Writing Hiatus

February 5, 2009

Hello; gone off on a writing hiatus.

Will be back on Monday, February 9th.

Please have a lovely weekend.


Celebrating Failure!

February 3, 2009

Do you ever feel like a failure?  Is that a bad thing?

 

I definitely feel like a failure from time to time.  But I put way too much pressure on myself to succeed.  And what is success?  After some reflection, success for me is usually a process more than an event, in two words: measurable improvement.

 

So I have succeeded as of late!  I am officially mastering my GMAT study time.  I’m regularly completing question sets of 40-50, five times per week.  I’m finishing under the allotted time.  AND I’m finishing with a 90%+ percentage correct.

 

I write all of this because I felt really insecure and vulnerable the other day when I checked my “blog stats” and someone had actually viewed my blog entry on “The Perfect GMAT”.  I revealed my initial score.  However, come March 2009, I will be very pleased to report my next score.

 

Mostly, I feel relieved that I can be honest, albeit somewhat anonymous, on my blog about my GMAT score.  Throughout most of my Gen Y life, I’ve been WAY above average for grades, job reviews, etc.  However, failing is more than being average, and my GMAT score is really above the median score.  From an analyst point of view, I haven’t failed at all.

 

Which leads me think, what are the top failures I’ve benefited from in my life?  Here are three from my teenage years.

 

  1. Not trying out for my high school play in the 9th grade.  This is a true failure because I was so full of performance anxiety; I just ended up feeling sick and not even going to the audition!  Fortunately, God handed me a second chance, the director, and the casting decision maker, was at the time my Geometry teacher as well.  After class the day following auditions, he pulled me aside and asked me why I didn’t try out.  I told him I was sick, and he said, I’ve watched you perform the past three years in other plays and musicals, and I really intended to have you audition for a role this year because you are really talented.  He continued by saying that even if I was sick, I could have arranged alternative auditions to accommodate my health.  That was the last year he directed any plays for my school, and the new director never assigned me any roles above the chorus.  I’ve mostly stayed away from performing because of this failure.  I was handed a second chance and I didn’t pursue it, but I will enroll in a few improve classes this year, so maybe I’ll be handed a third chance one of these days!  And Mr. Johnson, if you’re out there—I totally would have been perfect for that role.

 

  1. As a cashier at REI when I was 15, my first performance review (30 days into the job) indicated that I had an 87% accuracy rate.  This is really funny to me now as a business owner.  I definitely would have fired someone who was 87% accurate with my cash!!!  I remember going over my cashier POS (point of sale—the software that tracks your cash register through a login each shift you work) records with my manager, and she was so delicate with me, but basically she said that corporate, and therefore she as well, insist upon a 97% accuracy rate for the cash registers.  I remember feeling totally comfortable with this meeting—whereas today I might be WAY harder on myself.  I was very thankful that someone TOLD me to pay more attention to my job!  After that, the AR/AP guy nick named me “OTP” which stood for “On The Penny” for my 100% accuracy rate.  I even made it a habit to check my POS record print out regularly in order to track my numbers personally.  This was within my first three months at this job, and after my first 90 days, my manager pulled me aside and congratulated me on my improved and excellent performance and gave me a raise.

 

  1. Getting rejected from Georgetown University.  I didn’t even want to apply!  Ha!  That’s what so funny about this failure—I was encouraged to apply.  I really wanted to go to GW, where I in fact was accepted and had an amazing university experience.  I made it far into the application process with Georgetown including a West Coast interview with a journalist who is a Georgetown alumnus in the Bay Area.  I don’t remember being too affected by this failure until I learned that PLENTY of GWU students lament that they chose to go to GW only because they were rejected from Georgetown or [insert other IV institution].

 

What I notice in my childhood and teenage years is that I didn’t fail ENOUGH!  I allowed false indicators of my “success” to dictate the amount of effort I put forth.  Because I was a high schooler who graduated with a 4.1 GPA, with AP credits and college courses under my belt, and plenty of jobs by age 17, I guess I never had TRUE indicators to pressure me to keep trying harder.  I grew complacent with my plan (to major in Political Science, study French, and teach French to middle and high schoolers).  I totally scrapped this plan in college not out of disinterest but because I didn’t know how to make it happen.  Having since graduated, studied in West Africa (a French speaking nation), gained a strong understanding [and monetary bonuses] in online marketing, growing my extensive professional network, and starting my own business, I guess I still haven’t “succeeded” in my view because still to this day I haven’t failed enough.

 

Maybe some of you out there have a few confessions of failure to share, come on, out with it—you know you’re a better person because of the failure, so let’s celebrate it together!


Online Entertainment Outposts!

February 2, 2009

I must admit, in my “cost cutting” days lately, I have found wonderful resources for entertainment on the cheap.  It does take a bit more time and in some cases quality is sacrificed, but overall digital entertainment has really made its mark!  So be sure to hook up that VGA or DVI cable to your laptops/desktops, pop up some popcorn, and enjoy the show!

