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Archive for October, 2010

Your Very Own Awesomeness Manifesto

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

One of my friends sent me this post on an Awesomeness Manifesto.  I dug it.  It got me thinking–if I wrote my very own awesomeness manifesto, what would it look like?

Here I go…

My Very Own Awesomeness Manifesto
By Erin Albert

I declare, right here, right now, that anyone and everyone can and has the ability to be awesome.  That’s why we are here.  To seek out, dream about, create and become, awesome.

Awesomeness is also kind of like porn–hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

Awesomeness makes you love, cry, scream and sing.  It really doesn’t care if you’re dorky, nerdy, geeky or not having the very best day.  It’s kind of like going to a rave, where you can talk to anyone about just about anything, without having to worry if you’re having a bad hair day.

Awesomeness is a state of mind.

Generally, I find my own awesomeness when I’m writing and an entire day has gone by without really even noticing.  Csikszentmihalyi called this Flow.  I call it…awesomeness.

Awesomeness, just like humans and snowflakes, comes in very unique sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties.  Embrace the different forms of awesomeness.

So..that’s all I’ve got for now.  I’ve got to get back to writing a law review note.  But, I will leave you with a small challenge: to create your very own awesomeness manifesto.

What’s yours?

My Loss, Your Gain

Friday, October 29th, 2010

This has been an odd week.  The theme of the week for me has probably been that of loss.  Lost 3 people to death this week.  Some friends lost their jobs.  And, president of my employer–Butler University, we lost today to another college beginning next academic year.

I’m certainly NOT here to post this and bum you out.  That’s certainly not my intent at all.  What IS my intent is to share with you what I’ve also learned, or at least re-learned this week, by reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, which is this: in times of loss or gain, one must know her own true core values.  By knowing what you value, you can more readily and easily determine what course(s) to take in life.  I’ve ranted about this here before, and also shared how to determine your own core values, (I’ll let you search my blog for those answers) but I thought I’d take this post to share with you my own person top 5 core values…not only to show ya’ll that I walk the talk, but you can also hold me personally accountable.  I’m sure there’s a few people in my life that would love to do nothing more!  I’ll also share a little on each.  Here goes, and these are in order of importance to me:

My Core Values:

1. Honesty & Integrity – working in an organization or living life with people who value honesty & integrity.  (Just today, I shared with someone a real opportunity that I wanted to get involved with…straight up.  Don’t ask? Don’t get.)

2. Working on the frontiers of knowledge - work in research and development, generating information and new ideas in the academic, scientific, or business communities.  (Researched in a fellowship this year public and social entrepreneurship–something we don’t have enough of where I currently live, and writing my 6th book on a subject that doesn’t exist…yet.)

3.  Independence – be able to determine the nature of my work without significant direction from others.  Not have to follow instructions or conform with unnecessary rules and regulations.  (Did some super cool stuff at work this year, which I can’t spill the beans on, but then again, that’s of course in tandem with working independently… Trying to consider setting up an academic experience at law school that has yet to be created as independent study next semester too.)

4.  Change and variety – have work responsibilities frequently changed in content and/or setting.  (From my office at work changing every year, to my teaching load, to my class load as a student, and going to China for a month this year–I can’t think of much I HAVEN’T changed up this year…)

5.  Creativity – create new ideas, programs, organized structures or anything else not following a format developed by others.  (Again, task force formed @ work, writing new book on new concept that doesn’t exist, trying to get new coursework offered at the law school, etc.)

I think you get the picture.  Once you ID your values, the rest gets…not necessarily easier, but it definitely gets clearer.  Even when there’s loss…or gain…or change…or something else that makes your week a little, unusual.

So in my loss, comes your gain.  Consider understanding and articulating your own true core values.  It just may help.  It certainly helps me.

The 265 Million Dollar Question

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

It has been kind of an odd week.  First off, the old adage has held true for me: death really does come in 3s.  But one passing fits interestingly with a book I’ve been reading, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com founder.  In his book, he asks the $265 million dollar question (which was the situation he found himself in once he sold his first major business): once you’ve got enough money to buy everything you want or sustain you, WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE?

