Mona Wehbe I Digital Portfolio

 
 
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On November 15, BBC World reached out to me for an interview on my recent ebooks all around personal branding, and the importance of building your digital profile in your job search. 

If you read Spanish, or have access to Google Translator, read this article below. It reinforces the importance of having a strong digital portfolio where you can showcase not only your work and personality, but also share your expertise within like-minded communities. 

What's great to see is this topic starting to be talked about widely in various industries. Whether you're an active job seeker or happy with your current role, its becoming imperative that you build a solid digital profile which helps you communicate your skills and personality to anyone who may come across your name. Just think, how many times YOU have Googled other people or topics specific to your interests or profession. If you have a strong enough network, your profiles will start appearing in those search results, thus further positioning your personal brand and expertise. 

Read the BBC World article here.

Other resources
Revisit my ebooks on this topic.

 
 
The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) recently interviewed me on the methodologies, structure and processes behind what I do in Content Marketing, specific to the Candidate (B2C) audience segment I lead. The outcome is the linked Case Study below that showcases how we operate on the Content Marketing team, or process in developing our strategy and content selection/focus for the year, and the results we're able to achieve with the budget and resources we have. Download the full case study here. 

© 2013 The Corporate Executive Board Company. All Rights Reserved. 
 
 
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Building your personal brand may sound like the last thing you need to do if you’re happy and challenged in your current job. It may seem irrelevant if you see a career path inside your current organization, or even if you feel confident to rely on your existing networks for future job opportunities.

Statistics like this put the importance of personal branding —even when you’re not in job-search mode — in perspective. They remind us why simply waiting until you are about to change jobs may be too late to adequately build or balance your online (and offline) reputation.

But, did you know that 70% of employers say they have rejected applicants because of information about them that they have found online1?

Whether you work for yourself, for a large organization or a very small one, it’s just smart career management to demonstrate why you’re an expert in your respective domain — and to do this in ways that colleagues and associates can witness every day. Developing your personal brand is now essential to ongoing career development, even if you’re not actively searching for a new job.

Today, take control of the biggest brand in your life; the brand called ‘You’. Download the full ebook.


 
 
We're were in London for #truLondon and TalentNet Live. Day 1 of TalentNetLive went well, as we heard from keynote speaker Lance Richards on his stellar presentation, Talentomics. Check out this recap video!
 
 
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Its a new appendix to your resume

The competitive nature of the employment market means individuals need to find ways to stand out and 'sell' themselves. 

This is nothing new, it’s just that the ways in which you can do this have changed— and mostly they’ve moved online. However, you don’t need to be a tech genius to sell your skills online. There are many simple and free tools you can use to get started that are no more difficult than building an animated PowerPoint presentation. (And there are plenty of tutorials and tips online to help you if you get stuck!)

Whether you’re in a creative field like marketing, or any other field like science or finance, the same rules for creating a digital portfolio apply. To begin, you should start to think of your online presence as another kind of resume, or a kind of appendix to your existing one.

Ideally, building a digital portfolio is about demonstrating your ‘brand’ through online activity. It shows employers what you’re passionate about and driven by; how you communicate and engage with others, as well as leadership or innovation in your field. Don’t just blog or post, start building an online portfolio that employers can use to connect with you, understand you and identify the right opportunities for you.

If there is one golden rule when it comes to building your online portfolio it’s this: brag as much as you like, but be honest and get ready to back it up. Download this free ebook to learn my tips on how you can get started and make it work for you. 
 



 
 
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While the use of social channels to screen potential hires can expose companies to legal pitfalls, and there are many issues around discrimination and privacy that must be considered, companies can and do use social media information to augment the hiring process. Some use it well, others may not, but the sheer scale of social media activity means candidates must be aware that in various ways it has become part of the hiring process. 

Every 60 seconds there are 120 new LinkedIn Users, 370,000 Skype Calls, 320 new Twitter accounts and 695,000 Facebook status posts. More than half of employers (56%) say they advertise ONLY in social media when seeking job candidates.

Online collaboration is becoming a way of life, and it has an increasing role to play in your employment prospects—so long as you manage it well.

Social media is being used at an ever-increasing rate to augment and refine the hiring process. So, if you’re online, you should assume your hiring manager, recruiter or HR rep is too. You should assume that how you present online is (at least) as important as how you present in person. For some roles, it will actually be more important.

