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Jason Alleger

Brand Hijacking

Brand hijacking could be one of the most effective ways to get your brand noticed. In the example to your left, a boutique kitchen supply company named Gygi in Salt Lake City designed its billboards to match that of Cavalia, arguably the largest billboard advertiser Salt Lake City has ever seen. This year, there was a Cavalia billboard on nearly every mile of the freeway and dotting every neighborhood.

This marketing tactic, brand hijacking, works because of the media phenomenon of frequency. When one sees an ad, one does not actually “see” it the first time. Your eyes looked, but the connection to your brain about the message just isn’t usually made in the first impression. In the case of billboards, it usually takes up to 10 ad impressions (times seeing the billboard) to actually recognize it. Between 10-20 impressions in a month is the sweet spot, because when one sees the billboard one understands the message.

Now here’s where brand hijacking comes in.

A brand, such as Cavalia, has spent a lot of money to get its audience up to a 10 frequency to really start understanding their message. Now when Gygi, runs it doesn’t need to spend the money to get up to a 10 frequency, the audience has already seen it. But with the subtle differences the audience recognizes it immediately. Their brains start comparing it to the boards they’re familiar with. And all of a sudden, when it’s time to buy kitchen supplies, they find themselves at Gygi.

Brand hijacking is used in every media channel. Probably one of the most common examples is where a commercial is shot with the same look and feel of the television show it’s running on. For example, you’re watching The Walking Dead and fast-forwarding through the commercials, when all of a sudden you see zombies so you unpause. You then realize it’s not The Walking Dead at all, but just an Audi commercial. Clever, huh?

Hopefully the next time you see a familiar ad you’ll think twice.

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unnamedWhen you hear the term Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), a good employee isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind… In fact, it probably isn’t even in the top 10 things that come to mind. 

When it comes to D&D, I’d wager that most people out there think the players are overweight nerds smelling up a room while systematically ensuring the safety of their own virginity. Others still imagine fantasy clad introverts eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew. Or maybe they associate Dungeon & Dragons with the Occult, luring unlucky kids into the demonic trap of unreality. I mean, look what a failed will save” did to poor Tom Hanks in “Mazes and Monsters”.

But I am here to tell you, that isn’t always the case. Imagine a world where students are leaving college, entering the real working world with no honest idea of what lies ahead: The drudgery of adulthood, the isolation of being the new guy (or gal) in the workplace, the ever-crushing weight of responsibility… Terrifying, right? That’s where Dungeons & Dragons comes in and saves the day. Let me tell you how D&D made me a better employee (at least I think it did, *rolls a D20, result: 17*, yup it did).

Teamwork

In D&D, you are usually part of a group or party. You go on quests and save the realms together. The key factor in making it through an entire campaign is working as a team. I mean, if you don’t work together, then there is no way in the Abyss you’re going to defeat that Legendary Colossal Red Dragon, am I right? Work is much the same way: We function in departments and teams consisting of individuals in all areas here at Penna Powers. The Developers (Mages/Wizards), the Media Team (Paladins), Creatives (Fighters/Barbarians) and the Account Managers (Bards/Clerics) all work together to make the quest go as smoothly as possible while we fight to achieve the ever-elusive treasure of client approval. Without working as a team, that goal is never going to become a reality.

Tyranny of Dragons - Campaign Art - Tiamat

Planning ahead

In life, both D&D and reality, there are so many paths we can go down each day. Knowing your endgame can really help along the way. Are you looking to become a lvl 15 Shadow Dancer? Or do you want to save the princess? Maybe you’re even trying to launch a multifaceted digital marketing campaign for a client. All of these goals have checkpoints along the way, and knowing those checkpoints while having plans laid out ahead of time will keep you, your co-workers and your companions on track to success!

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Yes, that is Vin Diesel running a group. A critical is the best roll you can get.

