Hard Ax Lounge

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“Everything goes great with some axe throwing”.

(Instagram)

The Walk into the Future blog allows me to capture my thoughts, adventures and, plans in a way that I can share with my readers.

Never sought out a venue to capture everything but this blog provides an opportunity to highlight things I do to continue to Walk into the Future.

My new adventure was a trip to the Hard Ax Lounge in Fort Pierce for a round of ax throwing.  This was my second time in the Hard Ax Lounge—several of us from work made it to the lounge in December for a teambuilding activity.  It was the same day as our ugly sweater party, and I never got around to capturing my thoughts on the original outing.

Turns out I picked up ax throwing fast as I was the ax throwing champion for our group back in December.  Never imagined I would be good at throwing an ax but maybe my small-town upbringing in Jasper, Florida translated to becoming an ax man. 😊

Made my way back for round two with a smaller group of friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  I did not have preconceived ideas that my first ax throwing adventure would translate to this session.  Everyone must go through the safety training—ax throwing can be dangerous, and it helped to get pointers from the ax experts that work there.

There are different ax sizes, and each ax performs a bit different from the next.  The instructors show all participants how to hold and throw the axes based on size and weight.  They offer everyone an opportunity to throw each ax to get a better feel for which ax works best.  I had a lot of success with the smallest ax during my first experience so decided to stick with what worked best for me in the past.

The first part of the throwing session is just getting familiar with throwing the ax and working on form and aim.  The concept is like throwing darts, but the ax does a lot more damage when it hits the target.  We went through several rounds of practice before the ax experts introduced the ax throwing competition into the session.

The ax board is numbered, and scores are based on the number your ax sticks to (8, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).  The first game introduced was a game of 21.  You throw with the idea of hitting numbers that add up to 21 to be crowned the winner.  If your throw total goes OVER 21 then you go back down to 12 and throw again with the intent to end up on 21.  Pretty simple, huh?

Throws are rotated between everyone on your lane, so everyone gets a turn in the rotation towards 21. 

My throwing technique is very basic.  I grab the small ax, position myself on the lane and then let it fly—not rocket science but I try not to overthink this simple process.

Fast forward and my throws got me close to 21 multiple times, but I had to go back to 12 since I kept going over.  Luckily for me, others throwing on my lane could not take advantage of me having to go back to 12 and win the game.  We played three rounds, and I was able to win 2 out of 3 rounds and leave as the ax throwing champion for the day.  FYI—double champion!

Ax throwing is a fast-growing sport, and it continues to get bigger in the Fort Pierce area.  I’m sure this is not the last ax win for the Walk into the Future blog.

Have you ever competed in ax throwing?

“Throw your axe and have some fun”.

(Instagram)

2022 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference

NACE2022

The 2022 NACE Conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year.  This was our first in-person conference since 2019 and there was a lot of excited and anxious people in attendance.  Safety protocols were taken to keep us safe, but you can never truly feel safe with over 1,700 people in attendance.

I have been a member of NACE for the past 15 years and have continued to look for ways to expand my role within the organization.  I have served in multiple roles which have allowed me to grow a network with professionals across the world.

I am currently finishing up my role as a Co-Chair for the Mentorship Enhancement Task Force.  I received a phone call from the incoming NACE President in July 2021 to talk about the task force and the importance he placed on mentorship.  He asked me to Co-Chair this critical task force and work to revamp the program and increase awareness/participation for NACE members.

Fast forward to the NACE conference in Portland and my task force was provided a session to discuss the work we have been doing for the past 12 months and highlight the improvements we recommend to the Board of Directors.

I have attended past NACE conferences in Anaheim, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and Orlando but this was my first opportunity to present to my colleagues.  We were given a prime slot on the second day of the conference to present our work and recruit new mentors into the program. 

My Co-Chair who is based out of St. Louis, Missouri and I spent multiple Microsoft Teams virtual sessions going over the presentation format, slides, and flow.  We decided to give a big overview of the program changes and then jump into a panel discussion with current NACE mentors and mentees to get their perspective on the impact of mentoring for each of them.

