A fresh array of thoughts at the intersection of my to do list and society

Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

The Road to Self-Discovery is a Real Trip

photo credit: zastavki.com

If I had known 2011 was going to be my year for self-discovery, I would have planned a little better. Perhaps things like turning 39 later this year, struggling with having baby No. 2, getting invited to my 20-year high school reunion and watching the final season of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” were all signs I ignored. Before I knew it, I ran smack into a roadblock that forced me to shift into a whole new direction. Suddenly, the road I was taking just stopped. I had no idea which way to go or how the hell to find a new road. It’s taken me a little while to get back on track, but I have realized some things along with the way that I’d like to share with you.

Forgive yourself.

We make mistakes our entire lives. Some mistakes can be easily forgotten like cheating on an algebra test in high school (don’t judge…you did it too!). Some are not like marrying the wrong person at a young age or accepting a job where you had to work with the worst-boss-ever. Others are too painful to say out loud. Whatever the mistake, no matter the heartache from it, forgive yourself. You forgave your best friend in college for ruining your favorite silk skirt, right? Why don’t you give yourself a break and do the same? It’s not easy, but you can let go. When you do, you will feel liberated and see your future in a new whole way.

Learn from your parent’s mistakes.

If you looked up parenting in the dictionary, you would never find the word “perfect” as part of the definition or even as a synonym. Parents make mistakes, just like the rest of us. They didn’t (or still don’t) always have the skills needed to help you through the happiest or saddest times in your life. Instead of spending time holding grudges, ask your parents why they made the mistakes they did. This doesn’t mean forget about the mistakes they made particularly if those mistakes are hurtful to you, but rather learn from them as you embark on your own life’s journey. For instance, I never thought I could own a business because my dad’s company failed. I finally asked my mom questions recently about why it failed and realized that his mistakes don’t have to be my mistakes. Because I asked, I now feel I can make my dream of business ownership a reality.

Suck it up and meditate.

“I can’t shut my mind off long enough to meditate. Who has time to sit quietly for that long? Every time I try to meditate, I just fall asleep.” Sound familiar? Those were my exact words anytime someone tried to convince me to meditate or read an article about the power of the practice. It wasn’t until earlier this year when I couldn’t sleep or think clearly that I realized I could meditate. It’s still true that I can’t sit for hours in order to find clarity. However, I have found that practicing colour therapy meditation, a form of chakra yoga, and listening to meditation music from iPhone’s Ambiance app is a dynamite duo for me. Don’t be afraid to explore different ways of meditation. Once you learn to do it, you’ll never look back.

Laugh.

Watch your favorite comedy movie. Go see a comedian or improv performance at your local theatre. Sing a Justin Bieber song out loud in your car and laugh at yourself afterwards (don’t judge…you do it too!). Laugh with your kid about anything. Go out with friends and laugh about your day. Whatever it takes, just laugh. And don’t just chuckle. Laugh until you snort and almost pee your pants. Laugh so loud that others around can hear. There’s something about laughter that heals the soul. You deserve a good laugh. We all do.

Bottom line, peeps…life is too short. Like you, I’ve made mistakes and like you, I’ll continue to make mistakes. Instead of blaming karma or my parents, I now look inside to find the lesson learned from every situation. Today, I see my life as a whole new road trip. The universe helped me find great people and the strength to help me do just that.  I have amazing, loving people in my life who support me in my new adventures and laugh with me (and at me when appropriate). I started my own PR consulting business. I meditate daily and am always looking for new ways to get better at it. I don’t look back anymore. I only look forward at the new road ahead. Wanna join me?

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Corporations Need a New March…

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but bear with me.

As eloquently portrayed in “The March of the Penguins,” emperor penguins around the age of five make their way from the icy Antarctic waters to the same inland spot every year to breed new life. The routine is one that this amazing creature has done for centuries. Nothing’s changed. There have been no advancements or technologies to make their journey easier, less treacherous. No penguin has come up with ways to keep the eggs warm during the harshest blizzards experienced during this journey. No penguin fast food restaurants, no advanced travel systems, no new tools for communication between parents, not even fin warmers. Just the same journey year after year after year…

We as a species, on the other hand, have made awesome advances in the way we live, eat, sleep, travel and communicate. Yet, I’m continually amazed at the lack of support large corporations have for their employees, especially their communications teams, who embrace social media. It’s like the IT departments and executive leadership teams think if they block it, it will go away. As if it doesn’t exist and never will. Yet, consumers are using it to tell others what’s wrong or right with products and services, media are using it to find validate sources for news stories and nonprofits are using Facebook, Twitter, etc. to help victims in need after tragedies, like the earthquake in Haiti. And ironically, those companies who don’t believe in the power of social media are using this little tool called LinkedIn to recruit qualified candidates.

Ring…ring…yes, can I please speak with COMMON SENSE?! Smooches!

And believe me, I get it. It’s scary out there. With social media being the new kid on the block (for some at least), it’s easy to resist the change. But, here’s the reality. As futurist David Houle talked about at a recent event, the only companies that are going to survive the digital age are ones that can embrace change. Those that stay the same, won’t bend and flex as needed, are going to be left hung out to dry. One example of a smart company, Houle says, is Google – a company that continues to change the internet and communications landscape. And one company about to become extinct is Microsoft – a company that has solely relied on its software product for profit instead of finding ways to build on future needs of consumers and businesses.

Unfortunately, for the companies who stay mundane and make the same march over and over again, no presentation, case study, company endorsements, celebrity or well-known media outlet seems to help justify the need for becoming more savvy about the use of social media. It’s going to take a horrible crisis to open their eyes to the value of what social media can offer. It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is a monotonous, same-as-we’ve-always-done-it march in an alarming number of corporations.

So, fellow social media advocates, what can we do to help our cause? What can we do to show the importance of embracing a new march?

Fulfilling the dream.

 A couple of weeks ago, I attended the INROADS Rocky Mountain Region annual awards banquet on behalf of my employer. My manager had to back out at the last minute and I was thrilled to go in her place. After all, I was anxious to hear more about the organization that gave us such a kick-ass intern this past summer. I walked in to the silent auction room and was greeted by my intern and her mother. She was beaming with pride to have her mom share in the moment. I was a little giddy myself after meeting so many rising stars. I also learned that INROADS was founded more than 30 years ago by a white dude. Who knew?

As I sat at the dinner table with some of our future leaders and listened to the guest speaker talk about the evening’s theme, “Celebrating the Dream,” I started thinking about how great it is to be a part of country that has become so accepting of people. I mean, here we are in 2009, recognizing many young African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans for their contributions to the corporate world. We have our first African-American president in office and our first Hispanic judge on the Supreme Court. We’ve done it! We’ve fulfilled Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream! So our work is done, right?

Wrong. I fear that organizations like INROADS will begin to see a decline in support as the diversity acceptance trend continues to grow. If you think I’m being paranoid, think again. Remember the hoopla around the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement and how the funds were to go to tobacco prevention programs? And how, in just a few short years with some success, states started using the funds to pay for non-tobacco prevention programs due to budget shortfalls? Don’t think something similar couldn’t happen to diversity programs. Sometimes, success doesn’t always help the cause.

So, what do we do to keep diversity high on the priority list? How do we keep fulfilling the dream? First and foremost, talk to your company about organizations like INROADS. And if you own your own business, do some homework yourself. You won’t be disappointed in the talent they offer. Also, look for ways to help support these types of groups, and not just financially. And finally, fulfill the dream yourself. It’s human to seek out people who think, act and even look like you. But, by doing that, you miss out on all the ways others see the world.

Are you fulfilling the dream?