The Aha!NOW Chat With Carolyn Nicander Mohr [Interview]
Recently, I had the privilege to interview the queen of technology. Some people call her blog as the “Holy grail of technology”, and why not!
You’ll find the latest and all of the tech happenings on her blog. If you want to know anything about tech apps, devices, gadgets, services, or websites, you just have to visit this one place.
It’s “The Wonder of Tech” by the “Wonder Woman” – Carolyn!
Today’s guest at the Aha!NOW Chat is Carolyn Nicander Mohr, whose mission is to help you discover and understand today’s technology and have fun learning about useful personal technology.
There is something more about Carolyn. She’s a polygadgetist, and she has been a freelance tech journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Here is a surprise – she is also a graduate from the University Of Virginia School Of Law. Yes, you guessed it right – she’s a lawyer!
Well, I had to be careful in interviewing Carolyn and not to mess up with my questions, as I did not want to land up in any legal troubles. Just joking. 🙂
She won’t do that because she’s a very dear friend and we’ve been associated for a long time.
I want to tell you that Carolyn was also my first guest blogger about 2 years ago.
Here’s the proof:
Oh my God, what a coincidence! That was exactly two years ago! Trust me, I didn’t plan this up.
This was about a year after she first visited my blog in October, 2011. That was about 3 years back and I’m so happy that our relationship is still going strong.
Take a look at Carolyn’s first comment on Aha!NOW:
It feels so good to refresh old memories and wonder at how our blogging relationship turned into real friendship.
This has all happened because of building relationship and exactly what real blogging is all about.
It’s about developing real relationships, and this is what we are doing at the Aha!NOW Blog Community (ABC), which is a real community of real people.
Besides being a blogger and a lawyer, Carolyn is also a wife, and mother to three teenagers (including a set of twins).
She has always been contributing valuable insights and sharing her wisdom on all the life, family, marriage, and relationship posts on Aha!NOW, besides the blogging posts and others.
As a blogger, Carolyn was named one of 4 Bloggers to follow by Triberr founder, Dino Dogan at DIY Blogger. She was also named #33 of the Top 100 Bloggers on Triberr for the year 2014 (I was on that list too!).
Welcome to Aha!NOW as the special guest of this month’s interview. I wanted to give back to all those loyal and regular followers of Aha!NOW, so I thought of interviewing them besides the others I usually do.
Carolyn, you’re the best person that came to mind, after Adrienne who started with these interview series.
So now, without any further delay, let’s start the interview, shall we?
Interview with Carolyn Nicander Mohr
Q1: Carolyn, I always wanted to ask you that you were a lawyer and now a blogger – there is a world of difference, isn’t it? Were you a practicing lawyer and how long did you work as a lawyer? When and what made you change your career?
Carolyn: Great question, Harleena. Yes, I am still a fully licensed lawyer, though I haven’t practiced law since my oldest daughter was born. I worked as a lawyer for 10 years before I decided to become a stay-at-home mom.
I decided to become a blogger because of “popular demand.” I moved to London, England at the end of 2006, before people really used much tech in their everyday lives.
I helped other ex-pats living there use tech to make their lives easier. People didn’t know about GPS/Sat Navs then and loved learning how they could navigate unfamiliar roads without becoming lost.
I also introduced them to other tech such as Skype. Many people were running up huge phone bills calling back home. But when I let them know that they could make video calls around the world for free, they were thrilled.
When I was over there, smartphones were introduced so people would come to me for help setting up their phones and recommending apps.
I began doing regular presentations to the American Women’s Club (which wasn’t all American or women), about how tech could help them in their everyday lives. When I moved back to the US, people said they missed my advice and asked me to write a blog so they could stay up with the latest tech.
I began The Wonder of Tech in January 2011 and it became a weekly column at the website for The Philadelphia Inquirer for about a year in October 2011. I have been very fortunate in gaining such wonderful and loyal readers throughout the year.
You would be surprised at how well my legal background has prepared me for writing a technology blog. The most important lesson is to do research and verify the truth of what you’re writing.
