Category Archives: Personal

Start With I

We all know the saying there is no “I” in team. We’re told not to be selfish. We’re encouraged to focus on others. Women, especially, can find themselves putting everyone else’s needs in front of their own because we are born to nurture – it is innate in us – and we are afraid of being seen as selfish. But there’s something fundamentally wrong when we never put ourselves first. We can’t be the best for everyone else when we don’t take care of ourselves and our own needs.

Sometimes, we have to start with I:

I know I feel valuable when…

I want to accomplish…

I started this company because…

I know I can…

I don’t feel comfortable with…

I need…

I expect…

When we “start with I” we can identify what we need, what we like and don’t like, and how we stay motivated. We can set clear goals, expectations and boundaries. We can discover our purpose. We can then better communicate this to important people in our life: spouses, friends, children, bosses, colleagues, business partners. When we communicate what our tolerances are, what we need and what we believe we can give, relationships are healthier and ideally, happier.

startwithiThere is nothing wrong with saying, “I need this” or “I want this in my life,” or “I don’t want this in my life.” Oscar Wilde said “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” Starting with I is not selfish – it is clearly stating your expectations and how you want to live, and giving others the choice to be a part of that or not. It is accepting friendships, romance and business relationships that align with your values. Starting with I is often courageous – it can go against our gut feeling that focusing on ourselves is wrong. It is giving and communicative. It improves relationships and mental well being and can eliminate stress. Starting with I is the setting of boundaries, expectations and goals and ensuring that you’re surrounding yourself with like minded people who can appreciate or even admire them. It is generous and wise to let others know what you expect.

Work every day to become comfortable with starting with I. Embrace it as the best starting point to your best life and best relationships. Mind you, I said start with I. It doesn’t mean to solely focus on just yourself but rather that you know yourself, that you trust yourself, and that you’re honest with yourself – and with others – about what you want and need and what your life direction is. Only then can you begin to focus on enveloping others into the life you want to build in a healthy and mutually beneficial manner.

Stubborn, much?

stubborn_I love this quote. I’ve always been told that I am stubborn as though it is a negative thing, but this Josh Shipp quote puts a positive light on that stubbornness. For entrepreneurs especially, stubbornness is necessary. Well, most of the time.

Stubbornness paid off when I insisted I was moving from the midwest to Boston after college, despite naysayers telling me I’d be a “little fish in a big pond.” Stubbornness paid off when I insisted there was a better way to run a marketing agency with senior talent and everyone said I didn’t have enough experience to make it happen (my agency is turning 21 this year, so…!). Stubbornness paid off when I fought a legal battle and insisted on taking it all the way to court because I knew in my heart that I was right. (I won, twice.) Stubbornness is paying off as I listen to my heart and my body to train again, instead of the doctor who told me I wouldn’t likely run another marathon after breaking my foot in three places last summer (three months into training for the Chicago Marathon – heartbreaking!).

Using stubbornness as a way to get where you need to be is a good thing. It takes chutzpa to get what you want in this world. No one is here to do you any favors. Without a stubborn will to make new things happen, we would never see change. Change and growth are what makes the world great. We need stubborn people.

Certainly, we have to know when to not be stubborn – like when the new startup isn’t working and it’s time to pack it up, when Mom and Dad tell us they’ve had enough of our ‘tude, or when we’re fighting with our spouse over something really not worth fighting over and we know we just want to be right. You learn to recognize when stubbornness will get you into more trouble than it’s worth. If it isn’t helping you persevere to something more positive, let it go.

Happy Monday – go forth and persevere, my stubborn friends!

 

Learn to Say “No”

Learning to say no is something that comes with experience. Women, especially, seem to grapple with saying no, as though it’s rude. But sometimes it’s necessary for self preservation and sanity. We can’t possibly accept every invitation to connect, network, meet for coffee, help out at our children’s school, etc. Something has to give. Learning to say no – guilt free – is one of life’s greatest accomplishments.

Sometimes saying no means saying yes to yourself

A Customer Service and Marketing Lesson from Club Wyndham Resorts

CW_Twitter_Icon_400x400We’ve all been there – on a well-deserved and long-awaited vacation, when you get “the pitch.” Someone from the resort interrupts your day to ask if you’d give them just 90 minutes to come look at a time share. They’re aggressive, but you really don’t want to give up time in the sun having fun with your family, so you politely say no. Most of the time they accept your decline, encourage you to call if you change your mind, remind you of the lovely dinner gift certificate you can get, and move on.

Well, not Club Wyndham. They don’t take no for an answer.

