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Archive for November, 2012

Cryptozoology, Camels and Circles

Friday, November 30th, 2012

This week, words that begin with the letter “C” come to mind.

First, I had a conversation today that involved the word “cryptozoology.”  I had heard about it before (was it on CBS Sunday Morning)?  But I was schooled on the term again–by a student.  I dig it when students educate me, and I definitely think I learn more from them than they do from me.  Case in point right here.

I still really do wonder if unicorns exist.  Does that make me a cryptozoologist?  Probably not….

Second, rumor has it that there will be not 1, not 2, but 4 camels on Butler’s campus next week.  That’s pretty much all I can say on that matter, as res ipsa loquitur–the thing pretty much speaks for itself.  I can’t even top 1 camel–let alone four.

Third, it was cool to go out and thank a few of our preceptors at work this week – and one was a former student that I had the task of mentoring on the first book project we did at Butler in 2008 – Prescription To My Younger Self.  When I was explaining to her the new children’s book project, and hearing her explain her work on the first book to her current boss, it kind of brought the whole writing/mentoring/teaching thing back to me in a full-circle kind-of-way.  I can’t remember what I ate 4 years ago now, but I can remember what books I published–and so did she as a student.  Pretty cool.

Kind of an odd combo of words to describe this exact point in time–but they are the best I can come up with for a Friday night.

 

NFP -> FP Board Leadership Development: Is Your City or State Responsible?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Just got my life back!

Was summoned for jury duty this week.  Thankfully, panel #647 in Hamilton County was called off today – booyah!

This allowed me the tremendous opportunity to recreate my schedule for the week.  So today, part of that was having a chat with a non profit thought leader locally about one of my favorite topics–non profit board and leadership development.

We had a delightful conversation – but I asked a question that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, which is this:  Are there any cities or organizations anywhere in the U.S. training non profit board directors to convert into FOR PROFIT board directors?

The non profit thought leader had not really thought about this before.  I argued that really good leadership development–development that really and truly promotes diversity and inclusion–should be offering those who step up into NFP board roles training on how to convert to FOR PROFIT board roles.

Good leadership is good leadership–in a for profit, in a non profit, on a boat, with a goat.  Besides, my students don’t really think of NFP/FP as so black and white anymore.  Companies in their minds can make some money AND do good things–it’s not an either-or proposition to them.

A few years ago, I had to go all the way to NYC to get training from Boardology on how to serve on a for-profit board.  The host company, Boardroom Bound, had nothing but women and minorities at this training program.  While I loved it, and while I’m still serving on a few non profit boards, I’m not to my goal of serving on a for-profit company board yet (particularly, Amazon).  While I’m ultimately responsible for my own life, service, and career options–and most of all, going after what I really want, could my city/county/state help me with this?

I don’t know.  But I think the areas of the country that get the NFP->FP board conversion rates improved will be miles ahead of others in the future.  FP boards are one of the last bastions of the good ol’ boys’ club–let’s keep it real here. Furthermore, there are a lot of people on for profit boards now that are on multiple boards–like 6-8 boards.  How are they doing this realistically with a day job on top?

Instead, why not really focus on board diversity with women and minorities who already rock NFP board director work?  It would engage the city, companies (for and not for profit) and everyone wins with more, not less diversity throughout a community – not just in one sector.  The counter argument could be here, I suppose, that NFPs might be robbed of their best and brightest – but I seriously doubt it.  It just makes all of us concentrate on what is really important to each of us, and in the end, true leaders are going to stay with organizations they care about–for profit, non profit, or something in between (yes, there are companies that do good and make some money – but I’ll spare you from that info today.)

What do you think?  Any cities out there doing this already?

The Life Work Matching Game

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Query: Where does your work come from?  Where does your income come from?  Do they match up 100%?

Probably not.

I’m re-reading (or reading for the first time, I suppose) The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited.  I read Richard Florida’s other original version, but he claims his book has been practically re-written for this updated edition.  Not sure, as I haven’t gotten through the 400 pages just yet, nor do I remember what I’ve read 10 years ago.