He had this problem when he sold off one of his businesses.  Subsequently, he created zappos.com and now has sold that off to Amazon.com.*  But I think he asks a really important question in this book – what are your passions, purposes, and how does this support your calling or idea of success?  Furthermore, how does that play into profit?

The passing of one of my law professors was a living example of this, Prof. Henry Karlson.  I think our class a couple of summers ago was the last class that had the luck of having him teach in criminal law.  Anyone who knows Prof. Karlson knows that we was VERY passionate about criminal law.  He was also brilliant at teaching it, and the media often called upon him to explain criminal cases.  Honestly, I have ZERO interest in criminal law.  But, when I took his class, he forced me to get interested in it, because his passion for it was truly infectious.  His calling was criminal law.  He even taught our class while he was officially ‘retired’ from the law school.  Bottom line: he did it, because he LOVED it.  He truly loved it and had passion for it.  That was the answer to his $265 million dollar question.

So, the big question here remains unanswered for some of us – what if you do if had $265M in the bank and never really had to ‘work’ again in your life?  What would be your calling?  What would you do with your life?  That, my friends is the truly fascinating question to answer.  That’s why we are all here, and that’s what makes life meaningful.

And to Prof. Karlson, may he rest in peace.

(*Technically, as I later read, Zappos really wasn’t sold off to Amazon.  It is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.  It was also a stock trade rather than a cash deal.  So, technically above isn’t sounding fully right to me, so I wanted to clarify this here in case Tony or anyone from Zappos is reading this.  Besides, I’m a law student, I should know the difference…)

We Briefly Interrupt…

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

…this sabbatical to bring you a little philosophy, on writing.

I was chatting with another author this morning (always fun), and we were discussing philosophy as to why we each write.  I think the motives for each writer are different.  They might even be different from book to book.  Here are mine, in general.

Social Capital -There’s more kinds of capital these days than just financial.  Seth Godin argues the new writers are building tribes or communities around books, and that is the true value of writing.  As I have shared with you before, I think books are the new business cards.  What do I mean by that?  Simply that if you honestly in your gut or heart think your book needs to be written, then you need to write it, and honestly, the rest will eventually take care of itself.  Also, writing a book gives you some street cred.  While the hard core business people out there might disagree with me, that’s OK.  I’m more interested in the relationships I’m forming while writing a project, and highly value these relationships.  Sometimes, they are also tough to equate to money…and I’m fine with that too.  Others might not be.  To them I say this: contacts can become contracts.  Touche.

Learning – I first develop a book idea when I can’t find something that I personally want to learn about.  I figure if I’m out there in this wacky universe trying to learn about something and there are no resources that exist, it is time to create a resource.  And, of course, when I involve rock stars in my books, I learn so much more by just understanding who I’m interviewing, what motivates them, makes them tick, etc.  In turn, I try to apply those nuggets to my own work and life.  I love to learn, and probably learn a ton more by writing a book than just reading one.  I also personally believe that you are your surroundings.  So, why not study rock stars rather than be bogged down in negative and stagnant thinking?

Therapy – just like this blog post, when I write around a particular subject, I get to develop my own personal philosophy around the subject.  That helps me think through the rest of my life – might be the same as learning, but to me, it is somewhat different.  Passion really can’t be learned.  It is there, or it isn’t. This might be a lower brained response–trusting and developing your “gut”, but whatever you want to call it, I love how writing helps me think through ideas and viewing other ways of how people do things.  What I think and how I feel about a subject are theories I develop in my gut as I go through the project. Dig.

Help -this might only apply to nonfiction writers, but I love helping people by arming them with the info in my books.  This might go back to social capital, or not.  But at the end of the day, with my books, if I can help just one person connect more with the subject matter, I feel like I’ve been a “successful” writer.

Fun – of all the things I do, I love to write the most.  Yes, I can speak, and yes, I do other things.  But when hours go by and I don’t notice, I’m usually writing something.  I love to write, and doing what you love is grossly important, because our time here is finite.  Spend it doing something you love, rather than doing things you can’t stand.  Besides, I think there was a little best seller about doing what you love and the money will follow, if I’m not mistaken…

Reading – there is nothing more besides writing that I love to do more than reading.  I love and collect awesome ideas.  Through reading what I’m writing, I’m also gaining some benefits too.  Reading is fun!

