Friday, August 26, 2011

Places You Should Visit

This is rare post for me. Usually I pick a topic and write a post that is informative and relevant. Maybe it doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s my intent. This week I am switching it up a bit. I have pulled together a list of a few blogs that I think the readers here (you!) may like. Some of them are big names and some are still growing their audience. All are on my reading list.

One Woman’s Eye – Written by my friend Joanne Tombrakos, this blog explores life after Corporate America.

Baby Bummers – This is a humorous cartoon blog, written by my friend Devon Wickens.

Ordinary Courage (by Brene Brown) – I heard Brene speak at a BlogHer conference recently, and have been mesmerized by her words ever since. I think Brene's book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is a must read for every human being. (If you don't identify with the human species you can pass.)

9 Ways by Gloria Feldt – A strong advocate for women, Gloria Feldt writes about work, life, and politics.

Enjoy them, and let me know what you think!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Chooses the Middle Seat?

B 737 of RyanairImage via WikipediaAs I sat in my aisle seat at the gate in Chicago (leg two of my trip to the BlogHer conference) waiting for the seat next to me to be filled, I wondered - does anyone choose the middle seat? I'm an aisle seat person all the way, and I know there are those who prefer the window. But roughly one third of the seats on a 737 are middle seats. Are they simply left for those who waited too long to make reservations? Or those who failed to check in online and secure their seat assignment?

People traveling in pairs, like the young couple on their honeymoon who sat behind me, can certainly account some of those middle seats. There were also a few families with children relegated to the middle seat. But what about the rest of those middle seats?

Could there be a profile of a person who actually prefers the middle seat?

As mentioned, I am an aisle seat lover. That is as much due to the fact that I like to stretch my legs and have easy access to the restrooms, as it is that I like to be the first person out of my seat when the captain turns off the seatbelt sign. Aisle seat lovers are often type A personalities, who like to be in control.

I find that window seat lovers are often sleepers. They're less worried about access to the restroom, or missing the snack cart when it comes around. They wait patiently for their turn to get off the plane. Window seat lovers know that the plane won't get there any faster if they sit near an aisle.

So who, then, is the middle seat lover? Perhaps they are extraverted types who want to be sure that at least one person will talk to them during the trip. Or perhaps, like many managers and middle managers they find themselves stuck – in the middle, that is.

While many employees aspire to the title of manager, few truly understand that the position entails a lot of negotiating between layers; managers need to keep their employees happy and motivated while keeping their bosses satisfied too. It’s a constant juggling act, just like the person in the middle seat is constantly juggling for an armrest. We know why they stay in their jobs, just like we know why the middle seats are rarely empty – they need to get from point A to point B.

Speak up middle seat lovers! Who are you?
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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Power of Choice

Picture of the face of a magic 8-ball taken by...Image via WikipediaWe all make choices every day. Some choices we make with purpose, and some we make by not taking action – simply by choosing to go with the status quo.

One of the most difficult – and the most critical – choices we all make during our careers is moving to a new job or role, whether it’s within the same organization/company or a completely new area/company. The current job (even if you don’t like everything about it) is a known quantity, you know what’s expected, and you know how to talk to your boss; perhaps you know that you’ll be able to leave work at a reasonable hour every day, or that you can come in late if you need to get the kids on the bus. The new job might mean more excitement, higher salary, and a chance to learn something new – or it might mean more responsibility and longer hours for the same salary.

Does the latter mean it’s a bad choice? Absolutely not. Consider the intern who chooses to work for free to gain experience, or the writer who chooses to blog for free to build a platform. The question is whether it’s the right choice for you.

Your current boss may tell you it’s not a great move. Ask yourself whether he is looking out for his own interests or yours.

Your mentors may advise you based on the choices they have made in the past. Are they assuming the path they took is the only right way?

Your spouse, friends, mother may all have an opinion; their views may be clouded by how your choice will affect them.

Here’s the secret: You have the power to make your own choice.

Ask yourself whether this change is important to you and your goals. If you make this choice today, what will it mean tomorrow? Next month? Next year?

Whatever you do, don’t just flip a coin; make the choice with intention.

How do you make difficult choices?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Way We Used to Watch TV and Movies

vintage televisionImage by phrenzee via FlickrI remember my family's first color TV. Like most new technology, we didn't get the full value out of it at first. Most of the networks were still broadcasting in black and white. But on NBC we could see the colorful peacock, and we felt special. I could not have predicted that less than five decades later, I would be able to carry a device in my purse that would allow me to watch not only television, but movies - on demand - from just about anywhere. I am, of course, talking about my iPad.

Yes, the world has changed - again.

A few weeks back I wrote an article titled, The Way We Used to Read Books, and stirred up some nostalgia. But text is just one small piece of how our world has been changed by technology. Video has arguably made an even greater impact. This is the conversation that many of us are having with those born in the 21st century:

"When I was growing up, we had just one TV. It was a big box that sat in the corner of the den. We couldn't sit too close, we were told that the radiation would hurt our eyes. There were just three stations to watch, and we were lucky if we could get a clear picture by adjusting the antenna on top of the TV. We had to get up to change the channel.

" If Get Smart was on at 8pm, we had to watch it at 8pm. If we missed it, there was no way to catch up until the reruns were broadcast. It would be years before VCRs allowed us the flexibility to record and watch later. A VCR? Oh, that was a device that would allow us to record to tape.

"I remember the first movie I saw; it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I saw it in a huge theater with an enormous screen. Each theater only showed one movie at a time - they only had one screen - and they had limited show times. Usually the same movie played for weeks before a new one came out. I was in college when the first movie theater in my town added added two more screens. Now we could choose which movie to see!

"When the movie production companies started selling movies on tape, we could buy them to watch at home, on our VCRs. We could also rent movies at Blockbuster (yes, they went out of business) to watch at home. It was a little bit like borrowing a book from the library, but we had to pay to borrow them. DVDs, DVD players, and digital video recorders would come later. No, the XBOX was not the first DVD player.

"Netflix changed the game when they allowed us to subscribe to have movies that we chose sent home for viewing. We never had to leave home. They were even more brilliant when they took advantage of streaming technology (and yes, cloud computing) to let me watch a movie on my TV whenever I want to. Better yet, I can watch movies on my laptop and my iPad from wherever I am."

I predict that within the next decade we'll also be saying:

"Now, I never buy DVDs or movies, and I don't even need a DVR. Whatever I want to watch is available via cloud technologies. I can watch for five minutes while I'm in line at the grocery store, and then continue watching later at home. I pay one low fee to get this service across all of my devices."

Okay - that last bit about one low fee may be unrealistic, but maybe if I'm willing to put up with commercials...

What do you remember most about you used to watch TV and movies? What do you think we'll be saying about the technology advancements in yet another decade?