Ted Talk Friday: The danger of a single story

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I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and this talk lives up to what I expect of her brilliant story-telling. She uses multiple examples of how easily we see others as one-dimensional, even with the knowledge of our own complex nature and nuances. Somehow we forget that just like a few adjectives can’t sum up our identity, a few adjectives can’t sum up anyone else so simply either. I hope you enjoy this video and use it to think of the singles stories you might be letting yourself believe.

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Have you thought about this concept before? What stories helped you discover new worlds and ideas?

Ted Talk Friday: The little risks you can take to increase your luck

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I am fairly risk-averse, but Seelig does a great job of sharing the value of certain types of risk. Putting yourself out there, or risking your pride, is a scary proposition, but it has immense pay-off. While you may not always get lucky, you’ll likely still learn something.

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How do you take risks? Do you take a chance and talk to strangers?

Relationships: sustaining what matters

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My biggest lesson in post-grad life: you have to nourish relationships–and it’s not always easy. I’ve divided my friendships into distinct categories that have helped me think about friendship and moving on in the “real world.”

There are friends who always check in or call me regularly, and I reach out to them an equal amount. These are what I call my natural “give and take” friendships. Occasionally, these fall out of balance during a particularly busy time; a move across the country, a newfound romance, or the holidays–but all in all, steady, easy back and forth. These are few and far between!

Another category of friendship is one that is highly prioritized and requires scheduling to maintain. I have to schedule time with some of these people weeks out, or we likely will never talk. It’s not because one of us doesn’t care–our schedules are simply different or we are in different time zones. For example, one works odd hours in Eastern time and his weekends don’t always line up with the regular work week.

The third category are my “fly by” friends. These are people who I don’t talk to often, and it’s typically brief when we do talk, but they provide support, meaning, and true friendship even in those short interactions. I love these friendships dearly because they exemplify how small interactions can feel so profound and connecting.

There are some people that I’ve learned to let go. Some friends were wonderful friends during the time and place of college. People I grabbed a meal with, went to a party with, or studied for a class with–these are the people who were convenient friends. Still true friends, but not the people I would go pick out of a crowd. I often miss these people and shoot them a text or quick call, but I don’t think much of it. It’s painful sometimes, but it’s a necessary part of moving forward.

Looking back, there are very few friends who I’ve totally lost touch with. Even in college, I was well aware of the importance of maintaining relationships; I had lunch plans with a different person everyday to keep up with the people who mattered to me. I definitely gave my mother to thank for teaching me this lesson early on; she was nearly always on the phone with her friends (scattered all over the country) and taught me the value of friendship from an early age.

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Have you kept up with your friends? Do your friendship categories look like mine?

Ted Talk Friday: Go Outside and Play with Your Friends

This talk reminds me of one of my favorite college professors; this professor was so incredibly passionate about the concept of play. He emphasized the value of work that feels like play, but he also embodied what it means to live a playful life. He shows excitement, takes risks, and certainly enjoys the outdoors. I see him as a model of how to live playfully and this talk only emphasized the the importance of play for holistic wellbeing.

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How do you play?

2018 Bubbly Detox Challenge

I’m not talking about a bubbly personality, I’m talking about a bubbly beverage! It’s already late summer, which means it’s time for another Sparkling Detox–a yearly event where we drink only Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water in place of other beverages. I would have a hard time cutting out my morning cup of tea if I tried this alone, but there’s an awesome community of support.

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My name is Hannah and I’m a tea addict; I drink 3-5 cups of caffeinated tea each day, and I am completely dependent on that caffeine. It makes my life more complicated…if I haven’t had enough caffeine, I get a raging headache that only caffeine can fix. Caffeine is a drug, and if you are dependent on it, you experience symptoms of withdrawal. Crazy right? While I think this is a a generally harmless vice, it still frustrates me.

I am excited to simplify my life again and take a short hiatus from tea to see how I cope with weaning myself off caffeine and drinking a more simple, hydrating drink—Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water. I will keep my Excedrin migraine handy in case of emergency, but I hope it won’t be necessary.

My schedule has been changing with my new job—I wake up a bit earlier and need to go to bed much earlier than I have been. Caffeine messes with our body’s natural energy levels, which can be helpful, but might be part of my trouble with falling asleep.

I felt dehydrated for a few days while traveling in Peru–you have to drink bottled water and bathrooms aren’t always available so my liquid intake was definitely less than usual. You can really feel a difference–I had more headaches, less energy, more muscle fatigue, and didn’t feel quite like myself. One morning, I even felt dizzy after getting up–and I’m fairly certain it’s because I was not drinking enough.  

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I think some people live their whole lives this way and don’t know; it’s not always easy to know if you’re well hydrated. When I played sports, my coach told me I should have to go to the bathroom every hour (when running outside on a hot summer day). Now that seems excessive, but if I don’t leave my desk all morning I take it as a sign that I’m skimping on my water so I make sure to be more mindful. Getting up often, even if for a short walk to the bathroom, is also so important for our health! Research shows that getting up for five minutes every hour can have a positive effect for those of us stuck at a desk all day–another reason to drink more and go on more bathroom breaks. With Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water, it will be easy to keep tabs on how much I’m drinking, and it will be much easier because we all know bubbles are just more fun! Plus, it packs a punch of nutrition with Calcium and Magnesium. Calcium is crucial for strong bones and Magnesium supports muscle and nerve function.

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I’ll keep you updated on my journey to reduce caffeine, simplify my life, and feel more hydrated! Want to join me in the Sparkling Detox? Join the challenge at: https://goo.gl/LtsKQ7 (Enter code “HANNAH18”)

When you sign up, you also enter for a chance to win a free case of Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water!

