Homecoming

As a social person, I love class reunions.  Social media has helped me stay in touch with many high school classmates but face-to-face gatherings are truly more authentic.  But I will admit to having a touch of anxiety before my 30th class reunion in October.

Why wasn’t I serious about getting in shape?  What am I going to wear?  What are people going to ask me – and what if I don’t remember people?  These are just a few of the questions that haunted me the night before the party.

Ours was a very casual gathering – no name tags, no RSVPs, no signs at the door.    Just like high school, I met up with several friends and we arrived together.  For many it is easier to go into an event with someone you know.    I do this professionally, too.  I will arrange to meet a colleague in the parking lot before entering the conference.

I was worried about getting into uncomfortable conversations. What if someone wanted to start talking politics or gossip about a former classmate?  So, my friend (that I’ve known since age 5 in Mrs. Schafer’s Kindergarten) and I made a code word.  If we needed to leave early or get out of a discussion, we would signal to the other verbally.  This also alleviated my stress and became a joke throughout the night.

It’s true we all had changed.  Several times I needed help to remember names.  But once we started reminiscing about teachers, class memories and friends no longer with us, we were the same as ever.  Our shared experience of high school is a thread that connects us.

The reunion was a lot of fun.  It was good for my soul to be with people who ‘knew me when’.  Classmates who knew me during some very awkward times, before I was approved to own a car or house, before I had a family or a profession.  I was just Sarah Raddatz from Central High School – and I was home.

Update:  I diligently wrote this article in the Fall but wasn’t ready to press publish.  Many months later I am happy to report how many of us have continued to stay in touch.   I’ve been known to publish a silly photo on our reunion website but I’ve also learned when a friend’s mother died.

P.S.  If you aren’t amused by my 1980’s hair there is something wrong with you!36335

 

Beefing up my Resume

How is it possible to itemize your life on one page?   I’ve been doing this as part of my career journey but yesterday, while talking with a friend, I realized my highlights worthy of note are not even on my CV.

“My friend” started as a parent volunteer for a school campaign.  And through the years we have navigated politics, raising children, changing jobs, moves and more than a few hot, humid evenings at the pool.  So really, this friend is a reference.

I should quantify my multi-tasking as 12,000+ meals served, prepared and cleared.  Or paying for school lunch, while leading a meeting without breaking a sweat.

Project management – raising a child.  Insert quantity of doctors visits, trips to stores for athletic equipment, school supplies and/or cupcakes over an 18 year timeline multiplied by three children.

My problem solving acuity hit gold status the year I was working full-time, three children in three school buildings while my husband worked and went to graduate school.  Using a KISS* model, I found that simple calories in, calories out was a sufficient meal planning rubric.

Just like most items on my resume, I had help.  But when asked to provide a narcissistic profile on one page, I encourage you to draw from beyond the workday!

Thumbs Up

I frequently share a Youtube video of a young child who just mastered riding a bike.  His father encourages him to inspire other students.  The child explains in plain terms his feeling of pride.

When we celebrate an accomplishment, we generate great positive energy.  It’s a shame when we miss this opportunities to share this feeling with others.  The immediate benefit is the praise and honoring of the person/team who hit their goal but let’s look deeper.

We spend a lot of time in our world identifying ‘areas for improvement’ or providing ‘constructive criticism’ but we don’t always balance with praise and gratitude for a job well done.  When I send a thank you note or express in-person my appreciation, I am given the opportunity to connect with my personal values.   In a way, I get to be part of the cheering section to empower that person.  But I am also able to assess how I can become a better contributor, parent or employee.

Recently a friend organized a surprise party for his son to celebrate his commissioning as an officer.   Each person invited was made to feel they were selected for our role in his military journey.  We were challenged to keep supporting James.  Lt. Col. Phillips practiced his leadership by acknowledging James’ hard work and dedication at this casual ceremony.  Honestly, James’ father was having a blast, too.

Tribute, inspiration, gratitude can be expressed in small ways or by cutting a cake with a ceremonial sword but should be done frequently.

