All posts by annaheininger

Sustaining Creativity and Self Promotion

I recently was reading about online self-promotion.  Of course, there are varied perspectives about this.  What should we share online? How much is too much?

5-3-2 Rule of Social Sharing


An article in The Next Web introduces several formulas for social sharing and I found these fairly interesting.  From what  I have observed, it does seem that sharing content from others is highly effective. The most appealing and sensible perspective was presented by author Austin Kleon. His book Show Your Work is “a book about self-promotion for people who hate self-promotion. And he emphasizes that self-promotion is a logical and natural means to building a network.

Show Your Work! Book Trailer from Austin Kleon on Vimeo.

I love the concepts at work here:

The so what test


Too Much Self-Promotion? 

Invisibles_150-198x300 (1)An interesting counter to Kleon’s might be David Zweig’s book Invisibles.  Zweig asserts that invisible people can be the most successful, and that we can learn a lot from look at the folks behind-the-scenes.  Or, that we can implode through too much focus on self-promotion.

While I agree that we live in an age of rampant self-promotion, can we afford not to self-promote?  I also think it is possible to maintain some humility and integrity while self promoting.


“Gun control is the ultimate war on women.”

I recently read that title statement while searching for news about gun control. I couldn’t believe that a woman would make a statement like this.  The woman is Dana Loesch, conservative activist and author of the upcoming book Keep Your Hands Off My Gun (October 2014).

Loesch’s hyperbolic assertion, “gun control is the ultimate war on women” is insulting to the millions of women who are victims of domestic violence every day.

Could you really defend yourself from an abusive partner if only you had a firearm? 

Actually, it is unlikely that you could. According to the American Journal of Public Health, the presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. Further, per the Atlantic, not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership. 

Encouraging women to carry a firearm does nothing to address the more complex and challenging issue of domestic violence. More than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S., are killed by intimate partners, and more than half of mass shootings are acts of domestic or family violence.

Is Dana Loesch willing to have a conversation about this issue of rampant violence in the United States? You might find the answer by looking at the cover of her new book where she is holding an AR-15, the same type of gun Adam Lanza used at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Why choose an image that deliberately incites such great anger when you want the world to be a safer place? Because it is a cheap shot, so to speak.

I am happy not owning a gun; I think gun ownership invites violence into your life. I do not support an all-out ban a guns and yet the Dana Loeschs of the world assume that I do. Like so many polarizing issues in this country, the powerful rhetoric, on both sides, prevents us from compromise; there is no middle ground. We simply cannot have a reasonable conversation, and until we do, we cannot hope to change the violent culture of this country.


Design Meets Healthy Living: Three Personal Favorites


I am hooked on my devices: the iPhone, the iPad, and even the Sync system in my car. I also love great design. I think that great design paired with desirable technology can inspire healthy lifestyle choices. Bottom line, if it looks cool, or makes you look cool, you are more likely to do it.

Here are three of my favorites.

 TERA Fitness Mat

Where do put home exercise equipment? While I prefer to go to yoga class and practice with a group, a trip to the gym is not always possible. However, it can be difficult to feel the same motivation when you are alone. I was excited then, to learn about  TERA, an interactive fitness mat that actually senses your movement and responds by training you. BONUS: It is also a beautiful wool area rug.  

 Fitbit Bracelet

Do you have any idea how far you walk in a single day? The fitbit bracelet tracks your activity level and even how well you are sleeping.

Lifefactory Water Bottle

Do you drink enough water? I drink about 12 glasses a day, and as silly as it sounds, it is because I love my water bottle. I love how it looks, how it feels in my hand. Another plus, this bottle is non-toxic glass protected by a stylish silicone sleeve—basically, the bottle is unbreakable.



Listening to Mental Illness

Today would have been my husband John’s 37th birthday. He lost a long and painful battle with depression on February 5, 2005. His illness went undiagnosed and untreated.

No one was listening.