If there is one golden rule when it comes to vetting your digital presence, it’s this: if you wouldn’t say it in an interview, don’t post it publically online.

 I recently authored this ebook on how to 'Clean up your digital dirt". Learn four basic steps to ensuring your online presence is reflective of the real brand ‘you’, and that it promotes your employability rather than hinders it.

I hope you are able to learn some valuable lessons as you begin to purposely and strategically position yourself online. 

Cheers,

Mona

 
 
PCH 1: A guided tour
If you've come across this blog, you've probably searched a ton of sites looking for guides to traveling the beautiful coast of California and recommendations. I have completed this drive from LA to San Fran two times now. I'll detail all the highlights of a 3-4 day trip and recommended stops, lodging, food, sights, and more. 

Regardless of what you do, driving the coast of California will forever change your life and will show you a new beauty unlike anything I've seen anywhere else in the world. Its captured my heart and I am confident it will do the same for you. So buckle up, and get ready for a ride of a lifetime along the PCH 1. 

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Big Bear | Close to LA, do in a day
I have family in LA, so I spent the weekend with them up at Big Bear right on the water. For $60 a night, and being right on the lake, our lodge couldn't have been more perfect. We docked the Jet ski right next to the hotel rooms. Spend the afternoon riding and relaxing, while going off-roading in the evening. We spent the majority of the next day mountain biking. My cousins did have all the gear, but Christian (my significant other who joined me on this journey) and I had to rent full suspension bikes and helmets at a very reasonable price. 


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Start in Santa Monica
If you're not inclined to spend a few days in LA, make your way to Santa Monica to mark the start of your trip north. For some reason, I am always drawn to Santa Monica on all my visits to California as the landmark to the start of my journey. Spend a little bit of time exploring the pier. There's some cool shopping at the 3rd Street Promenade. Its all very typical and touristy, but still nice and beautiful. The beach is amazing, and you'll enjoy stopping in the area for a couple hours. I would recommend hitting the road early enough to have daylight through your trip to Santa Barbara. 

The best part of this drive before getting to Santa Barbara is having a tent/RV, or air mattress, because there are a ton of 1st come first serve, cliff side rv/tent camping that's available. We wanted to stay one night, but we didn't have out camping gear yet. (We ended up buying an air mattress and putting it in the back of the Wrangle. It was perfect for the rest of the trip.)

Pack warm layers
It will be colder than you expect. So pack a ton of sweaters and layers. Big bear was in the 80s in July and no rain at all. But as long as you're on the ocean, its going to be much colder than you would expect. 


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Journey to Santa Barbara

Expect this part of the drive, until you get closer to Big Sur, to be a little duller as far as scenic driving goes. There's not a lot to see on PCH1 in Malibu, so you can breeze right through. I hear there's an awesome restaurant right on the beach where you're served on the sand, you take off your shoes and you eat barefoot. 

The best part of this drive overall is if you feel like stopping to take in the beauty, then stop. There's no pressure for time at all. 

Once we got into Santa Barbara, it was around 5pm. The beach was beautiful, some clouds but not many. We are notorious for not booking lodging in advanced. Its part of the beauty of the adventure. Its also a big part of the stress. But we were so lucky to find a treasure, at the Inn at East Beach. Its just a block from the water. They serve locally baked pastries for breakfast that's included in your stay. And its also reasonably priced. The rooms are clean and modern. The manager/owner of the place was so kind to give us advice and show us around, and that made the biggest difference for Christian and I.

One big surprise I had was that most of our hotel rooms did not have air condition. I almost freaked out about that, while my boyfriend, a native German, just rolls his eyes. "Stupid Americans". Surprisingly, the temps dropped so much in the night, so an open window is really all you need for a very comfortable night's rest. 

We unpacked and strolled about a mile down the beach until we found a Mexican restaurant that was pretty good for atmosphere, average for food. I should also mention, I was in Mexico the month prior at a pretty high-end resort. We had all the Asian fusion and Italian restaurants our appetites could ever dream of. Not what you expect going to Mexico. But in California, I had the best Mexican food I have ever eaten in my life. So eat up while you're here. Its typically authentic and delicious.

Santa Barbara is a very classy town with a ton to see, including the Mission. Its one of the smaller one's I've seen but still worth the visit. And for $5 admission fee, its well worth it for the tour.  