We soon discovered the NACE conference committee booked our session in the LARGEST room at the event.  We had no preconceived perspective on how many people would attend our session, but we did not imagine we could fill every seat in this large space.  NOTE—we did not get close to filling all seats. 😊

No worries!  We had a very good crowd, and the folks were able to get a more personal touch from my co-chair and I.  These folks were able to ask the panelist questions and we had on the spot sign-ups for new mentors and mentees.

We shared the work of the task force and identified our strategies and marketing plans to create a world class mentoring program.

The new program will have 3 mentoring layers:

  • 1 on 1 mentoring (traditional)
  • Reverse mentoring (new)
  • Mentoring Circles (new)

Mentoring research identifies Reverse mentoring and Mentoring Circles are unique ways to increase mentoring awareness and participation.  We discussed the benefits of each mentoring model and introduced the software we recommended to match mentors with mentees.  The current matching process is manual and does not consider the demographics of the mentor or mentee.  This software matching process was a big hit with the NACE board and folks in attendance during our session.

The marketing plan will utilize all social media platforms and the NACE website to promote the changes and encourage NACE members to join the program. 

I was excited to see the NACE President, David Ong in attendance during our session.  This was his pet project for the year, and he was extremely happy with our progress and excited to roll out the new program to the general membership.

David gave us a by-name shoutout during the general session late that day to thank us for the work we put in over the year.  This was the highlight of the conference for me and got more members wanting to discuss the mentoring program and to sign up.  I walked around with sign-up sheets for the rest of the conference and got many mentors and mentees signed up.

My official Co-Chair role ends on 7/15/2022 but we still must complete one more project before our term ends.  I have decided to take a year off from serving on another NACE committee or task force.  This was my second national commitment to the career field in the past two years—time to take a small break and concentrate on my local duties. 

I plan to get back into the national work of our career field in 2023 by either serving on another committee/task force or taking a larger step up to become a NACE Board Member.  This would provide me with additional leverage within the career field as we set policy to keep us relevant.

Yes, I’m still dreaming big! 😊

My 2023 conference travel plans will be less than this year.  The 2023 conference will be held in Lake Buena Vista (Disney World) so I do not have to endure another 7 hours of traveling.  My travel time over to Disney World will be just over an hour and I don’t have to worry about flight layovers in Salt Lake City or Minneapolis. 

Look forward to getting the band back together next year.

Irie!    

My 2022 reading progress

Reading list

(Books I’m reading now)

“A book is a gift you can open again and again”.

(Garrison Keillor)

I start each year with a measured set of goals.  Reading and writing are two areas I focus on for my goals.

These are the areas where I find a ton of joy daily along with my running program.  My 2022 reading and writing goals are below:

  • Read bible daily / Proverbs, Matthew, and other areas for better understanding
    • Read 2 books monthly
  • Write daily (poems, journal, BLOG articles, LinkedIn posts monthly)
    • Publish Authentic Leadership eBook (April 2022)

So, this is where I update you on my progress. 

I discovered the book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott 15 years ago and adopted an aspect from the book into my daily life.  The book highlights the benefits of Proverbs and how King Solomon identified secrets to success, wealth, and happiness.  I originally read the book thinking it would TELL me how to become rich financially which did not happen.

I read the book and did not understand the lessons the author was trying to relay to the readers.  I dismissed it as an attempt to get people to read the book because of the catchy title.  Luckily for me I decided to go back and read the book multiple times and followed the directions provided to see where they would lead. 

I adopted the practice of reading Proverbs daily because of the wisdom (secrets to success, wealth, and happiness) this book provides to readers.  I have been a daily Proverbs reader for over 15 years now and continue to discover new wisdom insights.  Decided to add other books in the bible to my daily reading program in 2022.  This is the reading goal I continue to meet and/or exceed so far this year.

Now, let’s talk about my goal to read 2 books each month.  I started the year off with a bang and was able to handle my book goal in January and February.  I started to go downhill with my reading program in March.  I added more racing and training to my routine to get prepared for multiple half marathons but that’s not the real reason my reading has been slacking. 

I have not done a great job of identifying book topics/titles that keep my attention.  I big part of reading for me is an interest in the topic/title and the author.  I started grabbing books off Amazon based on recommendations but some of the books did not have a true flow and caused me to become a slower reader than normal.  No excuses but it is taking me longer to digest and get through the books I have selected.  I’m averaging a book a month but need to increase my pace or make the time to read these books.  There is still a lot of 2022 left to get more books read but I may not average 2 books each month.

