When You’re Away, Are You Really Gone?

I’m bbaaaackkk. Vacation is a beautiful thing. It clears the mind and refreshes the soul. The question is, how can you maintain that vacation state of mind once you get back to your life and work? I wish I had a great, insightful answer. I’m sure if I did, I’d be depositing a lot of checks and signing book deals.

The best I can offer is: try to add scenes from your vacation to your list of happy places to help you get through the day. Your happy place is where you go when life and work start closing in on you. The back of your neck gets tight. Deadlines abound and you feel as though you never went on vacation. Just stop;IMG_1877 close your eyes and remember something special from your vacation. For me it will be the sight of the clear, blue sea and the feel of the soft, white, warm sand under my feet. Also, my husband taking on the Flowrider and our encounter with Carlos the dolphin will be happy places for me.

Remembering all the happy places throughout your life help you get through the tough times. Think about the serenity, smiles, laughter and beauty that you see in all the places you visit.

It is those thoughts that help me tackle work as I get back to the routine this week. Normally, I will blog on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, I missed Tuesday and blogged today, Wednesday. The sky did not fall; no blood was shed; no lives were lost. I ended up working ten hours today and did get a lot done. Tomorrow is another day. Now, I rest and visit my happy places.

Value in Networking – Learning to Lead

Sometimes it’s rough putting yourself out there. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is taking some pretty “mean girl” hits for saying that women are not doing enough to take on leadership roles; others are defending her. While I have not read her leadershipbook yet, I’ve seen some of the interviews with Sandberg. She makes a lot of valid points. Women think differently; we analyze and look at many different sides. Men often look at things straight on; compartmentalize their thoughts (or feelings) and make a decision focused solely on the prize or goal.

When women put themselves out there and take those leadership roles, sandbergthey are often bashed or called the “b” word. They lead by example and then they’re called “cold” and “calculating.” Women who let their talents speak for them are often passed over or left aside. They have to balance “tooting their own horn” with coming on too strong. This – I know.

A lot of success in the business world comes from networking. A lot of that networking happens by listening. I attended a symposium today focused on sustainability. There was so much information shared in less than four hours that my head continues to spin. I gathered many business cards and plan to follow-up on several different levels with people I met today. A LOT of what I did today was listen. While I did moderate a panel, it was important for me to really listen to the experts who were presenting their cases for sustainable communities and progress being made in their worlds.

It’s easy to jump to – “Well, how can MY business help?” It’s more important to listen and learn during these networking opportunities. Then follow-up during a less busy time with a suggestion for a morning coffee with someone or a lunch. Whatever is appropriate. One thing I did do immediately after returning back to the office was to write a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the people who I worked with on the panel. I admired their expertise; thanked them for their presentations and let them know that they certainly provided the standing-room-only crowd with a lot of food for thought.

Several years ago when I started by consulting business, I had a very difficult time in networking situations. I felt along; ill-informed; unable to measure up to other people and their expertise. Networking is like anything; practice makes perfect. While I never profess to be perfect at anything, I am comfortable in my own skin now. I feel confident in the work I do and what I can take on. I believe this, in part is what Sheryl Sandberg is trying to express to women today: Know yourself; let others know you. Learn your craft well and lead others in your field.

Crown Vic in a Wicked Starm – Boston’s Finest

My husband told me the most hilarious thing he’s ever told me. Now, my darling husband is a wonderful man; his sense of humor tends to skew toward the very dry – so for him to give me a huge belly laugh is cause for at least this blog post. It really gives me a hook for a new TV show that I stumbled upon: Boston’s Finest. First, the belly laugh story:

Doug was traveling on business to and from Boston – affectionately known by New Englanders as “Bah-stun.” He gets off the plane and picks up the rental car and continues on the road to a full day of meetings in and around the Boston area. All the while that ‘wicked starm‘ was a-brewing; Chicago was being pounded by about a foot of snow and with a low pressure coming up from the south, ‘Bah-stun’ was in line for what the natives call – ‘a wicked starm.’ (I can’t help but hear the voice of Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting.”)

On Doug’s way back to the airport, time was tight; he had dealt with several flight changes because of the ‘wicked starm‘ that was wreaking havoc with flight schedules in many major cities. As he traveled on the three lane highway he needed to get in the passing lane. He got behind one car – and the driver immediately pulled into the center lane; same thing happened crownVicwith the next car he got behind. Then he realized, “Ah – I’m driving a Crown Victoria.” It’s better known in the law enforcement world as a Crown Vic. When you see that Crown Vic in your rear view mirror, you move over – and hope you aren’t being PULLED over. The moral of the story: when in a hurry and renting a car – request a Crown Vic.