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Ride the Dunes at Pismo

As you start to travel from Santa Barbara to Pismo, you'll be going inland for a while. Its still really pretty, with rolling hills around you, but you do get on the highway sometimes, so this part of the trip goes pretty quick.



If Santa Barbara is classy and quiet, Pismo is....well .... rugged, down to earth let's say, and dirty! In the best sense possible. You see lots of tattoos, dirt bikes, and off roading vehicles everywhere. You have more of the tattoo shops, and claims for "the world's best clam chowder." I tend to disagree with that statement, but hey, that's just me and I like my chowder a little soupier. Their stuff is more like a stew. 

Since I admittedly, have a finer taste for food, we found a diamond in the roof on Yelp, that offered ocean side dining. This place was quite expensive but an amazing Latin American inspired menu with delicious martinis. Ventana Grill was perfect for a sunset dinner. Christian has their Asada, and he says its the best he ever had, even those he had in Mexico. I had several martinis that rocked my world (in addition to dinner that was also very tasty).

We were here on the eve of 4th of July. All the hotels were sold out, the campgrounds were packed and pretty much sold out too. We lucked out and got in at a campground for $30 a night. We set up our air mattress and we were good to go for the night. I slept really well. Christian got a little cold. But its because I had the sleeping bag. Otherwise, it was so comfortable.

In the morning, we went up on the Sand Dunes in the Wrangler, almost getting stuck a million times. These dunes are a MUST SEE on this trip. Its a natural phenomenon. The sand is so soft. And because its a holiday, it was totally packed with people on every off-roading vehicle you can imagine. Keep in mind, that you need to have a flag, so if you don't own one, they sell them right on the beach. And there's a ton of vehicle rentals too. 


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Pack a Picnic

Christian and I went grocery shopping before leaving Santa Barbara, so we had food for breakfast and lunch. After leaving Pismo, and coming back towards the coast, we found this beautiful wild spot for lunch. We walked at least a half mile to the cliff side. We only saw one person walking by who was fishing further by the water. There were birds all around us, flying in groups and getting so close to us. It was majestic and peaceful. Its moment like that, which make this drive so amazing. Its a very popular drive, so you do see many people on PCH1, but there's a sense of isolation as well. You can easily find quiet stops where its just you and nature. 


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Hearst Castle, and the Sea Lions

As you continue to drive north, the ride will just get more breath taking with each passing mile. There are a few things you should do, if you've never been before.

You'll see signs to see the Sea Lions before getting to Hearst Castle. Its worth the stop. The sea lions are so cool to watch. The way they move, lay there, throw sand to keep cool, and wobble around. You'll probably spend about a half hour here before realizing you've seen all you need to see and you move on.

By the time Christian and I reached Hearst Castle, it was getting a little later in our day. If you've never done this, I would totally recommend taking a tour of the castle. There's a ton of people everywhere, but the bus ride up to the castle is very pretty. Since the next available tour was not until 4pm, we decided to opt out of taking the tour, and continuing our drive. Christian has never done this drive, so he had no idea how close we were to the best part of the whole trip. 


God's Masterpiece is Big Sur

We are so glad we did skip out on the castle tour, because we started to see the tiny winding road around the mountain, the smell of the crisp fresh air, the cliff side getting higher from the ocean, and evening fog setting in. I knew, we were finally making our way to the grandest part of the whole trip, Big Sur. We loved it so much here, we stayed for almost 3 days, part camping, and in part staying in the state lodges.

Photos will only do so much to describe the beauty and majesty that's found in Big Sur. This place will forever change you and will instantly renew your heart. At least, that's what it does to me every time. But I'm a sucker for beautiful nature. 
Lodging and Things to See

If you're at all able to, you must pack a tent and make this a camping trip. There are so many beautiful cliff side options to camp on. And nothing beats waking up to the sound of the ocean, wind on your face, and the view looking out into the horizon. You'll be able to find first come first serve, cliff side option along PCH1.  

Other great options are staying at the Big Sur Lodge. We learned that if you come later in the evening, they negotiate a better deal. One night, we drove in pretty late and asked for a room. All they had was a 2 bedroom cottage which typically goes for almost $500. We got it for $120. 

