Mile Hike

I never thought that I would be able to say to my future children that I walked a mile in the rain, cold, and snow. And yet, I will be able to share that face and that I walked up hill both ways.

But this day wasn’t in the rain, cold, or snow… The walk simply consisted of me racing three people I had never met with the greatness of competition pushing us through the cold, leaves, and the intersections that said “Don’t Walk”. The three of us should of gone into a full out run at the speed we were walking. Our clothes flew in the air as the wind hit us.

The black-coated women kept passing the red backpacked man and I. But every moment that we got to an intersection he and I would get through with no scratches, to the other side of the cross walk, take a breath, and see the black-coated women creeping up on us.

Competition seemed to be reining us all into a race that wasn’t even there. The three of us strived “to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same,” (Apple Dictionary).

In some manner, without an original goal, we all were competing for the same goal during the entire mile hike. I started questioning the reasoning and purpose behind this and finally asked myself a question. “What is good competition?”

Everyplace has competition from your work force, school, sports team, and family. There seems to be a goal for every individual to be superior even if it is superior at failing. The problem is when we take the competition to a different level that involves risk and devastation.

Risk and devastation keep us as competing individuals on our toes but at the same time we need to be wise with how we handle circumstances. One reason that I didn’t take a job at Booz Allen was for the mere reason that I felt a high level of risk and competition. It seemed that the only way to go up in the company was if the individual in the cubical next to you failed.

I did not go to work at Booz so I have only my own perception, not what might be truly happening but needless to say, there are thousands of companies that use this idea of risk and competition as their force behind getting good work. Is that qualified as good business? Is the mile hike that I took a wise use of my energy for a competition that was unsaid?

The point that I received from this little speed walk laid the foundation of my understanding concerning competition. If I am willing to walk quickly down the side walk to win the race against the black-coated women, I will want to watch out that I don’t do the same for my fellow team members.

I may not be the most competitive individual when it comes to these things but my nature made me competitive in this moment, and losing wasn’t my end goal though it did occor.

Network Now

The idea of ‘network now’ has been a little thing that I keep in my back pocket but something that I love getting involved with. The basic thought lays on the fact that everyone in every moment is able to network and meet one new person.

Do I do this? Not even close… But it is something that I try to implement on a regular basis so that I know the right people. The whole point of this post isn’t the fact that we should simply network but instead it is the idea that technology is starting to inhibit us from networking while we travel.

Let’s be specific here since we know and believe that the social media realm has furthered networking and communication in huge ways. But, as I travel on daily basis I keep realizing that I use technology as an escape from what is around me. This ‘escape’ is obviously an inhibiting aspect in being able to network now.

As I sat on the metro, I saw two individuals and decide which one would I more like to speak with if I were to immediately take an action forward and meet someone new. One of the men had a cell phone and seemed to be writing/reading. On the other hand, the second individual had a book. Which one seemed more open to conversation? For me it ended on the individual with no technology out.

Simply put, if I needed something and wanted to ask a question, I would be more inclined to chat with the book reader over the cell phone reader. A little harsh but I hope you see the point. For me, wanting to network now involves being ready at any moment. In some ways even looking ready:

  • Smile on the face
  • Engaging eyes
  • And keeping the technology aside
  • Simply Network

All in all, we need to be productive and a lot of times a cell phone helps us do this but if we want to simply network, we need to be ready for a conversation at any moment with anyone. And, having my computer out is inhibiting me from doing that, cheers!

Everyone Will Help

Day after day I see people push and shove, run/cut off others, and get upset with someone who is holding up the line, even if they have a reason. But sometimes, just sometimes, you see that one individual who is willing to help.

A few days ago I got my first “Transit Link Card” which entails the Train, Metro, and Dash (all of which I take for my commute). I realized quickly how much of a money saver this TL Card would be. Though using this at first wasn’t easy and definitely came with a few headaches.

After jumping on a bus late and a few people annoyed with me for stopping the bus to get on I showed my TL Card and the bus driver said “No, that doesn’t work on the Dash.”

To my surprise and financial loss I almost became agitated at his response. If you know something about the bus ‘rules’ you’ll understand that the bus can’t move unless you’ve paid. And, technically I hadn’t paid.

As I stood there and the driver looked at the TL Card closely, I felt the blood pumping to my body with aggravation. And, the driver flowed with agitation in the same moment. Yet I tried to calm myself down and ask for a little help.

I don’t know about you but I had already planned out my attack if he said no. I thought out ever comeback, conversation, and statement prior to his first remark. I then simply asked “Would you mind helping me out, this is suppose to work, I thought?”

He immediately looked at me and said to take a seat and he would call while we drove. His response was a surprise, my ‘worry’ of what I thought would have been said had gone away, and he called his supervisor and found out the card worked for the Dash.

Our conversation didn’t end there. As you know, I love to network and meet as many individuals as I can. The bus driver just helped me and made my day a little nicer with a smile plus a great conversation. The quick synopsis is this: A lot of people will help if we are willing to ask.

