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Summer intern turns Inkdoc author and Rubik’s Cube Coach

This article was written for Inkling and published on their website. All rights reserved.

My Role: Copywriter

When I think back to my two summer internships, I have several distinct memories.

YEAR ONE:

Locked away in the back room of a law firm in downtown Chicago, every day was more or less the same. Some guy, who wasn’t big on conversation and never bothered to introduce himself, would roll in a cart packed with legal reference books and park it next to my Xerox machine.

Each book was filled with multiple sticky notes indicating the page ranges I needed to copy and staple together. After I conquered everything that cart had to dish out, I would wander the hallways with my 300+ pages of photocopies, looking for their rightful owners. When I got back to my “copy cave,” another fully-loaded cart would await me. This cycle repeated itself three times a day.

YEAR TWO:

Well, let’s just say this internship wasn’t nearly as glamorous, fulfilling, or meaningful as my first. My immersive corporate learning experience involved a bond funds department at a now-defunct brokerage firm in New York City, a manager who liked his liquid lunches, and a microfiche machine. Yes, microfiche.

Two internships, two takeaways: (1) paper jams happen, and (2) chewing gum can’t hide the smell of a three-martini lunch.

Luckily, not all internships are created equal. The good ones are designed to provide a mutually beneficial experience for intern and employer alike. At Inkling, our interns are considered valued team members. We rely on their skills and insights to support our mission on a day-to-day basis.

In turn, our interns gain exposure to the people, operations, and real-world challenges that take hard and soft skills to the next level—and, quite possibly, influence their plans for the future.

Meet Edward Kim, Inkling Marketing Intern (Summer 2019)

As the end of his freshman year at Vanderbilt University approached, Edward Kim set his sights on returning home to California and finding a summer job. When asked about his job hunt, Edward states, “While I’m majoring in economics and minoring in business at school, I was casting a really wide net. More than anything, I wanted to see what it was like to work in an office environment—at a software company, if possible. When I heard through a friend that Inkling was looking for a Marketing Intern, I decided to apply.”

The Inkling interview and hiring process for Edward was similar to that of full-time candidates. After two phone interviews while in Nashville, Edward was invited to Inkling’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco for a series of face-to-face meetings.

“I was nervous,” Edward explains, laughing now in hindsight. “I didn’t know that much about marketing going into the interviews, and I had to meet with the Head of Marketing, the Marketing Operations Manager, the Field Marketing and Events Associate, and the Customer Marketing Manager.”

When asked how the interviews went, Edward laughs again. “While I felt intimidated going in, the team was really nice and made me feel at home. They spent a lot of time explaining what they did individually, how they worked together, and the kinds of things they needed help with.”

Inkling Design Review: Jacob McAdam (left), Front End Designer, Inkling Creative Services works with Edward Kim (right) to optimize his Solving a Rubik’s Cube Inkdoc design.

No Groundhog’s Day experience. No monotonous tasks.

Unlike yours truly, Edward never found himself assigned mind-numbing busy work devoid of variety. His experience was quite the opposite: no day was ever the same.

From marketing operations to event and customer marketing, Edward assisted every team member with mission-critical programs and tasks. Software solutions that were once foreign, like Salesforce and Marketo, became tools he used every day. And (for better or worse) Edward assimilated terms like demand gen, retention, scoring, and MQLs into his vocabulary.

Whether asked to pull reports, flip contacts, scrub lists, or sync program data, the marketing team members agree that Edward approached his responsibilities and new challenges with a can-do attitude.

Katie Arsenio, Inkling Field Marketing and Events Associate, states, “Edward is super flexible and easy to work with, and I was always impressed by his willingness to tackle our all-hands-on-deck last-minute projects with a positive attitude, which is essential when working on our lean marketing team.”

Referencing one particular out-of-the-box project Edward took ownership of, Katie recalls, “Ultimately, he accomplished things to help out in ways we never imagined—like writing a digital how-to guide!”

From marketing operations to puzzle master and Inkdoc author

What Katie is referencing is one of Edward’s most unique (and impressive, IMHO) accomplishments of the summer: creating an Inkdoc called Solving a Rubik’s Cube.

To showcase an Inkdoc’s capabilities for sales prospects, Edward learned how to use Inkling’s authoring tool called Habitat. As Edward puts it, “Creating the content wasn’t the hard part. Habitat’s drag-and-drop functionality and design elements made that part easy. The hardest part was learning how to solve the Rubik’s Cube and outlining step-by-step instructions.”

After Edward drafted his Inkdoc (the mobile-responsive, easy-to-search documents created in Habitat), he had a design review with Jacob McAdam, Front End Designer on the Inkling Creative Services Team. “That was a real eye-opener,” Edward explains.