Even when I’m familiar with tech, I want to research it to find out more and see if there are any recent updates. With new tech there are often rumors but I don’t want to write about rumors, I want to write about facts.
My legal background also comes in handy when I’m interviewing tech executives for an article. I prepare by listing the questions I want to ask but frequently the conversation goes in a different direction as I learn new information.
Thinking on my feet is very important then because I have one opportunity to learn as much as possible during the interview.
My legal training also prepared me well for writing. When I write an article, I am really setting forth a case for my readers. I want to present the case clearly and in the proper order so that they understand what I’m trying to say.
Q2: Funny thing is that life doesn’t happen as we plan it. You do not consider blogging as a career, do you? It’s more of a passion, right? How passionate are you about blogging? Give us an example to inspire other bloggers.
Carolyn: You are so right, Harleena! Not only did I not plan a career in blogging, I didn’t plan a career in tech!
I so wish I had taken computer classes in school and learned how to code. I never took a journalism class either, that would have been handy!
But I really feel as if I’ve found my calling with The Wonder of Tech. The blog combines two of my passions: writing and tech. I also love helping people.
The most rewarding part of blogging is when I hear from someone how an article changed their lives in a meaningful way.
I am probably a bit too passionate about my site, but I do feel a responsibility to help my readers.
Summers are particularly busy for me with my girl’s home from school, so publishing three articles a week is challenging. I was going to cut back to publishing twice a week this summer, as you wisely counseled me to do, but I just couldn’t do it.
There was too much tech news to cover so I stuck with my 3x/week schedule. I just learned how to write more quickly and cover topics that didn’t require a lot of research.
Q3: How did you come to love technology, devices, and gadgets? Are you a gadget freak yourself or you just like to collect and share information and knowledge about them? What are your favorite apps, smart phones or other devices that you use or would want to use?
Carolyn: My brother got me started on gadgets. He was the first one to show me a GPS (sat nav), DVR, Palm Pilot and other gadgets. Now he comes to me for tech advice!
Yes, I am a gadget freak, though I’ve found that my smartphone replaces the need to have a lot of different gadgets. Apps do the work of many separate devices.
I use an iPhone and an iPad every day. I rely on apps to keep me connected, check on my blog and give me information.
One of my very favorite apps is iRewardChart that helps give kids incentive to help out around the house. Kids actually want to do chores to earn stars, which makes everyone happy!
Q4: You are a mother to three teenage daughters. You also run a very successful technology blog, mostly publishing thrice a week – how do you balance your work and life? How do you chalk out time to do what you love, that is blogging?
Carolyn: The great thing about blogging is that you can do it anytime and anywhere.
I use a laptop so I can take it with me if I travel. I use my iPhone and iPad when I’m out and about to respond to comments on my blog and keep up with tech news.
I am constantly looking for holes in my schedule where I can work on my blog. There are days when I wonder where I will find a hole but it always seems to appear.
I keep a couple of articles on reserve just in case I don’t find an opportunity to write but that hasn’t happened yet.
Q5: I know that being the parent of a teenager is not easy and might even be tougher than the most difficult of legal cases (I agree I may have exaggerated a bit 😉 ). What tips do you have for parents to successfully tackle their children and create a beautiful relationship with them?
Carolyn: No, you haven’t exaggerated at all, Harleena! My biggest deal as a lawyer was a $1 billion+ deal but my biggest deal is raising my daughters.
My best advice to moms of teens is advice I got from another mom, “Stay off that emotional train!” That’s what inspired me to write that guest post that you kindly published here at Aha!NOW.
Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in their emotions but if you can stay grounded and calm then everyone benefits.
Q6: You have mentioned in the comment you made 3 years ago that you have a long and beautiful relationship with your husband, Stephen. What exactly do you do to have a successful marital relationship; will you share the secrets with us all?
Carolyn: Yes, I am very blessed to have been married to Stephen for 21 years. The best advice I can offer is to really care about your spouse’s happiness.
