Reading into the Future

Books

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and nooks”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Who knew Dr. Seuss was so wise?

My love of reading started when I was young.  This may have come about because my hometown is so small and reading provided unlimited adventures for me.  I cannot remember a time when I did not have a book in my hand reading about things that enlightened my world.

My love for reading kept me in my junior high school library daily looking for new books.  Books about the old west were some of my favorites back then.  Learning about warriors Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Cochise was my go-to section within the library—I read other stuff, but the wide west was an era that fascinated me.  Mrs. Wiggins, the librarian, gave me unlimited access to books and allowed me to check out as many as I wanted.  I left school on Friday afternoons with a new stack of books and read them over the weekend so I could return on Monday and get more books.  Did I mentioned I love reading! 😊

High school saw me gravitate to a larger library with even more adventures waiting for me to discover.  I spent so much time in the library, Mrs. Chandler let me check out books to my fellow students.  I did not work there but she made me useful and took breaks while I ran the library for her.  I still see Mrs. Wiggins and Mrs. Chandler when I am back in Jasper—they still bust my chops for always being in their way.

Fast forward to 2021 and I still have a thing for reading—guess I am a lifelong learner. 

I write out my yearly goals each January and make sure I list a reading goal for the year.  My 2021 reading goal is to read 2 books each month.  That does not sound daunting, but my reading progress can be impacted by life (work, travel, etc.).  Work has proven to be the biggest obstacle to my reading program since we have so many new things going on at the same time.  Yes, that is an excuse so had to work my way out of my reading funk and get back on-track.

My saving grace is one of my coworkers.  He is an avid reader, and his yearly goal was a bit more aggressive than mine.  He would come into work on Mondays and tell me about the book(s) he read over the weekend.  I am a bit competitive so knew I had to get myself in gear or he was going to leave me in his dust (reading wise).  Life inspiration is funny—positive peer pressure got me back to reading.

Proud to say I have been in a groove and have started to crush my reading goals.  I joined Amazon Prime so I could get free shipping and 2-day delivery for my book purchases.  Sounds like a small thing but getting books delivered faster actually keeps me focused.  I routinely have two or three books on standby as I complete my current title.  Amazon provides book recommendations based on previous purchases, so I am always on the lookout for my next buy. 

I read four books in April and three in May—this put me back on pace to meet my yearly reading goal.  My increased reading volume puts me on pace to read 40+ books this year which would be the most ever for me in a year.  Funny thing is I am still super busy at work but made reading a priority and the pages are turning now. 

I am not limited to a single topic when selecting my books.  I do not read much fiction but try to find subjects I can learn from and apply in my daily interactions.  Some of my books are just entertainment and enjoy turning pages while sitting on the beach in between naps.

Here are a few of my latest reads:

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK / Mark Manson
  • Ocean Prey / John Sanford
  • The Hero Code / Admiral William H. McRaven
  • Make Your Bed / Admiral William H. McRaven
  • Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell
  • Start with Why / Simon Sinek
  • Think Again / Adam Grant

Looking to get The Bomber’s Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell soon—the reviews are great and love his writing style.  I am sure there will be other titles added to my reading journey—just need to figure out what I want to read about and put my Amazon Prime membership to work.

What are your reading goals?  Who is your favorite author and why?

“There is more treasure in books than all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island”.

(Walt Disney)

One year in Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce

“Your life is a story of transition.  You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving to the next”.

(Anonymous)

2020 brought us a year of uncertainty and change.  Not the most prophetic thing I have ever written for the Walk into the Future blog but felt the need to drop that nugget. 

I celebrated the one-year mark of my move to Fort Pierce on April 13th and decided to look back.  I am sure I was not the ONLY person to move to a new city during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have not met anyone in my current circle.  Turns out I was the last employee hired by Indian River State College before a hiring freeze was imposed due to COVID-19 uncertainty and the onset of remote work for all college employees.

