Give Yourself the Gift of Rest

Lessons from the Edge:


I had the good fortune to produce a meeting where the great Tony Schwartz spoke. LINK

He reminded us that people are not computers and that in order for us to function at our optimal potential we need to – ready for it … REST.  The essential message was that if we all treated ourselves more like professional athletes, balancing stress – rest, focusing on a healthier diet and sleep for 7-8 hours a night not only would we be more effective and productive, but happier too.aa775d55c6e7d602c8faf563f6ec22ff

None of this is new information. It has all been said many, many times. The attack on our attention from email, conference calls and a constant pressure to work more hours is actually reducing our productivity and is making us very unhappy.

So, my holiday message to you is this, take advantage of a world that has slowed just a hint and put down your smart phones for 72 hours. Enjoy your families and get some very well deserved rest.

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Holiday Survival Guide – Chappy Style

I know that this can be a difficult time for people. Family histories are hard, feeling alone and end of the year stuff brings judgements and other negative feelings. I get my dose around New Year’s after all the fun of Christmas dies down and I am left with my thoughts, doubts and self flagellation.

Here are some things that may seem corny but help:

  1. Be Present. Leave the phone in the kitchen drawer and take a break from the Jones’s
  2. Wrap your loved ones in hugs
  3. Send peace in the form of cards and notes to everyone you know
  4. Donate food, clothes and anything you can afford, including time,  to those who’s holiday might be in jeopardy or thin
  5. Make sharing your love the priority not your disagreements
  6. Be your own light in every room

When the gloom sets in, recognize it for what it is and say hello for me. Know it will pass. Make yourself make a coffee date with a close friend (I’m free) and get out in the fresh air. I have been known to throw a party as a F’you to the gloom.. works sometimes. Try it.

Happy Solstice

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukah

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Arba’een and Mawlid an-Nabī 

Boxing Day

St. Stephan’s Day  … etc & etc.

Sending you and yours love and light for the holidays and the New Year!

PS: I always say Happy Holidays because I am not so arrogant as to believe everyone else celebrates Quantum theory like I do  😉

 

 

 

 

 

Education, education, education ..

It’s the drum I beat in every political, civic or social discussion I have. It is so basic and so necessary that it seems too obvious to be the fix we are looking for. Fixing, improving and expanding our public school systems is no easy task. I understand, personally, I did my best with our local K-8 school and it was a snake pit obstacle course with head winds. There are vast competing interests, egos, philosophies and economies, the deck is very stacked against change. If we are going to close the divide in this country we have to dig in and start here.

I am not talking about test scores. That is a fools distraction and proves only that special interests are the winners. Real, enriched and in-depth education that promotes thinking and real problem solving for all our children is what I mean. This includes literacy, art, music, civics, global history, math – beyond just the rote numbers, the sciences and all in a safe place with well paid teachers. No small task. We have to get there. We have to invest in this or we will loose our country for good.

Let’s look to countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland who spend some of the most money on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. These Scandinavian nations all ranked in the top third of Best Countries istock_000014186302mediumby Education, generally outperforming Asian nations. (Source) We can take what works and improve on the rest. These countries, not coincidentally, also rank among the top 10 places for quality of life for all it’s citizens.

The conspiracy lover in me thinks that the defunding methodically, over the last 20 years of public education and demonizing the educated has been a slow and deliberate plan to make the electorate ignorant, uniformed and susceptible to believing just about anything. It is much easier to rule an uneducated population. H.G. Wells was not wrong when he created the Eloi. All you need is to scare them enough and they will pretty much do whatever you tell them.

This election is a wake up call for all of us. Once the protesting and fervor dies down, I hope we will all get to the hard work of fixing what lead us here.

