Category Archives: Personal

Empower Yourself. Don’t Flatter Yourself.

Courtesy Morguefile.

Courtesy dmscs at Morguefile.

I published a post on LinkedIn earlier this week. It’s about story-telling. Specifically, it’s about the need to tell ourselves the stories that give us the most power, not the ones that flatter us the most.

What’s a flattering story? Something like “I’m the greatest, and if other people don’t notice, that’s their fault.” An empowering story? “I’m the greatest, but I need to work harder to make sure my greatness is visible.”

You can’t control a lot of things in life. But you do have a choice. You can tell yourself the story that gives you the most power, the most control, the most influence to achieve the things that are important to you. Or you can tell yourself stories that, while flattering, are defeating. My LinkedIn post is about these kinds of story-telling.

 

Sometimes I’m Sad Knowing How Much I Don’t Know

apple_and_books_20150503I have unexpectedly dedicated this year to personal development. I write more now and share what I write. I read more about career development. I listen to more podcasts.

I learn almost every day about something I previously knew very little about. Learning is exciting. I find new teachers, whether they’re authors, podcast hosts, speakers, whatever. I find new topics to explore.

It’s endless, which is fun most of the time. But sometimes it makes me sad, because I simply don’t have the time to learn about all the things I want to learn about.

An example of something I’d love to learn about

Let’s take the most recent example: storytelling. I listened to Tim Ferriss interview Jon Favreau on his podcast recently. Jon Favreau talked a lot about Joseph Campbell, the father of American mythology. I’m mildly embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of Joseph Campbell before the interview. Or if I had heard of him, I certainly didn’t remember.

Continue reading

Being a Dad Is the Best Job I’ve Ever Had

Reid's crib.

Reid’s crib.

My son, Reid, turned eight months old today. These past eight months have been a blast. They haven’t been easy. Nor have they been inexpensive. But they have been equal parts fulfilling and surprising.

Less change than I expected

My biggest surprise over the past eight months is how little I’ve changed. Not only am I fundamentally the same guy. I’m the same guy in just about every way imaginable. Having a child just means everything about me is a little more cohesive. For almost everything I do, I at least consider the impact on my role as a dad.

Here’s a quick example. My dad and I went to the Shell Houston Open golf tournament last weekend. We’ve done the same thing in the past. This time, I kept thinking about when in the future Reid might enjoy watching golf. And when he might enjoy playing it. And how I should introduce him to the game. Those are new thoughts I have now, being a dad, that I didn’t have before.

Staying on the theme of how little things have changed, I haven’t grown much wiser. My parental instincts are about what you or I would have guessed, given who I was before becoming a dad. Fortunately I make the right calls most of the time. Sometimes, not so much, like when Reid fell off the couch because I got distracted watching a basketball game. We’re good now, but that was a rough few minutes for both him and me. Not my best effort.

How my son surprises me

Another surprise for me is how interested I am in watching Reid play. Sometimes, his play is random. Other times, it seems deliberate. It’s crazy to watch him move toward a basket of toys, pick out one specific toy he had his eye on, then manipulate it purposefully. He performs experiments, first confirming what he already knows about the toy, then trying to do new things with it. It’s really fun to watch.

Yet another surprise is how big a kick I get out of him smiling at me. Some smiles are predictable, like when I walk in the door after getting home from work. Other smiles are totally unpredictable, like when he takes a short break while eating just to smile at me. Or when he’s deep in play, stops everything, looks up and smiles. Each smile has its own effect on me, but they’re all remarkable. Before having a kid, I couldn’t imagine responding so strongly to something as simple as a half-smile.

Sources of fulfillment

The fulfillment comes mostly from having such a clearly defined purpose outside of myself. Before having a kid, if I thought of helping others, I thought of charity. Should I donate money? Should I donate time? Should I seek out a trusted, established institution to work through? Should I reach out in new, more personal ways? Having a kid takes all the guess work out of serving someone else. It’s clear what he needs. It’s clear what his (and my) goals are. Now it’s just making sure my actions take us both closer to those goals.

Another, related source of fulfillment comes from the growth of my marriage. That relationship changed when the little guy arrived. Our marriage is strictly a bond between the two of us, but now we have this third party who has as much stake in the quality of our relationship as anyone can have. Frankly, he probably has a bigger stake in our relationship than either of us does. That’s crazy. But it helps justify, and motivate, doing all the little things necessary to build and maintain a healthy marriage. The added fulfillment is an incredible byproduct of that effort.

Looking forward to the future

I’m only eight months into being a dad. I know this gig is going to change dramatically as time unfolds. The first eight months have been a blast. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. While it isn’t easy, and while there are times I probably don’t perform as well as I could, I’m really, really looking forward to the next eight months, and the eight months after that, and the eight months after that…

Houston Public School Research – Meyerland

My wife and I are currently searching for a home to buy here in Houston, Texas. We’ve done tons of research, a significant portion of which has been focused on schools. I decided to publish my notes about schools in the Meyerland area here, just in case it’s helpful to others.

