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Archive for February, 2009

Not For Profit: Good for them, and great for you

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

So I was having a conversation with a fellow writer this week, and we were discussing careers and young professionals.  I think in this economy, a lot of people think the ‘safest’ approach is to do one thing, for one employer, and get a ‘secure’ full time job.  However, I do know it is MISSION CRITICAL for each and every person who is able needs to give back their time, their money or their expertise, or all of the above, to not for profit work.  Not only is it good for your community, but it is good for your career.  Here are 5 reasons why:

1.  Giving back makes you appreciate what you have.  Things can ALWAYS be worse, and it is important to keep life in perspective.  People are losing their jobs, and that sucks (for lack of a better term), granted. However, a lot of people still have their families, their health, and their minds to get them back into the workforce.  Volunteering keeps things real, when you discover others don’t have what you take for granted.

2.  You get to do what you love.  Maybe you have a day job that you aren’t passionate about, but it pays the bills. (Which, is a good thing in this day and age.)  So, why not find a way to give back the talents that you love to do (even if you don’t get paid to do them)…and guess where it might lead you?  Maybe to a job where you got paid AND got to do what you loved!

3.  Volunteerism is a great way to get out of your bubble.  Maybe you work in a profession where you are surrounded entirely every day by people who do exactly the same thing you do.  If that is the case, try volunteering to get out of your comfort zone and meet other professionals in totally different arenas that can give you some fresh perspective.  (Not to mention the benefits of widening your social network…)

4.  It can restore your faith in humanity.  I am always amazed by the people I work with in the not for profit sector – they are clearly there because they are passionate about what they do.  It is not about the money, it is about the LOVE…and I always try to get myself around people who are passionate about what they do.  They have an infectious quality about the way they live their lives.

5.  You can hone your skills.  Particularly if you are just starting out in your career and haven’t had that much managerial experience, here’s a great way to get ahead of your peers and LEAD. EARLY.  Oh, yeah, and with LIMITED RESOURCES.  If you accomplished something in the not for profit world, chances are that it would have been a lot easier to pull off in the for profit world–places that have a lot of extra capital and resources to get things done.  Think that work won’t look good on a resume to a potential employer or to your boss? 

These aforementioned reasons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enumerating the benefits of not for profit work.  To get started?  Try a place like www.volunteermatch.org, or even your favorite not for profit or cause in town…call them, email them, ask them how you can help.  You’ll get a win-win out of it – you’ll be helping them, and in turn, helping yourself!

Golf

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Tonight in Torts we talked about a lot of icky stuff (as often is the nature of the beast)…however, there was a case about…golf.

I love golf.  The conversation took me back to days of green, serenity, sun, and warmth.  Some of my favorite trips to awesome places have included golf courses.  I’m not so much a fan of the sport itself per se…I’m not that great. (Ok, I’m a total hack.)  But there’s something about a beautiful, calm, quiet place where you can actually think.  In the summertime, when I’m crunching a really tough problem, I head to the driving range, hit a bucket and really mull over it.  By the time the bucket is empty, and although my swing rarely improves, I usually come up with a decent idea or two and a recharged brain.

The other fantastic thing about the activity?  If you golf with others, you get 4 uninterrupted hours with your partner or foursome.  You really get to know your fellow golfers.  This type of connection in this day and age is really rare.  I enjoy the lack of distractions, but also have had some of the deepest and most philosophical discussions with my friends while on the golf course.

5+ People I hope to afford in my life…soon

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Personal assistant – takes all my calls, schedules my nightmare of a calendar, and basically plays exactly like David Spade on SNL as a PA.  “…And YOU are….from WHERE again…?”

Stunt double – going through fiery crashes is not required; however, sitting through inane, painful, boring meetings about nothing even semi-important would be required.  (Employer releases all liability on death by paper cuts and self inflicted wounds due to boredom.)

Stylist – someone who can shop my own closet and dress me up like I just stepped off the Sex & The City movie lot.  Budget?  $20 per outfit, head to toe.  (Maybe I should have retitled this one as Stylist/Miracle Worker…)

Housekeeper – keeps the house looking like both I and the cat don’t live there.  I’d like to fire my current housekeeper…(who would be moi).

Driver – No telling how many hours and days could be spared by doing meaningful work while in a car driven by someone else.  I’m a multitasker, but from behind the wheel, doing anything more than driving just defeats the purpose of multitasking in the first place…

Chef – In 3.5 words: I CAN’T COOK.  But the personal chef would only be allowed to cook healthy stuff that also tasted like all the high calorie, high fat, high sugar, artery-clogging yummy stuff.

If you’re interested in any of these positions…keep honing your skills…one of these days I will be able to afford you, hopefully.

Eat, Pray, Write, Create

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

This new post on Ted from famed author, Elizabeth Gilbert takes an interesting bend on creativity.  I couldn’t agree with her more on some of her stories, as some of my best ideas pop into my head from some unknown place at the most inconvenient times–in the shower, in the car, when out walking/exercising, and anywhere else that makes it next to impossible to write them down.  It would be nice to think we all have creative fairies, but I can also understand the tough days – when the writing is totally frustrating, and when one wants to yell at the fairy to remind them you have shown up to do the work and are trying to do your best.

So, to my friends following this blog with a desire to write: watch Elizabeth.  Even though it might not make sense, it really does make sense.

I’m off to look for some fairy juice so I can finish my office memo…

Know Thyself

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

I’ve been asked to give a keynote address to some rock star level college students.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot this weekend (cause Lord knows I wasn’t exactly rock star material in college myself…and still only aspiring…) But one of the most important pieces of advice I can give to any college student who asks is: to know thyself.  (Not my line–straight from Socrates.)  If you don’t know yourself, who will?

