Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Moment I Knew I Was Turning Into My Parents

From the time you were a little peanut up until, well, your last phone call, your parents have dispensed pearls of wisdom and ushered you into adulthood in their unique way. As a kid, their corny sayings and strange mannerisms drove you up the wall, and you swore that you’d never, ever be the same way.
Until you become an adult and realize that you’re quickly turning into your parents, and … you actually kind of like it.
In honor of this moment of realization, we’ve partnered with Toyota to bring you some classic tales of “oh my god, I’m turning into my mother/father."

Here are the life lessons we learned along the way.

LESSON #1: Put this one in the memory box (and this one…and this one…)
Natasha Huang is a page right out of her mother’s book. While she’s all about fashion and flashy trends, she’s said that she’s begun to take style cues from her more conservative mom -- and her mom has even started to borrow her clothes.
Natasha Huang
Another moment was when I started realizing I was hoarding ‘memories.’ I used to make so much fun of my mom for keeping absolutely everything as a memory and I find myself having a walk-in closet and a loft packed with memories and items of things I can’t let go of that remind me of great times.

LESSON #2: Never, ever, ever give up.

In common parenting parlance, the official name for a persistent child is a “nudge.” But Nancy Guberti, a former executive at Goldman Sachs turned entrepreneur, has passed on that trait after coming face to face with her son’s serious illness. Now, her preternaturally mature children, ages 16 and 18, have started a Teenager Entrepreneur boot camp at Fordham University to help others find their passions.
Nancy Guberti
I would basically use this phrase: there's more than one way to skin a cat. if one door is not opening, and someone isn't working with you, find someone who will help, or go through a back door.
Michael Guberti, host of Teenager Entrepreneur Bootcamp
I learned the importance of persistence as well as well as patience! To know when to ramp it up and to be extremely determined and know when to sit back a little bit and let the fruits of your labor take hold. To do your best always; to fly high but stay grounded.

LESSON #3: It's just homework.
Nancy Shenker is the founder and CEO of New York-based marketing company theONswitch.

Nancy Shenker
I spent one eternal hellish year -- ninth grade -- in private high school. A straight-A student, I was always plagued by science. It didn't come naturally to me and I would stare for hours at the periodic table or at chemistry formulas as if they were written in Urdu. After a torturous two hours of plowing through a particularly difficult homework assignment, I came downstairs in total panic, sobbing hysterically.
''I don't get it!'' I pronounced.
''So, what will happen if you fail science?'' my sage father asked.
''I won't get into a good college,'' I bemoaned.
''So?'' he responded.
''I won't get a good job,'' I pronounced.
''So?'' he continued.
''I won't make a lot of money,'' I went on.
''So?'' he asked.
And I stopped crying for a moment, thought about it and shrugged, wondering if that one page of science was, indeed, a predictor of my entire life's happiness and success. I went back upstairs and finished the task at hand.
Epilogue: I did fairly well in the class. And I never forget to think ''So?'' when tackling life's homework assignments.
Excerpted from a letter to The New York Times

LESSON #4: Know when to demand perfection, and when to let it go.
Crystal Trinh is an NYC native. It turns out that she and her mother share a perfectionist streak, especially in the kitchen.
Crystal Trinh
Food is very central in my family. My mom’s always feeding me and giving me way too much food to take home. She has no concept of portions for one person.
As an Asian family, we always cook all day to prep for family gatherings, and I have memories of sitting around, rolling egg rolls together, and my mom would critique my rolls to make sure they’re the right length or not stuffed too much.
I recently was doing this with my (much younger) little sister, and she was getting distracted -- making triangles, playing with the eggroll skins and so on. I caught myself critiquing her egg rolls (which were far from perfect) and saying to her, How are you so bad at this?! Haven’t you been raised doing this for years?! Kids these days!
Anyway, cooking food together and being a total perfectionist is a tradition in my family. Of course, I was being a crazy person and projecting this onto my little sister. They’re just egg rolls!

