I Am A Techie Who Hates …

Did the title make you wonder?  Oh yes, I have spent the last several days refiguring my website to point to this WordPress site for the time being. Oh the challenge, most of which involve waiting periods for the redirection. I had to redirect my email to gmail access (good thing and much easier), but that meant that I had to reset the DNIS settings to do so. Now I have another 3 day wait to redirect – again.

At least I can read instructions which is a good thing. This endeavor has forced me to remember passwords and reset many of them.  My problem is one of patience.  I do not have patience when it comes to the little essentials of life on the internet. I can manage multiple projects (up to 300 of them) and keep myself organized, but handling this type of detail drive me crazy. An excel spreadsheet, my to do list, multiple speeches, multiple calendar entries, planning for events that are postponed due to weather – ALL DOABLE.

Waiting for the redirect is a small task, one that does not take any time, but I hate to have to add a reminder to my TO DO list just to check. The bonus is that my email piece is completed. I have enjoyed the challenge to getting it done, but I hate to wait for the completion when I thought it would be a ‘piece of cake’.  Instead, I wanted to bury my face in the cake. I would have taken a walk, but there is still at least 10 inches of snow still on the ground. I am so very glad that events that have been delayed have the details completed. So back to work for me!

Piece of cake

Lessons from Ten Years of Facebook Movies

Facebook celebrated their tenth anniversary yesterday, February 4. My newsfeed was immediately filled with the 62 second movies from my Facebook friends.  I was immediately fascinated.  I knew that I spent at least a half an hour a day engaging with my ‘Facebook’ friends. On some days, the time is much longer, but my world has expanded since 2008 when I ‘joined’ Facebook with the encouragement of my daughter.

http://www.facebook.com/KimmyXS/media_set?set=vb.1519235119&type=2

I quickly realized several things from these one-minute movies.

1.   Most of My Friends Joined in 2008 or 2009

My daughter built my page for me after I made a comment about missing my high school friends. While she had only been out of high school for 4 years, she said she stayed connected with friend through Facebook. I wonder how many of my friends joined for the same reasons. Of course, it could be that Facebook was gaining momentum and we were feeling left out of the excitement.

2.  Most Movies Contain Pictures of Family

Facebook pictures on the movies tended to be full of pictures of family. I am a grandma; so naturally, a good number of pictures are of my dear Miss Aiden.  I also have shared older pictures from my parents with an Uncle via Facebook. I am not certain how Facebook decided which pictures to show, but for the most part then define my Facebook friends – even my physical friends.

3.  Hobbies and Groups are Important

Since 2004, Toastmasters International has played a huge role in my life.  I thought it was interesting that my first pictures were of the newly elected leaders of  Toastmasters in my district (yes, I was included). The next pictures was one with the 2007-2008 International President, Jana Barnhill and I. Mixed in with pictures of my family where pictures of my Toastmasters family.

4.  Pets are Family Too

As I watched my movie, I saw pictures of my pets. I posted the passing of my mom on Facebook, but I also posted the passing of my pets. I noticed that most of my friends also posted pictures of their pets. I have cried over posting from friends about the passing of their pets and it was great to see them in the moves.  David, I finally met Roddy in your movie!

5.  Bragging Is Good

As I watched movie after movie (I have over 1200 Facebook Friends), I noticed that many of the posts were ‘brags’ about accomplishments.  Mine were about my daughter, but I saw many about the member’s accomplishments:  winning contests, completing a major goal, earning their Distinguished Toastmaster, being elected to an office.

6. Facebook Is Great at Filtering Out Sad Events

I admit that I was afraid that my most popular posts would contain items from when my mom passed away or when we found out my granddaughter had cancer. I was interested to find that Facebook must have a great filtering methodology because they were not in evidence. The only evidence is a post of Aiden coming home and a picture of her before he surgery with Matilda her new doll.  I found the same filtering in friend’s movies. Great job Facebook, who would share the bad news all over again?