Read this article by Nate Silver: LINK

 

Changing Demographics

Thinking about the myriad of reasons America chose the hateful, narcissist for our leader, one thing stuck out to me this morning after reading this article in the New York Times: The Two America’s of 2016. I have been thinking about why it is that the urban population, on the whole, voted for our neighbors and in rural America they voted against them. Other than the compression of humanity, access to culture and the other elitist things they tell us is why, I was wondering, why really? … What is it about the experience of a rural American that is so different. There are many things I am sure, but the one that struck me this morning is, we here in the cites are used to having our neighborhoods change constantly and whole new populations come through about every 5-10 years. Our cultural landscape is in constant flux. Beacons of gentrification and the wave of white privilege that follows are often the least welcome.
My mother has lived in the same neighborhood since 1962. In that time there have been waves of new groups who have passed through. When she moved in, the neighborhood was was the Puerto Rican and Cuban neighborhood of West Side Story – That’s right we lived in Shark territory, with it’s coffee shops and bodega’s. Then more Spanish speaking neighbors joined them from South America, Dominican republic and beyond. I remember a Santeria card reader who would sit on the corner and give us candies. As the 70’s marched in a new wave of black working class families started to move in. People from Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad 5218635164_e2d1e7f71etoo. Music poured out on to the streets and ladies wore bright colored outfits. Following them in the 80’s were students of all colors, the first sign of gentrification. They were mostly from NYU and Juilliard; dancers, artists and musicians. The 90’s brought a wave of middle class professional gay families and the YUPIES. On their heels came the wealthy 1%. Now only the Saudi’s an afford an apartment in her neighborhood. The area has traveled through rich cultural influences, restaurants, boutiques, music, styles of hanging out on stoops to a white washed, sterile, amenities-less mall. White privilege is ugly, pretentious, cold and most of all brings NO practical necessities with it. With in a three block radius of my mothers house she has gone from having multiple bodega’s, groceries stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies to now there’s a Papyrus, Kate Spade and Sephora – Yay! The “ism” of the City is Classism .. we dread gentrification more than any population. Hillary’s “level the playing field” message especially resonates here.

port-jefferson-long-island-ny-main-street-business-section-ca-1920s-postcard-badc3e3cfa0e840b68ae2cf8bf9d3bfcBy contrast a close friend of our family lives in rural Long Island, on the outskirts of a small town well past the end of the 495.  When he bought his house in the early 70’s it was a dominantly Polish and Easter European town filled with people who he and his family had known probably for generations. There were black people sure, but they were segregated to their own part of town, and his world rarely if ever crossed theirs. The town had always been this way. Seasonally there would be migrant workers who would pass through, to help with the harvests of potatoes, sod and other agriculture, but they never stayed. Then it happened. These migrant workers started to stay. There was enough work available that they bought houses and started to live all over town. Their children started to go to the local schools and they were in line at the grocery stores. This wave happened to be dominantly Mexican and following them were small waves of other Spanish speaking peoples. Our friend was/is very unhappy about this. While he may not think of himself as a racist, he blames ALL of that areas troubles on these new neighbors. So, when Trump demonized this population, our friend could relate.

There are racists in cities too, don’t get me wrong. There are people who grumble about the changing nature of their neighborhoods. You hear, “This was such a nice place to live before the (fill in the blank) moved in.” The difference is that in cities the “fill in the blank” changes all the time.. it is in constant evolution. In the outer, rural areas everything moves slower, including cultural evolution. The rest of us will need to take notice of this and respect how disorientingly fast the world is moving for these people.

Compassion is what is going to get us through the next four years.

#TeamHumanity

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To my true mind all of the sounds of the alphabet are arbitrarily assigned symbols that represent those sounds. It’s the arbitrary part that always caused me the most trouble. Someone, somewhere in the 1st millennium BCE – likely an old, mean monk – decided the sound “pah” should look like “P” combining at least three different alphabets. Everyone acquiesced and then POOF several thousand years later I am just supposed to agree? (I can hear an english teacher I had in the 8th grade shaking her head and say, ”dear, dear, Aryn, why do make it so hard?”…)

2015-03-05-04-54-34-pmIn a way Dyslexics are natural born linguistic philosophers. No part of letters or numbers is taken for granted. It is only through conscious repetition that sound and symbol eventually get married. Now, you are saying to yourself, isn’t that true for all kids? Yes, to a degree. The difference is that there is always a lingering skepticism. There is always some air between sound, meaning and symbol. This makes reading forever slow.