Will I Make It

Timing is a dimension that boggles most peoples mind. Lets be honest, time goes on if you want it to or not. It isn’t a relative ‘thing’ that stops and starts compared to what you or anyone/anything is doing. So why do we worry so much if we can’t control it?

Think back to post most Change of Plans. I am not by any means saying that we need to start slacking off on being timely individuals but when things happen and Murphy’s Law takes place on our commute, let it happen. When your baby is born an hour earlier then expected enjoy that it will be over early then you thought.

No, I’ve never experienced having a baby or understand much about it but the point remains the same… We can’t control time, or at least I can’t and I realized this as I was having a conversation with a coworker as I was leaving work at Carney.

We were walking out from the front doors of our building when we both saw the bus. For a quick moment I thought that I would run for it and try to get on, but then I had a ‘brilliant’ comment. “I can’t control time, so why rush it”. He and I both chatted about this briefly before I realized the deepness and pressure release from living a life like this.

As I walked, the bus slowed down and picked up some other individuals and hit the red light. We kept walking and I got to the next bus stop and got on without any rush. I wasn’t going to ‘waste’ my time so I rode it but I also knew I couldn’t control the bus so my frustration/rush flew by.

I then came to a nice and quick realization, I will make my 5:34 train to home and meet my wife for a beautiful dinner. Perfection, without the worry that I could of missed it all. And if I had, I couldn’t of done anything about it and would have had to deal with Changed Plans.

The Elbow Rest

Have you ever looked at the most ‘usual’ thing and realized how unusual it truly is? There are so many things that fly by us on a regular basis and yet we never stop and take them completely in. Yes, there isn’t time in the day to take in the paper clip, new vehicle, a child’s smile, or the snicker bar, but they are all extremely usual but when looked at deeply, these usual things can have a whole new meaning.

But the question remains, what type of meaning are you going to get out of an elbow rest on a metro? I have no idea but as I sat here pondering it I started to think back to the process in which it was designed, reviewed, designed again, manufactured, tested, re-manufactured, and then put here on metro car 5095.

There have been so many individuals that have gone before my simple ride on the metro to make an object that would bring more comfort and safety to the train and those riding it. The process wasn’t some ‘random’ act but one that had designers, tester, manufactures’, CFO’s, and others going through a process to bring us the “elbow rest” on the train.

Personally, I’ve never sat down and thought deeply about something so usual. Well, that is slightly a lie, but I haven’t thought of an elbow rest. The point is simple and/or maybe more complex if you truly think deeply. There are millions if not billions of things that we pass on a daily basis that became because of a process that wasn’t simple so that our lives could be simple. It is an idea and thought that is starting to permeate my every moment and fill my mind when I normally just daydreamed.

So, what about the train number 5095? Is it just numerical to the number of cars? Who created the first number in the English language? Why the number 5? Thinking can be a full time job!

Look Around

There are so many types of situations occurring all around you as life is lived out. For me, that is a strange comprehension to think about but one that came to me like an epiphany this morning.

Take for incense my simple train to work like so many individuals in the Washington DC area. We all get on the train like a bunch of sardines, look down the entire time or judge why an individual sat next to us, and then leave the train in the same way a child crumbles a cookie onto the floor.

The fast pace life that is lived and needs to be lived brings light to the fact that I don’t look around and take in those people who are the sardines I wish I hadn’t smelled. But the truth is I need to be around them for inspiration.

Now to the ‘epiphany’ that I went thought his morning…. Here is the thing, everyone on the train is in a rush and yet to notice them may make a world of difference. Think about the smile you received from the worker behind the counter. A simple smile can change the day in a heartbeat. In the same moment though, a harsh word, look, judgment, non-helpful spirit may be a discouragement for many.

Being an idea person, I don’t want to be discouraged but I do want to be inspired and looking around, seeing people going through different situations even on the train can bring to light a new inventions, creativity, thoughts, and give me an opportunity to think outside my little black box.

Every action has a reaction and each person has their own story that could be easier, harder, simpler, and/or more complex then your own. We will never know those stories unless we look around. Why not just look around? These people may I remind you, will be helping ‘layout’ our lives even though they are complete strangers!

Change of Plans

Everyone is forced into changed plans simply because of a mess-up here and there. What do I mean? Well it is 8:00 in the morning and I am sitting on the train… Normally at this time I would be making a mile hike to work from the King Street Metro. But today I took a different path, which in turn took me on the wrong train. A small change of plans but yet for me not an easy change to swallow.

The point? There are always going to be moments in life when you encounter a situation and/or create a situation that changes your plans and even others. Sure, this is a small little droplet in an ocean compared to some things that individuals go through but it all stems back to perspective.

If each individual knows and understands that they will indefinitely go through changes of plans and in certain moments can’t do a thing about it, then we all need to learn how to deal with it.

In this moment, I can’t make the train speed up, skip stops, or magically allow me to appear at King Street. All I am able to do is sit on the train, use the resources that are available, and move on.

And yet, what are the three simple steps that I plan on taking from this ‘wonderful’ learning experience and using for my own life? First, I had to look at the situation as a whole and figure out how to get back on track. Second, I saw that I had more time on the train and looked at the resources available and what I could do in that time period to use my time wisely. Third, I dealt with the bruit realization that I was going to be late and was going to waste time but new I could make the best of it.