Facebook has changed how we interact with friends. In my five years on Facebook, I have built strong friendships.  I can connect with someone I met at a conference and manage to stay in touch. I can share the awesomeness of life and the sadness of life. Thank you Facebook.

Leave a Lasting Legacy When Changing Jobs

Monica, a junior manager, has finally done it: she has been promoted to the position she has wanted and worked towards since she was hired. She knows that the position is radically different from her current one, but she is up for the challenge. However, she knows that leaving behind her current duties will make for an interesting transition.

Like Monica, you, or someone you know, might be relocating or advancing your career. No matter what your reason for transitioning, you should know that leaving your current position is harder work than most people realize. Remember: the reason for leaving is not as important as the legacy you leave behind.

The benefits of bridge-building are enormous for both you and your employer. Though leaving some coworkers behind can be a relief; they are the exception and not the rule. You will want to make your former associates’ lives smoother by cleaning out those files, updating documentation and sharing information. You will want that glowing recommendation, a future consulting job, or, that change you are making may not end up working out, and you might want to return, or

The following are ways to ensure that you leave a lasting legacy:

  1. Follow up on all current projects. Following up should be the first step in your transition. If projects are active, make sure that the new manager understands the status, the goals and the team. Ensure that all project documentation is appropriately stored according to company policy, file all emails and make certain that all roles are clearly defined. Monica found that following up on her active projects allowed her the time to focus on time sensitive items for her transition.
  2. Volunteer to train your successors. Monica’s position was one that had very specific responsibilities that no one else in her group performed. She volunteered to do some training for those responsibilities. Training is good for your replacement and can be cathartic. For instance, project files will be notated and stored in the proper manner.  Providing training will provide closure for you and a great benefit for othe
  3. Thank your mentors, sponsors, and coaches. A simple thank-you is always deeply appreciated by those who have guided you through your career. Before you leave, take the time to verbally express your appreciation for what the person has done you: their help, guidance and their occasional push into areas you did not feel comfortable going. Remind them, and yourself, that their support is very much valued. Monica’s mentors were pleased by her gratitude and happy that she is moving on to a more challenging role.
  4. Continue focusing on your job until the second you leave. Nothing is more frustrating for an office staff than working with someone who has “short-timers disease.” For the time that you have committed to facilitating your transition, you should to focus on your current job. On Monica’s last day, she a previously scheduled conference call kept her in the office and on the (old) job until the last few minutes of her day. Dedication and striving for excellence does not end when you move on; in fact, your drive should be stronger.
  5. Exercise the Power of No. Monica’s new position had a specific start date. As Monica began the transition, she was asked to stay longer than expected. . In some situations, her new manager allowed her to finish up the work, but in others, she had to say no. If asked to stay longer to facilitate the transition, do what is best for the company, your family and yourself. Set limits for yourself and your supervisor. Occasionally, you will be asked to perform tasks that are not part of your job responsibility. Agree to only accept additional work if it can be done in the timeframe you expect to stay.
  6. Keep valued contacts and Update All Professional Profiles. Monica found that LinkedIn was an excellent means to stay in contact and let her network know about her promotion. She made updates to her LinkedIn professional profile.  Share your email address with those you would like to keep in contact with on a regular basis.  Since Monica’s former manager paid some of her professional organization dues, she made certain that they would continue to be paid without interruption.
Grass Growing in a Keyboard

Grass Growing in a Keyboard

Taking the steps listed above will help smooth the transition to your new position. Leaving a position on your own terms, often allows you to have closure when you move to your next endeavor.  For some people, the typical two weeks allows closure, for others the transition can take months often completing one set of projects in the former position while beginning the new one.  Do what you can to leave a legacy that helps the next person to succeed with theirs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Myers is a speaking coach, speaker and trainer with more than forty years of experience.  She is an alumni member of Pi Kappa Delta, an honor society for public speaking and debate, a Certified World Class Speaking Coach, and the District Governor for District 22 Toastmasters International. Annually, she volunteers time to judging National Qualifying Tournaments for the National Forensics League. For more information on Kim’s coaching and training programs, please visit http://www.yourlegacyspeaks.org.

