Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspiration from Mary Poppins

The movie Saving Mr. Banks has hit theaters recently and has received quite a bit of criticism about it leaves out important parts of the real story behind how the Mary Poppins movie came to be.

Personally, I find various levels of inspiration in the true story of the events.

Let's start with the beginning. The idea of Mary Poppins, originally started in the mind of PL Travers (born Helen) when she was 13 years old and taking care of her siblings. Her father was dead, her depressed mother had gone to drown herself in a creek. It was stormy and her siblings were scared, so Helen made up a story to tell them ad keep their mind off their troubles.

How many people have ideas that are born out of necessity? In this case, a desire to escape from a downright rotten reality.

It took 26 years for Helen to complete the story and fully bring Mary Poppins to life. Think about that - TWENTY-SIX YEARS! We live in a time where people are easy to give up on something that doesn't fully develop in 26 minutes - amirite?

Although the film, Saving Mr. Banks would lead the audience to believe it took 2 weeks for Walt Disney to get PL Travers to agree to making the film, that's hardly the case. It took Disney 20 years to win Helen over.

Have you ever spent a significant amount of time pursuing a business relationship?

There's far more to the story, and it's pretty deep. I suggest you take a look at the post here or here for more details about what really happened, but I left all that out because it wasn't the point of this post.

What I wanted to communicate, as you're reflecting on 2013 and making plans for 2014, is that you have to hold on to the dreams you really care about. Sometimes, they don't come true overnight and it's an uphill climb from inception to reality, but, if it's important to you, like the story was for Helen, it's worth every step of the way.

Additionally, if you are interested in doing something that can better your future or seal your legacy, or any of those other things that Disney had in mind when he started the journey, don't give up just because someone tells you no. If you feel like it's really the right situation for you and/or your business - then you keep going.

Above all else - I wish you a VERY Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Is Popularity Your Goal?

I was introduced to Linda Esposito by way of a guest post she did for RedHeadWriting. I think I'm drawn to people that are real enough to use curse words and not worry about alienating people in doing so.

I've been following Linda on Facebook for a while now. She's a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety issues. There's one blog post she wrote that I absolutely loved - 6 Reasons I'll never be a popular therapist.

It got me thinking about what the goal is in business. I asked myself if my goal was to be popular or to be recognized for a job done well, while being authentic to who I am. For me, the answer is the latter. 

I've done a lot of growth over the last year and while I had quite a bit of trepidation, mixed with excitement about being called a Chief Get Shit Done Officer, I realized that I'm completely ok with it because at the end of the day, it's who I am. Clients and friends know that when they need something done, they can call on me.

This also falls right in line with reason number 2 on Linda's list - "I swear like the truck driver's daughter." I don't know if I swear quite that much, but, I suppose it depends on who you ask and what the situation is. Contrary to the school of thought that using curse words is an example of an unintelligent mind trying to express itself, I know quite a few BRILLIANT individuals who curse from time to time. 

There are plenty of people out there making waves for many reasons and it's not hurting their pocketbooks in the end. 

Everybody isn't going to like everything you do, nor should they. If you're setting out to please all the people, you're going to drive yourself (and those around you) bat-shit crazy.

So, as the year is coming to an end and it's time to start thinking about what you want to do bigger, better, differently for 2014, you've got less than 2 weeks to ask yourself the tough questions and make the decisions about what you want to do, who you want to be, and what you want to release so that you can be better.

The thing is, when you are fully yourself, the people who can relate to you will come. It's that authenticity that we hear (and talk) so much about.

What is YOUR goal? Do you want to be great at what you do or do you want to be liked by everybody (popular)?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Personal Assistant Satire

Being a personal assistant/personal concierge, is an interesting field of work. There is never a shortage of fun/funny/interesting/weird requests from the people you work with or work for.

So, when I came across this satirical article on HuffingtonPost the other day, I could only laugh. It's a woman who says she's looking for a personal assistant. The job description includes everything from texting for her while she's driving (so she doesn't have to), to scratching her back.

Some of the requests on the list were pretty normal:

  • Fetch me a fresh pair of socks when I step in something wet.
  • Find out why the floor is wet and remedy the problem
  • Fill the car with gas
  • Cook breakfast
  • Help me keep up appearances
Those are things that actually resemble what some of us have done as personal assistants.