But, in it, he’s talking about the new world of work…there’s a section “Where the New Work Comes From.”

That section is making me ask myself – where is my work coming from, and where does my income come from, and do they match?

We all do volunteer work and give back when we can.  I do.  Although, I’m starting to wonder how much giving back is good at little to no income–vs. balancing one’s time with watching one’s own back to produce income?  It may sound greedy–but if we can’t take care of ourselves, who else can we really help to the best of our ability?  (Think about the airplane airbag instruction you’ve heard each time you’ve gotten on that plane ride.)

So, I’m just asking the universe for some input on this one: how much overlap should there be between one’s life work and one getting paid?  I don’t know.  I’m sure I’m doing it wrong.  But all one way or the other can’t be right.  It’s the optimal middle section that I’m trying to get a proper handle on here…

My Holiday Gift…To You

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

No Black Fridays, Shop Small Saturdays, or Cyber Mondays involved!

Just put a copy of one of my first books, Indianapolis: A Young Professional’s Guide, First Edition – on slideshare.  Just. For. You.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

 

Indianapolis: A Young Professional’s Guide, First Edition (2008) from Erin Albert

SMARTer Gratitude

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I just finished my faculty activity report for 2012.  (It’s the equivalent to performance management in the corporate world, for those of you in the for-profit world.)  It’s not a fun process, to cull back through a year of what you already did (clearly, I’m a futurist and I don’t dig past-dwelling).  But, in looking ahead, I first need to do 2 things:

1. Acknowledge the peeps who got me through this year.  There’s a list so long I can’t even begin to publish everyone here-but to everyone who supported my crazy ideas, helped me hobble through law school and finish, my friends, family, frenemies and flat out enemies–thanks for being there.  Seriously–while no woman is an island, (or it takes a village to raise an idiot?  You pick your favorite adage here…)  it couldn’t have been more real for me this year – I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you!

2.  Acknowledge that I missed out on one of my all-time favorite things to do this year.  I’ve been working on my law school book, but I’m not going to get it published this calendar year.  I was certainly busy doing a lot of stuff this year–some planned, some totally unplanned and beyond my control–but one of the things that fell by the wayside was writing. Boo.

I’m here to say NO MORE to that one–and next year, I vow to publish 3 books–2 new, one a revised and updated edition of another of my books.  Hold me accountable to this one, dear peeps, so I can make sure writing and publishing don’t fall to the back burner like they did this year.  I definitely don’t want history repeating itself on this item–and while some things were beyond my control this year–at the end of the day, I have only one person to blame for not getting any published works done: me.

Now, I can move on to my goals for the new year – and I’ve been thinking about them, because I have to produce them relative to the day job on the faculty activity report.  However, I need to go wider and think about all that I do and goals next year.  Thus far, I’ve already been madly plotting to maximize next fall (I’ll have more on that later – still don’t want to jinx it) but that still leaves me half a year to create what it is that I want more of in my life.

Friendly reminder to everyone, including me – to write SMART goals.  I think I’m going to lower the number of goals this coming year, but they will be SMARTly written.  In January?  I love to share them with the universe–so if the universe can help me with that part–by bringing more discussion around what my goals really are for 2013–I’d really appreciate it.  Thoughts become action.

Deep.  I know.  Now I’m off to edit.  That always scrambles the brain.

Crowdfunding & Giving, Gen X Style

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Recently, I received a letter asking for a donation to one of my 4 alma maters (I won’t say which one–in fact it was more than one, but I’ll pick on the latest).  ‘Tis the season.

The most recent was pretty generic.  It was a thank you letter, along with a card that has various increments on it and I can designate the gift to a specific fund or other fund (but I’d have to know which fund it was that I wanted to fund…it wasn’t like there was a menu of funds, nor what they were actually funding.)

This is the part where I share that I don’t like to give blanket funds to ANY organization anymore–alma mater, not for profit, or otherwise.  For me, I want to support specific projects or causes that I know have a direct impact on another human being.  Not sure if this is a product of being Generation X, being obsessed as a child with Choose Your Own Adventure books, being skeptical about the world post-law-school, or some other deep ego issue (we all have issues–myself included), but for me, giving needs to be specific.