The Legacies that Our Pets Leave

My family has always had pets. We believe that they bring joy as members of our family. The provide unearned love and caring. While I love my kids, my pets have shared my tears and my joys with conditional love. They do not complain, they talk to me, the grab my attention (sometimes in very annoying manners) and they make me laugh.  Ultimately, as in life, death creeps up upon us.  My orange cat, Pre-Pre, passed away Saturday morning. She has been ill for awhile.  Saturday morning she decided to leave and join her family in heaven.

Pre-Pre's Last Picture

Two years ago during a very stressful time in our lives, our 14 year-old Jack Russell/American Toy mix, Andy, got ill. At the same time, my then two year old grand daughter, Aiden, was faced with a fight against neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.  Aiden survived her struggle, but Andy was too old to survive his fight.

Protecting the baby.

Protecting the baby.

Sunday morning, Aiden was visiting. Mommy and daddy had explained what happened to Pre-Pre as best they can to a four year old.  Recently Aiden went with me to help chose a new puppy. We selected a tri-colored Sheltie who Aiden named, Cella. Naturally, short for Cinderella.  I knew I needed a puppy and I also knew Pre-Pre was ill.  Cella is a joy and so much fun. However, Aiden told me, “Nini, I wish Cella and Princess were in heaven and Andy and Pre-Pre were with me. I miss them both.  I love them. ”  Princess, my son’s cat was in the hallway and Cella was with Aiden in my lap. I looked at my puppy and Aiden and gave them a big hug. I told her that we cannot make that decision, but it was really sweet. Now she wants a puppy just like Andy when she gets home to Adelaide, Australia.  Did I mention that she also wants a baby brother.

I agree that Andy and Pre-Pre were amazing.  Like the dogs and cats I have had before they were really, really special. But I will admit that these two family members were the sweetest of them all. Both were the first pets that Aiden really had.  Pre-Pre was the cat that my mom gave me when she needed a home and I needed a cat. Andy was the last dog that my dad picked out for a family member. He was my son’s 10th birthday gift, but ended up being a gift to us all. Both of my parents are with them frolicking in a park, or on a beach, or out in the woods, playing ball watching my dad build me a roller coaster. I am sure that both of them would be proud to say that their legacy is one of love, comfort, joy and compassion.

The next chapter is Cella. I am sure that she will be the best doggie I have ever had too!

Last Pictures of Pre-Pre and Cella

Last Pictures of Pre-Pre and Cella

The Legacy of Asthma

Sometimes leaving a legacy is difficult – especially if it one that you have absolutely no control over at all.  Those legacies that are genetic are difficult to deal with for anyone let alone a baby girl who just celebrated her fourth birthday.

Aiden had been looking forward to being four for months.  At our Toastmasters District Conference she told everyone that she was three, but she would be four on November 10!  We opened presents – she loves wrapping paper!

Opening Birthday Gifts

Ate her favorite meal of soy-honey chicken and headed off to Build-A-Bear.  I just knew she would pick a Hello Kitty, but she chose Rainbow Dash the Little Pony – then the Hello Kitty.  Since it was her birthday she ended up with both along with several outfits.   Yes, Pumpkin Bear received a KU Jayhawk Basketball outfit.

Hello KittyAiden's Family

 

While Heather, Nick, Uncle Bobby and I knew she seemed a bit ‘out of sorts’ what later became pretty evident was she was having difficulty breathing.  As she sat on my lap, I put my hand on her back.  I could feel the rattling which is unusual.  We knew she had a cold, but she seemed warm and her little shoulder pushed up with every breath!  Mommy and daddy left for the emergency room at Children’s Mercy with a backpack for just in case.

Late at night, the kids all came home.  They put Aiden to bed and an hour later they had EMTs at the house.  At midnight or so, Heather called me letting me know that they were taking Aiden back to CMH.  Oh yeah, at least it was now the day after her birthday – barely.  Poor baby, on the way to the hospital she was sick from too much Albuterol, making sure she got her birthday outfit, her coat, her leggings, her favorite blanket, the car, the car seat…  Heather said maybe they should have gone in the ambulance, but they opted to go in their own car (yes, it is clean now).