I remember when I was preparing to move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce the thought kept coming up that maybe my opportunity to work at Indian River State College would be pulled due to the pandemic.  I called a few times to make sure I was still hired, and Human Resources kept saying yes.  Packed up the U-Haul, pointed it south and the rest is history—arrived in Fort Pierce without knowing the pandemic was about to get a whole lot worse than we expected.  It did not help the government kept telling people there was nothing to worry about—that dang U.S. government, they have never lied before, right? 😊

I never had a remote work schedule when I arrived—being new to the area, going into the office was my only interaction with other people. The limited staff in the buildings all wore masks and practiced physical distancing but going to work was a welcomed part of my day.  I could not imagine moving to a new city and then sitting at home all day without seeing anyone. 

True story—my entire staff was working remotely so I met my 11-person team on my laptop via a Zoom meeting.  Never thought this would be possible but 2020 made us find creative ways to get things done.  My initial staff meetings were all done via a virtual platform (Zoom, Black Board Collaborate or Microsoft Teams).  I love the functionality of Microsoft Teams and continue to conduct staff meetings with this platform. Most of the staff are fully vaccinated but we still have a few stragglers—hope to be able to get everyone together with physical distancing in the fall—fingers crossed.

I had to find new running routes over the past year.  Discovered Fort Pierce is not as runner friendly as Tallahassee or Oviedo so finding places to run safely continues to be a challenge.  I have two good running areas but would like more routes for a change of scenery.  I love running but still get bored if I do not have variety on my routes. Will keep searching for new places to run because I need to extend my long runs with my focus on becoming a running tourist again.  I have race entries for the following:

  • 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon / September 5, 2021
  • 2021 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon / December 4, 2021
  • 2022 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon / February 6, 2022

Would like to add more races but need to build my long runs back up to 12+ miles again. 

My initial workouts in Fort Pierce were done strictly at home.  Most of the gyms closed due to COVID-19 protocols and I would not have ventured in even if they were open.  I stopped going to the gym before leaving Tallahassee because the gym environment is a prime place for close contact with others.  This close contact led to people spreading the virus so I invested in workout equipment so I could maintain my fitness levels from home.  Surprisingly, I stayed in great physical shape with home workouts.  I have slowly returned to the gym but only go two days a week now when I am in town.  I do body weight workouts (pushups, crunches, squats, etc.) in the mornings before I head to work.  I am happy with my results and will keep this up since it is working and a lot cheaper than having a gym membership. 😊

The beaches on the Treasure Coast provide me with great places to sit, relax and catch up on my reading.  Funny, I live about 10 minutes from a beach but find I must schedule my beach outings.  I run close to the water and stop to enjoy the views but need to do a better job of just making beach days.  I am heading to Melbourne tomorrow for an air show and will get an early start so I can stake my claim to a prime beach location to relax and enjoy the Blue Angels as they put on their show.  I plan to get to the beach more this year and keep taking beautiful sunset shots.

Time continues to move forward.  It feels like I just got here yesterday but it has been a year.  Most days seemed to be the same due to COVID-19 protocols but a year it has been.  Looking forward to new adventures in 2021 and you know I am going to highlight a few in the Walk into the Future blog! 😊

Irie!

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.

(Henri Bergson)

Why I continue to blog

Blog

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn”.

(Scott Adams)

I never imagined three years ago I would still be blogging about my life, thoughts, and adventures. 

The need for me to document things via the Walk into the Future blog continues to grow as my views and voice get stronger daily.  COVID-19 slowed down the adventures, but I still write to share my ideas with my followers and the occasional new reader around the world.  I also write as a form of therapy for me to release energy into the world—sounds poetic, huh?

It still amazes me when I see a reader from France, India or Spain checking out one of my articles.  Never thought my idea for this blog would travel so well but travel it does. 