Ted Talk Friday: Rejecting the Conventional Career Path and Forging your Own

I am not sure that the title quite suits this talk, but I really enjoyed hearing this story. Recently I’ve had a number of students from the college I attended reach out to me with tips and suggestions on finding the right job post-grad. It’s so hard; there is so much rejection and self-doubt. Keating does a great job laying out his journey and providing some practical tips on how to get to the career you want. I definitely agree with him on the importance of networking–not for the sake of a job, but out of genuine interest and shared connections.

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What tips would you give recent college grads?

The Deep Dark Email Abyss

I recently read a new article called “Killing Me Softly: Electronic communications monitoring and employee and spouse well-being” and I immediately thought of the number of people this issue impacts in the Bay Area, let alone the US at-large. In essence, the study found that the culture of an organization was more important than the actions. A culture that expects employees to check email 24/7 means more than the hours an individual actually spends checking email outside of work. This is a classic example of “spillover“, or stress that bleeds from one area of our life to another.

While this is a mild stressor, I think it is one more example of chronic stress and an inability to “turn off” our brains and simply live in the present moment without worry about the newest email alert or slack notification.

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I vividly remember sitting in the car as I was about to go drive off to see Christmas lights with a friend. I was so relaxed, happy, and suddenly inbound slack messages began popping up on my phone. This was 8pm on a Sunday evening; I felt an immediate wave of frustration, but also sadness that my coworker was working on her Sunday night. I felt like I had no choice but to respond right then since she was working on a task for one of my clients and had a question. I saw there and my friend asked, “Why do you have that on your phone?”

I was dumbstruck. My response, “Everyone has it.” Yup, and would you jump off the bridge too? He just kind of looked at me, shaking his head. He did not even have his work email available on his phone. When he left work, he left work.

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It’s not quite that simple at every organization. A culture like this creates such a sense of urgency and an inability to turn off. I even brought my laptop on my one real vacation of the year and responded to emails that easily could’ve waited. One of my clients even told me that I should get offline and go enjoy my trip…

Research shows that its not just the employee that suffers, but also their significant others suffer as well. Just think about the ripple effects that come from one bad workplace. Pretty crazy, right?

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Luckily, I don’t have that experience at my current organization, which is a blessing. I do not take it for granted and fully enjoy my evenings and weekends free from pings of any type. And even if there is a ping, there is not an expectation that it will be answered before 9am the next business day.

I know not all of us are that lucky. So, what are some strategies to deal with a workplace with the expectation of constant communication?

  1. Have a very blunt conversation with your manager–the research is backing you up! It’s not just about you; it’s about your significant others and your on-the-job productivity.
  2. Turn off notifications.
  3. Set the example; when one person sets boundaries, it can set off a positive chain reaction.
  4. Practical tips: leave your phone out of sight or turn the phone off at a certain time each night.

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Do you feel tied to your email? What is your company culture like?

Ted Talk Friday: What Makes Life Meaningful

I saw this talk and found it incredibly accessible, interesting, and thought-provoking. A favorite line: “Purpose is an anchor we throw out into the future.” Meaning-making is a key component to what it means to live a good life; Dr. Steger does a great job exploring this topic and tying in both his research and his own (often hilarious) personal experiences. Steger also provides helpful action steps on how to learn to make more meaning in your life.

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What makes life feel meaningful for you?

What makes a leader?

I heard about a new study on NPR this morning about what differentiates leaders from “followers.” I think these terms are also far too black and white; leaders and followers exist on a continuum. I have always been interested in what makes a leader lead and a follower follow. In high school, I was definitely a follower. I lacked confidence in my abilities across a number of areas. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps because I was simply a teenager. It might also be due to the school I attended; I was surrounded by very intelligent people (and generally people on the aggressive, competitive side). I am not aggressive and I would typically rather follow than fight to be a leader over small issues.

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The summer after my freshman year of college, I was lucky enough to be accepted into a summer program focused on Ethics and Servant Leadership. During the program we had the chance to learn more about want it means to be a servant-leader; this completely changed my perspective on what and who a leader is. A leader can be strong, opinionated, and empathetic without being aggressive. This reframe shifted my mindset, now I want to lead because I value my opinions and know I can express them with confidence while having a conversation around what is best for a group or organization.

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So what about this NPR story? Well the study covered in the story found that leaders are those who are willing to make decisions for a group in the same way that they make their own personal decisions. These people trust their logic, instinct, and are willing to accept responsibility for a group outcome. “Followers” typically struggle with responsibility aversion. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are necessarily authoritarian, leaders often reach consensus with a group and then take responsibility for that choice.

At a time when we have such scary models of what it means to be a leader, it’s important that we think about what makes a leader and how we can train people to learn to lead well. Being a leader does not make you pushy, arrogant, or bossy–it means you are willing to take a risk, often for others, and take responsibility for your (or your group’s) actions.

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What does leadership mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be a leader?

References:

Micah G. Edelson, Rafael Polania, Christian C. Ruff, Ernst Fehr and Todd A. Hare. Computational and neurobiological foundations of leadership decisions. Science: August 2, 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0036

Ted Talk Friday: How to gain control of your free time

I talk about this ALL the time–to the point where it might be obnoxious if I’m being honest here. We all have the same number of hours each day. While it might not feel that way, we make the decisions of how we spend our time. If you want to do something, something else might have to be cancelled or pushed off. It’s all about priorities and boundaries.

 

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What do you prioritize in your life?