 

Here are a few sites I like to use:

 

www.sfpl.org

 

            Books, movies, audio, free internet, and community events listings.

 

Or any library for that matter!  I can order online, be emailed when my book is ready for pick up, renew online, etc.  Today’s urban library systems are 21st Century ready!  It’s much cheaper than paying for coffee to use wifi as well!

 

www.starbucks.com

 

            Free wifi

 

Speaking of paying for coffee for “free” wifi, I can use my ATT DSL login information at all wifi ready Starbucks cafes for free access!  I believe this is the case for other wifi outlets, like McDonald’s as well.

 

www.hulu.com

 

            TV, movies, commercials, etc.

 

Where have I been?  I have only discovered hulu.com in the past 6 months.  Check it out for TV shows, movies, and commercials.  I especially like Arrested Development and the Super Bowl commercials.

 

www.netflix.com

 

            Movies, DVD sets, DVD rentals.

 

Netflix is a cheap way to rent DVDs for in-home use.  There is a delay between selecting your film and receiving it, but the plans also feature online movie content to stream directly to your PC.  I love the idea of Netflix and their online content, but be realistic about your movie consumption habits—you can always cancel for a few months to save some cash.  I really hope Netflix increases their online content more robustly as well.

 

For San Francisco Bay Area:

 

www.booksinc.net

 

            Free book readings & lectures!

 

www.bookpassage.com

 

            Over 700 speakers and lecturers per year, that’s almost a two per day average!


Book Review: Go Put Your Strengths To Work

January 30, 2009

Go Put Your Strengths to Work

By: Marcus Buckingham

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction: LEAD THIS MOVEMENT

-The First Stage: How to Label

-The Second Stage: How to Take Action

-You Are Here

-And You’re Closer Than You Think

-The 6-Step Discipline

-Trombone Player Wanter

 

Step 1: BUST THE MYTHS

“So, What’s Stopping You?”

-Meet Heidi

-Myth 1: As Your Grow, Your Personality Changes

-Myth 2: You Will Grow the Most in Your Areas of Greatest Weakness

-Myth 3: A Good Team Member Does Whatever It Takes to Help the Team

 

Step 2: GET CLEAR

“Do You Know What Your Strengths Are?”

-The Four Signs of a Stength

-Who Is the Best Judge of Your Strengths?

-Capture, Clarify, and Confirm Your Strengths

-Will Your Strengths Stay the Same Year after Year?

-Heidi Gets Clear

 

Step 3: FREE YOUR STRENGTHS

“How Can You Make the Most of What Strengthens You?”

-How Heidi Got Weak

-How Heidi Got Strong

-Your Strong Week Plan

-Four Strategies to Put Your Strengths to Work

-Your FREE Interview

 

Step 4: STOP YOUR WEAKNESSES

“How Can You Cut Out What Weakens You?”

-What Are Your Most Dominant Weakness?

-Capture, Clarify, and Confirm Your Weaknesses

-Quit “Should-ing”

-Four Strategies to Stop Your Weaknesses

-Heidi Stops Calling

-Your STOP Interview

 

Step 5: SPEAK UP

“How Can You Create Strong Teams?”

-“Your Strengths Weaken Me”

-Conversation 1: The Strengths Chat

-Conversation 2: “How I Can Help You”

-Conversation 3: The Weakness Chat

-Conversation 4: “How You Can Help Me”

-Tips for Strengths-Based Managers

-Team Georgia

 

Step 6: Build Strong Habits

“How Can You Make This Last Forever?”

-The End of the Beginning

-The Strongest Habits

-“And What Happens If…”

            1. “…I don’t know if I should take this job.”

            2. “…I don’t think I should have taken this job.”

            3. “…I’m new to the job.”

            4. “…I’m overworked.”

            5. “…my manager doesn’t understand me.”

            6. “…my manager is an idiot.”

            7. “…I’m burned out.”

            8. “…in the grand scheme of things, my job’s just not that important.”

            9. “…deep down, I don’t think I’m as good as everyone says I am.”

 

Coda: TAKE YOUR STAND

 

Acknowledgments

 

My Review:

 

I listened to this book for free as an e-book through sfpl.org.  I didn’t enjoy it, and listening to it felt like a chore.  Oprah was sure to promote Buckingham’s book “Go!” last year on one of her shows.

 

I might have better enjoyed this book were I traditionally employed or were I to read it instead of listening to it.  It was also a 21st Century e-book in that any free editions lacked crucial materials and logins for additional quizzes, tracking, and online videos.

 

Career progression requires active involvement.  By the very fact that someone purchases this book and uses any of the details to improve their career, is in it of itself enough to improve a career in my opinion.  There are myriad of ways to improve and develop your career, and this book should be one tool in your career improvement toolbox.

 

I have a copy of an abridged sixty minute recording of Stephen Covey’s the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I thought I was missing out because I only had the abridged version, but after the lengthy 6 hour (plus) commitment to “GO!”, I highly recommend abridged recordings.

 

I might have better enjoyed this e-book along with any other e-book “on loan” from the library if I could actually download it onto my ipod and listen while I work out and drive.  Clearly, this book can be helpful as it includes specific ways to improve your career, debunk career myths, and help you feel empowered about your career decisions.  However, this book doesn’t shine as an “be all, end all authority” on career improvement.

 

Nevertheless, I am still eager to read more of Buckingham’s other books like “First: Break all the Rules.”  I will commit to read his books and all books rather than listening to the free e-book library loans.


The new White House website: DUH!

January 29, 2009

2009_01_28What a refreshing change!  The new Whitehouse.gov is amazing; what an amazing interactive website between users and the President.  As a savvy internet professional, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself.

 

What are some other internet advances, real or imagined that would help the relationship between governors and governed?

 

  1. Adequately updated, user-friendly websites
  2. Blogs!
  3. Cross marketing: in voting manuals, I LOVE when candidates use 25 out of the 250 characters they can use to list their website.
  4. Voting online?  Will this ever happen?
  5. Real time public opinion polling—imagine that, a congressional call to vote, with a “poll the audience” feature too.

 

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages technology could provide for our government?


Book Review: 10 days to faster reading…

January 28, 2009

10 Days to Faster Reading

By: Abby Marks-Beale, The Princeton Language Institute

 

Table of Contents

 

Day 1

            Putting the Key in the Ignition

Day 2

            Rebuilding Your Speed Reading Engine

Day 3

            Revving Up Your Concentration

Day 4

            Getting Up to Speed

Day 5

            Reading the Road Map

Day 6

            Hanging Out the Caution Flag

Day 7

            Reducing the Pileup

Day 8

            Fine-Tuning Your Reading Speed

Day 9

            Reading on a Technical Track

Day 10

            The Final Lap

 

My Review

 

Take a few hours and skim through this book.  The book teaches you how to learn new skimming methods.  Through the active tests, the reader is able to track reading progress, and the bonus is that the book includes a method to track comprehension as well as speed.

 

The biggest take away from the lessons in this book: Why are you reading what you are reading and how will reading what you are reading help you after you finish it?

 

There are numerous ways to invest/spend on faster reading methods.  I found this title from the Personal MBA list of Business School books.  I was fortunate to find a copy in the library; note: you will want to use additional paper/writing utensil to track your progress outside of a library book so that others may enjoy it without additional writings.

 

I truly notice a difference in my reading speed, I read faster, and my increased comprehension level, I’m internalizing more of what I read even though I’m reading faster than I’ve previously read.  I also TRUST my ability to comprehend reading materials fast, which is a big change from before having read this book.

 

Why is this important?  Because I love reading, and this book proves that there are only so many pieces of material that we can reasonably read in a lifetime.  So if you must read, read on purpose, for comprehension and growth.  Be sure to be selective for the quality of your reading material will have a direct impact on the quality of your ideas and skills.


Looking for a roommate?

January 27, 2009

2009_01_26Trashcan JENGA and other tales of roommate living

 

I love my roommate…BUT [insert conditional phrase here]…

 

I love my roommate, but I am eager for my own space.  I’ve been cost cutting from my budget and negotiating pretty hard for my new job salary just so I can find a one bedroom apartment all to myself.

 

Having a roommate has its blessings: companionship, extended friend network, cheaper rent, cheaper utilities, available groceries, and someone to share in the mind numbing labor that is keeping a home furnished and tidy.  But sometimes, no matter how well you get along, having a roommate can present some very funny aspects of the human psyche!

 

Some funny times in roommate living:

 

  1. TRASH CAN JENGA
    1. If you’ve ever balanced ANOTHER banana peel on the trash heap instead of taking the trash out, you’ve played trashcan Jenga.  Loser: the person who’s piece of trash causes the entire pile to collapse on the floor.  Get it?
  2. Dirty Dishes
    1. This will always, always be a point of contention.  People either do the dishes too often or not often enough.  And god bless dishwashers, but I don’t know about you, but I HATE pre-rinsing my dishes before placing them in the dishwasher…seems redundant!  My roommate will always give me the “disapproving mom” look whenever something comes out of the dishwasher still dirty…and I hate that look!  I do in fact, rinse my dishes, but come on, it’s not going to change about me!
  3. A culture of asking
    1. Some roommates use now, ask later, and others ask now and use later.  I prefer just using my goods and replacing, upgrading, etc.
  4. Thin walls = not so private intimacy
    1. Fortunately, my roommate and I lead very traditional lifestyles, so this is not an issue.  However, I am particularly annoyed to hear my underage neighbor upstairs and his GF.  Totally possibly, I’m just jealous.
  5. TV Rules
    1. I don’t watch TV and I loathe having to pay cable bill.  I acquiesce to a DVR + Sports package because at least with a DVR, I have some control over TV.  I also remind myself that there are specific privileges to living with a roommate such as better pricing be square foot of space and shared utilities.  For the economic savings, I’m willing to make a concession for a cable package.

 

I’ve been lucky as I haven’t had to deal with too many roommate stories.

 

What sorts of roommate stories do you have?