friendship · humor · inspiration · life lessons · mindfulness

Tuesday Morning’s Two Cents

It’s 3:15 in the morning – a ridiculous hour to be doing anything other than sleeping or sitting outside listening to the night breathe.  Here was my first thought when I came into the kitchen…

Fortunately, we had some…

And this was my second thought (that’s not true, it was more like the ninth or tenth) that I wanted to share with you before you begin your terrific Tuesday..
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but that person you keep conjuring in your head?  It’s an avatar in an alternative universe.  That person that all of us see and marvel about?  That’s you.  Believe me.

More later – I’m off to the porch with my coffee.

inspiration · leadership · life lessons · management · mindfulness · motivation · work life

Taking Chances With Success

Hi all…please join me out here on this branch..careful, I don’t want you to fall as you consider just how much you’re willing to ante up at work.

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times this past Sunday about Dov Seidman, CEO of the company LRN.  The mission of LRN is intriguing to HR nerds like me – helping companies “inspire principled performance in their operations”.  Pretty cool, don’t you think?   He has written a book (which I have not yet read) titled, “How:  Why How We Do Anything Means Everything”.  In short, he has taken his company in a surprising and challenging direction – developing a form of self-governance that boldly eliminates many of the sacred cows that few have ever dared to sacrifice.  He threw out the org chart, eliminating titles (but for his).  The structure is as flat as possible, with authority and decision-making viewed as part of their shared, collaborative mission.   There are no titles; performance reviews for each employee are completed by a personally selected group of reviewers and a mentor. Self-evaluations include perspective on performance as well as a score.  Employees are “trust[ed] to weigh the feedback they collect into their own ratings”.  All of these scores are published internally.  Vacation time is unlimited – presuming that people will be candid and plan their time off with an appreciation for their colleagues and the good of the organization.  Management committees do exist, though my sense is that there are a very discreet few.  In an effort to reflect his commitment to transparency, Seidman opened his own review for comments from anyone who wanted to offer his/her views, and published his own assessment along with all the others.

He feels that empowering employees is a hierarchical phenomenon, and fuels supervisory power rather than individual initiative and commitment.  His approach is to give each employee as much ownership over their career as possible.  After completing a study of companies world-wide, he acknowledges that few companies are practicing self-governance.  And, he admits that the process within his own organization is far from complete, and has been “enlightening, frustrating, nerve-racking, authentic and urgent”.

There are many companies that give lip service to such ideology, and place questionable value on walking the walk defined by their mission statements.  Whether you are a department head, chief officer, vice-president, king…doesn’t matter.  What do you think about the pros and cons of such a daring premise?  Could you do it?  Would you do it?  What would it take for you to step out on a limb and try something totally new to see if it flies?  I am most  impressed by Seidman’s efforts to be authentic in the workplace, to ensure that his personal philosophy is in sync with his professional environment and do more than shake the tree, but actually climb.


friendship · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness

Trying To Wrap My Arms Around Time…

…and I can’t.  Yesterday was one of those days where time and I faced off in the ring.  As I made every effort to grab it, time was bobbing and weaving like Muhammed Ali (oh, the irony of how this metaphor dates me in and of itself), coming near and taunting me, daring me to bring it and then sprinting out of my grasp.  I understand why I’d never make it as a boxer – over and above my true abhorrence of being rewarded for knocking someone’s brains loose,  I’d lose each match, for I think I’d keep my gloves up and my eyes closed.

I had lunch yesterday with a woman who used to work at the firm.  She was a manager in the DC office – exceedingly talented and funny with professional ambitions that extended beyond the walls of a branch office.  When I last heard from her she was heading to NY for a larger position in another well-known law firm.  She was on her way.  That we re-connected is a wonderful surprise.  And when she told me that it had been seven years since we last saw each other, I was stunned.  Seven years??  In seven years, lives change.  She survived cancer, wrote a book, moved back to the DC area, is happily employed as the administrator for a smaller firm where she runs the operational ship.  Her face still lights up when she speaks about her husband and family, she looks wonderfully the same and now has four cats instead of the two I remember.  The niece and nephews who were still small children when we last spoke, are in the process of leaving from, attending and moving on after college.  Excuse me?  When the heck did all of this happen?  I realize that time stands still for no man, but surely it would slow down for a woman – right?  Just kidding…