“The large brown cow grazes in the green meadow.” You skim, “Lg Brwn Cow Grazes Grn Meadow”. I read “The   large   brown   cow   grazes   in   the   green   meadow”. You will forget that sentence by breakfast tomorrow. I will forever have an impression of Ferdinand with a flower behind his ear grazing in the tall green grasses outside of Madrid not remembering where I read such a lovely sentence but glad nonetheless.

Teachers are the saviors for us Dyslexics. (They can also be our biggest hurdles.. I have heard some pretty terrible stories) Good, well trained, patient, loving teachers are what make the difference. I had three that I can remember clear as day. I’m even friends on Facebook with one of them – shout to you MM! There were others, like my Chemistry teacher in the 10th grade who seeing that I was smart, but totally ill equipped for science, and wanting me to at least learn something in his class, let me write a 20 page paper on the Armenian Genocide just to pass – Thank you Mr. A. (He is Armenian and was lobbying in his off hours to have the genocide recognized officially by the UN)

There were also the countless hours with parents and guardians hovering and helping. My step mother would take dictation and type my papers for me. Into the wee hours of the night my mother would all but write my papers for me. Uncle M. would help me with geometry and my poor dad would try and muster the patience to explain multiplication again for the tenth time – 7s still give me trouble. It always confounded him that I could grasp scale, but multiplying 9×7 was torture. All this and the tutors, it truly takes a village.

My stepmother tells this story, she challenged the then headmaster of The Calhoun School to stay true to her word, that they wanted children of all learning styles. It’s right there in the mission statement still, “At Calhoun, teaching and learning begin with the strengths, needs, questions and diverse life experiences of the individual student.” I can promise you telling my stepmom “no” is not easy. So, that is where I went for eight years. Thank goodness I did. Progressive education saved me.

Most class curriculums, including most progressive formats, are based on the concept that you build up on the lessons before it. This is done linearly. The essential assumption in that concept is that the students must commit the lessons to memory and be fluid with the information. Often we do not get fluid and some simply can’t memorize any more than they could turn themselves purple. Imagine trying to do Algebra when you are still counting on your fingers.

Things like Math and Science are taught with a heavy amount of rote memorization and “it’s true because it is so”. We have already established that, for me, that argument is fruitless. I have always wondered how much easier and fun it would be, not just for the Dyslexics in the room, but all the kids, if curriculums were turned upside down and inside out. Teach the concept, the reasons, the stories and then the facts and figures. Use the numbers and signatures to illustrate the content. This way you would have a population that at least understood the basic principles of physics, even if they cannot do the problems. It should be noted here that 1 in 5 Americans are Dyslexic. Progressive could take on a new gravitas and not just be code for small classes and hands on projects.

I have mentioned this over the years to a number of teacher friends and heard all the lazy reasons why it won’t work. I can tell you that A Brief History of Time and The Tao of Physics are among my favorite books. Smart is not the issue. Different is not lesser. Once culture truly absorbs that, then anything could be possible.

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#Dyslexia #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth #Adulting #Education #LearningDisabled #Neurodiversity

Building Castles

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Castle in the Clouds by KatieRuckerArtwork

 

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

These are my values. The four pillars that hold everything else up. I assume I get them in part from my parents although they were just among the few who raised me. Countless teamsters, carpenters, wardrobe supervisors, chorus girls, production assistants, Sandra, and Unca Mark make up some of the village that raised me. The patchwork of ethics, values and morals is very … colorful. I certainly learned that people and life are kaleidoscope early.

A friend of mine always jokes that she will never play poker with me, having been taught by a teamster in Boston, it’s probably wise. There was a wealth of perspectives, values and prejudices to choose from to be sure. The 12 step tenant “Take what you like and leave the rest” has definitely been something I used to full effect. Those pillars above are what the spinner of life seems to have left as the remaining absolute truths by which I guide all my actions and build all my castles.

Working hard is what I do. I work on myself, work on my business, work at my relationships and work to try and make this world a better place. I love working hard.. In fact one of my favorite projects was re-landscaping my father’s property and doing 90% of the labor on my own. That was extremely satisfying. My Grandfather blames our work ethic on being Irish. I’m not sure.. although we are Irish. When everything starts to fall apart, my go to self help mantra is “Get back to work”. It always seems to pull me out of whatever tailspin I was starting.