I make a point to write about things that speak directly to me and adventures I have decided to tackle.  Some of my best content comes from friends and family who send me topics they would like to read about.  This process is exciting to me because I get to conduct research to bring the topic to my followers.  It is a bit more complicated than just hearing a topic and then I sit down and write.  There are times when the words just flow for me but other times, I must come back to a potential topics multiple times just to get it production ready.  I do not think I have ever experienced writer’s block but there are days where writing just does not flow for me.  I find I just need to clear my mind and let my fingers do the walking—that is an old telephone book reference! 😊

I have had a few articles I wrote but never published on the Walk into the Future blog.  Never thought I would have canned articles but not share them on the blog.  This does not happen too often but the articles I hold back do not fit what I want the blog to represent.  Yes, this is my blog, but it is also open access and I owe it to myself and my readers to put my best work forward daily. 

2020 saw so much turmoil in America and the way black people are treated caused a lot of frustration for me.  My ability to channel these frustrations provided some of my best work (my opinion) but needed to ensure my words match the intended purpose.  I revisit the articles I put on ice to see if I can salvage them, but they remain on ice—I am sure I will share directly with my tree branches but some of these will never be blog worthy (Seinfeld reference).

I find joy in putting words down to see if I can develop into something others would want to read.  The challenge to keep generating articles is with me daily.  I find inspiration to write in multiple settings but me sitting down on my laptop and just hammering out content is the norm for me now.  COVID-19 took away my coffee shop vibes, so I sit at my dining room table with my laptop, beer, and Bob Marley music as I lay down these tracks.

Plan to keep writing as long as it is fun to me and people continue to read what I am laying down. 

My hope is to get back to a certain level of travel again so I can write about my exploits in exotic locales.  Negril, Jamaica is my first stop once it is safe to head back down.

So, I have listed some reasons why I continue to blog.  Why do YOU continue to read?  I welcome your thoughts! 

Irie!

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust”.

(Jason Calacanis)

Positive people make positive things happen!

Positive

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results”.

(Willie Nelson)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite quotes to live by!  This quote has been with me for years—I do not even remember when or where I started using it but incorporate this quote in life daily.

The quote is straight forward and simple but has the power to transform.  Think of the negative people you know and their impact within the work environment.  I mention the work environment but negative people impact us whenever they are around.  I would love to say you can avoid negative people but there are times when you will come in contact with them.  Do not let this time linger as these folks can drain you.  Nothing is ever good enough or there is always a reason why something cannot be done.

Let’s get back to the positives in this article! 😊

Positive anything is better than the negative counterpart.  Think of the positive people in your life and how they make YOU feel.  These folks are always seeking a way to make things around them better.  It could be how they greet you in the morning or the ever present smile on their face even when things are not going their way.  It would be easy for them to complain but they do not.  They seek the positives in the situation and how to make things better.  They strive to get things done and not worry about the circumstances.

This ability to seek the positives directly translates to making positive things happen.  This is not a coincidence—focusing on positives allows these folks to generate positive outcomes.  They use their time and energy to find solutions to make a difference on projects they work on. 

These are the folks I gravitate towards because they are solution focused—not looking for excuses why things cannot get done.  I pride myself as a positive person and wake up daily to make a difference in the world.  This mindset has helped guide me towards successful outcomes in whatever venture I seek to conquer. Please note, there are days when negative thoughts creep in but I quickly shake them off so I can continue to move forward.

That negative friend, coworker or family member drains energy by identifying why something cannot be done.  These negative folks spend more time taking away from finding a solution—there are times where I see this negative mindset attract like minded folks and they feed off each other.  Do not fall into this trap—avoid these people at all costs.  Better yet, be so positive they want to avoid you or at least want to emulate the positivity you put on display daily.  I find joy frustrating negative people by not allowing their issues to come into my world. 

My goal is for them to join in on the positive things happening. 

What do you do to ensure a positive mindset?  How do you avoid the negative noise from others?

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another

(Proverbs 27:17)

Turning the corner on COVID-19

smiley-4836178_1920

(Image by Sergei Tokmakov, Esq. from Pixabay

“Choose to be optimistic.  It feels better”.

(Dalai Lama)

I do not know if we have truly turned the corner on COVID-19 but it does feel like we have made some progress.

