Personality Conflict

Lessons from the Edge

1210793321_5087There are a couple of personality types that, even I, cannot seem to find a path to symbiosis. Mostly these are due to either cultural bias or prejudice, and not really the personality itself, just it’s affectations, but some  personalities just don’t mix. Believe me in these cases the feeling is very mutual.

In our business it is vital to get along with everyone you can. Event production, hospitality are all about the client, their guests and making them happy. So… what do you do?

The best solution I have found is to try and minimize direct contact with this person, use an intermediary if at all possible.  When you do have to communicate directly, keep it professional, simple, clear and precise. Plan out what you will say beforehand so you are not improvising and possibly make the situation worse. Remember to breath. This person is temporary in your life. At some point the job will end.

Do not bad mouth this person to your crew or express publicly your real feelings anywhere near the event. It’s unprofessional and it will not help you, infact it will only hurt you. Save the bitching and venting for your partner or BFF when you either finish the job or at least get back to your room.

In this instance it is good that we are project based businesses!

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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?

Hospitality

Lessons from the Edge

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Balancing emotional connections and measurable results in your events.

Something that is being lost in the top “whatever” lists, shortcut tips and the motivation to measure every outcome is that we as event professionals are HOSTS. Yes, I said it. We host events above manage, produce or coordinate. Our field of study is in the school of Hospitality after all.

The participants are our guests and it is our primary job to provide them with not only a measurable experience, but as Andrea Driessen (@nomoreboring) says, a meaningful and memorable experience.

The more the event environment is one of inclusiveness and comfort for guests the more they will be able to absorb the purpose and content of the meeting or conference. Your audience has taken time out of their busy lives, away from familiar comforts and family. This is especially true of those meetings that are required of them like sales meetings. Hotels and other venues are often labyrinth like and alien. Coworkers are not usually the preferred “hang-out buddy” and often there are large numbers of strangers. An uneasiness is natural. It has to be our priority to anticipate and have everything in place to help reduce or eliminate this.

Take a page out of the Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standard as a place to start:

Three Steps Of Service

  1. A warm and sincere greeting.
    1. This is not only a greeter at the door, think bigger than that.
  2. Use the guest’s name. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.
    1. Personalized materials, noted room preferences, meal requirements etc. go a long way.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.
    1. Again, go bigger than just a greeter at the exit.

“They (Ritz Carlton) understand that relationships precede financial results and rely on a robust data set that demonstrates the impact engaged employees and repeat customers have on the bottom line.” – Ryan Estis (@RyanEstis)

For more on the Ritz’s standards – http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/about/gold-standards

Bottom Line:

Guests who leave a meeting feeling cared for, inspired and valued will return next year gladly and tell their friends. That’s something you can measure!

Diagnosis:

10433075_10152527244942049_7538247378482333601_nIt was 1980. I was just turning 8 years old. I could not read, write or do any arithmetic. No, I was not an orphan or growing up in the developing world … It was the Upper West Side of NYC and my parents are creative entertainment professionals – we had a nice middle class life.

My Montessori school teachers, sweet as they were, missed all the cues and I was very creative in my answers. Fooling them was easy. I would even sit in the “Reading Area” for the free periods and mimic all the other kids reading. I was not reading. I was looking at the pictures and gleaning the stories from the adventurous illustrations of Dick and Jane. Lucky for me there weren’t any math quizzes.

Enter 3rd grade.

This meant a new school and books without pictures. I was screwed.

There was a test called the ERB which was the key to a shiny new school, but the test was opaque. There were no pictures, just a mess of black symbols and a pretty pink slip with lots of bubbles on it. We were instructed to fill in the bubbles with our new #2 pencils. The prompter read some of the questions aloud. “Ms. Chapman please stand up. How do you spell People?” I was stunned. Everyone was looking at me. My palms went clammy. What should I say? .. the truth.. “Miss, I don’t know enough people to be able to spell them for you” and I sat down quickly feeling proud of myself until I saw her frowning face. That was not the answer. She thought I was being obstreperous. What she did not know is, I genuinely did not understand her question, I thought she wanted me to explain people to her. It was such a fancy test after all.

The real truth is I could not have spelled out the letters P-E-O-P-L-E with a gun to my head. I had only just learned to spell “Friday” and was still pretty pumped about it. Why couldn’t she have asked me about that?

My new school was torture. I did not understand the other kids and they did not understand me. My classes were opaque, confusing and frustrating. I kept hearing about my potential, intelligence, verbal skills and precociousness .. but I was failing badly. The adults faces would always go grey and sour when talking about my school performance.. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was wrong with me.

What came next was a wash of testing. My memory of this is like a photo montage in a movie.. There were hearing tests, vision tests, physicals, neurological tests and IQ tests with blocks. My parents did not inform me what all the fuss was about, so I went through thinking that maybe all kids got to do this. You know what?  I am not “retarded” or as we would say in today’s terms “On the spectrum”

A brand new diagnosis had emerged in mainstream called Dyslexia.

Here is the official definition:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

The short of it: trouble reading, writing and learning math. Other symptoms include having no sense of direction or time and trouble learning a foreign language. The upside? Creative out of the box thinking.

I often joke that English is not my first language, Dyslexia is, so learning a third like French, chemistry or math is really too much to ask.

Anyway, since it was so new, getting help was not easy or cheap. I was promptly asked to re-do third grade. A huge blow to my confidence and in my mind rendering anyone who ever commented on how smart I was as a liar and moron. What good was being smart? A cascade of tutors and therapists followed. I think at one time I had tutoring three times and therapy once a week. One of my tutors was in this really bad part of town (Chelsea in 1981 was not pretty) and her house smelled like cats.. Another would act books out with me using Smurfs, that if I completed my reading, I would get to keep. (Remind me to tell you the Othello story) I hated going to them, but without them and their infinite patience I would never had made it through school or found my way into Milan Kundera’s beautiful novels.

Eventually I got the hang of it and went on to Bennington College and The American University in Paris. Turns out doing school is building a series of habits, like everything else. Reading is still slow, math is for calculators and my fabulous book keeper.. writing requires drafts and thank god for Siri for everything else.

The biggest advantages Dyslexia gives you are profound coping mechanisms and solutions for everything in daily life. My son said to me the other day, “Mom, you are really good at this adult stuff.” I credit my Dyslexia, at least in part, for that and I am grateful.
#Dyslexia #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth #BenningtonCollege #Adulting #Education #LearningDisabled #Neurodiversity

#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

The Boss

Lessons from the Edge

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Who is the boss?

In my business the client is the boss. The client does not however, always know what’s best, that’s why they hired you. While it’s not a good idea to pull out the creative integrity, or reputation argument too much or too soon. If the client is compromising your ability to do the job they hired you for by delaying the process to an extreme, sabotaging your relationships or other wise being truly naughty, then you have every right to stand up for your brand. Do it professionally and do it in writing. Once the situation is resolved amicably, seriously re-consider keeping them as a client in the future.

Bottom Line: Life is too short for bad business.

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