Are You The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are?

“Treat people as though they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.” -Goethe

A while back, there was a print ad for Twenty Things You Should Do in This Lifetime. It listed such things as riding in a gondola in Venice, standing on the Great Wall of China, seeing the sunrise over the ruins at Machu Picchu, seeing an opera at La Scala in Milan, and since it was an ad for BMW, owning a BMW.

The ad got me thinking about Twenty Things You Should Be in This Lifetime.

Here is my list.

1 Be loving. 99% of whom and what we are cannot be seen. Learn to love yourself and realize there is no one exactly like you. When you do, you will be at peace. Love begins with you.
2 Be a role model. Thunder makes all the noise, but lightning does all the work! Role models keep commitments.
3 Be a giver. Give 10% of your time, talent, and treasure to others. You reap what you sow. Give blood.
4 Be part of a community. It is within the community we can share our ideas as well as our pain and vulnerability without fear. A team is a community.
5 Be a saver. Save 10% of everything and anything, you earn. Rainy days will come and your savings will provide a rainbow.
6 Be curious. Great leaders are great readers. Study your life. When you go to bed, ask yourself, “What do I know tonight that I didn’t know this morning?”
7 Be compassionate. Random acts of kindness are not just a good practice they are good medicine.
8 Be passionate. A job is something you do with your hands. Work is something you do with your hands and mind. Passion is what you do with your hands, mind, and heart.
9 Be ethical. There is the easy way and the right way. The right way is ethically based.
10 Be spiritual. You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in the seed.
11 Be timeless. Our medieval ancestors had no concept of time, but we are in danger of being controlled by the clock. Time is the only resource you cannot save. Learn to use time more wisely.
12 Be healthy. Get enough sleep. Eat sensibly. Get 4 to 5 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions every week. Wash your hands often. If you ignore your health, it will go away.
13 Be able to laugh. Laughter is the only cure for grief. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you leave the job to others.
14 Be responsible. The United States is full of angry people. We confront and point fingers forgetting that three fingers always point back to us!
15 Be there. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Sound travels at 1,100 feet per second. Slow down and listen! Learn to be still. Be a caring parent. Be a caring friend. Just be there.
16 Be simple. Choosing to be simple and simplifying, your life reduces stress, conflict, and problems. Practice KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!
17 Be humble. Instead of thinking, I am better; learn to think, I am different. The differences we have make us stronger together.
18 Be forgiving and forgetting. Learn to forgive yourself for your own shortcomings. Forgive others for their shortcomings. Build a bridge and get over it.
19 Be fearless. The opposite of love is fear, not hate. Fear causes real pain in life including war, crime, drug use, and other forms of destruction. Battle your fears constantly.
20 Be creative. Whenever you encounter a challenge, learn to identify as many resources as possible. Act and be willing to fail forward.

What would your dog add to this list?

How Are You At Networking With Others?*

One of the key conversations in my coaching work around finding a new position or career is about networking. How well does my client network with others? Networking is not what you know, it’s who you know. Who you know is key to creating a better future.

“The key to networking is to stop networking. Nobody wants to have a ‘networking conversation.’ They are hungry for real conversations and real relationships. It just has to be authentic, genuine, and sincere.” 

                                                                          – Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

What networkers don’t tell you, is that networking is like your smartphone – a source of distractions! You have to know what to avoid and focus on what is truly essential.

Your overall goal in networking is to be significant to those you meet. What value do you bring to the conversation? What is the value of knowing you? Your title, your status, and your success are about you, do nothing for those you meet.

Here are seven fundamental rules for effective networking.

First rule – is dress so as not to draw attention to your appearance, but to the conversation, you wish to have with others. This also means fresh breath, a warm smile, eye contact, and a good handshake!

Second rule – when you enter the gathering space, don’t wait to be found, go find! This may be a challenge for some introverts!

Third rule – have a crisp, professionally printed business card on high-quality thick card stock with your key contact information and some tagline that summarizes your purpose and hints at the value you may bring to your card’s recipient. Your business card is your one-of-a-kind miniature billboard. It helps create that positive first impression. It needs to be simple, clean, and easy to read. If you can’t get this info on one side of a business card, get help! There is lots of white space for my contact to jot down information.

Fourth rule – have plenty of business cards ready to hand out at all times. I always have cards in the chest pocket of my sport coat or suit. Extra business cards are in my business card case in my sport coat pocket as well as my billfold and briefcase…even more in the glove compartment of my car! Be prepared.

Fifth rule – If you have a drink, keep the drink in your left hand so your right hand is ready to shake hands (as well as not cold and wet!) Networking is not about telling, it’s all about asking and truly listening with good follow-up questions. This is at the heart of a real conversation and the beginning of a relationship. It is about being interested rather than interesting. People you come in contact with don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Great networkers ask great questions. The questions can be more important than the answers!