The rollout of the vaccine has been moving forward the past three months and my excitement is firmly rooted in the fact I have family and friends who are fully vaccinated.  Happy to report I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday and should be fully vaccinated by the time you read this article.

I realize there is more work to be done before we get to herd immunity but there are positive signs daily.  We need to maintain a level of caution and not get too far ahead to ensure these positive vibes remains.

My excitement for turning the corner is because I was able to visit my family in northern Florida and did not feel like I was putting them at risk.  My mom, aunts and uncles are completely vaccinated and this was the first visit where I did not have the same concerns about possibly bringing the virus into their homes.  Please note, we still maintained physcial distancing and masks wearing but mentally it felt like we were safe again.  I have not hugged my mom in months so a simple side hug this time was a welcomed aspect of the visit.

My goal is to have my second shot completed before I head back up to visit with family and friends again.  The peace of mind knowing everyone has been vaccinated will allow us to spend a bit more time together and not worry about passing a virus on to a family member. 

The concept of physical distancing and how we fellowship will probably be changed forever.  Simple things we did around the holidays will most likely change—I do not know if I will ever be comfortable again with our large Thanksgiving gatherings again.  We set up tables and chairs outside for Thanksgiving 2020 and this process went better than I expected.  The weather was great and family was able to spend time together but not in a closed environment. I see this being the new tradition as long as the weather cooperates.

I hope the Walk into the Future blog readers are in the process of getting vaccinated. 

I questioned the rapid pace of the vaccine creation and deployment but put those concerns aside in order to ensure I was protected.  This protection extends to my family, friends and coworkers—getting the vaccine is my way to get closer to normal again.  I would like to get back to being a running tourist again in 2021.  This will only happen when more and more people get the vaccine—here’s hoping herd immunity is a real thing!

Note:  I got sent home from work the day after I wrote this article due to contact tracing.  COVID-19 is still alive and well—stay safe!

When are you getting the vaccine?  What are you looking forward to once herd immunity is gained?

“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength”.

(Marcus Aurelius)

Black History is 365!

(Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay)

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”.

(Muhammad Ali)

Another Black History month has come and gone. 

What did you do to commemorate the great things you learned during past Black History months?  How did your community or work organization celebrate the one month out of the year set aside to highlight Black History?

Yes, I am happy we get a month to showcase the great things black people have done and celebrate things we are currently doing.  This year just seems a bit subdued—it could be because of COVID-19 but it seems the month flew by and not much was celebrated.  I saw a few spots on TV discussing Black History month and the importance of remembering the past but nothing really jumped out at me as a highlight.  I hope the country did not go into a shell because of the insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021.  Just a thought!

My Black History month moment came as a complete surprise to me.  I saw an Instagram story from my niece Jayla that read:  So sad, none of this is taught in school.

Look at the list below and tell me how many of these things you knew were invented by a black person:

Product

Inventor

Date

Air Conditioning Unit

Frederick M. Jones

1949

Almanac

Benjamin Banneker

1791

Auto Cut off switch

Granville T. Woods

1839

Auto Fishing Device

George Cook

1899

Baby Buggy

William H. Richardson

1889

Biscuit Cutter

Alexander P. Ashbourne

1875

Blood Plasma Bag

Charles Drew

1945

Clothes Dryer

George T. Sampson

1971

Curtain Rod Support

William S. Grant

1896

Door Knob

Osbourn Dorsey

1878

Door Stop

Osbourn Dorsey

1878

Elevator

Alexander Miles

1867

Fire Escape Ladder

Joseph W. Winters

1878

Fire Extinguisher

Thomas Marshall

1872

Folding Chair

Nathaniel Alexander

1911

Gas Mask

Garrett Morgan

1914

Golf Tee

George T. Grant

1899

Ice Cream Scoop

Alfred L. Cralle

1897

Ironing Board

Sarah Boone

1887

Lantern

Michael C. Harvey

1884

Mail Box

Paul L. Downing

1891

Peanut Butter

George W. Carver

1896

Pencil Sharpener

John L. Love

1897

Spark Plug

Edmond Berger

1839

Stethoscope

Thomas A. Carrington

1876

Straightening Comb

Madam C. J. Walker

1905

Street Sweeper

Charles B. Brooks

1890

Thermostat Control

Frederick M. Jones

1960

Traffic Light

Garrett Morgan

1923

Tricycle

Matthew A. Cherry

1886

I pride myself in knowing history but could only match three inventions to inventors:

  • Traffic light (Garret Morgan)
  • Straightening comb (Madame C. J. Walker)
  • Peanut butter (George Washington Carver)

Everything else on this list was brand new to me.  How can this be?  We are taught a modified version of history in school.  It is completely one sided and it appears we are supposed to learn as much as possible in February so we can get back to the regularly scheduled history program.  Imagine growing up in a country that shares tidbits of your history—how would you feel when you finally discover great things were being kept from you?

I waited for February to end before diving into Black History to extend the conversation.  Yes, I am happy to have a month dedicated to my history but as you can see from the list above, we need more time.  How can someone invent the elevator in 1867 and we have no knowledge of this fact?  I apologize, maybe it is just me with no knowledge of this fact, but my point is this was a MAJOR invention, but we do not pay homage to Alexander Miles.  Truth be told, I never heard his name before.  How is that possible?  Thanks to Sarah Boone I can iron my clothes daily, so I have a pressed look at work.  Imagine how we would look if she did not invent the ironing board?  How would the mailman deliver your mail without Paul L. Downing?  I am sure most people in the world still use some version of the mailbox.

So, Black History Month is over, but your lessons do not have to stop.  I encourage you to continue to seek out Black History and share with others.  We all have a lot to learn—let’s get to it! 😊

What did you learn during Black History month?  How do you plan to keep the conversation going?  Thanks!

“If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go”.(James Baldwin)

Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.

(Kevin Eikenberry)

The year 2020 started with a bang for us all and the promise of a fantastic year. 

The term 2020 Vision was used to highlight the promise this was going to be the year where vision became reality and positive things were coming.

2020 has been a lot tougher than most of us would like but there have been positive things to be thankful for.  We must remember tough times now can lead to positive outcomes in the future.

One area of my Walk into the Future where I really needed 2020 Vision was after accepting my role in Fort Pierce and discovering my entire team was working remotely.  Imagine moving to a new city during a pandemic, taking over a work environment and meeting your entire team on your laptop.  Strange times but quickly discovered all my leadership training, speaking, and consulting experience were needed for me to make positive things happen.

I have read a lot of leadership books and written multiple articles on authentic leadership.  There is not a manual on how to come in on day one and begin to lead a remote team.  Trust me, I searched for that book for days! 

You always want to make a great first impression, but it is tough to gauge your direct reports via a laptop screen.  Things are progressing but I continue to learn new tools and techniques daily.  2020 Vision has morphed into a new mantra to remain focused and control the controllable.

Teambuilding

A first step to build a great team is to ensure teambuilding is a central focus to get everyone on the same page and moving in the correct direction.  I have written about several teambuilding exercises we have completed (MBTI, The Energy Bus) and the need to help each team member grow professionally.  We completed these activities in a complete physical distancing environment where staff members engaged each other via computers from separate offices.  Let’s repeat that…we were together via a Zoom like application (Blackboard Collaborate), in different locations, and working on our teambuilding activities.  Not ideal but it can be done.

Never imagined this was possible but got the 2020 Vision to try this and tweak as needed.  We have been able to enhance team dynamics and maintain our physical distance from each other.  I continue to look for interactive ways to engage the team using computer technology and ensure we have fun with the process. 

Work schedules

2020 Vision allows me to understand the traditional concept of work schedules went out the window earlier this year.  Not saying people do not have to work but the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge work from home dynamic.  Jobs traditionally done within the office environment were rapidly transformed to work from home.  This was a major change for everyone, and work schedules had to change as well.  Gone were the typical 8 am – 5 pm work schedules since people had to juggle work, childcare, home schooling and a myriad of other tasks daily. 