As far as dining goes, you'll probably hear a lot of people say they ate at Nepenthe. The food is pretty good, and it does not get any better in terms of a spectacular view. They have both indoor and outdoor dining options. They also have a fire pit overlooking the ocean and cliffs, so its a great spot for just having a few drinks and hanging out. Pack a sweater, because it does tend to get chilly as the night goes on, depending on the time of year you're there. 

There's a lot of hiking trails and beaches you can check out when you're there. Just ask anyone in the city, and they'll point you in the right direction. In particular, I want to make mention of Pfeiffer Beach. The road is unmarked so you have to pay attention to the side street to go down. Larger trailers can't get through, but most cars will have no problem. You will thank me for this later. I've posted photo above. It was really one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen the whole trip. 


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Carmel, Monterrey and Santa Cruz

The charming town of Carmel, once led by Mayor Clint Eastwood, is an upscale town, with quaint shopping and boutiques all over downtown, and a beautiful view of the water. Save yourself the money, and opt out of taking the 17-Mile drive. Its totally over rated. What you will find though, is a ton of cute shopping, beautiful hilly streets, and good eats. I did not stay the night here, but you can certainly find ways to spend your time. 

We had a late lunch and kept driving up to the crazy town of Santa Cruz, where you won't have a shortage of people-watching along the board walk. Its a city that reminds me of Wildwood, New Jersey (A town I used to live in for one summer in college). Its got a few small carnival rides and roller coasters and a boardwalk that's filled with people on any given day. Its not my kind of town, but Christian was most excited about visiting this place. He mentioned something about a childhood dream of Santa Cruz, and just had to see it: the logo, surfing, and women in little bikinis (my assumptions of course). I guess German TV really sensationalized this place in the 80s.  I did enjoy walking around downtown and doing some surfer girl shopping. I picked up a few cool board shorts, water wear, wetsuit, and more. 


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Home stretch to San Francisco

To my surprise, the drive between Santa Cruz and San Francisco was absolutely stunning. You're much closer to the water, height wise. (Not as cliffy as Big Sur), the stretch of beaches and sand dunes were amazing and very unique to anything we saw south. It was more magical, because the sun was beginning to set, and added this beautiful glow to the surrounding landscape in addition to the fog rolling in. We stopped off to watch the sun set along the way. The ocean was fierce here, with signs everywhere warning of shark attacks, rip tides and danger. In spite of that, there were many surfers waiting for that perfect wave. We considered staying the night in the lighthouse hostel, but opted for the Day's Inn at Half moon bay. It was nothing fancy, but a comfortable warm room, after several night's of sleeping in the back of the Wrangler. 

The next morning, we hit the road to San Francisco and found a great deal on hot-wire.com at almost 70% off the published rate at the Omni in the financial district. The finance district is a great place to stay, if you want to be near Union Square without paying the premium prices of the area. Just know, that after 6 or 7 pm, the finance district is pretty much empty, but you won't find cleaner street than you do here (they're power washed every night!). 
 
Things to note: You would typically thing you could walk everywhere in San Fran, but be careful, as some of the streets, not far from Union Square, get pretty sketchy. Christian and I decided to take a .6 mile walk to dinner, and found that to be a big mistake. 

Also, get ready for the workout of your life. We went for a walk on our first evening, and I was sweating profusely by the time we made it up just a couple street. The walk down, however, was a lot of fun! I'm not quite sure how anyone in a wheel chair can realistically get around the city, or anyone with a physical disability of any sort. It just doesn't seem possible. But it could be a great way to build some strong upper body strength. Still, it just seems difficult to get around. It could as well be my personal issue (Coming from the plains of Michigan and not used to that terrain at all!)

There's so much to see and do so I'll start listing some recommendations:

  • The pier (sure... check it out, but I hated all the people, so I only needed a few minutes down there before venturing outside of that area)
  • Catch the ferry to Sausalito - Its so charming, lots of cute boutiques, and wine tasting. It reminds me of a little Italian village.
  • Alcatraz - Sadly, I haven't had the opportunity to go to Alcatraz. The next available tickets were three months away, so make sure you book early if possible.
  • Have drinks and dine at 25 Lusk. We sat at the bar and had drinks and appetizers, and I felt like I was in Harry Potter's potion mixing lab. They had so many combinations of ingredients, many home grown, that they use to make a cocktail, it was unbelievable. And they were all delicious. Its an urban, trendy atmosphere, so come dressed to impress. 
  • There's a ton of parks to visit. You can take a drive up to the Twin Peaks for a beautiful view of the city. If you're up for it, wake up early and go watch the sun rise there. Its phenomenal. 


