Thursday, April 29, 2010

An evening with Lee Woodruff - My SmartTalk ConnectedConversations Recap

I had the pleasure of having a rare Girl's Night Out last Tuesday, April 27th.  A dear friend, with whom I golf, invited me to attend SmartTalk ConnectedConversations with Lee Woodruff. Another golf friend's company, JNBA Financial Advisors was an event sponsor.

Lee and her husband - Bob Woodruff (best known for his work as an ABC NEWS anchor) were immediately thrust into the hearts and homes of millions when breaking news announced that Bob's brain had been critically injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, while on assignment back on January 29th, 2006.

Lee recounted the entire course of events during her speech - engaging the emotions of the audience with every word. She sees herself as the "face of the caregiver" who relied on "strong foundations and faith" to lead her through the ordeal and Bob's long recovery process. It also allows us to identify with her & how we would react when presented with our own crisis situations.  She chooses to "live in a world of hope" and "to stay in the zone", which at the time meant waiting to find out Bob's baseline before forming any conclusions about the future of their existence together as a family.
"I have to know - will he still love me?... and he did... (the doctor) was right." - Lee Woodruff

She talked about "hope needing to be dispensed a little more with the reality" in the medical community and how it was the nurses that gave her glimmers of light - recounting Bob's hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute accomplishments as his brain slowly worked to "re-wire itself", which she called "an incredible miracle." 

"He's a fighter... He wants to live."  "He is my Bob."  "I can't believe you're here...You shouldn't be here... every night is a gift." - Lee Woodruff
I really encourage you to pick up her books: "In An Instant" and her newest work: "Perfectly Imperfect - A Life in Progress", which deals with "what happens when the adrenalin stops." I won't give a way every compelling detail - I want you to experience it for yourself, in her words.

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet Lee and to hear her speak. She literally peeled back her layers and invited us into her soul - helping us understand what it took to get her through their family's personal tragedy, but more importantly to "come out the other side." She stressed the importance of connecting yourself on a daily basis to your loved ones - living in the moment. It's something every one of us could relate to - forgetting to do just that and taking the little miracles of life for granted.
"Be In The Moment" - Lee Woodruff

 Giving thanks for the moment is the only way to glimpse eternity.
- Modern meditation from Seville, Spain

If you haven't heard about Bob & Lee Woodruff's foundation, I encourage you to check out their website & learn about the incredible work they do through their grants. They have a great mission and purpose: to provide "resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically."

By the way, Jennifer, a fellow MN blogger~ @UnplannedCookin attended this event as well, so for another point of view, look for her blog post recap next Monday at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - "In An Instant"

 The incredible spirit who is Lee Woodruff 
says to "Be In The Moment" ~ 
More on this to come.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Common Threads - Sewing Social Gifts

More than a few tweets this past week have dealt with the importance of taking relationships forged through social networks to the next level by engaging in face-to-face meetings. Everyone knows that LinkedIn & Twitter help connect people who have common threads, shared ideas and values.  We use these vehicles to either maintain contact with friends, co-workers, mentors and/or peers, to establish new connections, and/or to grow transient relationships into long term ones. 

A year ago LinkedIn made total sense to me for business reasons, Facebook had grown into a cool & instantly gratifying tool for re-connection with both current and old friends/acquaintances. I was still just dipping my toes in the water with Twitter, keeping my tweets private & doing a lot of observation. I may have made reference to this in an earlier post, but after someone suggested I make my tweets public vs private in order to "get more mileage out of my tweets", it clicked for me. Once that light bulb came on I dived into the water with the twitter bird flying along side & the twitter whale swimming over capacity at times without looking back.

Twitter gives everyone a chance to be a Marketer. This platform gives people the opportunity to sell themselves and for many, to be a living, breathing brand presence. I believe how people present themselves on Twitter, i.e. whether they communicate in an edited manner or not, says so much about a person.  So much can be read into & understood about a person whether they are speaking their mind - reacting to twitter noise or just saying the first thing that pops out of their head that will fit in 140 characters. You almost instantly have a gut reaction to people & know if you want to know more about them, or if you'd prefer to block them. To some the pull is stronger & you want to bring them into your personal circle, not just within your Twitter space.