Seth Godin has a good posting about this : “When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it’s really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always looking for the next one. … There’s a meta-trick that’s far more reliable. One that works over time and doesn’t depend on avoiding being out-tricked: Make great stuff. Satisfy needs. Do the hard work that leads to growth which leads to investment on its own merit. It turns out that the trick-free approach is the best trick of all.” @thisissethsblog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/looking-for-the-trick.html)

Lucky for me I have built a business doing what I love to do. My dad has often said, “Do what you love and hire others to do the same.” I’ve always liked that quote. Some people love book keeping. I Know right?!? But it’s true, so why take that position away from them? “Work” is not a chore for me. This is where some people get caught up.

Work does not need to be a chore, but work is work and sometimes it is not fun. If what you have is a J-O-B and you are not doing what you love or even like then get out. There are literally thousands of options of what to be and do.. So go find it. Working hard at something you love is a gift.

The other two are the intent by which I enter every interaction. I am a populist at heart and believe deeply we have an obligation to do better in every way than our parents and ancestors. My husband and I tease our son that as long as he is talking about different things than we did in therapy, we did our job right. Everyday building on what came before us and moving toward a better world and culture, with big and small actions, is ultimately why we are all here.

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

What are your pillars? How do they manifest in your life?

#Networking – Where do I go?

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Find a group or organization that offers valuable information and potential connections.

This can be a challenge, especially if you are just starting out. We struggle even now finding ones that are the right fit. Here are a guide from a previous post:

On a scale of 1-10 how influential will the speakers and/or other guests be to my:

    1. Inspiration
    2. Education
    3. Connections

If it’s 4 or higher, start planning your outfit. Even if there is a 40% chance you might meet someone who says something that inspires you it’s worth giving it a try.

  • Is the host a friend/contact/work associate?

If yes.. You are going for sure.

  • Were you invited directly?

Not by a mass email promotion, but did someone say, “Hey Aryn, come to my event.”?

Always go where you are invited. It’s a good policy that will reap huge benefits.

  • Is it in a venue or neighborhood that interests you?

Being in the events business, I like to see and experience different venues and neighborhoods. I use the event as an excuse to scout.

A few places to start:

MeetUp offers a wide variety of groups, everything from professional book clubs to lawyer’s play racquetball. These tend to be free, but check your specific ones for details.

Another great out of the box option is Toastmasters. It sounds crazy, but dedicated professionals are always looking to better themselves, and this is one of the places those people go.

Professional organizations are usually formed around the idea of networking, it’s their mission to get you connected. Reach out to them directly or search their websites for information. Depending on the costs, it may or may not be worth joining. See if the events/education opportunities look interesting to you first.

In the events world, we joined a few: Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the International Live Events Association (ILEA). These memberships are not cheap, so you will have to weigh the benefits for you. Then the key is to actually go to the events they offer.

Industry meetings and conferences can be a great place meet new connections and clients. Again these can be costly both in time and resources so choose wisely.

Here are some things to look for:

  • How big is the event? If you are comfortable standing out in a convention center filled with people, bigger is better. If you are someone, like us, who likes smaller, more intimate workshops and discussions that’s the one for you.
  • Is Networking built in? In either case above, look at the agenda. If it is wall to wall keynote speakers and lecture style breakouts, there won’t be a lot of time for meet and greet.
  • Are the speakers and subjects a fit for you and what you are looking for?

Some other ideas are; your local business district offices like ours – WHBID, Small business bureaus, your local Departments of Commerce and our favorite, start your own group on Facebook, LinkedIn or MeetUp and see who shows up.

Tip: Once you find an event, look and see who is speaking and/or attending. Look them up on LinkedIn or Twitter before the event (not in a stalkery way). Pull out some details and facts about their work to have conversation starters. Reaching out to them directly also can be great and arrange to have a drink/coffee together there.

Take a professional development class. This is a great way to meet peers, if not potential clients. There are many resources for this. Most universities have continuing education courses and most professional organizations either host classes or can point you in the right direction. Again, these can be costly, so make sure it is something you really want and /or need to do.

Our next networking post we will get you ready for your first event.

