Community

A Thank You Note Long Past Due

One of the things I wish I would have realized a long time ago is that life is infinitely better together.  It is amazing how this simple truth escaped me decades ago and how it still seems to be an elusive concept to many who try to do life all on their own.
It was fourth grade and a I wrote a note that my teacher confiscated and brought to the student counselor.  From there my parents were called, my mother came to the school, shocked, and within a day or two I went to another counselor.  I honestly don’t remember much more of the event, probably because I have blocked it out, but one thing I do remember is that I felt so dang alone and empty.
In that loneliness I fell into reading and started devouring books as best I could.  There where a few in particular that really caught my attention and I would constantly go back to.  Those where the books by my favorite author Roald Dahl.  I am so glad I stumbled upon those books because they helped save me from loneliness and isolation.  When I read those books, my imagination would run wild. I would think and dream of characters and lands that were magical and where anything seemed possible.  I would get lost in those books for hours, turning page after page, being filled with wonder and life.  It was these books that brought me into a much better state of mind and that helped form my healthy thirst for creativity and books.
I never ever thought of writing Roald Dahl a letter to thank him until now.  As it turns out though, I wouldn’t have been able to write him one anyway, because by the time I discovered his world and words of wonder, he had already passed away.  Even so, I wanted to immortalize these words and say “Thank you Mr. Dahl.  Your words helped create a since of wonder and creativity and even made me realize that this world is one of pure imagination and full of amazing people with amazing stories.  You helped save me from some dark and lonely times and helped shape who I am today. I am forever grateful.”
Please, take this challenge I am about to give you some serious thought. I challenge you to handwrite a letter to someone who has impacted your life.  Let them know that impact they have had on you. It doesn’t matter if it is someone you have never met in person, just let them know.  If they are no longer on this earth, write a post on the internet letting everyone know what impact they had.  Please, take this challenge and spread some good, and don’t forget to let us know who it was and why you wrote them as well.
Business

Why Sending Thank You Cards Is Important

Two words that are often forgotten in any line of work are “Thank you.”  Now after a project, contract, or event is completed we may half hazardly throw out those words, but that is what everyone does.
Some people think it is an overrated idea and that a text message or email sends the same message, but that just isn’t true. People value what takes time and costs more and a text or an email doesn’t send that type of message.  On the other hand, a hand-written note that you had to purchase an envelope, card, and stamp lets the other person know that they are worth your time and money.
I also believe that with whatever you do, you need to be you 100%.  I don’t mean for you to use this fact as a scapegoat saying that “I’m not someone who sends cards.”  I bring up this fact because I want you to use a little flair or embellishment when you send these cards.  When picking out stamps from the post office, don’t just do the typical ones.  Look through their booklets and pick out something fun, creative, or whimsical.  Pick out a stamp that you think represents you or that you think is pretty cool.  If you want to go one step further, you can also find a card design that fits your personality or you can have customized cards emblazoned with your name or logo.  What I am trying to get across here is that even in the small details you need to let your personality shine through.
Now that you have got your cards and stamps in order, the most important reason why you need to send thank you cards is because the world doesn’t have enough of these floating around. How many times have you read a book that changed your life, heard a speech that moved you, or had a conversation that shifted everything in your worldview?  When these moments happen, we need to let the other person know.  If it’s an author, find an address to send them the card and mail off a thank you note letting them know how their book specifically impacted you.  If it was a speech that you heard or a conversation that you had, find out a good address and mail off that thank you card.
As you start to make this a habit, it is amazing how all of this good that you are putting into the world will come back to you.  The connections that you can make and the opportunities that these notes can bring about are life giving for not only the receiver, but for you also.  Please, take this encouragement and start letting others know that you care greatly about them and their contribution in your life.
Business

Why Should You Connect With Others?

The other day I was talking to a friend when he called me a networking machine.  This was after I mentioned to him that I was grabbing ice cream with a friend at work who was retiring after 43 years of working at the good ol’ Tip Top Poultry.  My initial response and the one that is screaming in my brain as I am thinking about this conversation is “I love people.”
I can’t help it, I have an insatiable urge to connect with others and share a little bit in their story.  I want to get to know them for who they are and to see how we can connect.
Over the years I have learned how to dial down the intensity with how I passionately pursue people. (Ahhh the alliteration is abundant.)  It has been tough, but dialing down the intensity has served me.  I have come to realize that not everyone is as social, and people may want different types of relationships for us then I may be thinking.  All of this is ok, it just allows me to use a little emotional intelligence as I get to know others.
I mention all of this because I want to challenge you to get out there and connect with others. I know that may not be your thing, but life is infinitely better together.  Connect with others how best works for you.  You have amazing insights and experiences to offer others and you are not done growing yourself.  Please, do us all a favor and love on people how best works for you because I can promise yo  u one thing if you actually do just that, this world will be a better place as you connect with others and show them that community is all around.
Community

Tips From A Newbie Conference Goer: How To Make The Most Of The Conference Part 2

You know what problem I have realized? A lot of us suck at making the most of the conferences and events that we attend.  I recently went to my first conference this March and I realized after the event that the little prep-work I did wasn’t enough.  As you can see from the title, this is part 2 of what I learned and we are going to focus on the actual event itself.  If you haven’t read part one, what prep-work we should be doing to set us up for success, you can check that out here.