Please share a way you have celebrated others but also tell me what you took away from the experience.  I am betting it made you feel good, too.

Can we meet for coffee?

A good cup of coffee and a great visit with a friend is the perfect combo for connection.  Nearly two hours later, my friend and I covered most every topic relevant to us right now.  But surely the best part of the morning was finding how we are currently sharing a career journey.

I used “so, what’s your story these days” to open the conversation and we just never stopped.  Jen is an experienced ‘connector’ and even told me she feels she can find commonality with most anyone.  So, it is no wonder we were able to visit for so long (you don’t have to though).   Soon, Jen was helping me dig deep into what my aspirations are and how she can help.

There are times when a visit does have an underlying purpose of networking but this one was purely social.  The result was a delightful morning, attention to a relationship and a possible career path.

This chat is an important lesson on how a conversation can lead benefit your job search and your personal community.   Unlike a neighborhood picnic, our meeting was intentional.  I cannot remember who invited whom but the act of invitation made the visit special.

Why not ask someone to coffee this week?  And push yourself to make that date with a 2nd or 3rd tier contact.  Then let me know how it goes.  Cheers!

 

–Special thanks to Water Street Coffee Joint for hosting us on their patio and to Jen Agay for the visit!

Good morning or morning?

I once worked in an office with a very stoic culture.  There was one other person who would say ‘good morning’ to me.  But usually, I was the one wishing my colleagues a good start of the day.

Does it matter if we greet one another?   Isn’t it fake if I am not having a good morning to say it?

I say: yes! it matters .  You will now spend the next several hours interacting at work – why wouldn’t you want to start the day collaborating?

Lindsay Dodson for Business Insider recently shared insight on this very topic.  We can reap subtle benefits from a daily act as well influence your office culture.  Acknowledging another human being is one way to let people know you value them.

https://www.businessinsider.com/greeting-coworkers-in-the-morning-2017-4

Back to the sincerity question, yeah it’s okay to have a bad day.   But if each and every morning is bad, maybe it’s time to evaluate your environment.   And, I challenge you to be a catalyst of change.  Start the day with a positive thought – and make it a good one.

With a little help from my friends…

I once worked for six months in a small office with another woman.  She once told me I reminded her of Rogelio on Jane the Virgin.  Everyone is Rogelio’s best friend.  It’s true, I am a bit like a beagle, as soon as I meet you I consider you my friend.

As a new sales professional, I am leaning on every tool and trick to connect with decision-makers.  I am so very thankful for my newest friends who I’ve met through networking.

The routine nature of networking events and coffee meetings is perfect for making new friends.  (Given my judicious use of the word ‘friend’ you can call them contacts.)  Even though you may never invite these people to your home, a good network contact will help you ….. and you’d be surprised how you can help them.  So let’s go for it!

Your first function might feel like a blind date.  But don’t worry, everyone is there for the same reason.  There is no need to be embarrassed.  And there will be times where you will run into the same people and that’s okay, too.  You are building a relationship with that person as well.

After the function, send a follow-up note to those you met.  Make your note sound personal and not a form letter.  Trust me, the reader knows if you are sending mass e-mails.  Your message can be simple but sincere.  No one is annoyed with a simple “Thank you for visiting with me at ______, I enjoyed meeting you.”

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

Elevator Speech

Hey friends and followers!  I am sharing with you an article I just read about crafting (and practicing) a good elevator speech.

I completely agree with the writer and encourage you to not use a bunch of 10-cent words to sound impressive.  Plain-speak is always the way to go.  And I am a big fan of analogies.  Why not try finding an analogy that defines your work style?

So, my elevator speech might sound like this:

“I am a connector, a human extension cord.   I find ways to bring together people, organizations and businesses together to solve a problem.  I use marketing, communication, relationship and humor to do my work.”

https://www.fastcompany.com/90205053/how-to-create-an-elevator-pitch-that-doesnt-sound-cheesy