{social mediacrity}

socially, mobile-y, & digitally just a bit above average

Get fit…with tech

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One word: Exercise. One problem: Where do you do it?

Anywhere…you do it anywhere!

With the help of technology and the web, finding ways to do exercise in and out of the gym on your own watch is increasingly becoming the go-to way of getting in shape.  While your iPhone and computer can never replace the personal experience you get with a trainer in the gym, or the energy you feel in a group fitness setting, there are many new applications and services out there to help you train, eat right, and balance your life.  What’s more, they’re all inexpensive solutions or…completely free!

I’ve put together a useful list of health, nutrition, and exercise based websites and iPhone apps that I believe will help you train and balance your life smarter – on your own time – while offering you the encouragement and reinforcement you need to get on your way into shape!

Getting Started

Body Mass Index Calculator – use this to get a baseline to see what kind of shape you’re in.

Life Expectancy Calculator – this is a little bit for fun, but can help you realize if you need to make any life changes to improve your overall health and life expectancy.

GymTicket.com – this site can help you find a gym near you with all the equipment and classes you might need. What’s best is they often offer free passes and discounts online for you to try them out first!


Calorie Tracker – use this iPhone app to access a massive database of foods to keep count of your daily calories.


CalorieKing.com – the largest online food database. Use it to research calories in normal foods, restaurant meals (hint: stay away from Cheesecake Factory), plus extra nutrition tips.

Lose It! – use this app to track everything from calories, foods, exercises and more – and it all displays in pretty graphs.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Graphite – this is an interesting website that also helps you track the foods you intake, while charting your progress interactively online.

Fitness Trackers

Traineo – use this site to not only track your progress, but download exercises and ideas to help you get in shape and stay motivated with over 200,000 other members.

PeerTrainer – this website is a great way to help you stay motivated.  Why work out alone when you can find a buddy to share your progress with over the web? The site also has a number of other features to help you stay on track and get fit.

HyperStrike.com – subscription based workout suggestions, full programs, instructional videos, tips on building muscles and more.

iMapMyRun – an iPhone app that uses your phone’s GPS to track your distance, speed, and route as you run.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Prêt-a-Yoga Lite – it’s like having your Yoga instructor in your pocket! Sort of…worth checking out.

Workout Videos

ExerciseTV – have no idea what to do in the gym for strength training or cardio? ExercsieTV has a huge repository of videos ready for you to watch anywhere you can access them for free.

MyPipeline – iPod and iPhone -ready workouts for you to download for free and use anywhere!

I hope you find some of these websites and applications useful or at least interesting – good luck!


Written by jmchilgren

April 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Telling People What You Do (with TP)

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Last night I listened to a speaker talk about something we all depend on, yet don’t think much of – for about an hour – at 11PM.  A 45 minute presentation on the art of selling toilet paper.  I have to say I spent a large portion of the presentation thinking about how the speaker must tell people what he does for a living, because saying, “Hi, I’m Bob, and I sell paper you wipe your ass with,” probably wouldn’t garner him much respect.

In my professional selling course we actually just went over how to tackle such an issue. How do you tell people what you do when it’s something so commonplace and boring that they won’t even give you a second of their time?

Step 1: Highlight the features of the item you sell (using TP as an example)

  • Soft
  • White
  • Post-consumer material
  • Durable
  • Commodity
  • Life necessity

Step 2: Define the benefits of these features

  • Soothing to the touch
  • Light and clean
  • Great for the environment
  • Holds up under any circumstance
  • Frequently purchased item
  • People live or die by it

Step 3: I’m in the business of…

“Hi, my name is Bob, and I’m in the business of providing the population with one of the most environmentally beneficial, clean, durable, and sought after products on the market.”

Would you feel a little more like talking to Bob now?  It’s getting that first meeting that counts – but just make sure that your following presentation is worthy of someone’s time.

“Bob’s” presentation was less than exciting, as expected, but I have to give him respect for getting up and presenting on a career in such an industry.  I’m sure he does his job very well, and let’s be honest – he sells the one thing everyone needs – but there was definitely more he could have done to engage our attention at such an ungodly hour to be at school. It was probably the longest night of my life. Craptastic if you will (ba-dum-CHING!)

And looking back, the only thing we knew about Bob before he came in that night was that he was a “professional” …and haven’t we all fallen for THAT one before?

Written by jmchilgren

March 5, 2010 at 1:36 am

Facebook Stalking

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Some consider Facebook stalking an art.  Me?  It’s just a common past time.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person online just by knowing a few bits of information about them: first name, location, email – plug those into Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, or of course, Google – and you have yourself a person’s life story.  Or at least a little background check and photo.