At this point, after we have done the needed prep-work to be prepared to absolutely crush the event, we have to keep the momentum going.  Now is not the time to chicken out and roll up into the fetal position. Be brave and don’t waste all that effort. (You can check out the video breakdown of this post here)

Lets start off with the biggest piece of advice that can make the whole plan crumble.  Don’t follow the plan of only talking to the 3-5 key people so rigidly.  If we do this, we will miss some amazing opportunities to connect with others that could make the conference an absolute success.  I on the other hand did not do this.  I walked in, ran into a guy that I hadn’t seen in years and caught up with him.  After that, I started walking around trying to find the 3 people I had pegged that I really wanted to meet and get to know.  I walked around and added quite a few steps to my Fitbit counter, and made myself look like a roving lunatic.  We need to realize that most of the conferences we attend will be a few hundred to a few thousand people, so picking out three specific people may be near improbable.  This is why we have the key folks we would like to meet, but it isn’t a plan that you need to follow exactly.

So now that you are ok with veering off your mission of only talking to 3-5 very specific people, lets realize one thing, EVERYONE at the conference is going to have some reservations about striking up conversations with strangers.  As outgoing as they may be in their typical environments, conferences are not the norm for folks and that puts them a little on edge.  This is why you have done all the prep-work, because it puts your nerves at ease and allows you to be the confident person to break the ice. Everyone loves confidence and it breaths life into conversations.  Don’t be afraid to talk to others.  Come prepared with a handful of questions that are actually interesting ones.  Get beyond the ones about their job and what they do.  Ask questions around; “Why they are at this conference?” “What would a win look like for them at the end of this event?”  “What speaker are you most looking forward to seeing?” “Have you met anyone interesting?”  These questions, and the million others we could all come up with, are just different enough to give you some ammo to start a conversation that could lead to a great relationship.

Knowing the event and having a plan for the schedule is also a huge help.  I ended up sitting at a random table because my friend had some important calls to finish and I didn’t have the bright idea to save us seats for the lunch portion so we had to split up.  These small details of sitting down early and saving seats are nice, unless you want to challenge yourself and be open to meeting other attendees.  Since we had to split up, I ended up meeting a gentleman who lives about 15 minutes from where I work, knows one of my friends, AND is also a runner like me.  Another piece of advice I learned from Jayson Gaignard is to look for the uncommon commonalities between you and the other individual.  When you find out these uncommon commonalities like you both know the same person or enjoy running, you both can geek out over whatever topic that is and start to build a better foundation for a relationship.  These uncommon commonalities also give you specific and interesting things to follow up on with that new contact. 

Now that you have been willing to break the plan, break the ice with others, and meet new people, there is one last little tip I have for you.  Make sure you have a couple of one liners ready to get you out of the conversations that are going nowhere.  Not that you are going to burn this bridge, but you have no idea who this person really is or where this connection could lead.  You also don’t want to be trapped in an awkward conversation for 30 minutes.  Here are a few suggestions, “I don’t want to keep you from meeting other attendees, here is my card and lets catch up via email after the conference.” “Are you staying for the whole conference? Let’s try and meet up later.” “I’ve enjoyed meeting you, since I have to go meet someone else, here is my card so we can follow up later.”

All of this is a lot, I know, but the more prepared we are going into the conference, the more relaxed we feel and the better chance we have of forming relationships with others.  Remember, we have no idea who that person will become and how that relationships could turn out to be a great asset for us in the future.

What are some of your tips that you apply while you are attending the conference?

Culture

The Gift Of Valentines Day:

Valentines Day… it’s just another corporate holiday that marketers have taken over so that men and woman can be forced into passionless nights of pressure filled “romance” and spend way to much money on crap you don’t need.  Can I get an amen.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe anything I just wrote.  If you don’t celebrate valentines day with your significant other, that is totally up to you, but as for me, I see this day as a brilliant reminder to love and pursue that special someone.  I know what your thinking, “Paul, I pursue him / her every day,” And to that I call bull shit.  Lets not kid ourselves, thats just not true.  For most of the folks who would agree with the above paragraph, I am willing to bet that your significant other only feels pursued three to four days out of the year: Your anniversary, their birthday, Christmas, and maybe one other day thrown in there for good measure.

Valentines day is a gift, and it doesn’t have to cost you much, or any, money depending on what you actually do.  This is a day that is forced into our society for sure, but it is one that I take as a blessing because it gives me an amazing excuse to direct my attention not only to my wife, but my kids as well.

I want my kids to know how to pursue their love.  I want my son to know how to woo a woman and I want my daughter to know what it is like to be wooed. I want to build up in her this understanding that if a man doesn’t woo her, he is not worth her time.  She is a beauty to be taken on an adventure, not just to be looked at and potentially admired.  By the time my kids are really ready to date, I want to have given them an amazing example for them to follow.

So to all those haters out there… take a second look at this potentially under-marketed holiday full of sugar, delicious meals, and lots of trees sacrificing their lives so you can express your love via a card.  Take a second look and realize the opportunity you have been given.

Happy Valentines Day 

P.S. Let me know what exciting plans you have for your love.