Money – and lastly, yes, money is nice, we all like it, and it can be utilized as a tool to give us resources to do the things we want to do.  Making money from books is a good thing, but I cannot honestly say I write books only to make money.  If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably not even a primary motive.  As I articulated above, there’s more to it than just money.  But if you’re writing a book to just get rich and make a bunch of money, you’re probably going to be disappointed in the end.  To all my aspiring writing friends, I ask them instead, focus on WHY you want to write this book…and there better be more than just one reason of “to make $$”.  Because trust me, there will come a point to where you are frustrated, tired, and sick of looking at the manuscript.  Your love will get you through.  Just making money…?  I’m not so certain. Van Gogh certainly didn’t paint for the money, either.  Maybe Warhol and Picasso did, and that’s fine.

At the end of the day, whatever your motives may be, fantastic.  Great, and I’m stoked you’ve identified them.  But if you don’t have them clearly ID’d,  you might want to think through it just a bit as you write your first, or 41st book.  It will help keep your eyes on the prize….whatever that prize may be.

In Case You Miss Me Yet

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Enjoy this post at my other site – which is still about a book.

You can take the book away from the writer, but you can’t take the book away from the reader!

A Not So Radical…Sabbatical

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Well, it’s offical…I’m swamped.

So…between writing the next book, my first law review note draft, and oh yea – studying for 4 classes and teaching 2, and developing the syllabus for the 3rd class next spring, I’ve decided I probably need to cut back on the posts here and my other blogs for awhile.

Fear not!  I shall return!  One day.  When I get…unburied….

Random Thoughts of the Day

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I was reminded of the following today:

1.  Karmic retribution – it can be witch, or worse.  Be careful about lowering the boom on someone, because it will eventually come back to bite ya in places you don’t want the nibble.

2.  Know thy fiduciary duties - I’m not giving law advice here (sick of me saying that yet?) but I am giving common sense advice.  When you’re on a board of an organization, ANY organization, you have something called fiduciary duties which you must uphold.  That includes a duty of care AND a duty of loyalty TO THE ORGANIZATION.  The “to the organization” part means the mission of the organization – not necessarily other parties or interests.  Remember that if you get on a board.  That’s important when you get bogged down in the dirty details, and helps when you’re picking your battles to fight.

3.  Try to make time to eat lunch. I didn’t get that chance today.  I regret that.  It’s important to make a little time for yourself…and your stomach…every day.

4.  People get paid to make things either really complex, or really simple. I think the most valuable peeps are the ones who can do both and translate from one to the other.  This occurred to me while I was researching something this evening and nearly became cross-eyed while doing so.

5.  Art and creative work is like porn. One of my favorite Justice Stevens’ lines is his description of pornography: he said it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it.  I think I can safely apply this adage to my own creative process.  If something isn’t quite right for me visually (say, with an image, graphic, book cover, etc. that I’m trying to get into the world) it is SUPER DIFFICULT to explain what it is that I want.  But, I usually know it when I see it.  It either clicks or it doesn’t.  It’s a little frustrating for a scientist to let the gut or instinct just totally take over, but I just have to go with my gut on those creative endeavors.  (And just so we’re clear, my personal sphere of ‘creative endeavors’ does NOT include porn.  Just Justice Stevens’ description.)

It is good to unearth these little nuggets along a day…

Dreaming v. Doing

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I had the bane of the serial entrepreneur’s existence chat this morning with a like minded person who truly wants to bring her passions into the universe via social business and make the world a better place today: that of dreaming v. doing.

You may know what I’m talking about here – maybe you have dozens, if not hundreds of super cool IDEAS (that’s the dreaming part)…yet, you’re just not exactly sure how to get all of them done, or even prioritize them.  That’s the doing part.  This one is tough, because if you are more of a dreamer than a doer, sometimes the ideas flow so rapidly and well that it is difficult to keep up with all of them.

So, here’s how I balance the doing v. dreaming, or vice versa.  This and 5 bucks will get you a latte at Starbucks, but this is what works for me.

