Archive for August, 2009

Summer Adventure #2: Kenya Safari

Update: Something happened to the first picture I posted on this entry, so I updated it with an actual photo that I took while on safari. This was one of my favorite moments when a cheetah killed a baby impala.

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My second (and last) summer adventure begins this week. I’m going on a 13-day safari in Kenya! Tonight, I fly to London to spend a few days before flying to Nairobi on Friday. From there I’ll visit four different camps throughout Kenya. I’ve never been to London or Kenya and I am particularly excited about my first trip to the African continent. I apologize if this comes as a surprise to anyone. I’ve been getting a lot of flack from friends saying that I never mentioned this trip. This wasn’t intentional. I just think it was overshadowed by my spontaneous trip to Spain. This trip was actually planned a year ago and was supposed to be my big trip for the year. Well, life happens leading to infinite possibilities…and here I am having two amazing trips this summer.

I am not taking my computer and will not have Internet access to do real-time updates so I am posting my itinerary below. I will keep a written journal and will upload some posts upon my return. I am all about new experiences and this trip brings about even more “firsts” this year. Who would have thought turning 30 would be this good? Here are a few firsts:

  • London
  • Kenya (anywhere in Africa)
  • Safari
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Mt. Kilamanjaro
  • Masai warriors
  • …to be continued…

If I have done one thing this summer, I hope I have inspired someone to travel. To take that trip you’ve always wanted to take or to go see that statue you’ve always wanted to see or to go visit that relative you haven’t seen in a while. Travel is one of my loves and one avenue that fosters the most growth for me. I know traveling may not be that thing for you, but take some time to figure out what it is, and then do it! Life is too short to sit back and wait for happiness to come. We have to go out find it for ourselves!

Working towards your strengths

A friend told me to take the Strengths Finder assessment a long time ago and somehow I didn’t get around to it until now. Perhaps, at that time, I wasn’t in a place to reap the true value of this. The book came up again recently during an interview. I walked into the Director’s office and saw all three Strengths Finder books prominently standing up on her desk.  I got excited and we ended up talking for a while about the books and how it was used in the company. I was quite impressed and decided I wanted to take the assessment. The next day, I bought the book and took the assessment. The timing was perfect because I’m conducting a very focused job search targeted for  job roles and organization cultures that are in line with my strengths and interests.

The concept of focusing on strengths is a shift from my last career, where the emphasis was placed on developmental areas. Everyone at every level of the company had developmental areas, so there was a greater emphasis on this than catering to strengths.  While I generally liked my job, I recognized early on that it often caused nervous energy for me. I realized that the nervousness came whenever I was working in an area that wasn’t a strengths or interest for me. My belief is that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to developing weaknesses. There needs to be a certain level of proficiency and understanding, but after that time is wasting trying to develop weaknesses into strengths. It’s unnatural and takes away from time spent working in strength areas.

Here are my top 5 strengths from Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment:

  1. Maximizer
  2. Connectedness
  3. Futuristic
  4. Relator
  5. Intellection

This assessment has insight that is valuable to all types of relationships: co-workers, friends, family, mates/spouses, children. I’ll use the Intellection strengths as one example of how dead on this assessment was for me. Here’s a brief description:

Shared Theme Description: People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Ideas for Action: People may think you are aloof or disengaged when you close your door or spend time alone. Help them understand that this is simply a reflection of your thinking style, and that it results not from a disregard for relationships, but from a desire to bring the most  you can to those relationships.

The Ideas for Action section gives suggestions on how to put this strength to use and things to share with others. I wish I had read this when I was in business school and shared it with my roommate. I remember one day her saying that she used to get offended when I would go in my room and close the door for a while, but after a while she just learned that its what I do and it wasn’t directed at her.  She didn’t understand how I could go in my room and close the door for an hour and then reemerge ready to talk and play.

I couldn’t believe she thought this was directly at her because it was not my intention. When I read the description above, I thought about her. It is dead on in expressing the purpose for needing to be alone…to ultimately be able to strengthen the relationship. While I know these things about myself, I have to remember that others don’t necessarily know these things about me because they have  a different  way of framing things based on their own strengths. This book is a great way to deepen the understand of yourself and foster better relationships in your life.

