Yesterday I attended a meeting and events industry association networking event. The guest speaker was Andy Lansing, he is the President & CEO of Levy Restaurants. Although I was not aware of him prior to the event, I’ll remember him and his presentation well into the future. He made me laugh and made me think. Which is exactly the outcome you want when hiring a speaker for your event. His topic was about the Top 10 Things he’s thinking about right now, and his list changes frequently. This blog is not about sharing his top 10 things, but rather to say it got me thinking about My Top 10 Things. And since it’s my blog, I’ll write about what I want. (and if perhaps Andy Lansing happens to read this blog post, great job on the presentation, you got me thinking 😊 )
My Blog – I will write when I am inspired, you won’t get blog posts from me which are forced “just because”. That means there will be gaps of time when there are no stories posted.
Fundraising – Is challenging, rewarding and humbling. Everyone should donate some of their time and give it a try at least once in their lifetime.
Meditation – is a year-long habit that has literally changed the way I react to things in my life.
Growth – I’ll never settle for what I already know, I will challenge myself all the time.
Exercise – this week I’ve banished this word from my vocabulary and replaced it with “movement”.
Barking dog – I have one, he’s loud. I’m sorry. (#6 is for my neighbors)
Kudos and Thank You – I’m learning to give these out freely and without hesitation.
Guts – Career changes, hard work, dedication, volunteering, networking, doing the next right thing even when you don’t want to. All takes guts; give yourself Kudos and Thanks if you’ve done some of these things!
Laughter – this word will likely be on my top 10 list 100% of the time.
Fewer words; more pics – keep practicing using pictures to replace a thousand words in my presentations. (right after this blog post…)
According to the song by Bob Marley & The Wailers there are
“Three little birds pitch by my doorstep”.
Well that’s Bob’s story, and this is mine.
Recently as I walked to the kitchen, I noticed something outside the window flying around my three-season screened in porch, and this was abnormal. The porch is completely screened in, except for a tear at the bottom of one of the screens which I had been meaning to fix, but in my façade of normalcy nobody from the street can actually see the tear, so is it really there?
I sipped my coffee and looked out the window to watch the bird fly back and forth unsuccessful in his escape from the porch. As I watched I engineered solution in my head about how I could help guide the bird back to the hole in the screen in which it entered.
It kept flying (and pooping) near the tear in the screen, but he couldn’t quite figure out his exit strategy. I went out to the porch and moved a piece of furniture that I figured would help guide the bird’s migration. Didn’t work…
Now his friends were in the bush located next to the porch outside coaching him, but he wasn’t getting it. So one of his friends decided to come on in and help him out. Then I had two little birds outside my doorstep, not singing “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!” Instead their lyrics were more of something like this “Oh God, we’re gonna die, die for sure”!
A third bird propped itself in the bush just outside the screen, and this is when I flew into action. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a box cutter and thought about which screen was best to remove. The torn one? The one the bird kept smashing his little bird body into? I was not sure, he seemed to have short term memory loss of the original entrance / exit location.
To my delight, when I returned, there were no more birds. Apparently #3 was the wisest of the bunch and managed to coaxed them out from their original location. I went out to the porch to verify this was the case, and that I wouldn’t have three little dead birds outside my doorstep in the spring. Nope, they were gone, they flew the coop, friends of a feather they flocked together.
Will I fix the tear in the screen in the spring? Depends on how many birds enter from this point forward.
In the part of New England where I live we managed to escape the winter season pretty much unscathed this year, but apparently mother nature had other plans for this weekend. That’s OK because right around Christmas time I bought myself a present, well two presents to be exact. These two shiny bad boys were going to solve all my snow problems.
This winter I welcomed all the snow the clouds could deliver so I could impress the neighbors with my snow scooping skills. Oh, we had other attempts at snow fall this year, and I was able to clean up after one of the snow events with a broom and a single swoop of my arm on the windshield of the car. This weekend however was it, FINALLY my snow day had come.
Out comes the yellow shovel, my brain presented me with a challenge – I bet I could shovel the ENTIRE sidewalk in just one scoop! – Shovel in hand I placed it onto the sidewalk and positioned myself behind the handle ready to remove ALL THE SNOW in just one push of the shovel. Two feet into the push, stuck. Hmm must have hit a bump in the sidewalk. Again, two feet, stuck. (swear word) One more try, one foot, stuck! (creative slew of swear words because that’s what I do)
Then I tried the little gray shovel, I got about 5 feet of pushing snow before it slowed to a stop. I picked up the yellow shovel again, maybe there were some directions on the back I didn’t read carefully before I shoveled. Try again… Big fat N.O.P.E. No scoop for you! I finished shoveling with the little gray one.