We even considered going to Yosemite National Park, which is about 4 hours from the city; very do-able if you have a couple days to spare. I hear its amazing. We decided we did enough driving and stayed put in the city until we flew home. 


In summary, regardless of what you do, make sure you go into your PCH1 road trip with an open mind and agenda. If you over-plan, you'll likely miss some of the true gems waiting right around the next curvy road. I'm confident you'll find your way and will enjoy this trip just as much as I have!

Cheers,

Mona

 
 
What is the value in higher education, if you've already established momentum in your career? When does it make sense to go back for a Masters? What payout do you need to see in order to justify the high cost of post graduate education? Or should higher education not be tied to a monetary gain? 

That is, you have established yourself in your industry as a subject matter expert and you have a pretty good gig going for you. All in all, you're finishing off your tenure in the work world making a decent salary, and for the most part, life is just peechy. 

The obvious answer in my mind is well, duh!!, education is always valuable. You will grow as a person and make yourself more competitive in the work place, especially if you get into a position where your employer is comparing apples-to-apples. But really, what is the value in investing more time and money into a Masters if you're already moving forward successfully in your career path. Will a Masters make a real difference? 

You ask me, my answer is undoubtably, Yes

You ask my friend, who is a director of a Global auto division working in the US from Europe and has about 5 years my senior in the work world; Her answer, undoubtably, No

This friend has a University degree from France which I believe is equivalent to a bachelor's degree in the US. She has achieve a senior level position within her global company without a post-graduate education. And she's only moving up the ladder, quickly. 

In her mind, once you get to a certain level in your career, there are no financial benefits to pursuing post graduate education that you could not achieve on your own without that degree. Bottom line, he philosophy is unless you can equate a direct ROI of that potentially $50,000 - 100,000 investment of your post graduate education, what is the point? You would have to really sit down and break down how quickly you project you will realize a return.

Though I don't completely agree with that philosophy, I can respect that very direct point of view. 

There are a few questions you should ask yourself before dropping a ton of cash on another degree that you may or may not need.
  • Why do you want to go back to school? What do you expect to gain?
  • Is it because you can't find a job and that is the only other alternative to flipping burgers? What I see often is you have a high rate of unemployed, but highly educated people. And the workplace is becoming more competitive as a result. 
  • Do you have an employer that is willing to invest in paying for your education? Keep in mind, an employer that is willing to invest in you, is truly an employer you should be willing to invest in. 
  • Do you want to go back to school simply for the pursuit of knowledge, not expecting a monetary gain, but a non-tangible gain in the form of greater knowledge? 
  • Are you shifting careers and need training in a new field?
  • Do you plan to work in other countries? Are their standards of higher education the same as they are in the US? That is, do they value work experience just as much as having another degree? 
  • Ultimately, what are your life goals? Do you want to be a C-suite leader? What lifestyle are you looking for?
Whatever your reasons are, make sure you think long and hard regarding your choice to go back to school. Consider the long term benefits of your post-graduate education. If you're stuck not being able to find a job, try diversifying your search efforts. Shop online, use social to make connections, build a digital portfolio, work though a workforce solutions company, and/or go back to school to expand your skill set and experience.

Here are some of the comments I received on my facebook. Cheers!!

Mona

 
 
In just the last two days, I've been asked over and over again about building a digital portfolio and my presentation, "Sell Yourself: How to Build your Personal Brand through a Digital Portfolio". If you're at all interested in learning how to build your own personal portfolio, check out my video below. Its a quick easy summary of my presentation I did for the IABC Heritage Region Conference a few months back.

Please keep your laughter to a minimum. :) 

Cheers,

Mona

 
 
We'll folks, it has been some time since I have graced you with my presence. And by now, I've likely lost your readership and loyalty, if I was able to earn it at all.

I will take this moment to proclaim, that I Mona Wehbe aka "D-Money" aka "Monizzle" aka "Monie" aka "Lil Rocket" do hearby officially state that the long dreary season of hibernation has concluded and I'm officially awakened

To further validate my point, please view the following ad spot. Hope it puts a smile on your face and please look forward to Mona's ranting and raving from time to time. 

Cheers!

D-Money ;)