The desire to go home

Home

“Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.

(Robert Frost)

COVID-19 has turned a lot of life little pleasures into a HUGE deal.  Things we took for granted in 2019 quickly morphed into things we were advised not to do in 2020 and beyond.

The concept of going home on the surface is a rather benign thing.  The pandemic has made this a potential life and death decision—never thought I would say that, but it is true.

My Walk into the Future revolves around my adventures and travel to places I want to visit.  The one place I do not get to visit as much as I would like is home—Jasper, Florida.  I am not getting all nostalgic because I cannot visit my hometown.  My desire to go home centers around visiting with my mom and family.  I am sure there are other folks who make the decision to visit family or not based on a fear of COVID-19. 

The fear of being a possible transmitter of the virus is real and I do not want to be the person that brings the virus home. 

My hope is the vaccine process will allow everyone to get back to the things they love doing.  Happy to report my mom completed the two shot COVID-19 vaccine series along with an uncle, multiple aunts, and family friends.  Completing these shots gave everyone a sense of relief and a tangible sign things are getting better.  Fully understand there is more work to do with the vaccine, but this is a level of progress.

Got a chance to go home this weekend to visit with my folks.  There was nothing special happening this weekend, but it was an opportunity to visit family, relax and get some good food.  This was my first 2021 visit and it was great getting back to see the crew.  Most visits I have a long project to-do list, but my mom gave me a break this trip with no projects requested.  My brother laughed when he found out I had some free time without my normal project load.  I am sure there will be projects on my next visit but enjoyed not having to pull out a ladder, drill, or hammer to get things done around the house.

I will pull out my pressure washer on my next trip to get my annual house washing done.  I have pressured washed my mom and grandmother’s houses for the past 15 years.  It is time for that project to get completed—like to do this before the Florida heat and humidity return.  Takes me a full day with both houses but I enjoy this project because I get to see immediate results when I am done.

These things may not be huge to others but being able to work on projects, see my family and relax in my hometown are the things I love about going home.  COVID-19 has taken a lot of things away from us, but it has not taken the concept of HOME away from us.  We must remain smart and safe to keep everyone moving forward during this phase of the pandemic.

What do you miss about home?  When do you think you will be able to return?

Home by Daughtry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bnX-6sJZBw

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”.

(James Baldwin)

Clearwater Beach…

“The beach…the only place where salt lowers your blood pressure”.

(Pinterest)

The new year has renewed my sense of adventure again.  Nothing too wild but decided to make a trek west over to Clearwater Beach.  I have friends who have been telling me how great Clearwater Beach is, but I never made the drive to see for myself.

That all changed this past weekend.  Decided to take a weekend flyer and just book a hotel and then drive over.  Seemed simple enough and it was! 😊

My day started with an impromptu 5k in Fort Pierce.  A colleague from work casually mentioned he belongs to the local Kiwanis organization and they were hosting a 5k the next day (Saturday).  I normally do my long runs on Saturdays but told him to send me the registration instructions so I can research the race.  He sent me everything I needed to research and register for the race.  Turns out the 5k course covers most of my normal Tuesday and Thursday training route so I was already familiar with the course.  Decided to register Friday afternoon for the race on Saturday morning—did not figure I needed to do much mental or physical preparation since I was running the area anyway.

Happy to report I was able to run a respectable (for me) 28:04 official time for the 5k.  I am especially happy with this time since we had to cross (over and back) the Seaway Drive bridge which has steep inclines.  First mile was 8:38, second mile 9:18 and third mile 9:20.  The second and third miles had bridge inclines so happy I was able to hold it together on both.  NOTE:  I felt good throughout and see faster times with a flatter course in my future.

I found out online I placed second in my age group.  I did not stick around for the awards presentation since I had to get on the road to drive over to Clearwater beach.

Left Fort Pierce heading for my destination soon after I completed the 5k.  Wanted to maximize much of the day to explore and walk on the famed beach.  I had already booked my hotel and completed early check-in using the Marriott Bonvoy application.

The drive over to the west coast of Florida was simple.  Just needed to follow directions provided by Google maps and I did not have issues with traffic.  Made good time without having to speed—enjoyed the route and seeing new scenery on the trip.

Arrived in Clearwater Beach early afternoon and made my way to my hotel.  Check-in was a breeze considering I did early check-in before arrival.  Got myself settled in my room and added another layer of clothing on because it turns out I picked the coldest day of 2021 to go to the beach—oh well, it was still a great experience. 😊

My hotel was one block away from the beach so made the short walk over and made my way onto the famed Clearwater Beach.  My plan was to walk the beach and take in the scenery while getting some pictures.  Mission accomplished.