“I saw my work through the eyes of a professional designer, and Jacob taught me digital design best practices and showed me ways to reinforce learning. It was really cool to get a taste of the actual training and support Inkling customers have access to during the implementation process.”

Top three takeaways

I sat down with Edward on the last day of his internship to talk about his experience at Inkling. In addition to the hard skills and authoring accomplishments, Edward expressed gratitude that he was able to practice soft skills like time management, task prioritization, and expectation setting on a daily basis. He also shared his top three takeaways for the summer:

  1. His boss Neha Sharma demonstrated how a good leader can be transparent while providing enough information to succeed, sufficient space to make mistakes, and ample time for feedback.
  2. His marketing operations mentor Matt Cronk showed him that it is possible to approach every situation and challenge with a smile on your face.
  3. In the future, he might want to explore the analytics side of the marketing business!

Needless to say, the team misses Edward a lot, but we’re happy that the hard work he did this summer was meaningful for him. We also know that his efforts will continue to have a positive impact on our marketing programs this year.

7 tips to help prepare for holiday returns

Originally written for Returnly Systems Inc. and published on their blog. All rights reserved.

My Role: Copywriter and Content Strategist

O.k., I admit it—when it comes to holiday shopping, I’m the worst. While I do love giving gifts, making thoughtful, well-planned purchasing decisions is just not my thing. Sadly, what I am exceptionally skilled at—where my holiday retail “superpowers” shine through—is being able to secure one random purchase after another with impressive speed on last-minute whirlwind shopping sprees. Luckily, I have one safeguard that brings a sense of peace to my “process”. Whether purchased online or in a storefront, I don’t buy something unless I know it can be returned or exchanged.

Data shows returns are the new norm for ecommerce

My chaotic approach to holiday shopping is not the norm for a majority of today’s holiday shoppers (and for sanity’s sake, something I don’t advise). According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, “39 percent of holiday shoppers said they would start buying holiday items before November, while 43 percent are waiting until at least November, and 18 percent are waiting until December.”

Where I am aligned with most of today’s shoppers is that I buy with returns (or the ability to return) in mind. Data published in a Shopify Plus article by Aaron Orendorff shows that 41% of shoppers “buy variations of a product with the intent of returning.” And this consumer trend looks like it will translate into a staggering number of returns this holiday season. 

Case in point: UPS. Per GlobeNewswire, they’re anticipating a record-breaking holiday returns volume this year with customers due to ship:

  • 1 million return packages back to retailers daily during December
  • 1.6 million return packages daily the week before Christmas
  • 1.9 million returns on January 2, 2020 alone (up 26 percent from last year’s peak return’s day)

Between the uptick in shoppers using returns as part of their buying process and an NRF forecast predicting a significant increase in online and non-store sales, it’s safe to say that ecommerce retailers need to be prepared to handle more holiday returns than ever before.

Watch Now:
How to Prepare Your Online Store for Holiday Returns

If you’re running an ecommerce operation, returns are a fact of life you’ll have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. If you’re unprepared to handle them—especially during your busiest times of year—they can become a nightmare; impacting profit margins, conversion rates, and your brand’s reputation.

The good news: Returns don’t have to wreak havoc on your business! If you have the right policies and practices in place, there are great opportunities to build shopper loyalty and see profits grow.

In the on-demand webinar How to Prepare Your Online Store for Holiday Returns and Drive Revenue, Jon Feldman, Head of Partnerships at Returnly, shares seven tips that can help you save time, improve customer experience, and boost revenue with product returns this holiday season.

Watch recording now

Campaign: Post-Purchase Customer Onboarding Makeover

Multi-touch Email Campaign Makeover

My Role: Copywriter and Content Strategist

The Challenge

Transform a lackluster customer onboarding experience into an engaging introduction to the Autodesk ecosystem of resources and tools — while reinforcing the brand promise to help the customer “do more” with Autodesk solutions.

The Strategy

Create persona-based multi-touch nurture campaign to acquaint software administrators and/or end users with a holistic overview of the role/industry-specific need-to-know programs, resources, and tools.

The Result 

Reimagined Onboarding Touches

  • Touch 1 – Let’s get you set up
  • Touch 2 – Check out your support and community resources
  • Touch 3 – Explore your account management tools and features

Secondary Touches for Non-Responders

  • Touch 1 – Activate your software
  • Touch 2 – Assign permissions
  • Touch 3 – Set your preferences

Why Content Engagement Metrics Really Matter

This article was written for Inkling and published on their website. All rights reserved.

My Role: Copywriter

Elevators, escalators, and moving walkways—what would we do without them? Get to the 20th floor in seconds without breaking a sweat. Done. Make a connecting flight a half mile away while hauling that oversized carryon. Not a problem. Safely descend below the city’s surface to catch the last train home after the office happy hour. Phew. Bottom line, while they do nothing to help us reach our daily step count goals, these modern-day people movers do make life more comfortable, safe, and convenient in millions of locations across the globe.