1.  Have and write down a plan.  Keep it to ONE page.  I do this every year during the time between Christmas and the new year for the year to come.  Put 3-5 major goals you want to achieve for the coming year under each company and job ‘bucket’, along with your personal bucket, your education/development bucket, your philanthropic bucket, your investment bucket, your wellness bucket, and STICK TO IT.  Of those major 3-5 bullets, do 2 you can accomplish, and the rest should STRETCH you.

2.  Keep it with you, carry it with you wherever you go, and check it off – got ‘r dun?  GREAT!  Check it off the list!  If not, keep reviewing the goals in toto so you can check it off when it IS done!  I carry my goals in my moleskine notebook (what I call my brain book).  If it isn’t in my brain book, it doesn’t exist.

3.  REALIZE: you can’t do everything.  You can’t always keep on saying YES.  You are here for a reason, which is tied to your passions, and deviations from those passions can get you off your unique awesome highly regarded personal path.  Men have this better mastered than women.  We gals need to learn how to say NO – the two letters N & O are next to each other in the alphabet for a REASON – so says one of my male friends.  He’s RIGHT.

4.  Awesome new ideas go into the pipeline.  If you have reams and reams of great ideas, great.  Just cue them up!  Keep them in a journal somewhere so you can refer back to them…but don’t let them derail you from your current passion(s).  Just put them into the plan for next year, or in the next 5 years – maybe just not today.  For example, I think I have down the ideas and timeline for my next 4 books.  While they aren’t getting all done simultaneously, I do have a timeline mentally as to when I want to cue each project up in the future.

That’s all I got when it comes to Dreaming v. Doing.  You just have to have a plan for it – just like everything and everyone else who has become successful.

The Right Sisters

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Ok, quiz time: name 3 inventors.

Who ya got?

The Wright Brothers, Bell, Edison, Ford, DaVinci…?  Yeah.  All good names in the invention world.

Now, name 3 WOMEN inventors.

?

Not so easy, is it?

Well, fear not!  I now bring you a book I’m reading – The Right Sisters – whereby you can learn all about TEN fabulous women inventors from our time, who are out there, rocking some serious inventions.  While it was easy for me to get a copy of this book (I interviewed one of the writers/inventors featured in it for my new book on single women entrepreneurs), I want to give a shout out to Julia Rhodes, who not only wrote this book in part, but who also invented something REALLY cool that I use in the classroom each week.  I’ll let you read the book to find out what she invented.

And if you have a girl in your life, you might want to consider reading to her this book.  We need more women out there, creating super cool ideas and products–in order to make the world a better, more user-friendly place!  After all, single women are now outnumbering married women in the US, and more women than men graduate from college and grad school.  We’re taking over, so why not get some innovation grove going on top of all that good woman mojo?

I’m Ambivalent

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Dictionary.com defines the term “ambivalence” as the following: “uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.”

So, in the snarky Breakfast Club of a class this Saturday morning (after battling the parking Gods in order to just secure a place to put my car during class after paying $250 for the privilege to do so, while others around us today got to park for free, but I digress and will save that as a separate rant…) I didn’t vote one way or the other on a case we were discussing as to whether or not it was right or wrong for a lawyer to do something.  I was asked why by the professor, to which I replied, “I’m ambivalent.”

I think the professor probably thought I was just being a smart alec, but for those who really know me well, they also know that this was a pretty big moment for me.  I stated I was ambivalent, because I could see BOTH sides and both points of view on this particular case…and there wasn’t one that was necessarily all right and the other all wrong.

Those who know me also know that I’m rarely without an opinion.  I as a scientist hunt down fiercely as my prey the best and most right answer.  That’s what I must do as a healthcare professional, as an entrepreneur, as a professor, and as a writer.  That’s why this is big–because I rarely pick a side that’s in the middle, or no side at all.

Dare I say that law school has officially changed the way that I think?  I think I can state with reasonable accuracy that it has.  I can and now do seek all points of view, rather than just the ‘best’ point of view.

To my friends and people who know me and also know that I can be rabid about my opinions at times: don’t worry.  My passion hasn’t gone on permanent vacation.  Although I was ambivalent this morning, I won’t be on everything in the future.  Constant ambivalence can lead to the other a: apathy, and that can be the worst crime of all.