Go with the flow

In Dungeons & Dragons, you’re always rolling dice to see if your desired actions are successful, and from time to time you’re going to roll a 1 (which is an automatic fail). It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing “boots of fleeing” or if you’re following a website blueprint perfectly… the DM (also known as “life”) is going throw a kobold in your path and your plans are going to change. When those guards catch you after stealing the Pearls of Argomon, rolling a 1 is going to put a kink in your escape. But, being able to stay cool and improvise is the difference between spending the next three game nights trying to pick the jail cell lock and celebrating in the Prancing Pony Tavern with the rest of the adventurers—sipping mead, listening to the pipes and planning your next sojourn—but I digress. The point is, things go wrong and plans change. Don’t let the dice (or the job) get you down.   

Keep an adventure log

Somewhere along the way on a project (or delving a dungeon), you’re going to get lost. It’s inevitable. It will be months, perhaps years, from the starting point and you aren’t going to remember who that farmer was who sent you to find their kidnapped daughter, or why you wanted to use a certain programing language on one page but not the others. Thank the old gods and the new you kept copious notes in your Adventurer’s Log (otherwise known as detailed project notes). These notes aren’t only a fun map of the journey you’ve been on, but they are also a fantastic resource to get you back on track when you’ve wandered too deeply into Fangorn Forest. An added benefit of Adventure Logs: Trustworthiness. DM’s (Dungeon Masters) aren’t infallible, having notes to prove him/her/she/he/it wrong is a great way to cover your tzarreth (“Butt.” Correct me if I’m wrong here, my Draconic is a bit rusty)!  

role playing game set up on table isolated on white background - stock photo

Roleplay, or how I learned to thrive outside my comfort zone

Not that kind of roleplay, sickos… But seriously, thinking and acting outside of your comfort zone is a great way to grow in all areas of life. I’m not really a suave pirate named Mortaemer Darratris, nor am I the stalwart Dwarven cleric Koth-Modan, nor even the Tree Frog archer Seronius Blek whose trusty companion is an oversize killer wasp… surprising right? But when I first left college, I wasn’t a working class professional either. I quickly learned that staying in my comfort zone wasn’t going to help my career at all. Reach out, take chances, and don’t be afraid to sound like an idiot when you join the party as a 3-foot-tall Tree Frog riding a giant wasp and saying “Hidee-Ho there.”

Office camaraderie

This goes beyond working together and helping the team/party succeed. Develop friendships with the people you work with. Spending eight hours a day with friends is much more enjoyable than eight hours with enemies. You’re going to be with these people more than your family in most cases, might as well enjoy the time. Remember, by the end of the journey, even the shady thief may shed a tear when the high-horsed Paladin dies in combat…

 

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Simple explanation: Type faster.

According to a paper written by the British Psychological Society in 2012, the average office worker spends nearly six hours a day at their desk. That’s six hours spent in front of a computer screen arranging random strings of characters into cohesive thoughts. You might spend your six hours hashing out reports, crafting elaborate emails no one will read or even writing clever blog articles about typing, but there’s one thing that all office workers have in common: We type a lot.

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While the amount of words someone will type in a day varies by profession, your average office denizen will type somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000 to 8,000 words during an 8-hour shift. Considering most people type at an average speed of 45 WPM (words per minute), that’s roughly two to three hours of typing each day, or almost 40% of your day, just pushing keys.

If you’re a normal person, you probably don’t know your personal WPM off-hand. If that’s the case, here’s a simple website you can use to test your typing speed. Once you know your word-per-minute average, you can approximate how much time you spend each day typing. For example, if you average 65 WPM, you may only spend one and a half hours typing, instead of two. If you reach as high as 85 WPM then you probably only spend a little over an hour typing the same amount. And if you can type over 110 WPM then you can accomplish the same amount of typing in under an hour.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that achieving a word-per-minute faster than 115 is impossible. And you know what? You might be right. But you’re missing the point. The point isn’t to set the next record for fastest typing speed ever recorded. If you look at my examples above, you’ll notice that the biggest reduction in total time spent typing was the jump from 45 WPM to 65 WPM. This is because the benefits of typing faster grow incrementally smaller the faster you get. The jump from 85 WPM to 105 WPM will only save you 15 minutes, while the jump from 45 WPM to 65 WPM will give you an extra 30 minutes each day.