Say hello to Schindler Group. Founded in 1874 in Lucerne, Switzerland, Schindler manufactures, installs, services, and modernizes elevators, escalators, and moving walkways for every type of building requirement worldwide. An industry leader employing over 64,000 employees, Schindler moves over a billion people per day, 7 days a week. And with growth drivers that include ongoing urbanization, demographic change, demand for modernization, and the need for better energy efficiency, Schindler’s product portfolio is set up to provide optimal mobility solutions now and into the future.

Hear Mark Early, Training Manager at Schindler talk about onboarding, empowering, and retaining a global workforce one-on-one with Inkling CEO, Jeff Carr. During this webinar, you’ll learn how:

  • Inkling is being used as part of Schindler’s Superintendent Training program,
  • What the content authoring and distribution experience is like,
  • How HQ is tracking employee engagement,
  • And how built-in engagement metrics are helping predict new hire success.

Gain access to this On-Demand Webinar with Schindler Elevators now!

What it takes to be recognized as a top training delivery company

This article was written for Inkling and published on their website. All rights reserved.

My Role: Copywriter and Content Strategist

I’ve always been a late adopter of most things designed to simplify life, which makes embracing the latest technologies particularly hard for me. I mean, why microwave popcorn when I can vigorously move the Jiffy Pop container in a circular motion over the open flame of my stove top? And why should I subscribe to a streaming music service when my record player still cranks out tunes for free?

Yes, my struggle to embrace change is real, but the desire for increased efficiency and simplicity inevitably pushes me to adopt new ways of doing things. And while I may struggle on some level with new technologies (the verdict is still very much out on self-driving or driverless cars, thank you very much), I happily identify as a modern learner.

When I need to know something to do my job or solve an everyday problem, I must find answers within minutes, if not seconds, and the information I need must be available in different formats across multiple devices. For better or worse, I set the instant-gratification bar high when it comes to accessing and using information to perform my job.

Like me, the majority of today’s learners expect more. At work, we want quick access to the mission-critical training and information needed to do our jobs well. We strive for everyday successes. From at-your-fingertip search capabilities and on-demand tutorials, to more traditional lesson-based structured learning, the learning experiences must be flexible, personalized, intuitive, engaging, and modern.

The shift in learner expectations—and the subsequent effort to provide modern solutions that meet employees where they are—is disrupting the learning and development market now more than ever before. In the training delivery sector of this evolving space, tremendous innovation is taking place, and leaders are getting noticed. So, what does it take to be recognized as a leader? 

5 criteria to vet training delivery leaders

For the third year in a row, Training Industry, Inc. has published its list of Top Training Delivery Companies. As a leading research and information resource for corporate learning leaders, Training Industry helps organizations in their search for training delivery platforms.

“This year’s Top 20 Training Delivery Companies continue to develop engaging delivery platforms that provide advanced reporting and analytics capabilities that measure the impact of learning,” said Ken Taylor, president of Training Industry, Inc. “Through a combination of strategic methods, these providers deliver training solutions that optimize employee training and performance.”

To compile this year’s list of top training delivery companies, Training Industry evaluated the following criteria:

  • Value of platform features and capabilities
  • Quality of analytics and reporting
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Quality of clients
  • Geographic and vertical reach

As announced yesterday, Inkling is proud to be included on Training Industry’s 2019 list. Danielle Draewell, market research analyst at Training Industry, stated, “Inkling is revolutionizing the learning experience by integrating world-class content authoring tools with a personalized user experience.”

As someone who works cross-functionally at Inkling, I can say unequivocally that it’s a very exciting time to be a part of such an innovative organization. From product design and engineering to customer success, sales, and beyond, teams across Inkling are passionate about our work because we allow modern learners to tap into critical knowledge in their moment of need quickly and easily.

And when you couple this excitement and passion with Inkling’s easy-to-use content authoring tools, intuitive user experience, personalized learning options, and analytics capabilities, one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for learners in the years to come!

Pre-sunrise contrail turns back time

As a child, an airplane’s contrails mesmerized me. Laying in the grass, I’d stare up at the sky and track their formation — and eventually watch them dissipate. Indications that travel was taking place (at super high speeds), I’d pass hours guessing where everyone was going.

Fast forward a few years, I earned my commercial pilot’s license in my late twenties and flew right seat for a commuter airline. I helped transport passengers all over Florida, the Bahamas, San Juan, and the British Virgin Islands. I dogged thunderstorms, dealt with all types of passengers, and enjoyed many spectacular sunrises and sunsets. I learned how contrails were created — and created quite a few myself.