So, how does one get to know herself?  As I previously blogged, I am a fan of personality and career assessments.  In fact, I actually keep a list of all my tests and results and what they mean on one document, and review it probably quarterly or so to make sure I’m staying true to you-know-who.  Here are some of the assessments I’ve taken over the years, and I thought were pretty darn good and unearthing the “me” that I am (rock star or not):

(At the top of my sheet, I have my mission statement…I’ll blog about that later, that’s entirely a different matter in developing…)
Myers Briggs – and you can probably figure out what my results are based upon my groups on linkedin
Personal Values Card Sort – already blogged about this one – it is phenomenal, free, and easy to use
Strengthsfinder – a little controversial because its not super scientific, but I still dig it
Insights – good to know how you act normally and when ya get stressed out (GEMS is another one here, or True Colors Analysis).  Its also good to know how to optimize your communications with others.
Holland Codes – good when you’re in high school or thinking about switching careers
Kolbe A – really good assessment of how you act and churn info
Entrepreneurial Strengths Assessment – from The One Minute Entrepreneur – this one rocks because it tells you what qualities you have really developed, somewhat developed, and what still needs work
IPIP-NEO
Multiple Intelligence Based Learning Styles – this would have been awesome to have a long time ago, but now it makes sense on how I learn the way I learn!
Managerial Style Questionnaire
Conflict Style – good to know your motivations when you get into ‘scrappy’ mode

While some people don’t like these kinds of tests, I say hey – they can’t really hurt.  And, if they get you one step closer to knowing yourself and what you want out of this life, it can only help you get that much closer to your calling…and to get on with it!

Ironic

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Being an amateur writer, I love words.  One of them is “ironic”…as in VD could stand for either Valentine’s Day, or venereal disease, (or volume of distribution if you are from the pharmacy world).  

Or, how I get to write a legal memo Valentine’s weekend for school on a prenuptial agreement.  

Ah, love is in the air!

Warmth from the Darwinian Chill

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Newsflash: The economy is bad.

However, I’m always intrigued by the booming zeitgeist: despite the Darwinian chill, what industries and companies are blazing in this economic bust, and what can we learn about ourselves and the companies for application to other companies and other economies?

After reading my newspapers this morning, here is what I found: 1. technical education is booming. ITT tech, right here in Indiana, is having unprecedented growth for people obtaining technical education.  2.  Online media – sites like hulu.com and Netflix downloads are catching the eye of savvy former-cable-TV-lovers, who cut the cord on cable and now watch their favorite shows online and download movies from Netflix and iTunes on their computers.  3.  Online dating – these sites have enjoyed good growth before the holidays last year.  Apparently the drive to pair up in a downturn is inversely proportional.  4.  And along those lines…Trojan reports record condom sales.  I’ll leave that one alone for speculation.  5. Finally, spas/beauty and hair salons are also booming.  Apparently looking beautiful in an ugly economy is also something important.

So, not everyone is busting – there are companies and industries out there booming.  Keep your eyes on the boomers, for we may learn from them…not only about better business, but also about ourselves.

Superstition

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

As campy as it may sound, I am superstitious.

I was arriving home this evening, and stopped to let the garage door up and grab my mail.  A black cat crossed my path.  

Thirteen years ago on this date I got married.  A couple years later, I got divorced.

I’m beginning to think that perhaps there may be a link here (of course, happily feeding both my superstition and paranoia all at the same time.)   But I guess it all depends upon how one views ‘superstition’. Dictionary.com defines superstition as, “1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.”

Yeah, not really a fan of that definition.  Let’s try definition #2:

“2.  a system or collection of such beliefs.”  I like this one better, probably because ‘ominous’ is removed, so one could view superstition as either a negative, or a positive thing.

While my marriage 13 years ago was one of the seemingly biggest blunders of my life at first glance, I have to say, that I view these superstitious events as positives.  There is very little, if any chance that my life would be where it is today had I remained married.  I’m glad for the happy accidents, be them superstitious occurrences or not, because they remind me that my life is pretty awesome as it is, where it is, right here, right now.

However, I’m still not a fan of black cats crossing my path.

Writer’s Block

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Friends, I have a nasty case of writer’s block…which may appear here as bogus, since, I’m WRITING this blog.  However, I have writer’s block on STUFF I NEED to actually write (legal writing class memo, introduction to a book, a newsletter, and a writing contest paper I want to start).  I’m like Duckie at the prom (shout out to Pretty in Pink props)–solo and stuck.

I found this blog which I thought had a good article on ways to prevent writer’s block.  I guess I’m going to work on 1, 8 & 10…but not simultaneously.

Maktub

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

I carry around a little journal with me wherever I go, typically, to capture and write down my crazy ideas. My latest journal is a little beat up, but it still has some blank pages in it, so I’m keeping it until it is full.  When I first started using it nearly a year ago, on the inside cover of it, I wrote the word “Maktub”.  It translates (although not super great) as “it is written”.  

I was reminded of maktub today when I saw Slumdog Millionaire.  The movie was absolutely fantastic.  I won’t give any of it away; however, it reminded me of the concept of maktub–that we all have our own fates, but within our fates lies choice.  The concept of destiny versus control and choices in our lives has always been and will continue to be a tasty, twisted, delicious mental debate in which to exercise my brain on when thinking about deep thoughts–like why we are here, or what the meaning of life is, etc.

As cryptic as that may or may not sound, just do yourselves a favor and go see Slumdog Millionaire.