Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Giving


               Holiday Giving

So it’s the holidays and everyone looks forward to the season of giving.  And while I was probably somewhere between naughty and nice this past year, I still got what I wanted.

Everyone told us that the best part of being a parent is having grandchildren, and when that day finally happened for us we gladly gave up heaven at the beach and moved back to the heat of Las Vegas.  First Olive, and then 18 months later came Ella, and now we’re blissfully surrounded by all that grandchildren have to offer.

Don’t get me wrong: we love being back here with family and friends.  My mother is still going strong at 92, my daughter and her husband are great parents that we love to watch and admire, my big brother and his wife are around for all the good big-brother stuff, and the good friends we made back when are still our good friends now.  But it’s those two granddaughters who make it all worthwhile. 

I’m still awkward when holding a new born, and nobody calls on me to change diapers or give baths…. but when it comes to reading books, being silly, and taking long walks, my name is near the top of the list.  And thanks to the miracle of smartphones with cameras, I have pictures to prove it.
If anyone had asked what I wanted for the holidays, I’d have asked for someone to call me Pop Pop.  And thankfully my wish came true.

My message this week is all about the joys of giving:

“For it is in giving that we receive.” Saint Francis of Assisi

So what did you get for Christmas?  That’s the big question this week and the answers run the gamut from ‘nothing’ to ‘everything’.  If you’re like me, you probably got some cool things you wanted or needed, and others that were unexpected but appreciated, and then some that made you scratch your head and wondered.  And those you gave gifts to probably felt the same even though you most likely put a lot of thought into each.  People have good intentions and try to find things that please, but that’s not always the case.  So I guess it’s best to remember that it’s the thought that counts and that it is in the giving that we receive.  That’s why this or any gift-giving season is a time to give what we can and to be appreciative and thankful for all that we receive.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good life!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Commencement





Commencement


I learned something this semester: there are similarities between school and everything that comes after, but they need to be explained.

In school, students want a syllabus in order to know exactly what to plan for; in life that clarity rarely happens and so they need to learn the art of flexibility. In school, students want to know with certainty what’s going to be on the final exam; in life things are not so well defined and so being broadly prepared is a critical skill to learn.  In school, it’s all about the grade; in life it’s really about whether you can apply what you’ve learned.  And in school there’s a commencement at the end; but, like in the real world, the end is just the beginning.

I explained these and other concepts to my students in the course of our Strategic Management Class: while strategy is often thought of in terms of business, maybe it’s also needed when planning one’s life; and while SWOT analyses are good when determining a business’ direction, it’s also good to know their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and while the clarity of a mission statement is important to making sure every stakeholder in a business is clearly informed, their individual missions need to be carefully crafted and articulated too. I got the impression that in this, their last semester, these concepts took on a deeper and more urgent meaning within the context of their imminent entry into the real world and the relatively unforgiving nature of life’s multiple-choice options.

The semester came to an end much more quickly than I expected, and I suspect the students were equally as surprised that the end of their academic lives was upon them.  Two busy weeks filled with formal reviews, final exams, final grades, final GPAs and teary hugs as they put on their caps and gowns and prepared for Commencement – the end of college and the beginning of the rest of their lives.

I could see the uncertainty in their eyes as they walked across that stage and into the real world.  Nothing really prepares any of us for that kind of change but maybe now the lessons they learned in class will begin to make more sense.  Maybe that’s why I’m getting requests from so many of them to connect on LinkedIn.  I’m really looking forward to hearing about their experiences in the real world.

My message this week is the one I gave to my students on the last day of class:

“Take pride in who you are as a unique individual by trying to be more today than you were yesterday, more tomorrow than you were today.” Edwin Mamerto

What will you try to be today?  If you’re not trying to be better than you were yesterday then you might end up being worse.  The competition is always looking to see what the new baseline in service and pricing might be, and then developing strategies to outdo you and others. And the best way to avoid getting caught unaware is to keep your eyes and ears open and to continually strive to learn and be more. If it’s leadership: watch other leaders and emulate what you see; if it’s service: visit the competition and see whether they’ve come up with new practices that you should consider; if it’s pricing: always look for process improvements to reduce costs; and if it’s personal style and effort: take pride in who your are and try to be more today than you were yesterday.  That’s how you and your team can be more tomorrow than you were today!

Stay well!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who Knows Where the Time Goes



Who Knows Where the Time Goes

We saw Judy Collins in concert last month and couldn’t help but reminisce.  And wonder where the time’s gone.

This year’s almost gone and all the times we’ve had in the past 11 months are getting ready to be stored in 2013’s archive.  There’ve been good times and bad, good family young and old, good friends we have or have lost, and good music from then and now. And there was Sweet Judy Blue Eyes telling tales from back in the day and singing songs from along the way.  We closed our eyes, swayed with the music and enjoyed the scenes of our lives as they floated along with the tunes.

Some of the songs she wrote, and some that others wrote.  Her play list took us down memory lane:

Someday Soon
    I would follow him right down the toughest road I know
    Someday soon, going with him, someday soon.

Both Sides Now 
    I've looked at life from both sides now,
    From win and lose, and still somehow
    it's life's illusions I recall.
    I really don't know life at all..

Suzanne
    And you want to travel with her
    And you want to travel blind
    And you know that she will trust you
    For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.

My Father
    On his dreams like boats
    We knew we would sail in time.

The Last Thing on My Mind 
    Are you going away with no word of farewell?
    Will there be not a trace left behind?
    Well, I could have loved you better,
    Didn't mean to be unkind.
    You know that was the last thing on my mind.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes
    For who knows how my love grows?
    And who knows where the time goes?

These are the songs I grew up with.  And in hearing them again all the memories from all those long ago times flashed before me.  Those were good and bad times; they were the times of my life.

Every moment in time can be one of the good times, and add up to become the times we remember.  Maybe that’s what ‘being in the moment’ is all about and why memories are like treasures.  Our times make us what we are and in thinking about them I find myself being thankful for having had those times.  I guess that’s part of what Thanksgiving is all about.

My message this week is about living life to the fullest and being all we ever wanted to be:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been." George Eliot
What do you want to be? Most people have dreams, hopes and aspirations, and they try to accomplish them while also tending to their everyday responsibilities.  And it can happen that those responsibilities take up so much of our time that we might lose sight of what’s needed to stay on track with our dreams.  That’s why it’s important to have goals and a plan to achieve them, to communicate with others so that they don’t inadvertently do, say or assign things that might create a conflict, and to regularly remind us why our goals are important.  Doing these kinds of things can also rekindle the passions we have for the things that are important because, even when they tend to drag on longer than anticipated, it’s never too late to achieve our goals or become what we might have been.  So find and let your passions guide you to be what you want today!

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. 

Stay Well!