The yellow one I’ve given the name…. Big Lazy Sticky Yellow. I had such high hopes for it, I mean look at the depth of the scoop, the curve of the handle, and heck it has not one, but two grips in the middle! It is my belief that this shovel was designed for the beautiful people, you know anyone 5’ 4” and over, not for us hobbits.
The good thing about this entire snow episode was that I was
delighted by the cute little maple leaf tracks that my boots leave behind in
each foot print. More snow coming on
Sunday, I’ll give Big Lazy Sticky Yellow a try again, no doubt more swear words
on the way!
When I hear people talking about how much they hate networking events, my brain immediately thinks “Qué”? (which is Spanish for WHAT? and with my limited knowledge of the language, that’s about all I got). But since the post mentions that today is brought to you by the letter “Q”, I figured I better make my opening quirky. (raises eyebrows up and down like…get it?)
Well, technically this post is not brought to you by the letter “Q” as much as it is about networking at events and how I grew to enjoy it. Now a networking event doesn’t always mean the traditional “let’s exchange business cards” type of event, here are some others and see how many you recognize as “networking events” – a business meeting, company party, neighborhood block party, cookout, church event, fundraising gala, wedding…. So with these events in mind, here are several tools I learned over the years which have helped me tremendously. I can’t claim to be the originator of these tips, but I have applied them and they have worked in most cases. I hope they help alleviate some of the queasiness you feel before your next networking activity.
Quest – make it your quest to make the obviously uncomfortable person in the room feel more comfortable. You know who I’m talking about, that person standing alone, awkwardly clutching their drink and fumbling with their phone. The one who looks like they wish a cloak of invisibility would envelop their body right in the middle of the room? Go talk to them, make it your quest to find out something about this person. By doing this, you will not only quell your own fears, but you’ll be helping to quash another person’s as well. (honestly, I didn’t think I’d find this many “Q” words before I started this blog but I’m enjoying it now, so roll with it)
Questions – You may be thinking, that’s interesting advice, but what do I do in order to make another person feel better about their networking situation? Well, I’m glad you asked, because it brings us to our next “Q” word. Ask them some very targeted questions, but don’t ask them so they end up thinking you’re creepy, just open-ended questions to start a conversation. If you get to the 5th question and you are both still just kind of staring at each other, my apologies to the both of you.
What’s your name? This is a fundamental question asked by all children who want to make friends. Don’t worry if you forget their name as soon as they say it, here’s a tip; at the end of the conversation just ask their name again and make a remark like “I really want to be sure I got your name correct, was it Todd”? or “forgive my forgetfulness – please tell me your name again, so when we meet another time I’ll remember”
Where do you live? Remember the creepy reference from above, this question is where this comes into play. I prefer to phrase this question as “Do you live locally, Todd”? (less creepy). If yes – tell them what you like about the town/place they live. If no – ask from where, and some general questions about why they enjoyed living there.
What did you like about your last vacation? Totally open ended, and even if they haven’t taken a vacation in years or stayed home and read the latest Quidditch techniques; this question is still relevant.
What do you do at your job, work, career? If they don’t work, an alternative question is How do you like to spend your time?
What do you enjoy doing with your family? This is a great way to phrase the question because it doesn’t matter what kind of family situation, this topic can produce a quality discussion.
Quick Summary of yourself – I would recommend before going to your next networking activity that you do a quick summary of your answers to the questions noted above. Have some thoughts ready so when the conversation continues, you can also talk about your experiences.
Well this post was a lengthy one, I hope it quenched your thirst for knowledge on how to hate your next networking activity less. Good luck!
It would surely be in the hot seat awaiting results from the lie detector test. Maury would say “Traffic App, you showed that it would take 50 minutes to go from point A to B, but the lie detector test showed THAT WAS A LIE”
In a previous post I may have mentioned that traffic often involves me having a full-blown tornado twisting Tasmanian devil temper tantrum in my car. In a recent episode I managed to distract myself by creating names for the stages of traffic heading into the city in the morning. Let’s proceed:
5:00 am – This stage I’ll call the “Oh, so THIS is how we’ll start our day? Just GREAT” – these people on the road are also known as No Worm for You Early Birds. They *think* they’re going to beat the traffic only to find themselves sitting in unbelievable traffic, yes at 5 in the morning. The stage has now been set for the remainder of the day. I’ve been there, thinking I’m so slick getting ahead of the traffic only to sit in the winter months, in the dark, and wonder is it 5am? or 5pm? or middle of the night? Who knows?!? Where are my sunglasses since the glare from the red break lights is so blinding?