For example, dear colleges and universities (and for that matter, NFPs) – why not put out a list of SPECIFIC needs you have?  Give me a top 10 list of what you need…one charity did that I encountered awhile ago on a bookmark – I thought that was brilliant!

For example, if students are working on a project at a university and they’re raising funds to develop it – give me a link to an online portal of student projects in which I can directly choose to support.  If you’re a school, give me a stream of things you need on your homepage.  That way, I can CHOOSE MY OWN GIVING.  I want a crowdfunding portal of projects and causes from my non profits so I can choose to fund what is important to me.  Make me a backer!  Let me have a shark tank-ian moment!

I can support the white coat ceremony by buying a white coat, or I can help students publish a book about pharmacy, or I can help fund students going to Haiti to help provide assistance to those in need. (I’m just giving examples here from my own little world.)  The bottom line:  I want a tie of my dollars and cents to a specific cause or project that I care about.

So–NFPs and colleges/universities, are you reading this and listening?  Don’t send me any more blanket hand out request letters.  Instead, build some tools and put some thought around ways I can contribute to the university in specifics–so I know that my money is going to support causes I actually care about.  Otherwise? You’re wasting your time and money, not to mention my time and money!

Twinkies and Texas

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

First, the most important part (sorry, lone star state) – the makers of Twinkies declared this week that they are officially going out of business.  There are now crazy reports of boxes of Twinkies going for up to $200K on ebay.  (I dig Twinkies–but not that much.)  The leaders of the company blame organized labor and a strike for their demise.  Now there are reports that a Mexican company may buy the rights to manufacture the goodies.  (Hostess–BTW–was founded in Texas, ironically.)

Second story: reports from Texas and several other states post election that they’d like to secede from the United States.  Texas in particular is a big deal, because its economy is one of the biggest in the US – over $1.3 trillion.  They now have over 100,000 signatures to leave the union.

What does this all mean?  Besides no more sugary Hostess snacks and a large booming economy leaving the country potentially, and both start with a T–I think it kind of begs the question.  I like Twinkies.  I like Texas being part of the United States.  But if half the country disagrees, how much longer will we really be a true United States?  Furthermore, what are these signs of–changing values?  I’m not sure.

All I know is that I will miss Twinkies, and Texas, should it choose to leave.

Gujira

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

So, my week has been improving, thanks for asking.  Right now, I’m sitting in a hotel room, while the temperature outside was 74 degrees an hour ago when I arrived.

On the way to the hotel for a work meeting, I hopped a taxi.  The driver was a nice guy named Gujira.  He’s from Somolia.  He apologized when he picked me up, because he was talking to his brother on the phone – in Somolia.

Now, I’m certainly no international news guru, but I do know that Somolia has had more than its fair share of turmoil of late.  I inquired about the state of his family back there.  He said his mother (now 85) and brothers lived in the same family home and ran a farm, 350 miles away from any major city.  They lived a good life, apparently–with cattle and goats–and where Gujira sends home $300 a month to them.

He asked me if I knew how much money that was in Somolia.  Of course, I was clueless.  He replied it was $9 million Somolian dollars (I guess that’s Shillings after I strained myself to look at wikipedia?)  Anyway, he said there a cup of coffee was $200,000 Shillings, so while $9M sounded like a lot, it really wasn’t that much.

Then, I asked him how long he had been in the states.  He replied 7 years.  Of course, I next had to ask him if he liked it.  He replied that he LOVES America, and started talking about the American Dream.

“You know what I’m talking about?” he asked when he was talking about the American Dream…

Yes.  I do.  Or, I used to.  Maybe I still do.

Gujira went on to share that he has 5 kids – 4 sons and a daughter.  He’s thrilled that they’ll be getting a good education here in the states and that he can provide for them and help his farming family back home in Somolia.

