Thursday, September 30, 2010

Career Directional Signs

Think about how useful it would be if we had Mapquest like career directions:
Spend 5 years in job X (unless you are enjoying the journey)
Transfer to job Y (if you need to change lanes)
Exit current company (only if the alternate route provides faster acceleration and far better opportunity)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Who would have ever guessed that typing, a skill that was once pigeon-holed as secretarial, would become a mainstream necessity?  Though most frequently referred to now as keyboarding, the familiar QWERTY layout, designed in 1887, is still in use.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hopping, Stopping and Cropping

As we are hopping from one valuable, important commitment to another, hoping to make a difference, we sometimes need to stop.  If we've overextended our time, talents and/or treasures, we need to decide what to keep and what to crop.   Only if we are coping well with all of our commitments should we keep on hopping.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Words, like jobs or relationships, without context, aren't good or bad.  However, if "broken" were presented for an assessment, I'll bet it would get a high negative rating.  We may think of broken dishes, bones or promises.  But it is good when bad habits, fasts and wild horses are broken. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun and Food with Friends

The most obvious reason to entertain is to spend quality time with family and friends.  We love trying new restaurants, revisiting favorites and hosting dinner parties at home.  It's easy to get into a rut. Mixing familiar and novel places, dishes and participants creates anticipation, excitement and memories. 

A favorite childhood rhyme emphasizing the importance of literal friends can be expanded to include experiences:  "Make new friends and keep the old; some are silver and the others are gold".

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learning from Others

Our access to information has never been greater.  Trying to sort through all the wonderful sources can be overwhelming.  Here are 6 providers of electronic newsletters that I find valuable:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Killer Shoes

Edgar was in a check-out line behind an attractive 20-something.  He noticed her "killer shoes" (a distant cousin of some that I'd recently purchased).  When he commented, "killer shoes", she immediately reacted as if she'd won the lottery.  She'd just spent her first paycheck on these "killer shoes" and was ecstatic to attract unsolicited positive feedback from an astute gentleman that she'd made a great wardrobe enhancing purchase.

Everyone has some degree of insecurity.  When we notice something positive about others, if we question whether to mention it, "yes" is generally the best answer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You're so...

When a positive comment enters our brain it should exit our lips.  When a negative comment reaches our brain, we need to grab it, analyze it and decide if it's necessary or important to share. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creative Invitation

Gar received the most special, creative invitation to Cotillion (which he enthusiastically accepted!).  Gar has loved boating and fishing from the time he was old enough to participate.  I can't think of a more fitting way to invite him to a most special event than "commissioning" the S.S. Cotillion.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Suspending Planning and Succumbing to Spontaneity

We sometimes create the best memories when we suspend planning and agree to embrace spontaneity.  Thus, I agreed the day before the adventure to join a 1400 mile road trip to create "home away from home" for Julia.  Though a 3-seat U-Haul was not ultimately available, I treasure the reality that I was willing to spontaneously embrace a multi-day trip that had not initially included me. 

When we are willing to passionately pursue available options, we benefit from the experience gained from those that materialize and from the expanded thinking resulting from those that don't work out.  We always need to be willing to embrace alternatives in order to maximize our experiences.  Flexibility is a great attribute in our ever-changing world.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lead Like Dr. Seuss

I've always loved Dr. Seuss books.  So I thought about leadership in his rhyming fashion.

So You Want to Lead?
Work as Agreed
Assess Need
Plant the Seed
Follow a Creed
Acknowledge a Good Deed
Read, Read, Read
Be an Info Feed
Listen and Heed
Learn to Plead
Know When to Cede
Control Greed
Bite Tongue When Teed
Daily Lead

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm Not a ... but I Know a Great One

Networking at its most productive best allows relationships to develop which encourage us to connect friends with others who can best meet their needs.  I don't know a woman who has found her gynecologist in the phone book or on her insurance carrier's website, but I know many women who have followed me and other women to our doctors.  How much more reassuring is it to visit an expensive new restaurant that a colleague with a similar palate enjoys?  When we're trying to sort through the many educational options available for our children from pre-k and kindergarten programs, through middle school, and on to high school and college, we rely on statistical information, heavily supplemented by the experiences of friends and friends of friends.  And when we're looking for great employees we cast our net to our network.  These calls for employee candidates are some of the most indicative of solicitations that aren't necessarily intended to appeal directly to our addressee group.  Rather they are opportunities to cast a wide net to allow a broader network to reveal ideal matches and allow our friends to advocate for those who are deserving of recommendations, making these candidates rise to the top.