My writing program remains strong, and I am happy with my progress in 2022.  The blog articles keep me searching for new adventures and ideas, but I am happy with my ability to create content.  It helps that a lot of my life revolves around traveling, running and the beach.  I am sure I will continue to have content to turn into another Walk into the Future blog article. 😊

I have published multiple articles and posts on LinkedIn so that is another goal win.  I continue to look for ways to network and connect with a larger audience.  LinkedIn has allowed me to attract readers to my blog and share my adventures and leadership thoughts.  I will use LinkedIn to build my leadership audience so I can get back to conducting Authentic Leadership workshops for organizations looking to improve/grow.

I have rolled my publishing a leadership eBook into 2022.  I have the content for the eBook but need to get busy with cover art and putting the content into publication.  I will use the summer months to finalize the content and work to get cover art so I can get the eBook to market.  It’s coming—I promise! 😊

Still got work to do but I am making progress towards my 2022 reading and writing goals.

How are you doing with your 2022 goals!  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

Irie!

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”.

(Joseph Addison)

Make your bed! (Repost)

Books

“Good order is the foundation of all things”.

(Edmund Burke)

My Walk into the Future allows me to pick and choose my adventures and some take me to amazing places.  Others find me rooted at home but still bring a level of joy and satisfaction.

I am an avid reader and love to find new books to help me as a lifelong learner.  My latest find was the book by retired Admiral William H. McRaven titled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World.  

The title is simple enough and gives the reader an understanding of what the Admiral will cover in this book.

I love the fact the book is broken up into short chapters that are easy to follow and integrate into daily life for readers.  Admiral McRaven uses things from his life to help highlight the importance of how little things add up to make life move forward.

The book starts with the simple premise of why making your bed daily sets the tone for the day.  I understood this fact when I read the book but did not fully gain knowledge until I shared the book with a coworker who reads more books than I do.  My coworker assumes since I am retired Air Force the concept of making your bed was instilled in me during my time in the Air Force.  He was surprised when I told him I rarely make my bed because I did not see the importance of the act.  I am not a slob but making my bed happens when it happens—I did not go out of my way to make the bed before heading to work.

My coworker was shocked with my admission. I can be set in my ways but went back and read the chapter on making your bed to figure out what I missed.

I started making my bed DAILY after reading again to see if this simple act made a difference in my day.  The verdict is in—yes, it does!

This simple act appears to be a springboard for a productive day for me. 

The flow I have been able to display at work came once I made the decision to start my day with a simple act of organization.  Taking the time to make my bed and organize before leaving the house for work or my runs puts me in a better mindset for the day.  I arrive at work with a mindset to organize and I can transition quicker once I make it to my desk.  This may all be a coincidence but the flow, production, and ability to get more accomplished came once I decided to make my bed.

This is a recent phenomenon for me but exciting at the same time.  The ability to make a difference daily is something I take pride in.  Making my bed appears to heighten my ability to get this done.

Let’s be clear on this!  I fully understand making the bed has not given me a new superpower, but it provides me an opportunity to cross off a daily task early in the day.  I view making my bed as the first win of the day and gets me ready to win throughout the day.  I love crossing things off my to-do lists and I can get this started before I leave the house. 

Therefore, making your bed is an important step for the day!  It sets the tone and establishes a foundation for success—give it a try and let’s see what making your bed can do for you!

What are your thoughts on the importance of making your bed?  How does it set the tone for the day?

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Busy or productive?

Busy or Productive

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”.

(Socrates)

Dictionary.com defines busy as having a great deal to do.

Conversely, Dictionary.com defines productive as producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.

So, which of these definitions describes your daily endeavors in the workplace?

People use the terms in a similar fashion, but I am quick to tell folks my goal is to be productive daily

Busy can quickly become a mindset that leads to staff becoming overwhelmed with the tasks they must handle in the work environment.  I ask staff members how they are doing throughout the day and when I hear someone say they are busy I simply ask:  are you busy or productive?