I’d just like to state for the record that while I received a safe cab ride into my hotel from Gujira, he also did something else for me.  He restored my faith in my own country a bit.  Sometimes, I think I forget that in this country – especially after a disappointing election.  We don’t have a government trying to murder its own people, or have genocide or huge turmoil going on (other than natural disasters).  We get to do and be crazy if we want.  We have options.  We are for the most part free to live our lives.

I’m grateful that Gujira reminded me of my awesome country today, on top of a quick cab ride to my hotel.

Senge, A Coyote, and Other Technical Difficulties

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

So goes my day, out of order in the title above.

First–notably–a friend invited me downtown to Indy this afternoon late to hear Peter Senge speak.  Although it’s been awhile since reviewing the Fifth Discipline, I wanted to hear what he had to say about education.  Here are the stickier parts of his talk:

  • A golden period of any society, so goes an ancient Chinese saying, occurs when children are valued the most in that society.
  • We used to use the term “elders” to describe the older and wiser folks in our society.  Now we call them “elderly.” Why?
  • When discussing the fishing industry and a story of changing the goal from catching as many fish as possible to instead, sustaining the environment and the fishing industry–the success of Cozumel area fisher-folk occurred when they decided to either collaborate and “hang together” vs. “hang alone.”  They chose to hang together. (And by hang, I don’t mean hang out.  I mean hang up the business of fishing because of overfishing, oceans warming, and the coral environment dying from acidic waters.)
  • We are all delusional.  We have our delusions as a form of warm, fuzzy comfort and security.  However, to get rid of them, we have to be aware of them and shed them only when we make the conscious choice to do so.

That’s some pretty deep stuff for me on a Tuesday.

Then, on the way home, I was on I-69 stuck in fast wall to wall traffic, and out of nowhere comes a coyote.  I prayed while moving forward that I would not hear a thud.  I heard the thud.  I also saw another thud in my rear view mirror when the semi next to me hit the coyote after me.

Dear Universe, I am sorry for this loss of life; however, I was comforted slightly to know that we have an over population of them just on the news last week, and that I may have potentially saved 10 or so neighborhood pets by making an unfortunate demise for the coyote meeting the underbelly of the Jeep.

Last but certainly not least–I have really beat up my network lately with requests for letters of support.  If I’ve asked you for a letter, or two, or several – I am truly very sorry.  I know how much time and energy they take, and on top of technical difficulties with the platforms for the applications, I’m about to pull my own hair out.  All I can say here is–technology is great–when it works.  It’s also great when you actually have power to your house to fire up that technology, supplied by a power company, rather than a generator out back.

I’m scratching the two rougher areas of my day off to karmic retribution, in hopes that payback will be tomorrow.  I’m hoping it will be more philosophical like Senge’s talk, it will be less technologically challenging–and most of all, it will be completely thud-free.

Healthcare and Employers: Does Not Compute

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I’m probably going to get hammered by this, but I have to speak my peace on it.

As a homeowner, I have to pay for homeowner’s insurance.  Renters do the same with renter’s insurance.  I choose to drive a car–so same deal–I have to have driver’s and car insurance.  I’m a pharmacist, so I too have to carry professional liability insurance.  All those financial burdens are on me.

What’s the one thing I don’t have to really pay for fully when it comes to insurance?

My body.

Healthcare insurance in the U.S. is paid for by your employer.  If you don’t have an employer, retirees get basic healthcare coverage through Medicare (and trust me, if they can afford it, they get a supplement) and some at a certain income level may receive Medicaid, or both.  But, if you work full time, or soon, 30 hours or more with an employer who has 50 or more employees–your employer will be paying for the majority of your healthcare.

Maybe the entrepreneur in me wins here, but with healthcare information being some of the most private, intimate info out there on individuals (HIPAA, anyone?) I guess I have a really huge problem with my employer having to cover me.  Shouldn’t it be our own individual responsibilities to find healthcare insurance for ourselves and our families?

Again, I’m sure I’m going to get hammered on this – but it must be said.  With healthcare now consuming almost 18% of the total GDP in the U.S., we all really need to start paying attention to this.