulcanization of rubber, inkjet printers, Silly Putty, the Slinky, and chocolate chip cookies.

  • Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin after he left for vacation without disinfecting some of his petri dishes filled with bacteria cultures; when he got back to his lab, he found that the penicillium mold had killed the bacteria.
  • Viagra had been developed to treat hypertension and angina pectoris; it didn't do such a good job at these things, researchers found during the first phase of clinical trials, but it was good for something else.
  • The principles of radioactivity, X-rays, and infrared radiation were all found when researchers were looking for something else.

I remember learning the phenomenon of serendipity for the first time. It was used by one of my professors in a Modern Dance class to describe movement using improvisation instead of choreography. “The result,” she said, “could be serendipitous.” Then, like when you learn any new word, it started crawling out of the woodwork. It was in every newspaper, magazine, textbook, radio broadcast; it followed me like a shadow. 

Regardless of its abundance, however, I thought of the term fondly until my English professor told us that some terms come in and out of fashion like the latest cut of boot. I was scandalized. A word I see everywhere, not to mention one that is so fun to say, was just another version of the latest kitsch. Since this revelation, I’ve decided to choose my words like I choose my boots: classics for everyday and the latest styles for the occasional night on the town.

3D Pie Charts Are Lie Charts by Michelle Sander

By David Mendoza - Monday, March 16, 2015

Despite the overwhelming evidence proving pie charts ineffectively display data, designers continue to use this deficient graphic. Two of the most prominent data visualization experts, Stephen Few and Edward Tufte, both agree that the usefulness of the pie chart is limited. “Of all the graphs that play major roles in the lexicon of quantitative communication,” Few maintains, “the pie chart is by far the least effective.” Edward Tufte is even more blunt. In The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, he wrote, “Given their low data-density and failure to order numbers along a visual dimension, pie charts should never be used.”

R E A D  M O R E

Using links and nodes, sticky notes, and silence in your group to get your ideas sorted by Michelle Sander

Tom Wujec loves asking people and teams to draw how they make toast, because the process reveals unexpected truths about how we can solve our biggest, most complicated problems at work. Learn how to run this exercise yourself, and hear Wujec’s surprising insights from watching thousands of people draw toast.

Exploring Brain Fitness by Michelle Sander

Tried the Muse brain-sensing headband over the weekend: illuminating.
— Michelle

Muse: the brain sensing headband is a brain fitness tool that measures brain signals much like a heart rate monitor senses your heartbeat.  Muse’s 7 finely calibrated sensors – 2 on the forehead, 2 behind the ears plus 3 reference sensors – detect and measure the activity of your brain.

Muse Headband

Failing Your Way to Success by Michelle Sander

Translation: far too many entrepreneurs try to impose their vision on the world, rather than listening carefully — and responding nimbly — to what the world really wants.
— Ryan Holmes

The lean startup approach is hardly rocket science but, applied rigorously, it can turn a good business into a great one and help a non-starter pivot to viability.

POSTMANTERRORISM by Nick Lantz by Michelle Sander

What, in those long hours of ash, could our appletinis tell us of good or of evil?
— Nick Lantz

POSTMANTERRORISM
by Nick Lantz

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Would it make a difference to say we suffered
from affluenza in those days? Could we blame
Reaganomics, advertainment, the turducken
and televangelism we swallowed by the sporkful,
all that brunch and Jazzercise, Frappuccinos
we guzzled on the Seatac tarmac, sexcellent
celebutantes we ogled with camcorders while
our imagineers simulcast the administrivia
of our alarmaggedon across the glocal village?
Would it help to say that we misunderestimated
the effects of Frankenfood and mutagenic smog
to speculate that amid all our infornography
and anticipointment, some crisitunity slumbered
unnoticed in a roadside motel? Does it count
for nothing that we are now willing to admit
that the animatronic monster slouching across
the soundstage of our tragicomic docusoap
was only a distraction? Because now, for all our
gerrymandering, the anecdata won't line up for us.
When we saw those contrails cleaving the sky
above us, we couldn't make out their beginning
or their end. What, in those long hours of ash,
could our appletinis tell us of good or of evil? 

"POSTMANTERRORISM" by Nick Lantz, from The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors' House. © The University of Wisconsin Press, 2010. From the Writer's Almanac. (buy now