This makes folks pause for a bit and then they want to know the difference.  Again, I refer to the two distinct definitions.  Someone who exclaims they are busy is identifying they have a lot of things to do, and they are thinking about that workload.  Some will just come out and say I have a lot on my plate and need to get things done.  Sounds reasonable but it can also cause a mental drain on the staff member and anyone else who hears a constant “I am busy” drumbeat in the work environment.  Yes, there may be a lot to do but saying ‘busy’ does not move the needle to get things done. 

Flip the script!

My goal is to be productive daily, and this starts with the concept of coming to work to get things done.  The old saying talk is cheap would apply here.  Talking about being busy does nothing to get task accomplished.  A productive mindset allows staff members to come in with focus and take an active role in getting things done.  Tools I use to increase productivity:

  • To Do Lists (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Outlook calendar (meeting reminders, team time off, out of office reminders)
  • Face to face conversations
  • Email
  • Large Post It Notes on my office walls
  • Staff meetings (group, 1:1, virtual)

I have used To Do Lists for most of my professional life and these lists help me plan/organize my day to keep me focused on deadlines and work products I need to complete.  I begin each morning before going into the office with a list of action items I want to accomplish for the day.  I sync this list up with any items I did not complete the previous day once I arrive in the office. 

FYI, I am also the first person in the building most days so I can have 45 minutes to consolidate my lists and build a game plan for the day.  Yes, I put this much thought into my operation to ensure I have a productive day.  I am trying to maximize my opportunities to be productive and leverage all the tools available to help me with this.  A secondary benefit of my lists is they allow me to pick up where I left off when I must help staff members with a task or problem.  I can come back and pick up where I left off without wasting time trying to remember what I need to get done.  Please note, staff and clients take priority, so I get a lot of practice coming back to my daily lists.

Face to face conversations are a great way to keep the productivity flowing.  I find simply getting up from my desk and going to have a conversation is more productive than emailing back and forth.  We can talk things through, come to a consensus and eliminate potential misunderstandings.  Of course, this only works if the person is available to have a conversation. 😊

Busy or productive office

The large Post It Notes on my office walls is something I started while working in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  The concept was for me to put big projects on Post It Notes so staff could come into the office and add updates to each project.  I began to allow staff to build their own projects and put them on my office walls so we could work them together.  I got the Post It Note idea because my white board was not large enough to highlight multiple projects.  I purchase the Post It Notes from Staples and they stick to the wall.  These notes provide a great visual to highlight how productive we are on any given day.  One of my current staff members said coming into my office and seeing the notes is like being ‘in my mind’.  I quickly told her to get out of there because there is a lot going on up there. 😊

There are other ways to become productive in the work environment, but these are a few that I leverage daily to help move me and the organization forward.

So, I ask you, are you busy or productive?  What tools are you using to help your productivity?  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

“Focus on being productive instead of busy”.

(Tim Ferris)

Goal progress—where are you?

Goals

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark”.

(Michelangelo)

Decided to check my 2021 goals in December to see how well I did to accomplish the things I projected to get done back in January 2021.

Yearly goals are a big part of my planning process and I love checking things off my list.  The written goal is a way to ensure success and provides clarity on things to get done in the new year. 

2021 presented some unique opportunities for me and I am happy to grow on a professional and personal level.

There was only one area where I did not meet or exceed my written goal.  I started 2021 with a written goal to cook weekly and I started the year off well.  I made a point to meal prep and utilized my crock pot for convenience.  My cooking goal lasted about two months before the wheels fell off on my progress.  Working late and my scheduled after work runs are the excuses but the convenience of the drive-thru is the real reason.  Turns out it is a lot easier and quicker to pull up and order something without having to come home and cook.  I realize the drive-thru is not the healthiest option for me, but I rationalize this process with an extra run or two to combat.  I will do a much better job with this goal in 2022!

Travel

Travel was an area I wanted to hit specific marks in 2021.  COVID-19 eliminated most travel plans in 2020 and I wanted to get back on the road once it was safe again.  I was leery of the vaccine process early on but fully embraced the concept once the vaccine was available.  I wanted to be able to see family and friends again without the concern of bringing the virus with me.  I understand vaccinated people can still carry but felt a sense of relief once I received the Moderna doses.

I routinely took monthly excursions prior to COVID-19 and looked forward to doing this again.  Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Melbourne were targeted cities for my monthly getaways and happy to report I hit them all.  Orlando and Melbourne were regular visits for me in 2021.  I also made it back to Jasper at least once per month to see my mom and family. 

My visit to Clearwater Beach back in January was my first time there.  I always saw pictures and heard about the area but never took time to visit.  I am happy I made the trip over and will return October 2022 to run in the inaugural Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  Plan to get more sightseeing in when I get there.

Got in a few running tourist opportunities too:  Virginia Beach, Savannah, and Orlando.

My last 2021 travel adventure got me back to Nashville, Tennessee to listen to live music and enjoy a great city.  The Wild Horse Saloon was closed on this trip, but I will be back for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April.  I will get my line dancing in when I return. 😊

Exercise program

Exercise is a huge part of my daily routine.  This is an area I take a lot of pride in and hit all my goals in 2021. 

The first thing I wanted to hit was 1,000 training miles.  Happy to report I was able to finish the year with 1,055 training miles.  Building training runs into my daily schedule allowed me to hit this mark without feeling rushed to get training completed.  I will leverage my 2021 training routine to build an aggressive 2022 training goal to help me challenge myself.  Will share this number in a later post.

I set a goal to break my Personal Record (PR) in a 10k race and beat my friend Lauren Kume’s time in 2021.  I ran a PR of 55:57 (Fifty-five minutes and 57 seconds) at the 2021 Winter Park 10k in March 2021.  I did not run faster than Lauren, so I get to try again in 2022.  I am registered for the same race in March 2022 and will work to get closer to 54 flat—still more work to do but headed in a good direction.  Seems I am always chasing Lauren, but she inspires my running program—thank you!  😊

My workouts in 2021 were much improved.  I still make it to the gym for weight training at least two times per week and upgraded my home equipment to enhance my strength training.  I got in 5 body weight sessions weekly to complement my work in the gym.  I was able to add more muscle definition and maintain my weight even though I do not eat the healthiest.  I will correct my eating habits in 2022.

Writing

I maintained a consistent writing program throughout 2021.  I published several articles on LinkedIn and added my poetry to the Walk into The Future blog.  My blog library allowed me to publish weekly content to share my thoughts, views, and travel with readers.  I gained a few more blog followers and incorporated content several friends requested.  I plan to continue to build new blog content in 2022—don’t know how much longer I will use this platform, but I have other areas I want to explore for the blog so keep sending me your ideas.  I will work to build content to keep your interest.

I did not publish my Leadership ebook in 2021 but did work on content throughout the year.  I talked with a designer to build the cover art but will need to reengage with him to finalize the cost for the project.  This will be a rollover goal for 2022.

Happy with my 2021 goal progress and excited to launch my 2022 goals towards another successful year.

How did YOU do on meeting your 2021 goals?  What big things do you have planned for 2022?

Make it great!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.

(C.S. Lewis)

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

80s day at work!

80s Beth and Calvin

“If work isn’t fun, you’re not playing on the right team”.

(Frank Sonnenberg)

The concept of FUN at work comes up often when discussing how to keep organizations moving forward.  The quote above makes me laugh with the simplicity of the concept but it does have a place in the modern work environment.

Organizations that do not allow their staff members to unwind and have fun are doomed to have unhappy people in the workplace daily.  I am not saying staff must be entertained daily but the concept of fun has shown to be an attractive variable for some well-known organizations.

Google leads the way for work environment fun with nap pods, video games and ping pong tables available daily for staff members.  Who would not want to take a nap at work?  Genius concept!

Texas Roadhouse is another organization that values fun at work.  It’s right there in the mission statement:  We are committed to our shared Core Values of Passion, Partnership, Integrity, and Fun with Purpose

The staff gets to line dance multiple times during their shifts to some upbeat country music.  It is great watching the staff members dance with huge smiles on their faces while enjoying being at work.

Well, if the Texas Roadhouse folks can dance at work, then why can’t I?  That is a loaded question but one that we recently overcame in my current work environment.