So here’s to Quita for learning about my strengths the hard way. Thanks for being patient!

Dwell in possibility

I’ve been back from Spain for three weeks and I’m starting to get bored. The first two weeks flew by because I had a bunch of meetings, coffees and job interviews. I came back with an aggressive, targeted plan for my job search and it worked well, or so I thought. Perhaps I was too aggressive and should have saved some meetings for week 3. This week is going so slow and I have been unproductive to a fault. I know that I am the least productive when I have unstructured free time. It seems counterintuitive, but logical given my action-oriented nature. For the first time since I was laid off six months ago, I actually uttered the words, “I’m ready to start working again”. The horror!

I have not received any offers yet, but I do have a few things brewing. It’s coming…I can feel it. While I’m waiting patiently, I’ll take this time to dwell in the possibility of what’s to come.

Aligning your environment with your state of mind

“Beware of the company you keep. Happiness is contagious and so is negativity. People who are not happy themselves cannot be happy for you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.”

Your environment directly influences your behavior and state of mind. Therefore, there needs to be consistency between your thoughts, actions and environment.  The first thing you consider when you plan a vacation is which location is best suited to support the experience you want to have. If you want a peaceful, relaxing experience you’d consider a small island or cabin in the mountains, not a big city.  We are often very critical when assessing our external environments (e.g. work, neighborhoods, Starbuck’s) and the people in these environments, except when it comes to those closest to us like friends and associates.

Emotions can be contagious. Have you ever noticed that when someone starts complaining, you start to complain as well. Or when someone smiles as you, you automatically smile back. What you put out is often what is returned, and what is given to you often has a direct influence on how you feel. So beware of the company you keep. Happiness is contagious and so is negativity. People who are not happy themselves cannot be happy for you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.

Healthcare reform on a napkin

Like many of you, I have been baffled by the blatant lies that are being spread (and people who are actually believing) about the potential health care reform options that are being presented by the Obama administration. It got to the point where I had to do my own research to make sure I understand what was being presented to the public.  This is a complicated and extremely important topic so I thought I’d post this interesting explanation of healthcare on a napkin. I’m a simple person and like to explain things and have things explained to me in a simple way, so here’s healthcare reform on a napkin.

Blogs Galor

My boy Jullien, The PurposeFinder, has an amazing blog and just wrote a post listing his friends blogs. Feel free to check it out if you love to read blogs.

http://julliengordon.mvmt.com/2009/08/08/my-friends-blogs/

Could my horoscope be right?

A few people have asked what’s next now that I’m back from Spain. Well folks, I am back in Chicago actively looking for a job. I re-started the job search last week by submitting my resume to a few places and fortunately, I’ve gotten a decent number of responses. I had an interview yesterday, one today and one next week. I’m having a second round interview next week and a phone interview with a company I’m really interested in. The difference between my interviews this week and the interviews before I left is that I actually LIKE these jobs. They span very different areas, but all focus on my strengths and incorporate my interests in some way. I can feel the difference. For instance, today I walked into my interviewers office to see all three Strength Finder books on her desk and I got excited. We then spent the next 20 minutes talking about how it was baked into the company’s philosophy and distribution of work. They have one person devoted to people management alone. Having consulted with many major companies, I recognize that this is so far from the norm and am really excited that I found these opportunities. But could the moon have something to do with my good fortune?  According to my August horoscope, the full moon lunar eclipse will bring about a new job and more money. I’ll take that.  Below is an excerpt. Let’s see how this all plays out.

You may have to give up one source of income after the full moon lunar eclipse arrives on August 5, but it looks like a new and better one will soon replace it. With Jupiter prominent, you are destined to go up, up, up in the world. You may have planned for a job switch, but if not, it all seems to work in your favor. Indeed, you may say afterward that your old company did you a favor by not valuing your talents more because your new income will be substantially more lucrative than your former one.       Source: Astrology Zone, http://www.astrologyzone.com