My family arrived in North Myrtle Beach Thursday night after a very long car ride from Boston. We were looking forward to a nice, quiet beach vacation. When we pulled into the parking garage, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman named Bill, who happened to also be from Boston (Watertown, to be exact) and was a former Harvard University police offer. Bill was awesome.

Bill’s colleagues could stand to take some lessons from him. 

We proceeded to the third floor to check in. Annie at the front desk was pleasant enough. Then she sent us to another desk to “get our parking pass.” This process was less about getting our parking pass and more about three women accosting us with more paperwork than a plastic surgeon, and a hard core pitch on spending 90 minutes the first morning of our vacation attending a “presentation” that was “just so you can get to know more about Wyndham, because we don’t advertise, so we’d love for you to tell people about your experience.”

You got it, Wyndham. Here’s our experience.

I very politely declined. They then “upped the ante” with new offers of dinner certificates, “cruise” packages (more dinner certificates on a cruise if you paid to take the cruise) and more. They didn’t seem to get that 90 minutes taken out of my very short vacation with my family was not worth $200 to me. My time with my family and in the sun was way  more important.

But they wouldn’t take no for an answer. When my fiancé came back to get us, I was so overwhelmed with all the paperwork that had just been shoved in my face, that I very politely again said we would need to go talk about it, trying to get him (and my four kids who were sitting there still holding their bags and very tired) to walk away before they wasted 20 more minutes of our time. The woman – we nicknamed her “Manhattan” because that’s where she was from (and she never told us her name) – suggested that I take the bags and go upstairs with the kids, and they would then repeat the pitch and tell my fiancé all about the “deals” that we “really shouldn’t pass up.”

I again stated that we would need to talk about it, we weren’t going to commit right there, and that we both had work conference calls the next morning anyway, so it was unlikely we would attend. I was trying to be nice.

Nice doesn’t work.

They filled out paperwork and signed us up anyway, and told us to “let them know if we decided we wouldn’t attend.” Fine, whatever it took to get out of there and get out to the pool!

When we finally got up to our room a half hour later, we dropped of our bags and my fiancé  needed to go park the car. But… no parking pass. The women had been so busy with their pitches for the 90 minute presentation and the push to all of their suggested vendors to patron, that they forgot to even give us a a parking pass!

So my fiancé  had to go back down and get the pass. And he got pitched again. When he finally flat out explained that our time with family was more valuable than a $200 gift certificate, he was given a rude wave, shooing him away and a “fine, goodbye” from Ms. Manhattan.

Class act, Wyndham, class act.

So we were pretty upset. The entire situation set a very negative tone. But we had said no and so we went about our evening.

This morning we awoke to a note under the door, indicating we should call Amber at the Hospitality Desk. We were excited, thinking maybe they were going to upgrade our room to an oceanside view like we had requested.

Nope.

The call was so that Amber could “reschedule us” because we hadn’t shown up for the 8:30 presentation. Apparently, Ms. Manhattan didn’t take our “No” to heart and left us on the list anyway.

We checked out Friday morning and got our money back. We weren’t about to spend our vacation continually bullied and pressured into a situation we didn’t want. It was beyond uncomfortable and Wyndham didn’t deserve our dollars.

There’s a customer service and marketing lesson or two in here:

  • Know your audience – when I filled out the form indicating our preferences, household income, etc., it should have been clear that $200 for our time wasn’t something that would really entice us.
  • Listen to your audience – look, we’re all in sales. We get it. But when your audience isn’t responding favorably to your tactics, you don’t do more of the same. You figure out a new strategy.
  • Train your marketing, sales, customer service and all departments that the customer experience relies on all of them to do their job well. It didn’t matter that Bill was nice and welcoming – his colleagues didn’t follow suite, and thus, we left and they lost revenue.

There are more to be had but like I said, I am on vacation and, thanks to Wyndham, have lost nearly a full day in the sun with my kids to rescheduling, rebooking and moving to another hotel (also adding a half hour more to our drive home). It’s time for me to get out in the sun.

One last note – our check out was lovely. The manager was pleasant and understanding and apologetic. Ironically, he, too, was from Massachusetts, one town over from us. So our two most pleasant interactions at the Wyndham Towers on the Grove were with people from our hometown. Way to go, Boston.

Changes to Change Your Life

“Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.”

As I grow older, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my life. I get the “itch” to do something drastic and different. But maybe it’s about changing more of the little things rather than just one big thing.

This is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read this year. I’m going to strive to follow the advice here, (although I already do a few of them). Check it out and let me know the changes you see if you take these on! I’ll be sure to share my experiences as well.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms

What “I Love You” Means

Love is complicated. Love makes people crazy. Love can be euphoric.