Explored a few shops on the main drag, Mandalay Avenue.  Most of the shops catered to the tourists who pour onto Clearwater Beach daily.  There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, bars, and shopping options within walking distance to the beach.

Made my way to the Salt Cracker Fish Camp for a late lunch.  Nice little spot located in the marina district.  I was able to eat and watch the charter boats come in and out of the harbor.  The Salt Cracker Fish Camp has a great menu to select from, but I decided to go with the Jumbo Fried Shrimp dinner.  Will try the Shrimp and Grits on my next visit.  Recommend visiting this spot for the views and food.

The only Clearwater beach spot I found live music was the Salty Crab North Beach.  Small little place the locals prefer but the food options are unlimited.  There were only 10 people there when I visited so decided to grab a beer and check out the food menu.  They have a huge selection, but I decided to build my own pizza.  It was a great decision—the pizza was outstanding!  Visited the Salty Crab the following morning for breakfast.  Again, had a fantastic meal there and the coffee was amazing.  Will try a crab dish on my next visit to the Salty Crab North Beach.

Did a little more beach walking after breakfast prior to driving back to Fort Pierce.  This was a short weekend trip, but I was able to maximize my time on Clearwater beach.  I will make a point to get back over there so I can get more time to explore—may even take a dolphin sightseeing tour for a new adventure.

Great weekend trip! 😊

Where have you wanted to visit?  When will you make the trip?  Thanks!

Irie!

“Bucket list: #1 beach, #2 more beach”.

(Pinterest.co.uk)

The Poetry of Life

Poetry of Life

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The poetry of life moves me forward

Towards the things that bring

The happiness I need

To fulfill these huge dreams that I dream

Reaching out to help the next man

Create and work towards a plan

That makes the world a better place

And one that stands to improve your stake in the race

Let the poetry of life flow

And discover the glow

Of the poetic peace of living the life designed for you

Poetic Friday–The Joint

Poetry

(Image by Valerio Errani from Pixabay)

The poet knows

The time and place to let the words flow

To get the point across

To those who read the words composed

Waxing a poetic and majestic flow

Is the goal the wordsmith is looking for

How we get there is not the important point

Putting the words together

That makes you think, smile and act

Now, that’s the joint!

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history”.

(Plato)

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)

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

Making a difference–the first 100 days!

(Image by Free Photos from Pixabay)

“If you are walking down the right path and you are willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress”.

(Barack Obama)

Love starting Walk into the Future blog articles with quotes to introduce the topic for each week.  The quotes are selected to get me into the right frame of mind to generate content my followers will enjoy.  I try not to overdue my Barack Obama quotes but he provides inspiration on multiple levels and I can always find something generated by #44 to help me find the words to make a positive impact with my writing.

I am an avid reader and discovered author Robert Hargrave’s book, Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job:  Powerful First Steps on the Path to Greatness prior to taking my role in Fort Pierce.  Decided to leverage my first 100 days in my new role to find ways to make a positive difference in our daily operations.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on normal operations was a huge challenge to me.  I accepted my position at Indian River State College in March 2020 with hopes the pandemic would be mitigated during the summer and we would get back to what use to be normal workday activities.  The COVID-19 numbers exploded over the summer and most of the country remained in a work from home mode out of necessity.

I did not let COVID-19 limit my focus on making a difference daily.  Referred to President Obama’s quote daily and looked for ways to chip away towards the progress I sought.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you make workplace progress?  One project at a time.

My first 100-day point at Indian River State College was 7/28/2020.  The Career and Transfer Services (CTS) team was not briefed on my 100-day plan but were key players to ensure we got the results I wanted us to gain.  I take a lot of pride in being able to organize and execute action plans and set about getting a lot of things completed in the first 100 days.

Vision

One of my first tasks was to create and then share a vision for the CTS team.  This process allowed me to educate the team on how we would work together to help generate wins for our operation.  Robert Hargrove advises to seek out as many wins as possible in the first 100 days—it builds positive energy.

I went on a listening tour (virtual, phone, in-person) to speak with staff, colleagues, students, and faculty to understand the best way to partner with each of them.  I learned a lot during these conversations (good and bad) and discovered who I needed to mend fences with.  It was not important when the fences broke but it was my responsibility to get things moving in a positive direction.

The team conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to identify what we did well, our weak areas, improvement opportunities and organizational threats.  This was an eye-opening experience for the team because they had never analyzed the operation at this level.  I needed a full view of our operation to make the first 100 days productive.