Yes, there can be dancing at work! 😊

A friend at work and I started joking a few months ago about having a break-dancing contest in the parking lot.  It was our little inside joke and it made us both laugh.  We would mention the dance contest passing each other in the hallway and occasionally feign a dance move.  A couple of our coworkers overheard us talking about break-dancing and offered we should have a dance battle at work—true story.

This led to others chiming in that we should have the contest at work and dress the part.  The more this talk went on the more buzz the topic generated at work.  A final suggestion was everyone in the building should wear 80s gear and we should make it an event.  Please note, while at the FSU Career Center we had a Fantasy Career Day in October.  Staff members dressed in gear to represent their fantasy career—one year I went as a golfer complete with golf shirt, shorts, and a golf club.  This was the only time I wore shorts to work as a professional—it was great! 😊

This concept was the catalyst for us to create an 80s-decade event for our division.  I went to my boss to let her know we were dressing in the 80s and her response was:  I am coming as Madonna!  I did not have to make a plea; it was as simple as that.

The entire campus caught the energy, and the Fall Celebration Day was established.  The challenge went out to other divisions to dress in a preferred decade—we had dibs on the 80s.  The 60s and 70s were quickly grabbed by folks on campus and the celebration was on.

We decided to go all in for the 80s and dress the part.  I was a frequent eBay shopper as I looked for the perfect 80s outfit to enjoy the day.  The great thing about the 80s is the multiple phases we all went through—so many great looks to choose from.  I went with the mid-80s Hip Hop look as a throwback to some of my favorite artists—Eric B and Rakim, DJ Easy Rock and Public Enemy.

I was able to find multiple options for vintage Nike 80s track suit within my stated budget.  I was also able to find a fake (plastic) gold chain to accessorize my look.  A quick trip to Party City allowed me to complete the look with large rings for my fingers to really get that throwback look.  One of my colleagues had an old boom box at home and allowed me to borrow it for the day to complete my 80s throwback look.

Fast forward to 10/29/21 and we produced old school flyers to pass out on-campus to promote the dance battle in our building.  We wanted to ensure we had an audience and allow everyone to join in on the fun.  There were several practice sessions so we could space out the dance battle and then bring in a few surprise guests—we kept the surprises close to the vest so it would enhance the event.

We coordinated a three round dance battle to get the crowd pumped and generate fun, laughter, and anticipation.  The goal was to have fun!

I won the dance battle coin toss and elected to have my friend lead off with his first routine.  We agreed to three rounds and then get silly with dances an old dude would do:  the sprinkler, starting a lawn mower and the robot.  The crowd got into each round and really enjoyed the process of two professionals making a fool of themselves at work—it was all for fun! 😊

We finished our dance sequences back-to-back in a B Boy Stance.  We positioned ourselves directly in front of our VP—on purpose!

She pushed us both out of her way as the Salt N Pepa classic hit ‘Push It’ started to play.  This was surprise #1 and she rocked it.  She had been practicing for two weeks to get her moves right and started out with the 80s dance classic, The Roger Rabbit—the crowd went wild!  We joined her after with a choreographed rendition from the Push It video—don’t think I have ever had that much fun at work.

We got everyone in the building up and dancing with a classic Soul Train line.  It was fun to see others with HUGE smiles on their faces as they went through the Soul Train line multiple times.  I went through the line about 5 times since we were buying additional time for Surprise #2.

We have a Performing Arts program on-campus and partnered with faculty to request a student flash.  The students practiced the Michael Jackson’s 80s classic Thriller dance to finish off our dance party.  I had our DJ adjust the music once I saw the students enter the building.  We cleared the dance floor and let the students take over.  They were a big hit with the crowd as they went through their Thriller routine—it was fantastic!

The last part of our event was the Electric Slide!  Most of the folks hit the dance floor again as we did the Electric Slide—a great way to complete a dance party.

I have not seen people smile so much at work as they did during our 80s day!  Several made a point to let me know this was the best day they have had at work.  The smiles and happy faces made dances in front of colleagues worth the effort.  Some have asked what we plan to do to top this event—I’m going to let someone else plan the next event, but we will continue to have fun at work.

What do you do to have fun at work?

“Work is either fun or drudgery.  It depends on your attitude.  I like fun”.

(Colleen Barrett)

Intellectual curiosity

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(Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay)

“There is no magic formula for great company culture.  The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated”.