Which leads me to “Boston’s Finest.” Executive producer Donnie Wahlberg has put together one fine reality show. And with the glut of reality shows these days – most of them complete wastes of time – this show is the exception. Wahlberg, who is the older brother of Mark and also an actor, wanted to shoot Boston'sFinest1this reality show in his home town and did NOT want the show to be like the old COPS (Bad Boys, Bad Boys – Whatcha Gonna Do if They Come for You…). Well, I’m not from Boston, but I think he’s doing Boston’s men and women in blue proud.

The editing and camera shots are outstanding. The opening credits and music are great. Even in some of the rough neighborhoods where the profiled police are patrolling, the city looks terrific. I have no idea how Wahlberg’s production team or the Boston police brass chose the officers who are profiled, but between the job each of them does, combined with the editing and producing – the stories being told are compelling.

Boston'sFinest2After two episodes, we’ve learned about a 5’3″ spitfire officer, Jenn Penton and her partner along with fugitive squad officer Greg Dankers who is married to an officer who works the opposite shift. We’re learning details about each officer’s personal life; how he or she copes with the shift work; working overtime; the cases and arrests; decompressing; family troubles and dealing with the danger of the job.

Donnie Wahlberg’s narration adds more flavor to the Boston culture with his unmistakable Boston dialect. It’s not extreme; but the accept and his soft-spoken explanations fills in the blanks so you understand what’s happening from one  patrol to the cross-town patrol. Boston'sFinest3There is frank language with suspects and drivers who are pulled over and lots of bleeped out curse words as cops talk to each other.

What’s interesting is that Boston’s Finest runs before the struggling TNT drama Southland; a fictional look at police working in South LA. Like a novel compared to the movie, Boston’s Finest is better than Southland. Or the real thing is better than the drama. Boston’s Finest is worth your time. Enjoy the camaraderie, the Boston sights, the real life stories of these dedicated officers and the overall production of Donnie Wahlberg’s Boston’s Finest.



Toot Your Own Horn – Brag Without Bragging

A former boss of mine once told me “Brenda, you just don’t toot your own horn enough.” This is a boss I respected immensely – and still do today – for his knowledge of broadcast journalism and his ability  to get to the point, hone and craft talent and be a positive, professional force.

It’s a Noisy World

He was right; I did not toot my horn. I believed my work stood on its own merit and people would see the quality of that work. In today’s fast-paced world, you have to rise above all the noise that is out there. Today’s business world is all about tooting your horn and rising above the din of the junk that should NOT be recognized. The adage – ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ applies today.

How many times have you seen a product, author, business owner, etc. quoted in the media and you wonder HOW did that person or product get so much coverage? Public relations is about tooting your horn in a positive way whenever possible. You can’t sound preachy or as if yours is the only opinion or thought that matter; you need to be credible, knowledgeable and confident in making the pitch.

I’m the best!

Convincing others that you are the expert is also about listening. When you are networking or at some sort of business-related function, how much time do you spend listening to other people’s business conundrums? You should be listening more than 50% of the time. You have to listen  carefully to hear any problems or issues; take notes when possible (or write things down as soon as possible) and connect by letting the person know you get it. That can be the hook; letting the person know you get it without going on about how you solved a problem in the best  – or worse – avoided getting into a similar problem. Responding by saying, “I can hear that your issues are at a critical stage; I have practical solutions and ideas that can help you,” lets the person know you heard what he/she said and you can help. Simply letting someone know YOU are the BEST in your field isn’t about the person and their business problem; a comment like that is all about YOU.

By listening, observing and understanding the depth of my own expertise, I’ve learned how to let people know I can help them. It’s about saying HOW I can help them; how I can take a load off their busy shoulders and how I can be a benefit to their organization for the long haul.


Brilliant – Philadelphia Flower Show Perspective

Do you need a burst of spring while winter swipes at us for a few more weeks? Visitors from the Philadelphia region and from Philadelphia Flower Showaround the world visit during the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The scent of fresh-grown flowers and the potpourri of color is always a reminder that spring is less than three weeks away. Granted, the winter months here have been kind to us in the Philadelphia region. For those who are buried under feet of snow and ice, please enjoy just a tiny piece of this year’s show with a theme from the Brits – “Brilliant.”