I think it is a good common practice to make sure you know what information about you is out there.  There are obviously many privacy settings installed on various social media sites, but it is very easy for information you post to get past you and be leaked on to the internets forever.

My favorite thing to do in this manner is Google myself – I often do this to see what a “normal” person would be able to find when searching for me.  My tip?  Control the information they might find about you.  I personally made sure that the top results in the search are of the professional nature, and I control the content that is on those pages.  If you Google yourself and nothing comes up, I would recommend creating a LinkedIn profile (which seems to always garner the top rank provided you have a unique name) or build a simple personal website.

Additionally – make sure your privacy settings for Facebook, Twitter, and of more recent popularity: Foursquare – are turned off to the public.  I understand how this limits your reach in information sharing, but if you need to have a personal account and do want to share with the world, I would certainly suggest opening up another account to handle these different aspects of your life and carefully moderating what you say.  While your friends may care that you hate people that don’t signal and cut you off and continue to drive erratically almost forcing you off the road, your future employer might not.  Note to future employers: Miami has the most incidents of road rage in the country.

On another note: I have a theory about the new chat feature showing “Friends Online” of the redesigned Facebook located on the left side populates these friends based on their browsing activity…more specifically, how recently they have interacted with you on Facebook, which includes stalking your profile. I believe this to be true because it shows people I would never talk to on chat, but have a feeling they may be looking at my profile…..or maybe I’m just paranoid and flattering myself. In any case, I’d investigate for yourself.

I would recommend reading this article by the NY Times for a good drill-down of the privacy settings you should make sure you check out.

Written by jmchilgren

February 23, 2010 at 5:01 pm


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Living four years in Miami is a long time, especially when you consider the fact that it is nearly impossible to communicate with anyone because my Spanish only goes as far as the Chipotle menu.  A Minnesotan at heart, I consider myself passively aggressive enough to pass for easy going under most circumstances, but Miami has hardened and prepared me for the next step.  Enter cliché: JM is moving to New York City.

According to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, those streets will make me feel brand new, the lights will inspire me, and it’s the concrete jungle what dreams are made of.  Of course, getting off the plane all I could think about was how cold my hands were and how much lotion it would take to restore movement in my dry, frozen face.

I was nervous about missing my flight due to an impressive snowstorm that hit the city the day before, but things seemed to be back to normal by the time I made my entrance.  Making my way to the taxi line, I got my first real taste of the city: an oversized duffle body-blow from a woman running through the automatic doors outside. Luckily I was already numb at that point but imagined it would have really hurt under normal conditions.

I hopped into a cab after loading my suitcase myself into the trunk, which would have bothered me if not for being immediately distracted by the TV in the backseat of the taxi.  I began to think about how amazingly far we’ve come in life in terms of technology until ads started screaming at me to try laser hair removal and I decided we were probably better off in the dark ages of pay phones and roller skates.

Forty dollars and ten miles later I was at my friend’s apartment in Midtown where I was greeted by a friendly front deskman who had just finished listening to a resident complain about her new window installation that hadn’t taken place yet.  And loud enough for everyone in a three block radius to hear.

I had a great time exploring the city trying to find “the best” pizza (note: not John’s Pizzeria), tracked down some stationary after hitting up every pharmacy on the island, and spent a good amount of each day enjoying the people watching.  The nightlife in New York certainly resembles Miami, except for enduring the freezing temperatures on the outside and a $4 coat check.

Who knows what the city has in store for me, it seems to change people either for the better or worse and everyone’s story is different.  Though one thing is certain: no matter how long I end up living in New York, I promise to move back to Minnesota before I forget what “Minnesota nice” is.

I mean, Minnesota passive-aggressive.

Written by jmchilgren

February 15, 2010 at 4:13 am

Posted in Personally

What’s in a name?

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JM, John Michael, J’Michael, John…who?

I confuse a lot of people on a daily basis.  I was born John Michael, a combination of  two of the most popular names in Western Civilization.  Together, they form a unique first name most people feel is just too long and exhausting to say (coming in at a whopping 3 syllables).  When I came to college, I decided to make the world an easier place to live by nicknaming myself JM.

Yes, I nicknamed myself.

Beginning with a change to my name on Facebook a week before I left for Miami, I started calling myself JM – something no one had ever really called me save for in an email or on instant messenger.  If you’ve ever willingly changed your name before, you would know how weird it is to be called something you’ve never associated yourself with before.  Then again, I imagine only a dog has experienced that – which is how I felt to begin with.

The “cocktail party effect,” I learned, is the human ability to pick up on an auditory stimulus – like your name – that stands out to you in a mess of words and conversation, for example at a party.  You can ignore everything around you and focus on a single conversation, or immediately turn your attention when you hear your name in the background.  It took a good month for me to realize people were talking to me when they were shouting, “JM – JM!! – JM!!!!” right next to me.  Many thought I was either rude or hard of hearing.

Of course, JM doesn’t exactly flow off the tip of the tongue, which I realized when I started being called “Jan” and “Jim” by strangers I’d introduced myself to.  Additionally, I began to learn that people calling me John Michael were more or less calling me J’Michael, perhaps in a sort of evolution of the name in today’s fast-paced, urgent setting.

Professionally speaking, I go by John.  Sure, it isn’t my name of choice, and I sit next to three other Johns at work (including one Juan), but it’s easy.  Maybe it’s my own little way, in a sense, of separating my personal life from my professional life.

So, to all of you: call me what you want.  Either way – weird name, I know, but you’ll get used to it.

Just J'michael

Written by jmchilgren

February 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm

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StrengthsFinder: JM Edition

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I recently took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 challenge.  I resisted it initially, because really – if there’s one thing I know really well, it’s me.  If I think you care about getting to know me, I could talk about myself until you don’t want to know anymore.  In fact, you might wish you had a time machine to go back and retract your initial, “How are you?” But still, as much as I do know about myself, sometimes it’s more difficult to really get my qualities down to a pin-pointed explanation.

I really like the message of the book: focus on what you do well, spending your time improving those areas even more.  I am a big fan of accepting what reality is in life, whether it be good or bad, and while of course improving your weak areas should not be overlooked, I feel we spend way too much time as a society (especially in business) focusing on what is wrong rather than excelling at what already works.  I’m fortunate to feel like I’m on the right track going into something I am already good at and really enjoy, so it shouldn’t be a challenge to shift my focus on my strengths.

Now for the StrengthsFinder analyzation of JM, excerpted from my official report:

  1. Individualization:
    People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively. I think this is extremely true and something I’ve always known about myself.  I find myself to be very understanding of people different than myself, often a step ahead in the conversation.  Most importantly, this helps in terms of understanding the markets and the customers I interact with.  I guess you would say I am a good judge of character.  I can also sense dishonesty a mile away – so watch out…
  2. Connectedness:
  3. People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason. I certainly believe that everything happens for a reason.  I wouldn’t be here right now if it didn’t, and I wouldn’t be who I am if not for everything I’ve been through.  Knowing that every experience has a way of making something right really inspires me.
  4. Communication:
  5. People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters. This is true and not true.  In writing: yes.  In open conversation: it depends.  I find that in certain scenarios I really struggle to put my thought into word, often tripping over myself in situations I’m not an expert on.  If I am well prepared, I can present like a champion – if not, you will probably hear my mumbles (which I’m convinced is a speech impediment and need to see someone for).
  6. Strategic:
  7. People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. When I was a kid, I would take apart TVs and radios to see how they worked.  I could build something amazing out of nothing.  I loved problems and finding their solutions in every form.  Today, I can write a computer program from start to finish, or develop a well-planned project strategy from a simple idea.  I’m not playing with legos anymore, but I’m still the analytic-minded kid deep down.
  8. Ideation:
  9. People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena. I think one of my greatest qualities is the fact that I possess both an analytical and creative mind.  I’m a thinker – and I think big.  Whether or not anything comes of the out-of-this-world thought, it’s a quality that I think sets me apart.

There are, of course, a LOT of things I wish I were better at; no one needs a book called WhyYouSuckFinder 1.0 to figure that out.  But if you really want to know, just sit back, relax, and watch me struggle…

Written by jmchilgren

February 9, 2010 at 12:10 am

Faith and Success

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I just got a card in the mail from my mom and thought I’d share the words inside of it with you.  I don’t think I’ve ever really paid much attention to what was actually written on cards; maybe it has to do with the lack of sincerity in the hallmark-stamped message, but it meant a lot to me to get this from my mom, especially with what is going on in both of our lives at the moment.

As you grow and experience more things in your young life, know that there will inevitably be obstacles to encounter.  But don’t worry that they will seem too great for you to handle, because you can. You may doubt yourself at times, but know that if you have faith, you have everything. Faithis the key to being successful.

If you know you are capable of anything because of who you are, you will always reach your destination.  It may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.  Look ahead of you, never behind. Have faith in yourself. If you do, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Remember, Son, life is what you make it… and more.  -T.L. Nash

To let you know how proud I am of you.  I love you, Mom

I think these words ring very true, and I feel ready to tackle what lies ahead having been through a lot this past year.  These life-changing moments are the most challenging, but definitely the most rewarding because of it.  I’m proud of you too, Mom, and I’m excited to share the future with you.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for what we’ve already been through.

Written by jmchilgren

February 8, 2010 at 12:36 am