What we learned is that while the number of children with asthma has grown since I was a kid, while the medicines have gotten better, the treatment is still very generic.  Customized asthma action plans are still pretty generic – I realize they are better than when I was a kid, they are still to reactive.  Having had asthma forever, we have been fortunate to know when things are getting out of hand.  That raising of the shoulders is key, but preventative maintenance still has a long way to go.  We count our blessing for CMH and for our family doctor, but I wonder how many families are not as lucky.  How many families without insurance lose children because they are just treated and sent home!

Aiden now has a cute little panda nebulizer at home to help – metered dose inhalers are not better than a nebulizer when you cannot breathe.  I know, I have been there, I have lost a brother to asthma.  Truthfully, if it were not for a family history of asthma, Aiden would not have been diagnosed at a year old.   Doctors really need to listen to families who know their children, to people who have asthma and maybe even see what it is like.  When you are panicked because you cannot breathe, some solutions do not work well.  I still haven’t decided if having a family history is helpful or hurtful, but it is what it is.

By the way, Aiden went home two days later and went to her karate class just like all the other kids!  Go Miss Aiden!

Asking for Help – Coaching

I admit it – I am a lifelong bowler – 10 pin for those of you on the east coast of the US.  I am not sure why I love it, but it might just be because I am good at it.  It took me years of practice, tournaments and league bowling to finally bowl a 300, but I reached that goal on November 15, 2000.  I still remember that absolute joy and sense of accomplishment.  I also remember two weeks before when I bowled a 287 after being rattled realizing that an entire mens league stood behind me as I rolled that 10th strike and MISSED!

Why was I able to achieve that goal?  Because I am coachable.  In sports, we use coaches – football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball — bowling.  We revere our coaches.  We love them and hate them.  I will never forget bowling at a national bowling tournament and finding my favorite bowling ball went missing at the tournament.  I later found out, my coach hid it knowing that if I was confused I would revert back to using that ball!  The ball was not suitable for the lane conditions in Reno at that tournament.  I reappeared as we left the two days of bowling.  I placed 215 out of almost 5,000 women in my class, so it worked.

So why do we hesitate to ask for a presentation coach or personal coach or financial advisor?  Is is because we do not appreciate someone with more skills helping guide us, or is it because it isn’t the norm?  Is it the cost, or the time?  Even coaches use coaches..  we ask for help, guidance, and support.  All of these are provided by a great coach.  Coaches are the best form of support a speaker has.  They can help you find your message, help refine the mess into a great presentation, help you build the presentation, and present it well.  Many coaches will watch you in action and help refine your presentation to make a better connection with your audience.  After all, presentations are for the audience not the speaker.  In the long run, better speakers become better leaders because they understand that it isn’t about them, it is about the audience and those they lead.  Better speakers are promoted more rapidly.

If you desire to improve your skills, find a coach who works well with you.  Just DO IT.  But remember, you must allow yourself to be coached.  If I had not, that 300 would still be just a dream!

A Place to Reflect, Prepare, and Listen

I admit it.   I love to drive cross country.   I may complain about the amount of traveling I am doing by car, but in reality I love it. Do you remember those old cigarette commercials with a truck driver in the middle of a beautiful nowhere?  I loved them, not the truck driving part, but the scenery.  In all honesty, I have had my fair share of incidents with semi-trucks, but do not get me started…. I will save that post for some other time.

In the past few months, I have driven to Springfield, MO twice (another time coming up this month); Wichita, Dallas, Denver, Springfield, IL; Cincinnati; Topeka; and St. Louis.  Do I admit that I am getting ready for a car trip to Baltimore in October.  The nice bit about traveling is that my son is home to take care of the house, the cats, the goose, the plants, the mail.  He also gets my car ready for travel:  oil change when needed; tire pressure check, the general check of the car – you know the walk around making sure the wipers blades are good, etc.