So, as I said at the start of this post, how can you be more productive at work? Spend less time typing by typing faster.

A slow shutter speed was used to capture the speed of the typist's fingers.

Typing while blurry is not recommended.

But How?

Naturally, once you have realized how much time you can save by improving your typing skills, the next question becomes, “How?” Well, there’s more than one answer. First, learn the basics and other industry-standard typing techniques. Second, as it is with most things, practice makes perfect. And finally, you may want to purchase a better keyboard.

THE BASICS

While I suspect most people who work an office job have already graduated from the old “hunt and peck” technique of yesteryear, there are some basics of typing that might not be as obvious. First, don’t slouch. By adjusting your posture and body position you can prevent wrist injury, which will ultimately slow you down while you type. Be relaxed, but upright. Also keep in mind that your wrists should be level with the keyboard so that your fingers can arch over the keys without issue. Most office chairs are adjustable, so make sure to fiddle with your setup until you find the right seat position.

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The Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Another important thing to consider is your keyboard layout. While most keyboards follow the QWERTY layout, there are alternatives available. The DVORAK keyboard layout is one of the more popular alternatives, and was developed to be a more efficient layout with the most commonly used letters existing on home row. While some people swear that alternative keyboard layouts have improved their typing performance, there are no conclusive studies to prove that this is the case. For more information on alternative keyboards, click here.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Sure, the more you type the faster you’ll get. But that’s not what I mean when I tell people to practice typing. Practice means running exercises and doing activities specifically designed to push your typing capabilities. If you aren’t trying to go faster, then your fingers won’t retain the muscle memory required to actually type faster. Make sense? As such, there are plenty of tools available to help you practice your typing. Websites like Ratatype or 10 Fingers offer services to improve your typing and test your speed. Other websites like Zty.pe employ similar strategies disguised as games to push you into typing faster.

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Typing of the Dead — Improve your typing speed while saving the world from a zombie apocalypse!

The key is to focus on what you want to improve while you practice. Say you want to improve your accuracy, your practice might involve slowing down and taking extra time to make sure you aren’t hitting the wrong key or clicking two keys simultaneously. Alternatively, if your focus is all about speed (because who needs spleling anyway?), you could throw caution to the wind and track your KPM (keystrokes per minute) instead.

BUY A BETTER KEYBOARD

You probably have never thought twice about the keyboard you’re using, but the truth is that not all keyboards are created equal. In fact, your average keyboard that comes bundled with a desktop is pretty crummy. Even Apple’s aesthetically-pleasing minimalist keyboard pales in comparison to a solid mechanical option. I really like how Alex Cocilova put it in his article on PCWorld.

“Keyboards are of two kinds: (1) the cheapo, no-name slabs that are bundled by the millions with PCs, and (2) the ones that are actually worth using—and in most cases, that’s a mechanical keyboard. Stalwart friend to gamers and power typists alike, the mechanical keyboard’s physical operation and durability make it the gold standard for computer use. It’s not the only option out there—good alternatives abound for wireless, ergonomic, and other purposes—but if nothing else, ditching that freebie is something everyone should do.”

If you’re interested in learning more about mechanical keyboards, head back over to Alex Cocilova’s article. He does a great job explaining all of the benefits to a mechanical keyboard.

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Here’s an image of the keyboard I use. I can vouch for its superiority.

 

In the end, improving your typing speed by just 10 words per minute could save you as much as 20 minutes a day, six hours a month or three days a year. Is that worth it to you? I certainly hope so.

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