I no longer fly professionally. I have great memories (and stories) from those days. And I don’t have any regrets about hanging up my wings (well, not too many).

The other morning, just before sunrise, right as darkness was lifting from the night sky, the contrail featured in this post caught my eye. Initially, I kept walking. Then suddenly, I was compelled me to turn around — it was like an overwhelming feeling that I was about to miss out on something. When I stopped and took the contrail, its distancing creator, the dawn sky, and desert landscape into focus, I became Little Ray again. Yes, the same me, laying in the back yard — granted, with a bit more life experience under my belt — still wondering to myself, “where are y’all going so early?”

Strolling with unborn child on Hanalei Bay

While vacationing in Hanalei Bay on Kauai in 2011, I was snapping pics of the sunset — and totally didn’t realized what I’d accidentally captured until I got home. It’s a Facebook memory that pops up ever year — one that tugs at my heart strings. To this day, I often wonder who this woman is, who her child became, and where they are today. Needless to say, I’d love to find her and share this captured moment with her.

Walking Paseo de la Princesa and Paseo del Morro

San Juan, Puerto Rico

This review was originally published on Tripadvisor February 12, 2015 — and although older, it still stands the test of time — much like the Morro!

If you’re looking to combine sightseeing, picture taking and a bit of exercise, try walking the Paseo de la Princesa which ultimately turns into the Paseo del Morro. Essentially, this route takes you away from the cruise ships and street vendors, transports you through time, then leaves you in awe with a breathtaking finale at the base of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

NOTE: Something I wish I’d known before going on the walk — when you reach the end of the Paseo del Morro, at the base of the castle, there’s no way to get up to the castle itself. There’s no exit. You have to turn around and walk back. The closest entrance into the city is through the San Juan gate about 1.5 miles back. Just to spell it out, that’s 3 miles round trip from the San Juan gate. The San Juan gate is about a mile from the beginning of Paseo de la Princesa. Given the potential for heat, direct sunlight and lack of shade, this might not be a walk for everyone.

It get pretty hot along the wall and there’s very little shade, so make sure to bring sunscreen and water!

Review: Capri Laguna On The Beach

Staff, view, location make for perfect beach getaway

This review was originally published on Tripadvisor on June 14, 2021

After a year of hunkering in the desert during the pandemic, my husband and I needed an ocean escape. Our wish list: beachfront room, private outdoor space, comfy surroundings, easy access to the basics. The Capri Laguna delivered all of that and more. From Morgan who made booking the room super easy, Desiree’s warm and informative greeting at check-in, the friendly gentlemen who set up the chairs and umbrellas on the beach, the manager (who remembered my name and room number in passing) to the crew that cleaned our room daily, and the rest of the front desk staff (Jessica!) — we felt welcome and cared for during our entire stay.

The beachfront king room with sofa bed had a large balcony furnished with one beach lounger, small table with two chairs—kitchenette with dining table + chairs—and t.v. offered everything we needed for our 4-night stay. The updated bathroom had good water pressure. The bed was on the softer side, but we found it very comfortable and easy on our backs for the entire stay.

Our little slice of heaven for four nights on Laguna Beach. Seriously, what else do you need?

Situated a mile from downtown Laguna Beach, the Capri Laguna is ideally located. Within a half-mile, we found everything we needed from groceries (Ralphs), great breakfast (Orange Inn), amazing Mexican (Avila’s El Ranchito), and delicious poke bowls (Poke Tiki).

For us, the Capri Laguna set the scene for a perfect low-key beach getaway. When not lounging on the beach, we found ourselves happily hanging in our little oasis enjoying the impressive view and dining on our balcony.

Capri Laguna On The Beach: 1441 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651-3158

Re[x] Mid-Century Modern Furniture

2500 N Palm Canyon Dr. Suite B1 Palm Springs, CA 92262

When fun, thoughtfully curated, and eclectic furnishings meet extraordinary customer service, the world’s just gotta know!

Our search for an in-stock dining table — which is difficult to find these days — led us to Re[X] over the weekend. Greeted by James, we found what we were looking for and more almost right away. To say he made browsing and debating options fun is an understatement. And Ralf, the super-friendly and knowledgable owner, sets a high bar for ensuring his customers are treated well. From answering questions and quickly preparing our purchases for transport to graciously going above and beyond to accommodate a last-minute exchange (totally due to my inability to make a decision), Ralf exemplifies a true pro — one that knows how to build trust and brand loyalty with first-time shoppers.

I want to call out that everyone working in Re[X] was wearing masks at all times — in the store and when helping us load our car. Additionally, the space itself is airy and clean with ample space to maintain distance from other visitors.

I highly recommend a visit to Re[X] in North Palm Springs whenever you’re in the mood for a mid-century modern furniture sensory overload (in a great way)!