No matter the circumstance, we need to make the best of it. I know that I will have unforeseen changes of plans on a continual bases and simply get on the wrong train a few more times. In those moments, all I can do is see the whole picture, use my time wisely, and deal with it. The perspective is what will take an unexpected change of plans and move it to be a profitable experience.

Simple Networking

Two weeks ago one of my friends, @RyanDGates, challenged me to get a hold of Ralph Winter (the Executive Producer for X-Men). To be honest, I didn’t make the challenge of talking with him in three days but I did get a hold of him a few days after. From that contact I’ve started to understand that I want to be a Producer and his insight has truly blessed me. Prior to this event I’ve always had a focus on getting to know people with the interpersonal skills I’ve learned.

Every day I try to meet someone new and build a true relationship out of it. This idea of expanding my network takes a lot of work yet many people think that it just comes naturally. Here is the thing; it is possible for anyone to truly network with ease. The social networking world has given us a key to starting our networking in a simple way. Through the internet we are able to have an icebreaker type of conversation that leads to a simple coffee shop, Skype call, and/or e-mail. The thing is, as you put time into networking you will find that it can shape where you will go.

Personally, I want to be an Executive Producer and have tried to get a hold of people that can help guide my knowledge, teach, and even mentor me as I try to move forward in this. That is one reason I took up the challenge from Ryan. I am always searching for people to network with so I can get better at what I love.

Here is a simple thought, if you love something and want to learn more about it, count to three and get off your butt and just ask. Here are the three things that I am trying to implement and will continue to try and implement.

  1. Observe the scenario
  2. Simply ask to talk
  3. Always follow through

There are always a million things that I could list of things to do but simplicity is the best. So, as you go into a situation, observe the scenario and see the mood and body language of the person you are going to network with. If you are on the internet, a lot of the time you can ignore this first step but respect that the internet needs to be filtered.

You can use social networks to break the ice if you don’t feel bold enough. There really is no excuse not to use what you have and contact people to find a moment where they have 30 minutes, respect it, and follow through. People are usually open to talk, simply ask to talk and you will see the results. When I contacted Ralph Winter, that’s all I did, I asked to simply talk.

I continually forget, always follow through. Recently I e-mailed Mateo Massina (Juno composer) to speak with him about his story of success as a composer, got a hold of him and we had coffee. The thing is, he asked me to send him a website about the watch I was wearing. That opened up a new conversation and continual communication after we had met.

A network of individuals you can talk with can help you in any and every way. Think about it, if you have a hundred individuals out there who know you the probability of them remembering you and your talent in the future is extravagantly bigger.

The only way to make sure they remember you is to speak when spoken to and listen the majority of the time. When I say listen, I truly mean listen. The greatest thing that I’ve learned while trying to network is the ability to listen. As you ask questions, people become more inclined to talk especially if you are interested. They will talk about themselves and that is the goal then follow through to ask you.

In some ways, we are born to network yet we often forget to and don’t observe the scenario, ask, and/or follow through. But if we do all three, we can build a network of individuals who can help us take a step forward in our lives. Take it as a challenge, try to meet three people in the next week and see how much you may have in common and/or can learn. It is a challenge I take up every week.

The Etiquette Dinner

Yes, everyone knows that people need to learn some manners at the dinner table but why head to an “Etiquette Dinner” when you can use common sense? At least that was my question. You see, I had to go to an etiquette dinner and surprisingly learned a lot more then I had expected.

Having etiquette at a dinner table isn’t dead and neither is chivalry but it seems that these simple manners are being thrown to the wayside. After I got to dinner, I started to hear the step-by-step instructions on how to eat properly. I realized how much more professional you can look by being smart with how you eat. Plus, the food tasted ten times better since we were told to eat slower and with the pace of everyone else.

Eating properly could land you the next job if it comes down to how you represented yourself. That seemed like a dream to me but after I left I really understood why having manners and eating right looked a step up from the norm. So, here are three things that I will be putting towards my manners, and/or, trying to put towards it to make my appearance more professional.

  • Be patient and wait for others before taking part in the food. As you eat, keep up the patience and stay at the same pace as the others sitting with you.
  • Use your right hand to grab the water, it is always on the right, don’t grab another person’s water, use your own.
  • When you cut your food, cut only a piece at a time to eat. Don’t cut up the ‘chicken’ to be like chicken nuggets, eat it one bite then cut another bite. It helps you take time in eating.

Three things that are common sense but I never would have remembered them in the moment. Hopefully I will remember these things in the next moment of dinner with individuals interested in what I can offer them.

Here’s to the next meeting and hopefully getting a job opportunity. The little things do add up and can influence in large ways. So, go out and network and get an opportunity for yourself to have dinner with a new person and practice the skills. Enjoy the ambiance that a good meal can give in a professional light. Etiquette does matter and it can influence the way people see you.

If you are looking for more basic etiquette –

If you are looking for someone to teach you check out Mary L. Starvaggi at –

Pages: 1 2 3