7:00 – 9:00 am “Total Hard Core” – this is the only time frame of traffic I’ll accept. The orchestration that takes place between vehicles can be magical. Everyone working in harmony (almost) darting in an out of lanes, flipping fingers, honking horns, shaking fists, gnashing teeth. It’s like a pure symphony of madness!
10:00 am mid-morning “But…but…I don’t understand” this traffic is created by the “appointment people” who need to be in the city for a only a few hours, and don’t want to spend their entire day using public transportation.
After 11:00 am “For the love of Pete! How is there still traffic”? This is where I’ll form the most wildly creative sayings and words and string them all together; in fact most sentences don’t even make sense. (kind of like this blog) For example: “Good gravy!!!! A turtle hauling a pile of pickles could move faster than you!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING”???
Any time after 11:45 am is “The Brain Twist” Because, you know, driving 25 mph on a major highway is completely reasonable. This is when I wish I could twist the top of my skull open to at least let my brain crawl out of my head into the backseat of the car, let it buckle up, and meditate for the rest of the ride. Seriously who am I kidding, there’s always traffic, ALWAYS!!!
I heard someone use this phrase the other day and I liked it so much I wrote it down. It got me thinking about my own “normalcy” and the truth of the matter is that I although I can manage most things successfully in my life, in some other cases, not so much. So let’s pry back the curtain:
Traffic turns me into a regular Tasmanian devil, all within the confines of my vehicle of course. I can go from happily driving down the road with a smile on my face and as soon as I see the red break lights ahead, with all my might I wish I could summon a black hole to swallow up all the cars in front of me. A black hole or Godzilla, it doesn’t matter, just get the cars out of my way!
The grass is greener in my neighbor’s yard and this makes me green with envy (yes that pun was intended). My front yard is south-facing and the sun bears down on it from morning until late afternoon. By the end of June, I’m left with what resembles the Sahara, sans beauty. I sip my coffee and I stare out my window towards the neighbor’s yard with admiration. Last year though I took action, and I painted my grass green with an eco-friendly paint I bought online – now the grass really is greener…in my own yard!
Turns out my dogs hate oatmeal, and blueberries for that matter. For the first time in over 11 years I ran out of dry dog food. I have always had a back-up bag to ensure pup tummies are kept full. But this old lady went to the cupboard and it was bare, so I had to improvise. Oatmeal and blueberries seemed like a good idea. Both dogs investigated each other’s bowls in disbelief of “the crap” that was contained inside, and much to their surprise they both had the exact same crap. Finally the little dog melodramatically tried her blue-gruel and proceeded to spit blueberries out of her mouth one by one, I then faced the facts – blueberry-oatmeal meal would remain uneaten.
Well I share these fun life-hack facts with you to showcase that everyone needs to put a little work into their “facade of normalcy” (insert smiley face here <–)
Today is the “Big Game”, the big football game-a-reeno, the type of ball that is brown and pointy on both ends, not the round one with black spots. I’m from the area with the most hated team in the NFL today. There are only 6 states rooting for this team. During the football season I like to post random questions on Facebook like “what time is the game so I can go shop”, or “is there a big game today”? My friends either LOL or roll their eyes.
Usually I go shopping during football games because that means I’m typically the only person in the store twirling around in the aisle like Julie Andrews in the mountain top scene from The Sound of Music. Not today though, places are closing early to let the employees celebrate with their friends and family. Forget about going to the grocery store, that place will give me the hives today. So instead I sit here and write this blog and wonder what exact day I will finally be exiled from New England. P.S. there will be a future post similar to this, but about baseball…
When I was in elementary school we had this teacher who got creative and told all of the kids in her class to wear brown for Groundhog Day. So I did, and I continued to wear brown on Groundhog Day from that day forward. This was the new normal and I thought it was written in stone.
Imagine my surprise however, when I turned into an adult and started to talk about wearing brown on this day to my co-workers and friends and they all gave me a strange look like “you brown wearing weirdo, wear whatever you want that day”… My beliefs were crushed, but no matter, I still wear brown on this day.