I learned quickly when staff needed time to take care of their home life.  Also learned the work from home mindset is not the same for everyone.  Some folks are just as motivated working from home as they were in the office.  I came to understand that some are not as motivated working from home—human nature kicks in for these folks.

My role has evolved to ensure everyone can use the technology we have available to complete work assignments.  We needed to create communication channels to check in without being overly connected daily.  I am still learning and evolving in this area, but we are getting things done.

Mental well-being

My initial thoughts for this section was to write about helping my staff with their mental well-being.  We do that daily but one aspect I continue to focus on is my mental well-being.  My workouts and running program are great escapes for me from the daily grind of leading a team from a distance.  This new world of work seems to always have someone trying to schedule a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate meeting—they never stop! ☹😊

Finally had to tell some coworkers to ask before just jamming a virtual meeting on my calendar.  This is a constant reminder the world of work has changed—mostly for the good but there can be a bad side to always being connected.  I work to connect with my staff daily to make sure they are doing well.  I do not email, call, or text them after work hours to model behavior that honors a true work and life balance.  Small steps!

I am still learning how to operate in this new world of work. 

What techniques do you use to not be connected all the time?  How has your 2020 vision changed from earlier in the year?

 “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

Walking and the importance of networking

“It’s not who you know but who knows YOU”.

(Anonymous)

Dictionary.com defines networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. 

This definition provides a clean view of networking but does not limit how it can be done.  I have written in the past about several podcast episodes I have been a part of.  Each episode was done to share a specific message to the audience and help their professional growth.  I engaged in multiple in-person networking events (Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with designs to meet people who could help me grow my consulting and speaking roles.  So, as you can see, networking takes on many forms with the objective of connecting with others.

I got invited to speak on a local radio program last week to engage and speak with Fort Pierce community members about my new workplace and the work we do.  Turns out the radio host is an Indian River State College (IRSC) colleague who happens to work on a different campus.  We had not met prior to the event but knew of each other through work interactions.

I make a point to never turn down opportunities to speak about the great work we do for our students and alumni populations.  The radio spot was a fantastic way for me to network with students, parents and employers interested in attending or coming back to IRSC.

The host for this networking opportunity works directly with underrepresented students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  She is always looking for new ways to engage students and members of the community on the benefits of higher education and wanted me to discuss how my office helps our students become career ready.  Love being able to showcase the improved operations and services we are building.  These new operational tweaks allow staff to reach more students and add value to the overall college experience.

I especially enjoyed participating in the radio program since I could speak directly to employers in the local Fort Pierce area who did not know they could recruit talent on our campuses.  We are not hosting in-person events in the fall, but employers are able to post their openings for free with our office.  We are in the process of finalizing our Virtual Career Fair platform and wanted to let employers know they have multiple access points to recruit on-campus.  The radio program reaches our four-county service area and should enhance our reach to help employers understand how we can help them moving forward.

A secondary aspect of participating on the radio show was to let the community know enrollment for the fall semester is open and we are still recruiting new students.  COVID-19 has had a major impact on college and university enrollments across the country and we are no different.  Going on the radio allows us to let folks know we are here for them and want to share ways we can help with their success.  Two-year colleges are very affordable and can be an excellent way to launch into a four-year degree if that is a goal. 

The new term for me in this environment is UpSkill.  We talk with prospective students and employers on the benefit of in-demand certificate programs to UpSkill their careers or improve staff outputs.  This process is still new to me since I came from the four-year university model but UpSkill is a great way to impact local economies by training students to meet local career demands.

I am scheduled to speak on another radio program later this month hosted by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and will look to continue to network to help the Treasure Coast grow.  Excited to see the impact of these networking opportunities! 😊

What networking opportunities are you working on?  How can networking help your organization continue to grow?

 “Networking is the #1 unwritten rule of success in business”.

(Sallie Krawcheck)

Listen to the show here—I speak around the 5 minute markhttp://wjfp.com/ondemand-wjfp/player.php?wrspot=72816