Since everything's connected, it's up to us to discover how the relationships we have or have access to, meet our needs and the needs of those we know.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Proximity Matters

We just moved into our corporate headquarters on Monday, and we've already begun to realize productivity improvements.  As I'd indicated in an earlier post, our temporary office space persisted for 2 years.  Rather than depending upon email, phone calls and inter-office mail to many of our colleagues, we can now easily meet face-to-face. We no longer have to factor travel time into many internal appointments. After "corporate camping out", we are so grateful for storage space, opportunities to host more than one multiple party meeting and a quiet environment that is conducive to enhanced productivity. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Outrageously Delicious

I am blessed to be surrounded by accomplished family and commercial chefs.  Fortunately, I have an ability to moderate expectations.  My family chefs (Mama, Edgar, Julia and Gar) consistently delight the palate with their creative concoctions, prepared with love.  And since we are foodies, we are always seeking the "best of category" from commercial chefs. 

Ambience is a bonus, though not required to earn high marks from our discriminating crew.  Though we've eaten at many of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, many of our most memorable, outrageously delicious meals have been prepared with love by our family chefs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Opening Doors

Opening doors for others is a nice thing to do, whether it's a literal, physical door or an introduction.  When we open a door for someone else, we don't know what positive ripples result.  When we do the right thing without any expectation of reciprocity, we have an immediate "feel good" benefit.   And, because everything's connected, there are sometimes unexpected additional benefits.  Many open doors revolve. An introduction we freely make may set the stage for a future introduction we'd like to have. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Varied Ways of Presenting

I recently spent 4 hours in a board retreat for a successful, respected non-profit organization.  Though I had heard the call to action presented in various meetings previously, photos, stories and comparative data were shared last week, that more vividly conveyed the necessity of the capital campaign. 

We can all fall victim to information paralysis, overload, mundane, difficult material or blah, blah, blah.  Just because we've said something doesn't necessarily mean that those we want to act on the information have understood what we want or why they need to do anything.

Repetition, illumination and confirmation help to ensure understanding.  Reminds me of so many classrooms of my youth.  I didn't know then the necessity of varied presentation to connect with so many listeners.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

55 Special Years

As I've grown older, more experienced and wiser, my appreciation for my parent's 55 year marriage has increased.  Few of the friends I knew during K-12 had divorced parents, or were otherwise part of single family households, so I assumed that a two parent family was the norm.  As my horizons have expanded, I've learned that family units take many forms. 

And I've learned that regardless of how devoted two persons are to one another, life arbitrarily throws curve balls that cause many well-intentioned couples to strike out. 

My precious parents have weathered many storms, including the unthinkable deaths of both of my brothers, during their 55 year marriage.  Through thick and thin, joy and sadness, they've created a special bond and grateful clan. It's exciting to celebrate their first 55 years with them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Did You Really Hear What I Said?

How often are we guilty of assuming that once we've said something, others heard what we conveyed?  Many misunderstandings are the result of one person speaking and another hearing something totally different than the message which was conveyed.  Distraction, pronunciation, background noise and hearing impairment are common causes of message distortion.  When it's critical that our message is received as intended, we must check for understanding.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Making Magic

Anyone who's been fortunate to see Alley Theatre productions in Houston knows how beautifully sets, costumes and lighting are created, and how professionally the works are selected, directed and presented.  It's easy to recognize the talented cast, but not always as clear who all the other amazing professionals who create this magic are.  

As an Alley Board member and proud Houstonian, it's exciting to know that the 3 Alley premieres from last season are being produced for additional audiences in New York and beyond.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


When our corporate office was severely damaged two years ago by Hurricane Ike, we assumed that our temporary office arrangement, co-located with a Banking Center and Commercial Banking team, would be short-term.  A number of factors caused this temporary situation to last for 2 years. 

Though we were severely space constrained, a number of positives emerged. Of course the banker and customer relationships that resulted are #1.  And by being able to directly and consistently interact with retail and commercial bankers on a daily basis, we developed a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges they face.  Because meeting rooms were limited, we utilized previously under-utilized spaces.  The rut was also broken for standard venues for out-of-office breakfasts and lunches, as our Houston geography moved from 610/290 to Westheimer and the Beltway.  Oddly enough, I also realized a timing benefit.  The past 2 years are the first in my long career when an in-office end time became important.  When the Banking Center drive-through closed at 6:00 p.m., I knew I had a maximum of 20 minutes before the security system would be set. 

Change is always disruptive. When we accept change and look for silver linings, we're often rewarded in unexpected ways.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Herd of Individuals

It's easy to categorize a group with a convenient label. However, I designed my diverse herd of pigs as a charitable fundraising tool, to appeal to many charity-minded individuals.

Regardless of our similarities, we are all unique individuals.  Our unique characteristics make us valuable members of the herd.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Leadership Bones

There are countless ways to view, describe and practice leadership.  We have 206 bones in our bodies which can be grouped into 5 major categories: skull, vertebrae, ribs/sternum, pelvis and arms/legs.  Though our skull has only 28 bones (13.6%), the brain is at the body's pinnacle and controls all other elements/actions.  Creative, decisive and strategic thinking sets the stage for success in any organization. 