I usually listen to music, let my iPod shuffle.  My friend Rob told me he listens to audio books.  I find I like that as well.  It just has to be a well read book.  I listened to one John Sandford where I got lost often day dreaming because the reader was so s l o w…  What I like best is listening to music and watching the scenery.  As I drive, some sights remind me of other car trips with my parents.  Then I have to get out my phone and record a note to myself to add another story to my story file.  When I am heading to a speaking event, I do what my friend, Jeremy Tracey, does, I prepare for my presentation.  I also often work on portions of a keynote or regular Toastmaters speech in the car.  I just turn on the recorder and go.

Of course, something strange often appears when you travel – like the huge rubber ducks in Cincinnati.

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Or the motorcycles hanging in a tree between Jasper and Ponca in Arkansas.

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I still haven’t figured out the Motorcycle thing, but I think that someday I will make up a tall tale about it.  Just another story for the story file!

Work, Life, Balance is Possible

In late 2010, I was working for a major financial software company.  I had a full time position, but the company was short on project leaders in my part of the system.  Magically, after 10 years of NOT leading a project, I had one.  Fortunately, it was a project that I had a passion for and good understanding of so I accepted the role.  I knew at the time, that it was a project with a team in Thailand and would be a lot of extra work.  It didn’t really matter to me, but it did to my family.

I had a one year old grand-daughter Aiden who was living at home with her mommy.  The extra hours were almost all after 7 p.m and were done while working at home.  At least my client calls were during the day.  My evenings were spent with my family from 5 to 7.  From 7 p.m. until midnight – sometimes until one in the morning, I worked with a team across the ocean.  A team I never met in person, but grew to really enjoy working with and challenging them.  While I worked with project leaders and teams every day for the previous 10 years, it was another matter leading a project again.

I learned a lot during that six or seven months.  First, project teams are the same the world over – eventually I picked up team members in Boston and India in addition to my core team in Thailand.  I realized that I missed working directly with clients.  It had been 10 years since I had worked as a project lead and so much had changed.  I found that putting myself back into the project world changed my perceptions of project teams and the challenges they face today  I also found that my team was working the same hours I was only they were working on one project and not 100!  Yes, I worked on over 100 projects at a time – I worked with project leads on development projects to set long-term strategy.  I found it was easy to work into the long-term strategy, but not as easy to manage the expectations of management.

During this time, my Aiden was growing tired of watching and hearing her “Nini” on the phone or working on program specs.  Then came the day that she began to mimic me, complete with the hand up universal “SHUSH” sign.  She was just like Nini one her phone working.

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Several days later she did it again.  Only this time she was working on a program!

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I had not really thought about the impact that my work was having on my family.  I knew I was tired, I knew that it wouldn’t last forever, but I did not realize how much I lost at home.  I loved my job, I loved my team, but I learned that family comes first.  I pushed back my calls until 9 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. which worked better for my Thai team anyway.  It was too bad that I learned most of this at the back end of the project. I learned that associates have families, children, pets, volunteer activities, and we crave sleep.

Luckily, the project installed to production error free (good testing and good team).  I was competing in the Toastmasters Table Topics contest at the time.  At the district level, the Contest Master’s question was:  “Work – Life – Balance” and I had the best response.  One from my heart!  When I held that big trophy in my hands, I thanked my family, my work family, and my Toastmaster friends for reminding me that balance can be achieved.  It just takes work!

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Oh yes, I told my VP that next time i did double duty, I deserved extra pay!  Guess what, I achieved balance!  In April, I went out on my own running my own presentation  skills and coaching business.  I love my work life balance now!

A Step Into the Past … With a Police Officer… Really?

Yesterday I decided to take a stop in Lawrence, KS on my way home from Salina, KS.  I go back to Lawrence off and on since it is my hometown.  I am one of the few who can really call myself a born KU Jayhawk since my parents lived on campus in married student housing when I was born.  Go me!