^Ax3 #Networking #Friendshelpfriends

Thinking About Networking

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It’s who you know and have built relationships with more than anything else that gets you where you are and where you want to be. Expanding that base in a meaningful way is not easy. No, it is not enough just to have 1000+ connections on LinkedIn. In comes the Networking Event.
I hate them, love them, hate them, love them… Some people excel at them. I do not. There have been times when I could muster being “on” and then they were fun. Most often it is a struggle just to convince myself to sign-up, muchless go.

Here are the four things I ask myself to gage if it’ll be worth the effort:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how influential will the other guests be to my:
    1. Inspiration
    2. Education
    3. Connections

If it’s 4 or higher, start planning your outfit. Even if there is a 40% chance you might meet someone who says something that inspires you it’s worth giving it a try.

  • Is the host a friend/contact/work associate?

If yes.. You are going for sure.

  • Were you invited directly?

Not by a mass email promotion, but did someone say, “Hey Aryn, come to my event.”?

Always go where you are invited. It’s a good policy that will reap huge benefits.

  • Is it in a venue or neighborhood that interests you?

Being in the events business, I like to see and experience different venues and neighborhoods. I use the event as an excuse to scout.

Meet-Ups, professional associations and schools all offer opportunities to connect with new people. They all require time, effort and sometimes money. Both time and effort are extremely valuable, they are your most precious asset. Choosing which event or gathering to go to can be as stressful as walking in that room of strangers. Take my list above and add your personal touch and use it as a guide. Sometimes a quick supportive nudge from your friend or partner helps too.

Bottom Line: Pick your networking wisely and try to have fun!

^Ax3 ^AC #Networking #Business #FriendsHelpFriends

Blended

Lessons from the Edge

So, you’re the new guy to a seasoned team. Your young and ambitious and feeling like you want to make your mark. After all, the big bosses are watching.

Let me suggest not putting the project into the blender and hitting whip. Hang back, make yourself useful, keep asking what you can do to help and try it the tried and true way the team has established first. Keep notes and after the project is completed, in post-mortem, add your suggestions.

Bottom Line: Your new team will not only feel respected, you might learn a thing or two.

Trust

ArchangleStMichaelTrust  – A big issue for most people.

Personal trust; trusting that you are good at what you do, that you are likable, that people feel about you the way they say they do and that the people you trust will be loyal.

Professional trust, that the person you have hired will do the job they were given, that it will get done well and with care. After all you are paying for that trust.. It’s also, your partner really having your back and advocating for the good of you and the business.

The two are not exclusive but both are necessary to being happy and successful.

I had an instance where a colleague, a partner really, did not come through for me. I know he was having a hard time personally and we had been working together for a while so I cut him some slack. It completely backfired on me. He did not pull it together and a lot of the job was wrong and unusable. He really screwed me. I know it’s business, so feelings need to be somewhat removed but I had known the guy since the 90s and I felt totally betrayed.

The job was headed south from the beginning. Late samples, like the pitch meeting was half over when the materials arrived late, no real bid – ever, just the bill at the end, no proofs – not one and then there were the misprints and material failures. Now, I am slow to being a bitch, it’s to my detriment often and my fault I did not start pitching a fit sooner. It’s not my style and honestly, if I have hired you to do a job, then I expect the job to be done. I am not your mother, why do I have to yell or get pissed off? In the end I think it has saved me future jobs with him with similar outcomes. Needless to say my client never wants to hear the name of that company again… and it makes me a bit sad, but I am very happy to be working with people that for the moment I trust.

Now, the poor fellow who is the replacement is under a microscope. I did warn him I have a bit of PTSD with this project, so he just needs to budget in some “client be crazy” time.. We’ll see this week what that line item looks like.

In the personal arena, my dear talent and kind husband doubts it whenever anyone expresses that they like him. Me included, I think.. It effects his friendship, but most notably with his casual friends or  acquaintances. Most recently his relationships at work. The only thing you have to go on in these cases is what people tell you.. and if they call you in to work. These employers do both, they tell him they really like having him there and they call him all the time. It’s not a world you want to get too comfortable, we get that, but by all accounts, they like him. Learning to trust that is another matter.

Bye for now. Thank you