Because over half (120) of our bones are in our arms and legs - this would indicate that action is one of the most important leadership elements.  The best plan which isn't executed serves two purposes: an academic exercise or an opportunity for another entrepreneur to seize.  Acting on a well-designed plan distinguishes dreamers from doers.

Vertebrae and ribs/sternum (24.3%) are the core of our being. Our spine and mid-skeleton (core values and ethics) give us a strong foundation for all of our actions. This moral compass guides our decisions.  When we think and act with high integrity, we succeed.

Leadership results when we strategically engage our brains and bodies to create positive, ethical action.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Do It Ourselves 24x7x365

When I was growing up, churches, hospitals and fire/police stations were about the only establishments open on Sunday.  There were no self-serve gas stations or check-out lines. ATMs were introduced during my youth. In the past years we've gotten accustomed to being able to conduct business 24x7x365.  Technology coupled with our need for speed and convenience has led to us to choose to serve ourselves rather than be subject to time frames instilled by others. 

As the speed of life has increased, we've taken on more tasks that once were done for us.  Just because we can conduct business 24x7x365 doesn't mean we should.  Technology doesn't need a break, but humans do.  Rather than letting technology control us with its continuous availability, we owe it to ourselves to consciously choose to use the access available to us to balance the things we must and should do with those we'd also like to do.  Many of us have lost sight of the fact that technology was initially introduced to allow us more leisure time. With our ever-present electronic leashes we're in danger of reverting back to agrarian times when sleep was the only weekday down-time.

Because we can do many things we need to do 24x7x365, let's seize the chance to carve out time each day for the want to dos rather that fill all available hours with the musts and shoulds. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Convenient Air Travel

My parents still live in the town where I grew up, 90 miles from a major airport.  In Houston, we have the advantage of two commercial airports within 20 - 45 minutes from our home. Flying in on the last non-stop at 9:45 and leaving on the 9:40 flight the next morning is easy when you're only 20 minutes from the airport.   Though this need rarely arises, it's fabulous to take advantage of it when it allows me to maximize pleasure and business.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labors of Love

Julia was due on Labor Day (a very appropriate due date), but chose to enter our lives a few days early (she continues to maintain her early over-achiever distinction).  How fitting that on the 22nd anniversary of Julia's due date Edgar and Gar are finishing a 1400 mile trek to provide lovely, meaningful furnishings for her senior year apartment! 

Labors of love are ideally as meaningful for the givers as they are for the recipients.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I'm not good at waiting - I get impatient at stoplights.  Because I honor appointment times, I expect others to do the same.  Yesterday I spent the day waiting for a promised notification for an important online activation, which never occurred; and for a locksmith who arrived 5 hours late. 

Think about the increase in productivity and decrease in stress that results when we all timely follow through with our commitments. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Uniquely Me!

We are all inundated with messages about things we could, should and must do.  After adhering to our core beliefs, we need to give ourselves permission to be uniquely us.  Only by being our authentic selves do we provide our best personal and unique perspectives, talents and skills to any project we embrace.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall New Year

School has started, sports have kicked off and the curtains have risen on the arts seasons.  With so many beginnings, we all have the potential to restart our year. 

Happy Fall New Year!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What Did You Say?

What we hear isn't always what the other person said.  One of my favorite such stories is of the grandmother who discovered plastic army men in her coffee cup.  When she questioned her young grandson, he was quick to lovingly respond, "Because the best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup". 

Miscommunication occurs frequently due to use of unfamiliar terms, making assumptions and not hearing what was said.  When the message is critical it is important for both parties to check for understanding.  When we fail to verify, we may even hear the exact opposite of the message that was intended, as happened years ago.  When my brother, Steve, got a horse, I hopped on behind him. We were enjoying this new experience until the horse spotted the barn and began to race toward his food.  I was frantically yelling, "Whoa!!!!" and Steve in frustration yelled, "Why are you telling him to go?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Great Lifers

When I mentioned to a friend that my son was a lifer at Kinkaid, he, not being a Kinkaidian, laughed.  Lifers, at Kinkaid, are those special, fortunate students who enter in pre-K and exit at high school graduation after 14 delightful, challenging and memorable years. 

Though I don't have the exact statistics, my educated guess is that 20% of Gar's graduating class has been together since pre-K.  Unsung benefits of a loyal core are the ability to accept, recognize, overlook, forgive, applaud and recognize many class members as they really are, not as they might appear in any given circumstance, stage or year.   Additional benefits are the many keepers of the culture and traditions.

Kinkaid would benefit from recognizing the "almost lifers". Julia entered in Kindergarten, so her 13 excellent years didn't warrant special designation.  And how about recognizing "mid-lifers", all who have been Kinkaidians since the beginning of middle school? 

Productive longevity at any cherished institution makes a great lifer (my definition definitively excludes all who are justice system lifers).

Commitment is key. When we commit to a life of excellence, we excel regardless of our entry point.