LESSON #5: Never settle for less.
TierraNicole Taylor describes herself as “definitely my mother’s child,” which means that in addition to sharing the same name, they are nearly the same height, have the same mannerisms and distinct way of gliding across a room. She says her mother is “the best thing that has happened to me.” She continues: "While I was away at college, I experienced a particularly tumultuous phase with friends, acceptance, and 'finding' myself. Three years down the line and several emails, phone calls, Skype dates, care packages, and Facebook statuses later, I've learned that the value in being away from the ones we love teaches us that distance is the best teacher of love."
TierraNicole Taylor
From my mom, I learned that persistence is key. This wonderful woman decided to go back to college when I reached high school. She completed her bachelor's degree in 2008 and even went on complete a master's in educational technology in 2011 ... all while raising me through high school and the first two years of my own college career. Settling has never been an option for her, and what she has achieved so far continues to show me that persistence reaps far greater rewards than any virtue in life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

In a recent interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences.
The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion.
But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliche Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.”

It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.” You can check out the full list below.

The Pope gives a thumbs up to an audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
(Photo: CSV)

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life
1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

Monday, November 10, 2014

66 things to be grateful for

With the hustle, bustle, and stress of everyday life, it's easy to become fixated on big-picture worries and take for granted all the little facets of life that deserve appreciation and can be a major boost to your overall happiness.

If you're in need of a mindset transformation, here are 66 things to be grateful for — not only during the holiday season, but also all year long.

1. You're alive and breathing.
2. You're able to read this.
3. You have someone (or multiple someones) that you consider a best friend.
4. Your pet(s) love you unconditionally.
5. You have a job.
6. If you're currently unemployed, you have free time.
7. Much-needed vacation days.
8. Those weekends that feel longer than two days.
9. Those workweeks that feel shorter than five days.
10. Mornings you can sleep in.
11. Movie marathons.
12. Cozy fires and hot chocolate.
13. Maintained connections with long-distance friends.
14. Holiday memories from past years.
15. Future life events to look forward to.
16. Your earliest childhood memory.
17. The places you have traveled to, and the promise of future travels.
18. The shoes on your feet.
19. Your bad days. (They make the good days better. )
20. The people you love.
21. The lessons you learned this year.
22. You're not the same person you were this time last year. You've grown.
23. The food on your table.
24. The moment you finally see someone you've missed. 

coffeeFlickr/staroneGood coffee is everything sometimes.

25. Good coffee.
26. The song that always makes you feel better.
27. The memories with your parents you will never forget.
28. The people in your life who always make sure you're getting home safely.
29. The money in your bank account.
30. Your significant other.
31. If you're single: You get a period of self-discovery and quality time with friends.
32. People who have forgiven you.
33. A soothing cup of tea.
34. Friendly coworkers.
35. Good hair days.
36. The internet.
37. Warm whiskey.
38. Home-cooked meals.
39. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and gingerbread.
40. Books that changed your life.
41. Cozy sweaters.
42. Good conversation.
43. Heating.
44. People who pick up the tab.
45. Cuddling.
46. Good health.
47. Fresh-baked bread.
48. That hair grows back after a bad haircut.
49. Kind people on public transportation.
50. Kind people in general.
51. Long overdue hugs from friends and family.
52. Those voicemails you have saved on your phone.
53. Warm hands.
54. Uncontrollable laughter.
55. Rainy days spent at home.
56. Hometown spots with a lot of nostalgia.
57. Happy tears.
58. Your individual talents.
59. Old photos with people you've lost.
60. Home videos.
61. The teachers you will never forget.
62. Gifts you didn't expect to receive.
63. Being able to buy something you've been saving up for.
64. Friends who have stuck around through your toughest times.
65. Family traditions.
66. Everything you have yet to learn but will.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Things the Death of my Father Made Me Change - by Kevin Green

Exactly one year ago today, my father lost his long battle with Parkinson's Disease. It was, and remains, the worst day of my life. However, from that day forward, I finally started doing what he had asked me to do for so many years.

My father was an extremely successful man in both business and life. He had a positive outlook on almost everything and openly shared his perspective, experience and wisdom every time we spoke. Like most children, I listened, but rarely acted or understood the message he was trying to deliver. As a father, he knew he couldn't tell me exactly what to do, but he did his best to influence while letting me make my own decisions.

After he passed, I kept hearing his words and realized that listening to his guidance wasn't enough, it was time to act. As a result, I changed everything.