Then, there are the joking parts of the list:
  • Finish my Christmas shopping, with your OWN money
  • Brush my little girl's hair so someone else can be responsible for making her cry
  • Massage my feet
  • Provide me with interesting things to write about, then sign over all rights to any intellectual property
Oh, and the BEST part is that she isn't going to pay you.

In my e-book, So You Want to be a Personal Assistant?, I briefly touch on some of this and recommend that people in pursuit of this career should have their own mind made up about what they will and won't do for a paycheck. But, my goodness, there HAS to be a paycheck involved.

Read the article, and get a taste of some of the things we're actually asked to do. If you have any strange/funny client requests, feel free to share them in the comments.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another Personality Test

I will be completely honest. I am a sucker for an accurate personality test.

I've expressed before that I think it's important for us to know who we are, why we do what we do and who we want to work with.

So, I was extremely happy when a friend of mine posted about another personality test today and I jumped at the chance to take it, which didn't take long.

I was a little concerned because there are only 4 questions and they group so many various things together, and then I'm to select which of the statements most sounds like me. The results were something that I haven't really thought about in a while.

Apparently, I am a Groundbreaking Thinker. Imagine that!

Groundbreaking Thinkers tackle changes consistently with their optimism and firm belief in their own abilities; they are always on the look-out for improvement possibilities.

This is a statement that really made feel something deep in my soul.

As a young child, I was the "I CAN DO IT" attitude, especially regarding things I've never done before. I'd see a kid on TV skateboarding and I would profess my aptitude for the sport, in spite of never having owned (or even seen in person) a skateboard. I approached most of life that way. As a result of my ambitious and groundbreaking thinking, I won my science fair by creating a model computer while everyone else was doing volcanos. I won my first writing competition by writing an autobiography in the 4th grade and in the 5th grade, I wrote a murder mystery.

But, as I reflect, I think I lost some of that along the way. Well, obviously not a large amount because of my results on the test. But, I mean I've lost my way in the application of being this personality type, not the theory.

Now that I know this, I think it's going on the top of my list of things to do for 2014 - Rediscover my inner Groundbreaking Thinker.

If you take the test, I'd love to hear about your results & thoughts.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I don't want to meetup

I decided that I wanted to start getting out more to expand my personal and professional networks, so I went to Meetup.com.

Although I am not very interested in yet another social network, I think there is some usefulness to be found with the site.

First, I searched for groups that are active and have had meetup events that have actually happened in the last month or so, as well as have events currently scheduled to take place in the next month or so.

There are tons of groups on the site; however, the majority of them are pretty inactive (which is crazy because as an organizer, there's a fee associated with having a meetup group).

That's when I ran into a problem.

I began to notice that there was quite a bit of groups that included "Black" in the title. For example, Black Singles, Black Networking, Black Divas, etc.

I don't like segregation (and I'm definitely not partial to the word "Diva"). With a small exception. I can understand if it was something like Hispanic, Asian, or some other minority because those groups may include cultural, culinary, and language differences that would cause an "outsider" to feel left out.

Then, I started thinking that if there were groups that said White Singles, White Networking, etc. people would be all up in arms and alerting the news stations.

I think that part of what makes us better as people, in general is to interact with different people with different ideas. I also think that excluding people, overtly or covertly, because of race is just silly!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Get off your BUTT!


Over the Thanksgiving break, I took some time to watch several TEDTalks and I took lots of notes. This particular one, from Nilofer Merchant inspired me.

Fact, you're probably sitting in front of your computer while you read this blog post.

As she states, we spend about 9 hours (sometimes more) a day SITTING!

Personally, I've become more aware of it, especially because my sitting of choice would be either driving (I love a road trip) or Starbucks (aka The Office) and Barnes & Noble (aka The Satellite Office). In any of these instances, I can spend hours sitting.

But, this TEDTalk has given me another perspective. We don't have to sit for everything. We don't even have to sit in order to work on our computer - walking desks anyone?

What if we spend that same 9 hours of sitting time as walking time? Imagine the health and physical benefits it can have on you?

Try making small changes. What about standing/walking around while talking on the phone or participating in a phone conference - they don't call them MOBILE phones for nothing, right?

As Nilofer mentions, when you need to have meetings, why not have walking meetings? As she stated, fresh air can increase fresh ideas?

I used to work with a great woman who did this very thing. Our office was across from a Starbucks, so when time permitted, she would have a Walk 'N' Talk with someone who requested an audience with her. I think it worked well.

So, while you're making your plan for 2014 and the things you want to do more of and/or change about the way you conduct your business (and your life), why not add this idea to the list?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.