Later in the afternoon, I spent close to two hours speaking with a woman who was my closest friend in high school and college.  She was a bridesmaid at my first wedding (I’m not going there – the wedding, that is).  Our last sighting was close to thirty years ago.  Thirty years…decades of years cascading upon each other.  She still has a laugh like a song.  Her voice has the timber of someone who has had her share of weight to carry as an adult (see my earlier post about the increasing baggage we carry as we get older).  Her life experiences have been varied, rich and happily more love-filled than not, though the times of ‘not’ were profound and etched tattoos that not everyone can see.  I saw them – for even after thirty years I know her voice, could see her face and remember her courage and singular, determined spirit.  We spoke of our respective lives today – husbands, children, careers.  We tentatively went back to Jackson Heights – our friends, our parents – my memories of her mom and dad are as clear as glass – I see them in their apartment, at school events.  Her mom wore Pucci (not sure if they were derivative – probably not, but either way, I loved the colors), deep, alluring voice, perhaps a bit tempermental – nonetheless, she’d come home and endure our singing to Laura Nyro and James Taylor.  Her dad was elegant, soft-spoken and very tall.  I remember he always seemed to look amused by the two of us.  That’s probably right – we were a pretty amusing duo, even if we did take ourselves very seriously.

We will speak again and see each other at some point.  We are both in no small part who we once were, and connect to that understanding with a familiar comfort that few get to re-visit.  Certainly there are new loves and layers and priorities – life has happened in between these years.  And that has me a little turned around this morning.  So much life has happened.  So much time has passed.

Another blogger celebrated her 25th birthday yesterday and was struck by how quickly she had arrived on the brink of being a grown up.  I get it – even though I regard her disbelief with a smile, for she has so many more years of being tricked by time.  The moments fold into each other with increasing speed, days and weeks pass and though we can live wholly and fully, we can’t hold time.  And yesterday I wanted to hold it, just for a minute – look it in the eye and implore it to please, please slow down.  I need a moment to take this all in with nothing else happening in the interim, while I stop and look with wonder at all that has happened over the years.  All that inconsequential stuff that passed in a day that I didn’t notice, and that in retrospect make up huge, life-changing events.  I don’t want to chase time, it is clearly out-pacing me.  I just want to hold it still for a moment and ask what the rush is all about.

discretion · humor · life lessons

Spam – The Eternal Mystery

It is too unbearably hot to focus on any topic for longer than the time it takes for a bead of glow to travel from my forehead to my chin, or to consider how ridiculous it is that a walk down our driveway leaves me feeling like I’ve been on a steeply inclined treadmill for an hour (the driveway is flat by the way).  Such forced lethargy and abbreviated attention span sent me with mild curiosity to my spam file where I found 159 spam comments in the queue and another 657 in inventory.  I now get why they call it ‘spam’ – you have no idea how it came to be, what its content really is nor why the hell it lives longer than most messages do.

no spam!
no spam! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spam..I’ve never tried to eat the stuff in the can, but I am amused by its literary counterpart.  Here are some excerpts from my spam file –

– “What I don’t understand is how you are not much more liked than you may be right now”

– “Wie wil let nou nut?  …Sexdating is naturlik helemaal gratis en anoniem”

– “I have certainly picked up anything new from here”

– “Have you tried Viagra?”

– “Cialis works!  Contact us @_______”

– “Incredible article, great sex dude”

– “Keep functioning, impressive job”

– “Hormone replacement therapy – no prescription needed”

– “Please cover protein shake diets in the future”

– “Definitely believe that which you have sated.  Nice site: check out sexdating – thanks for visiting”

– “Hello I have three children to register and didn’t see the registration form on the site.  Their names and ages are ….”

Interestingly a lot of the spam is in languages I don’t recognize – I don’t read Chinese, Arabic, Russian and though I can limp my way through French, that’s the one language that never appears.  A lot of the spam comes from some American Airways site – which is peculiar, given that United was the firm’s carrier of choice and the holder of all my personal information.  Other than that, the only other pattern I could find was in the number of comments about sex and the presumption that I was male.  Also amusing, given that I’ve never written about sex and I am confident that I’m a woman.  After enjoying the silliness and complete olio that defines spam, I did find one comment that pretty much summed up my view of the entire file – “Hi Max:  You have a fatal error”

Yup, I’d say so…