I drove down Maine Street and captured a picture of the home I lived in from 1st to 3rd grade.  I spent hours riding my bike on the brick sidewalk, laid in the sun on he kill between the street and sidewalk watching clouds.  My favorite place was the porch swing – although it hung facing the street back then.

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I then took a picture of the house to the left.  It was the home of my best friend, Chris, and is a lovely stone home.  When Chris moved, a group of long haired young men moved in, one of them later ended up being my Uncle John.  My brother and I used to yell out our window at them when we were supposed to be sleeping.

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From the houses, I drove the walk to the elementary school, Pickney.  My brother, Larry, and I both walked twice a day to and from school.  Back in the 60′s, hot lunch was not served, so we went home.  That meant I could be late for school double the number of times.  Try walking to school on brick side walks and streets and avoid the cracks so you do not break your mother’s back.  I admit that there were times, I tried to walk on as many as possible.  Sorry mom.

We walked by this little red nursery school.  I had Brownies and Girl Scouts there.  It looks just the same 46 years later!

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I finally ended up at the school that we accessed from a tunnel under 6th Street.  Apparently it is still in use.

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It was kind of scary as a kid, but then I arrived at the front door.  At least I wasn’t late..  My cousins Eric and Allison went to the same school 10 years after me!

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I did have a chance to take a picture of the hallway where I spent most of my time in second grade.  I do believe that I knew how many holes there were in the chicken wire built into the glass.  Amazing that the windows must be the same.

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As I left to go back to the park where I left the car, I encountered a police officer.  He was investigating a car that was parked behind the school.  I explained I went to school there 46 years ago.  I looked nice since I was dressed for Toastmasters, he took my name and phone number – and birthdate.  He told me I looked very nice for having gone there so long ago. He wasn’t bad himself, but I left for my car.  Walking through Clinton Park which is just behind the school.  I did my ‘fly up’ from Brownies to Girl Scouts in the park.  I remember a stone bridge, but part of the stone walls still exist.  It is still a beautiful little park in the Pickney Neighborhood.

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As I was leaving after taking the pictures, the policeman hunted me up.  I was nervous because he drove over, but he said it was nice talking to me and seeing that people still cherished their past.  He made my day!

Do you ever go back and visit your past?

Are you sad when you find things have changed?

Joy in the Little Things

Yesterday, Aiden, my three-year old granddaughter and I had intended to go to the City Market for fresh vegetables. After driving around trying to find a parking spot, Aiden said, “Nini, we need to leave – too busy.” The child is brilliant. I followed her advice. As we drove over the Broadway Bridge, we saw a big military plane with four props getting ready to taxi for take off. Aiden asked me to STOP. I pulled over into the downtown airport. We watched the plane rumble down the runway and leave. Deciding to just wander around, we drove by the Airline History museum, formerly the Save a Connie Museum.

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Aiden was able to go into the Constellation, one of only three in the world that is air worthy, a Martin 404 (see the picture), a flight simulator for a L-1011, and just enjoy the morning.  Oddly enough, my first plane trip was alone at 3 from St. Louis to Kansas City on a Connie.  Heather’s second flight was on an a L-1011 from Phoenix to St. Louis (on our way to Harrisburg, PA).  On my first flight I sat next to a stewardess wearing bright orange lipstick. Heather’s flight on the L-1011 meant sitting for two hours waiting to take off, then taxiing for take-off, being pushed back in our seats, and then an aborted takeoff.  We went around and finally left.  My husband told me they were working on an engine.  The L-1011 sitting on the runway at the museum has no engines right now.  Aiden said that it is sleeping.  Interesting thought.

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In the afternoon, we went swimming.  We had such a good time.

All in all, life is about the little things.  Just spending time together is inexpensive.  As the kids get ready to head home to Adelaide, Australia, I am beginning to realize that I will not be able to receive the frequent phone calls from Heather, hug Aiden or fuss for kisses. Laugh when she talks about Avery Ryan and Chelsea Avery or RobBob.  Tonight she is spending the night.  I only have a little over a week to enjoy those simple times before it is back to Skype.

Do you use Skype?

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