The Meyerland area is in southwest Houston, just outside of the 610 loop. It has great proximity to the best known parts of Houston, from downtown, to the sports stadiums, to the Galleria, to you name it. From what I’ve seen, the real estate is expensive, certainly compared to the suburbs, but it’s not as pricey as the premier parts of town (River Oaks, West University, Memorial, etc.).

Continue reading

Attending My First Toastmasters Meeting Tonight

Toastmaster is an organization dedicated to the mastery of public speaking. I know people who have participated in Toastmasters meetings in the past and really enjoyed their experience. I have my first such experience tonight.

Historically, I have enjoyed public speaking. In the past couple of years, I have had fewer opportunities to speak in front of groups. I realized that as part of my commitment to my own continued development, I really need to find a way to exercise the speaking muscle some more.

Continue reading

How Do You Find Time to Write?

Courtesy Denise Krebs. cc.

Courtesy Denise Krebs. cc.

I have published posts nearly weekly on LinkedIn since October. Several people at work have commented in person on my posts, offering encouragement and expressing appreciation, which has been wonderful. One of the most common questions I’m asked is “How do you find the time to write”? My quick answer is “nights and weekends”, but of course it goes further than that.

Finding time to write

One issue is literally having time to write. The “nights and weekends” response is appropriate here. The more nuanced answer is I don’t insist on writing a whole post in one sitting. If I have a few minutes here or there, I’ll use those minutes to write. Yes, that habit occasionally breaks up my flow, but it’s better than completely wasting that time. I can find those minutes on nights and weekends, so I just use the time I have.

Continue reading

Podcasts I’m Listening To Now

I have recently fallen in love with a few podcasts. I mostly listen to them on my commute to and from work. I thought I’d quickly share these podcasts here, just in case you’re looking for something new to add to your listening library.

Pat interviews entrepreneurs who establish (mostly online) businesses that continue to benefit them long after their own heavy lifting ends. The interviews focus on actionable items, specifically instructions for reproducing the path of the entrepreneur being interviewed. While your own success may very, knowing the path that led to attractive outcomes can be very helpful. The episodes I have listened to are 45 to 90 minutes long.

The interviews here are nominally 30 minutes long, and they follow a consistent list of scripted questions. You know what you’ll get from each episode. The entrepreneur guests do a good job of sharing personal aspects of their stories, particularly failures that shaped and focused them. The whole engagement is more scripted and contained than other podcasts, but the predictability of the format can be a blessing.

Jeff writes a lot about writing and publishing. He offers guidance and inspiration to creative people. The podcast episodes I have listened to are often conversations between him and Andy Traub, the official host of the podcast. They discuss motivation, productivity, habits, content recommendations, etc. It can go in a bunch of different directions. The episodes seem to be in the 20 to 40 minute range, based on my own experience.

A Personal Story of Incredible Customer Care

Card we received from The Big Backyard in Denver.

Card we received from The Big Backyard in Denver. Photos are of our dog Lincoln.

Caring about your customers is a pillar of modern business. Well, at least trying to care about your customers is a pillar. Some businesses pull it off better than others.

I had my most recent exposure to customer care just this morning, as I dropped our dog (Lincoln) off for his last day care session in Denver. My family and I are moving back to Houston in the very near future. We wanted Lincoln to have one more play session with all of his buddies at The Big Backyard before we left.

While we were in Denver, basically over the past twelve months, we used The Big Backyard about once a week, so Lincoln could burn off some energy. He’s an energetic little dog. Play time is essential for his, and our, sanity.

When I dropped Lincoln off this morning, one of the staff handed me a card the owners made for us. The picture at the beginning of this post shows that card. They took two pictures of Lincoln and pasted them into the card, along with a touching hand-written note, thanking us and wishing us well on our upcoming move. It made our day.

Continue reading

Who Is My Audience?

Who is my audience? I’ve pondered this question on and off over the past week or so, since I started this blog. I don’t have a compelling answer yet. The best I can come up with at the moment is readers of LinkedIn Pulse and Harvard Business Review.

If that’s the case, then I suppose I differentiate myself in one key way: accessibility. I’m not a famous CEO nor a well-known business school professor. I’m just a guy with a career who happens to think and talk a lot about topics like innovation, strategy, leadership, career development, and analytics. I’ve participated in a leadership development program and have spent a lot of time presenting to and sharing ideas with respected leaders in our business. Those kinds of interactions light a fire inside me that I like to share here on the blog.

Continue reading

Why I Am Building This Site

 

I have contributions to make. This site is where I would like to make them. I have been inspired by countless thinkers who had the courage to share their contributions publicly. I want, and need, to respond. This site is a great place to do it.

I have published about one post on LinkedIn per week since last October. The “likes” and comments have been incredibly flattering and inspiring. I am building this site to engage with an even larger, possibly more diverse audience. I am excited about the possibilities.

What contributions are you excited to make next? Always feel free to leave a comment on any of my posts. One of my primary intentions for this site is to be a forum in which I can interact with, and learn from, interesting folks. I’m all ears.