(Richard Branson)

Psychology Today identifies intellectual curiosity as a deep and persistent desire to know.

Betterup.com dives deeper by defining intellectual curiosity as curiosity that leads to an acquisition of general knowledge. 

At this point I am sure you are wondering where I am headed with intellectual curiosity.  Glad you asked! 😊

This has become a major characteristic I look for when working with others.  I was never able to find the exact term until recently but intellectual curiosity in the workplace provides a foundation for success.

Interestingly, this is not something everyone is able to display easily.  I see people who practice this trait when something is near and dear to them on a personal or professional level.  The key for me is for everyone to translate intellectual curiosity daily in the workplace.

Why you ask?  Great question!

People who display intellectual curiosity can find new ways to get things done.  There are multiple work environments where the mindset is we have always done it that way. This may be true but organizations and people who cannot evolve are doomed to fail.  It may take time for the demise, but it will happen.

Intellectually curious people understand how things are done and continue to look for ways to improve the process daily.  I love being surrounded by these type people because they understand the concept of moving forward.  Processes and techniques change daily, and organizations need to be able to pivot.  Pivots and adjustments are needed quicker as we introduce more technology into the workplace.

COVID-19 allowed intellectually curious people and organizations to make the necessary adjustments to ensure services were provided.  Most of my work colleagues had never heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic.  Turns out the Zoom platform in the hands of intellectually curious organizations increased the ability to provide services and made meetings more efficient.  Staff did not lose time driving or walking to meetings anymore—they simply logged into their computers and joined the meetings via their laptops. 

I never imagined university career fairs could be done completely online.  Intellectual curiosity has allowed people in my career field to find more efficient ways to connect students and employers.  There are some organizations that have been slow to adapt to the changing world and they are rapidly being left behind.

I challenge staff to become intellectually curious daily.  This is the only way to ensure an organization has a growth mindset.  The way we did business two years ago is not coming back so organizations need the ability to adapt, grow and move forward.

I propose organizations staffed with people with intellectual curiosity will thrive—those without will slowly fade away.

How do you display intellectual curiosity?  I welcome your thoughts!

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.  Instead, focus on what to do next.  Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding an answer”.

(Denis Waitley)

Who are you? Self-awareness

Make Things Happen

“Self-awareness is the golden key to making life changing decisions and sticking to them”.

(Dr. Prem Jagyasi)

Dictionary.com defines self-awareness as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Sounds simple enough but I like to explore self-awareness more when I conduct teambuilding exercises. Self-awareness is needed within the work environment and impacts how well the team functions.  We all bring different things into the work environment daily and need to understand how and what these things are.  I routinely ask the following question when I start the teambuilding process:

Who are you?

Take 2 minutes and ask yourself the question Who are you? multiple times.  Record each of your responses.  My examples to this exercise are:

  • Who are you?  Black man
  • Who are you?  Blogger
  • Who are you?  Leader
  • Who are you?  Running tourist
  • Who are you?  Son
  • Who are you?  Uncle
  • Who are you?  Mentor
  • Who are you?  Friend

Now it is your turn—answer the question and record your responses—I will wait! 😊

How many responses did you list to the question?

The answers may surprise people you work with and maybe yourself.  There is not a right or wrong way to supply responses to the question.  The major point is everything you listed enters the work environment with you daily.

This is an important point as we build teams and help staff members get to know others on the team.  I have used this teambuilding exercise multiple times to enhance the work environment and help with team growth. 

The point of this process is to allow team members to fully understand what they bring to work. It also shows a new level of self-awareness and how we interact with others.  This exercise enhances team awareness and shows everyone they have more in common than they thought.

True leaders can use this data to ensure they treat staff members as individuals and not let their self-awareness impact how they treat others. 

Example:  I do not have kids–this should not impact how I deal with a parent who needs to leave work early because of a sick child.  Some people in leadership positions make decisions based on their worldview only.  This is a horrible way to lead a team.

Authentic leaders understand how they are viewed and the impact this has on the team.  Self-aware leaders create more self-aware leaders. 

So, I ask again—who are you?  How does this level of self-awareness impact your daily interactions?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.

(Abraham Maslow)

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