While some of this may not be relevant to all, I thought I would take this opportunity to share 5 life and business lessons posthumously from a man who never had the tools and technology to deliver them to a broader audience. May you also find something of value in his advice.

1) Move to a different part of the country (check) - It's easy to find comfort in what we know. Change can be terrifying, but it is also liberating. Don't settle for what life has given to you, take the right opportunities as they come to you and hopefully you'll find that what's right for you, may be 2,000 miles away.

2) Respect is given, then earned (check) - Entitlement is an easy emotion. We want more, we want it faster, and we want it exactly the way we imagined it in our minds. We are hard wired to think we know what's best and often ignore those that paved the road before us. Respect the guidance and wisdom of others. Even those younger than you and holding entry level positions. Respect the ideas, emotions and needs of others and they will in turn respect yours.

3) Be open about how you feel (check) - I've often been blamed for being too emotional when it comes to things I am passionate about. Many previous managers have advised me to control those emotions vs. letting them control you. It's not about controlling your emotions, it's about expressing them the right way. Do not hesitate to communicate how you feel, but do so in a way that fosters a discussion, strengthens a relationship and creates the opportunity for people to see your point of view.

4) Talk to Everyone - as your equal (still working on this one) - My father spoke to everyone as if they were the CEO of their company. From the waitstaff at a restaurant to the guy bagging groceries (if he actually ever made it to the grocery store). He genuinely wanted to know about them. Did they like their job? How was business? He was a natural conversationalist and people loved him because he took interest and time. Something we all claim to have less and less of. A senior executive at a Fortune 50 company and he'd spend 15 minutes talking to the waitstaff during a business lunch because he felt they were equally as important as the people around his table.

5) Give of yourself often (still working on this as well) - Need a job? Talk to my dad. Need financial advice? He's your guy. Want to help improve childhood illiteracy? You have his attention. It's important to be involved in things beyond what pays you. Beyond things that benefit just you. The most rewarding experiences of my fathers life were not those found around the boardroom table, they were making material changes in the lives of others. From volunteering with dog rescue programs, bringing toys to underprivileged children, building programs that help children learn to read, or guiding people through their careers. He was a mentor in the truest form.
While this post may be a little unusual for LinkedIn, I felt compelled to share as the world we live in today is more complicated, distracting and evolving at a pace we're just not used to. We are asking our employees to do more, with less everyday and often forgetting that they are people, with real challenges, emotions and issues that prevent them from doing things the way you want them done.
Since he died, I vowed to change that mindset. My mindset. I finally started to see what it meant to be "People First." To be a true leader, you need to be people first. Put people in scenarios where they can succeed. Where they can explore and find their passion. Enable them to find the time vs. consistently asking for more, if not all, of it. Be open to the ideas of others, as brilliance exists at all levels and everyone has the ability to surprise you. Listen. Listen with intent. Help.
So, while the world keeps trying to "Lean In" and chase dollars, remember that no amount of money or title will make you well rounded. "Lean Out" as often as you "Lean In" and when you become a leader...

  • Help your team grow, even though they may leave the nest eventually and move 2,000 miles away - Their success is equally important as your own
  • Make time for the interns and entry level folks. They need it more than anyone and could someday be your boss
  • Communicate effectively and openly. Encourage your team to be open when they are about to break or burn out. Fix the problems together, before you lose someone for reasons that have simple solutions
  • Talent is everywhere. Ask people what they think. Listen more than you speak and you may just find out what your people are capable of
  • Be accessible and open to ideas. Just because you like something done a certain way, doesn't mean it's the right way. Just because that's the way things have always been done, doesn't mean that's the way they should still be done. This applies in work and changing the way we teach children to read. Use what you learn in the office in places that desperately need your perspective

I hope you find some value in these words and guidance. I waited too long to make these changes and know now just how valuable they are. I've seen these traits in the leaders around me. I look for them in my current mentors and find that those with these traits are not only helping me make the right career choices, but amazing friends.

It was one year ago that I stood by his bed as he left us. It was when I said goodbye, that I finally promised to change.

(Photo used is my father's last watch - He made the time... and believe it or not. It hasn't kept time since he died.)