Some days it may feel like the rest of the world is against you, but if you know you have the support of your partner then the rest of the world is easier to face.
Also, give words of encouragement daily. I sometimes hear spouses putting each other down or complaining about the other and I cringe a bit.
It’s one thing to vent occasionally, but in general you should be praising your spouse to others and to him/her. Would you rather be around someone who lifts you up or brings you down?
Q7: I know you are health conscious and I read somewhere that you love to play racquetball and your playmates are generally men.
You were also one of the few female lawyers among the male dominated judicial system at your place. What would be your guidelines for women around the world so they too can carve a niche for themselves to earn respect in the men’s world?
Carolyn: That’s so true, Harleena. Between racquetball, law, and tech, I am often one of a few females in a male-dominated world. When I joined my first law firm, there were only three female lawyers out of 100.
Blending into a male-dominated world requires a delicate balance. You don’t want to try to be one of the guys but you don’t want to stand out as a female.
I just treat the guys as people, avoid emotional drama, try not to take stuff personally and always try my best, no matter what I do.
Sometimes you have to earn their respect. They may question whether a female is up to the task, even if they don’t say it to your face. If you’re trying your best, no matter what, you’ll earn their respect.
Q8:Your blog is called the holy grail of technology. My blog has many visitors, who are newbie technology bloggers. What suggestions would you give them to be as successful as you have been with technology related blogs?
Carolyn: Wow, thanks, Harleena. I hadn’t heard my blog called that, but that’s very cool!
I believe the secret to my success as a technology writer is to always have respect for your readers.
Some people just don’t get tech. They may be brilliant but their minds don’t work in a way that processes how to use tech. That doesn’t mean they’re unintelligent, that just means you have to figure out a way to explain tech to them.
I always say, “If you don’t understand tech, that’s not your fault, that’s the fault of the person who designed the tech.”
Tech should be intuitive though sometimes it’s not. That’s where I come in. If I can bridge the gap between tech and people, then I’ve done my job.
Q9: Our work and life are sometimes full of stress and filled with difficulties. How do you keep yourself sane and happy? What do you do for your self-development? What is your secret to bring happiness into your life?
Carolyn: Some people say I was born with the happy gene. I am generally a very happy person and I try to spread that happiness to others in real life and online.
I’ve been through some very tough times in life. My mother fought cancer for quite a few years before she died when I was young. Seeing how hard she fought to live made me value every day of my life, even the days I’d rather not repeat.
You really appreciate the good times when you’ve been through the rough times.
Q10: Last but the most important question for me – you’ve known and observed Aha!NOW for the last three years, as you have been such an important part of the blog. Honestly, tell me what do you think about its growth, what will make the blog even better, and what would you tell others if you were to recommend Aha!NOW to them?
Carolyn: Harleena, you do such an amazing job at Aha!NOW! I constantly marvel at the excellent job you do with your blog. You get scores of comments for every post and have an Alexa rank that any blogger would envy.
But the most impressive part of your blog to me, Harleena, is how you tackle the tough subjects. No one else handles the topics you cover with such honesty and quality.
You cover the subjects thoroughly and offer very helpful suggestions to your readers. I love sharing your blog posts, Harleena because I know they change lives.
So what advice would I have for you? Just keep doing what you’re doing. I do truly believe you are making the world a much better place.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Harleena. I am truly honored to be featured here at Aha!NOW and appreciate the chance to answer your insightful questions.
Winding it up
What do you think, all the techies and the non-techies? Was I wrong calling Carolyn as the “Wonder Woman”?
I’m amazed at how some of the women bloggers have worked hard and excelled in blogging. Hats off to all the women bloggers, who have set benchmarks and become role models of blogging.
Thank you Carolyn for your splendid answers and letting us know more about you. You’re just wonderful!
I’m sure my blog audience too loved this interview as much as I did. So let’s hear it from all of you.
Share Your Thoughts –
What impresses you most about Carolyn? What did you learn from this chat and interview with Carolyn Nicander Mohr ?
Photo Credit: Carolyn Nicander Mohr