Untreated depression is as likely to kill you as untreated cancer. In fact, depression can cause all kinds of physical symptoms:  chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.  But many illnesses can cause symptoms like these: poor diet, stress, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Depression is difficult to diagnose. John exhibited some of these symptoms, and those around him could see it, but he seemed to manage; many people do. Not only is depression hard to spot, once diagnosed it is not an easy subject to talk about.

I often wondered why the conversation around depression, but also the larger topic of mental illness, was so difficult. After John died, it felt strange to tell people about his death and if I was just meeting someone, often times I didn’t say anything.  It is a great way to kill a conversation, or at least that’s what I often assumed. I started to get tired of this non-disclosure; it was like I couldn’t tell people about a large part of my life–it was as if it never happened.

CDC stats on mental illnessThe problem is the stigma associated with mental illness. Mental Illness Affects 25% of the United States population and still, few people are comfortable telling others about their own, or a family member’s diagnosis. Frequently, there is a societal perception that if you are medicated you just can’t deal with your problems, or you are not legitimately sick. This prevents many people from seeking the help that they need.


Over the past nine years, I have learned about many organizations and events to help educate us about the very realness of mental illness. The best national clearinghouse is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ New York City Chapter recently launched the I Will Listen campaign.  This campaign has powerful potential to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, because it asks you to promise to be a safe set of ears for someone who needs to talk about their illness.

By promising to listen, your help create a larger network of listeners and you open up the conversation.

Facebook  and Twitter #IWillListen

I hope that people continue to listen. I know that I will.













GMO or Non-GMO

If you Google the term GMO nearly every search result you receive is negative.

I have always been against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and I have always felt confident in my belief. Everything I read about GMOs indicated that they were anti-environment, increasing the need for stronger pesticides and exacerbating the strained agricultural system.

GMO? Genetically Modified Organism

Recently, however, I have started to think quite a lot differently about this issue.


Can GMOs be lifesaving technology?

Bill Gates thinks so. For the past several years, he has supported GMOs as a means for sustainable crops in starving nations. Listen to his points about the benefits of GMO crops in the following video.

Some of the other pro-GMO arguments include:

  • Keeping global food prices lower
  • Farming with less chemicals, using fewer natural resources
  • Creating drought or flood resistant crops

Are GMOs safe?

There are many conflicting arguments about the safety of GMOs. Recently, several scientific organizations have stated plainly that GMOs are safe for consumption. A 2013 essay in Scientific American makes a convincing argument that the GMO practices of an agricultural giant like Monsanto are not only safe but also environmentally beneficial.

I still struggle with where to stand on this issue.  IF GMOs are safe, why is there such resistance to labeling them? Moreover, why are consumers still, for the most part, afraid of them?



Neutral Goes With Everything…

You can find just about anything online largely because of Net Neutrality. For now, all data is essentially equal online. This reality affords users the broadest spectrum of choice. There is a lot of discussion about this right now given the recent push by the FCC to change the rules. A recent article from Reuters describes it this way:

 “Consumer advocates worry that “fast lanes” for content companies willing to pay up would leave startups and others behind. They call on the FCC to reclassify Internet providers as utilities, like telephone companies, rather than the less-regulated information services they are now.

More than 100 technology companies including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. have warned that Wheeler’s [FCC Chair] proposal poses “a grave threat to the Internet.” Democratic lawmakers, venture capitalists and a group of musicians and artists expressed similar worries.”

 You want as many choices as possible in nearly every aspect of life, especially online. Imagine though, that corporations could purchase their way to the head of the line, or even remove their competitors from your equation. Corporations could fundamentally change the experience that you have online as Consumer, Commentator, Contributor, or Content Curator.

I think an interesting comparison might be the recent Supreme Court decision to lift the restrictions on campaign contributions. We cannot fully anticipate the impact of the Supreme Court Decision, and the issue of Net Neutrality poses some similar kinds of questions; once again will large well-funded entities make choices for those with less? Do you trust the regulation of the government, or the goodwill of corporations?

Save the Internet logo

This is an issue to pay close attention to.

Learn more about how a potential threat to Net Neutrality might affect the online communities that you value.