We created action plans to mitigate weaknesses and threats (wins) because we could not grow without addressing these two areas.  This process led to improved training, better communication, and improved team interactions.  The SWOT analysis is a living document and will extend beyond the first 100 days but is a positive step.

We leveraged multiple teambuilding activities during the first 100 days to ensure our continued growth.  We leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), created team values statements, enhanced professional development training, and got on The Energy Bus.  Each initiative built on the previous one to help us all grow as team members.

This teambuilding process allowed us to create additional wins:

  • Produced a Career Ready Infographic
  • Created and produced a Resume Guide
  • Created and produced a Resume Rubric
  • Created and produced a Mock Interview Rubric
  • Created CTS branded PowerPoint template
  • Developed a CTS workshop library
  • Developed employer specific marketing

These are a few examples of our wins in the first 100 days—excited to add a few more wins as the team continues to grow together.

We continue to walk on the right path and progress is evident daily!

How do you measure your progress?  What steps do you leverage to continue to move forward?

“Little things make a big difference”.

(Picturequotes.com)

Poetic Fridays

Poetic Fridays

(Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay)

 Motivated?

What motivates you?

I would guess things quite different from what motivates me

The drive I seek comes from things I have seen

Some good, some bad

Some fair, some foul

The secret here is to use them all

Never let the opinion of others sway your desire

To reach the pinnacle you aspire

Continue to work to meet and exceed your goals

Remind the doubters that you are in control

Dreams will become reality soon enough

Got to keep working because life can be rough

Find your motivation, live your dreams

A motivated life is a wonderful sight to be seen

 

Knowledge

The series of daily challenges presented

Provides a template to view

How to conquer the challenges?

It is all up to you

Life provides many opportunities to grow

The direction you chose, only you will know

Continue to strive through the growing process

Knowing that you hold the key to it all

The knowledge you gain

Helps to move your journey forward

And makes the challenges easier to maintain

Note:  All original verses by the author.

The Wolf of Networking

Wolf of Networking

(Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay)

“Networking is an enrichment program, not an entitlement program”.

(Susan RoAne)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with opportunities to make a difference daily.  It helps that I have opened my eyes and mind to all possibilities and the opportunities keep presenting themselves to me.  The journey moves forward!

The title of this blog article references the Wolf of Networking.  I have identified myself as a People Builder, running tourist and Inspiration Man in multiple posts.  Well, say hello to my next moniker, Wolf of Networking! 😊

I selected this new moniker to have fun with a project that has been years in the making.  My past roles in university career services allowed me to build and maintain a network with recruiters who primarily hire recent college graduates.  I was responsible to find, network and recruit these recruiters to come on-campus to hire students.  My unit put on career fairs, networking events, professional development workshops and scheduled on-campus interviews to connect students and recruiters.  So, this put me in a prime position to learn inside information on how different organizations created their on-campus recruiting programs.

The Wolf of Networking had to compete with other schools for recruiters’ attention and resources to ensure our students got opportunities.  Happy to say we won more battles than we lost and maintained a robust on-campus recruiting program at multiple schools (UCF and FSU).  Shared tricks of the trade with other wolf packs (UF, USF, FAU, FIU) to help them become more successful getting employers on their campuses.  Found it was easier to keep employers in Florida if other schools were viewed as attractive options—I am competitive but also practical.

I leveraged the Wolf of Networking status to build my handpicked wolf pack and I am happy to see the great things they are doing around the country at prestigious institutions.  We stay in contact to ensure the pack continues to grow.

Went back to my wolf pack mentality recently to help a tree branch network with recruiters for future employment.  This tree branch had heard about my contacts but did not fully understand how connected I still am in the college recruiting world.  Happy to say they get it now! 😊

I was presented with a list of 9 organizations of interest for future employment.  I had professional contacts with 8 of the 9 organizations on the list.  Some of these contacts are also personal friends so it was a bit easier to get them to respond to my requests.  My tree branch now had people inside the organizations they wanted to work for looking out for them.  Nothing was promised but my network was looking out for my tree branch just as I would.

I tell people I work with you are always networking even when you do not know it.  Look for ways to benefit others and then when you need a helping hand people will respond to you.  Think my tree branch will look at the Wolf of Networking from a different perspective now.  The wolf makes positive things happen! 😊

Who can you help reach their goals?  What action steps are needed for a successful outcome?

 “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives”.

(Michelle Obama)

 Network Tree

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

2020 Wolf pack:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-apgar-m-s-38ab4035/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenkume/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mforges/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vrhanikuhaynes/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-a-collins/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jadevite/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pagetisdale/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaylabriwilliams/