July 24, 2014

Living in New England just went south

Boston
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My family and I live up in southern New Hampshire, about 1 hour north of Boston and the mayhem that followed yesterday’s race. My wife and I moved here in 2002, after we met in Washington, DC and live there for four years. We left the busy-ness of DC and made our way to northern Massachusetts, where my wife grew up, when we decided to have children and raise a family.

The city has always been a place to go when we need a break from the comforting slowness of New Hampshire life. The ability to get a taste of the city is great for both my wife and I as adults, and the exposure to everything the city has to offer, good and bad, is important and necessary for raising kids. Unfortunately, the events of yesterday afternoon have changed what visiting Boston means to us. [Read more]

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Presentation tip: Don’t rely on the presentation

conference room presentation
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Don’t rely on your presentation to capture the audience, rely on you ability to present.

By presentation, of course I mean PowerPoint decks or other visual aids. Quite frankly, unless you have something technically complex that can only be understood with a graphical depiction, or you have something uproariously hilarious that can only project its humor when seen. If you do not have these things, then you really don’t need slides at all.

My short speaking experience is already telling me – don’t even think about opening that PowerPoint file until after you have perfected your what you will say and how you will say it. [Read more]

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Give yourself a thinking day – it’s best for productivity

thinking_hard_by_misty_dawn-d535r8j
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I’m probably not going to wow anyone with this insightful statement: Life is busy.

That business has a tendency to feed upon itself, resulting in ever-busier times when there’s just too much to do and too little time to do it. If you’re like me, there are times when you lose sense of priorities and get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the momentum swells until you’re in a tizzy of activity that you don’t always need to do – it just feels like it.

Personal kanban offers a strong remedy to this terrible habit of mine by creating a list of items to be done and allowing me to focus on getting things done. Unfortunately, what is good for me isn’t always what’s best for me, either. [Read more]

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Stranded by the tide, and the return of the water

Stranded by the tide
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Those of you who follow this blog regularly…yes, both of you….are well aware that I haven’t done much with the blog for a while. In fact, I haven’t done anything in over two months. Let’s just say, life’s been busy. We very often don’t know where we’re going, or even how we got where we are, and when we hit these low times it tends to feel as if we’re going to be stuck there forever. [Read more]

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Don’t be a tool

tool of the trade
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And don’t be a tool.

There will be plenty of time to sit in a cubicle, navigate corporate politics, curry the favor of blowhards and nincompoops, and monitor your 401K. For a short time, however, you will have the ability to experiment with life….and your career. Why work for someone else? Start your own business. It can be just about anything, since the consequences of failure are so low. Trust me, as you get older – no matter how smart you get about business – going out on your own gets more and more difficult. Those mortgages and tuition bills are pretty limiting. [Read more]

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The end of summer, and the return of blogging

End of summer
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With the return of fall, there is a return to routine, which has me feeling confident once again – and so I find myself eager to write posts like this for the blog.

Which has made me completely internalize something that I had, previously, only understood as a matter of intuition and the results of some logic exercise – that actively keeping up a person’s sense of pride, confidence and – most importantly – his/her sense of purpose - yields that thing all management gurus covet: engagement. [Read more]

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When habits go bad – walking the extra mile

Let_Your_Mind_Do_The_Walking_by_jzcj5
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Habit tells me that to get places without my car means I have to walk. If I rode my bike more often, the thought to get on the bike and ride down to the mechanic’s shop would have been as natural as the thought that tells me I have to put on shoes before I go out the door most mornings. Also, I could say, if I’d developed a better habit of stopping and thinking…to weigh alternatives….before doing….then I would have realized I didn’t need to hike all the way down to the shop. I might still have wanted to, but I would not have needed to.

So, in a way, my habits let me down. [Read more]

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Thoughts on pushing 40

Birthday Cake
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Last week, I celebrated my 39th birthday. There was not a lot of fanfare, in part because as we get older, birthdays aren’t big events anymore (and certainly not those that aren’t evenly divided by 5).

Nonethless, it provides an opportunity for stepping outside of myself and looking at the situation. Forty is one of those milestone birthdays. Your life, for all intents and purposes, is roughly half over (and probably a little more than half). That sobering thought causes a sense of both pride and depression at the same time. Proud for what I have accomplished, sad for what I have not – and never will. [Read more]

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The incredibly satisfying sensation of infinite smallness

Beyond_the_Blue_Horizon
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Something about standing before the endless, seemingly infinite expanse of the ocean has always been soothing. It is as if the endless, rhythmic droning of the waves and the inability to see across to the other side reminds me that I am small. More than that, that my problems are unbelievably tiny in the much grander scheme of things. The ocean reminds me that it can be beautiful, calming, calamitous, treacherous and angry all at once, and that in all its nearly timeless eternity – it is absolutely unconcerned with anything that will ever transpire in my life. [Read more]

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The paradoxical inefficiency of thought

Imagination
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In order to attain high levels of ingenuity in products and activities, the environment in which those ideas are created must support an endless ocean of thoughts that yield very little value, in the hopes that, eventually, a single very good one will be produced. Generating ideas is an inefficient process, even if those ideas are generated around improving efficiency. [Read more]

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