I think the best summation I’ve read of love is from Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” In the latter, she explains her definition:

“A proclamation of love is not inherently ‘loaded with promises and commitments that are highly fragile and easily broken.’ The terms you agree to in any given relationship are connected to, but not defined by, whether you’ve said ‘I love you’ or not. ‘I love you’ can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful and I’m going to do everything in my power to be your partner for the rest of my life. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m in transition right now, so let’s go easy on the promises and take it as it comes. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m not interested in a commitment with you, now or probably ever, no matter how groovy or beautiful you continue to be.”

This is part of one of her Sugar advice columns, where she continues:

“The point is, Johnny, you get to say. You get to define the terms of your life. You get to negotiate and articulate the complexities and contradictions of your feelings.”

You get to say. And if anyone you love starts to tell you that your definition of love must match theirs, it’s time for a serious conversation. Perhaps this is why love goes so wrong so often – we stop accepting our partner’s definition and instead try to make them fit into ours. Accept the love, or don’t. But don’t try to change it.

She concludes with, “Be brave, Be authentic, Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Peace On Earth? Probably Not. But That Doesn’t Mean We Should Stop Trying.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”  ― Bob Marley

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”
― Bob Marley

Today is Tuesday, December 16. My heart is heavy. One could say I’m emotional about the holidays, as I tend to be, but it’s more than that today. In the last 24 hours, the earth has been anything but peaceful. On Monday morning, we woke up to reports of a hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, and a mass shooting in Pennsylania, where a suspect who killed his ex wife and her family is still on the loose. This morning we learned that the Taliban had slaughtered 132 children and nine adults in a school in Pakistan, ranging in ages from 10 to 18. I simply cannot fathom that carnage.

Hanukkah started today. Christmas is just nine days away. Many of us are busy stressing out about getting the shopping and the wrapping done, whether or not the kids will like their gifts, and how to fit in everything that needs to be finished before year’s end. We’re hoping no one gets sick, that our travels are safe, and we’re thinking about what we’ll do for New Years. We’re Instagramming and Facebooking our great holiday moments, and we’re shopping and baking and caroling. But today, take a moment to pause and look around. Try to put your worries into perspective. Try to put your blessings into perspective. Don’t ignore what’s happening in the world, but rather take a moment to really think about it – and what little things you can do to try and make it a better place, despite these horrors around us.

We can try every day to be harbingers of peace.

I’m not naïve enough to believe in world peace. But, I do believe that we have the power within us as individuals to do small things that can make a long term difference as a larger whole. We can try every day to be harbingers of peace. We can strive to be truly good – to hold the door for a stranger, to let someone step in line in front of us, to drop ridiculous grudges and frivolous lawsuits. We can forgive. We can stop being so narcissistic, only thinking about our own needs. We can become aware and stop hatred and jealousy when we feel it arriving in our hearts. We can truly teach our children through our own actions to love and to be kind; to be colorblind and to see humans  – good and bad – as the individual people they are, not judging them because of their color, sexual orientation, gender or lot in life.

We can’t stop mad men like those responsible for the horrible events of this week. But, we can support entities that help with mental illness (which is often a cause of mass shootings). We can make an effort to better understand and treat it, as well as depression – and not to avoid the topics simply because they make us uncomfortable. We can send a care package to a soldier who is fighting for our freedom. We can take a stand on gun control. We can vote. We can help build a home for those in need, instead of taking that family vacation.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. We get so wrapped up in the ridiculousness and eccentricity of it all, as perfectly captured on any one of the reality TV shows here in the U.S. Keeping up with the Joneses is still a thing – whether we want to admit it or not. So this year, when you’re making your resolutions, try to think bigger. Go beyond the weight loss wishes or the promotion goals, and think about what you can truly do to try and spread light in this world. I’m making that vow, and I hope you will, too. I’ve constantly got to remind myself to let go of stress around silly things. I have a daily reminder in my phone to think about my blessings and the joy in my life, and I am making a commitment to do one major volunteer effort this year with my family. I’m donating my time to help with two organizations that take care of those with life-threatening conditions. And daily, I’m simply trying to be conscientious of others around me – letting someone pull out in front of me while driving, or giving someone my spot in the grocery line when I’ve got 20 things and they’ve got two. Tipping well.

Little things every day.

If we can do enough good things, no matter how small, perhaps they will begin to dominate the headlines. Never stop trying to make this world a more peaceful and happy place – even if it’s just in your little corner. Smile at a stranger. Pull a “Pay it Forward” move in the coffee line. Volunteer in the middle of the summer, when you may have to give up a day at the beach to do so. Foster a dog.

I’d love to hear your ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. What have you done, or will you do, to shine a little light in 2015? Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful New Year.

 

Photo by Francesco; used under Creative Commons license.