If someone shares something, refrain from telling your story on top of theirs. AND make sure you don’t try to one-up or compete with their story! Be secure in yourself. Ask another question about what they have just shared. And by all means, make sure your body language is in sync with your questions! There is nothing worse than asking a question as your eyes stray across the room!

A few of my favorite networking questions are:
– What has surprised or intrigued you about this gathering? Followed up with, That’s interesting! Tell me more!
– What are you expecting from being at this gathering? (This may be an opportunity to help make this happen!) Followed up with, That’s interesting! Tell me more!
– Who would you like to connect with here at this gathering? (You may be their connection and can help them out!) Followed up with, That’s interesting! Tell me more!
– What are you looking forward to doing or seeing? (Another opportunity for you to help make this happen!) Followed up with, That’s interesting! Tell me more!
– What has your interest and attention been on the Internet or what you are reading? Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’

Notice that none of these questions are:                                                                                                                                                                     – What do you do for a living?
– How long have you been at __________?
– How long have you lived in __________?
– Do you know _________? He/she works in HR at your company.
– “I’m looking to ______________. Who do you know that I should be talking to?”

If the “What do you do for a living?” question pops out of your mouth (after all, we are creatures of habit!) follow it up with, “Wow, that sounds interesting!” or “Wow, that sounds hard!” or “Wow, that sounds amazing!” or Wow, that sounds awesome!” or “Wow, that sounds edgy!” This response shows you are interested and can get the person to share more.

Sixth rule – ask for a business card. Jot down the date and keywords about this connection.

Seventh rule – follow up with those you meet at the gathering, immediately. I recommend a handwritten, snail mail note with your business card telling the person you’d like to continue the conversation over coffee or tea. Then follow up with a phone call or email to make an appointment roughly 4 to 5 business days later.

Are there other networking behaviors you would add and recommend?

* This is an updated blog I posted in June 2015.

How Do You Define Being ‘Woke’?

USA Today/Ipsos released a poll recently offering two definitions of “woke.” In the poll 56% chose the definition of “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices and 39% picked “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.” The first definition is correct. The term originated in the Black community as a reference to social injustice. 

The City of Asheville and Buncombe County, NC are working on becoming “woke,” by having formed a reparations commission to explore reparations in five key areas that impact POC (people of color) and their history including:

– health – average white male will live 5 years longer than a POC male; POC infant mortality is 2.5X greater than white

– education – only 57% of POC students have access to a full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness

– justice – while POC makes up about 13% of our population, POC dominate our jails and prisons

– housing –  POC post a homeownership rate of 46% compared to 76% of white families

– economic – an average white family is 10X wealthier than the average POC family

There are very few communities in America doing this extensive work and study on reparations. Recommend reading From Here to Equality.

This conversation and study on reparations begins with learning and understanding the history of POC in this country and in this community. Knowing the history will help you to understand the inequalities listed above in the five areas of the reparation study. 

One of the first things an oppressor does is remove the history of its victims. I know I can trace my family history back to Scotland and Ireland for over 400 years. Most POC are lucky if they can go back 150 years.

Confederate monuments are a part of this history. If you have the courage, have a conversation with POC about Jim Crow-era monuments and their impact on them. To do a deeper dive, consider joining Building Bridges, attending an REI retreat, and/or becoming a part of CTTT.

The Vance Monument and three other monuments here in Asheville were a part of over 1,700 Confederate monuments erected during the Jim Crow era. Those monuments as well as 10 military bases, numerous streets, buildings, and schools were named after Confederates.

Those monuments are part of the caste system enacted in this country to control, dominate, and oppress POC. There have been three caste systems enacted in the world – India, the United States, and Nazi Germany. The German Nazis learned how to enact their caste system back in the 30s from the United States. They sent people from Germany to study Jim Crow tactics, and the United States sent people to Nazi Germany to help them control the Jews, gays, gypsies, and other ‘deplorables’. If you want to be “woke” to this, recommend reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. This was the non-fiction book of the year in 2020. Recently, Krista Tippett interviewed Wilkerson on this topic.

Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his commission and the oath he took to serve in the U.S. Army. More U.S. Army soldiers died under Lee than any other enemy our armed forces have ever faced in American history. Why do we honor Lee, Vance, and so many others for their traitorous actions? Does Germany have monuments to Hitler and other Nazi leaders? Again, if you want to be “woke” to this history, suggest reading U.S. Army General (retired) Ty Siedule’s Robert E. Lee and Me. Here is a link to Ty Seidule being interviewed on CBS about his book.

Beginning with cotton, tobacco, sugar, rice, and the building of railroads, where are the monuments to POC on whose backs this country’s wealth was built? The Asheville community owes its growth to the enslaved building the railroads that led to Asheville back in the 1800s. Where is the monument to their work?

I haven’t covered what our forefathers did to the indigenous people of this country, the Japanese-Americans during WWII, or any other group of people who do not look white. That’s another topic!

Where are you now with being ‘woke’?