"...let me feel the "isness" of things and people, without resistance, without trying to impose my own pattern upon them or exploit them for selfish ends. Let me welcome them, enjoy them, value them, love them, for what they are and for what they are becoming..." - George Appleton

A couple examples of people with whom I felt a stronger connection with were Missy (aka @MarketingMamaMN ) and Erica ( @EricaMayer ). I can't really remember how I was originally introduced to them virtually, but I believe that everything happens for a reason & this was no different.  I was meant to cross paths with these spirited ladies & to draw from their experiences. They each offer something very different to their followers. I am blessed to have finally met each of them face-to-face early last week and look forward to building on those meet-ups & taking those friendships to another level online and more importantly, off-line. There are a few other tweeps on my list to connect with, and I'm making it a priority to do so very soon.

Passion is something so many people strive to have in their lives, whether it's around your family, work,writing, photography, a hobby, or a charitable cause which you volunteer and/or raise awareness & funds for. These are two people who I believe are truly passionate about being successful with their personal & business goals.   At at the same time, they have made a huge difference in the lives of those around them.  They are able to sew social gifts and publish them, or "ship them" as Seth Godin would say. That's a pretty awesome talent to be able to go to bed with at the end of the day.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Goodnight Earth Day

Another Earth Day has passed & tributes manifested in so many different shapes & forms.  I dressed my son for daycare in a funky new tee that I found several months ago at Gymboree. 


His teacher told me, when I picked him up at the end of the day, that he took great pride in reminding people all day long that he was wearing his "Earth Day tee shirt".  I had explained everything that was on the shirt when I dressed him this morning, so I was pretty proud of him that he took it so seriously.  There were recycle symbols, birds, trees, bikes, skateboards, sun, leaves, earth, footprints and plants, all symbols of living an eco-friendly existence.
I started planning my container gardens for the season, running to Homegoods to pick up a second new barrel planter for the front of the house & to Lowes to buy the huge bags of potting soil. It's still a bit too early to plant, but as soon as the herbs & annuals hit the stores it will be a day long project for my son & I - picking them out & then arranging it all in our planters. We may even attempt to grow some veggies on the deck. The buds in our landscape are just now starting to open up, so it's very motivating to say the least.


Companies that never promoted themselves as being eco-sensitive before today were flooding my e-mail with campaigns as to why their companies were "green" . Reminded me of St. Patrick's Day when suddenly everyone claims to be Irish. There were Earth Day promotional sales - too many to count - all of which I simply deleted. HGTV & Sprout (cable networks at very opposite ends of the spectrum I know) ran a full day of special earth-friendly episodes of their shows.  

Twitter was a buzz with people sharing how they intended to show their support for Earth Day, whether it was biking to work, taking hazardous waste to a drop-off site or unplugging appliances for the day, everyone seemed to want do a little something to show their awareness & support.  Other companies like Element Six Media were nostalgic, posting a link to a Walter Cronkite news special that ran on Earth Day 40 years ago. They also sent one of my favorite tweets of the day: 

"@Element_Six Being green is not celebrated in one day. The planet needs your help everyday!!! #EarthDay #MakeADifference" - Element Six Media

So how did you spend your 40th Anniversary Earth Day?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Everyone Loves Lemonade

The weather has been nice enough that the little neighbor girls set up a table yesterday, just outside of our cul-de-sac, and were selling lemonade. They did the same thing last summer on the hottest days. I always feel compelled to buy a glass & to pay them a bit more than what they were asking for.  They wanted $0.25/glass & were surprised when I gave them $0.50 & then told them to keep the extra quarter. Everyone loves lemonade - right?! It never matters if I really want to drink the lemonade or not, it's more about supporting their entrepreneurship & to help make them feel successful at the end of the day.

I recently ordered a documentary called "Lemonade". (It's also available to watch for free on Hulu.) I initially watched the trailer & knew I needed to own it because it hit so close to home. It spotlights the stories of people who have experienced layoffs & who worked in a creative agency environment. That's the 1st part of the storyline.
Some days just take so much more strength than others to get through. There's nothing quite like being on unemployment road, one that doesn't seem to end. You really want to get off & recharge with a little nourishment, but there are no exit signs in sight.

Where there is pain, cures will be found.
Where there is poverty, wealth will be supplied.
Where there are questions, answers will be given.
Spend less time worrying and more time trusting.
 - Jalil al-Din Rumi

There have been times when I just wanted to be able to let the tears come, but they wouldn't flow - almost like the tears knew it wouldn't change anything & that I wouldn't have felt any better having had that brief moment of release. Every day that goes by is a test of my ability to trust in the unknowns around the job search process... to trust in the powers that are beyond my control. I can do my part: to research the companies, to make the right inside connections, to request the interview, to sell myself & what I have to offer that satisfies the needs of the companies and do the follow-through after the interviews, but am not the decision-maker, at least not until an offer letter arrives. It has to be okay that for each situation, the processes, boundaries and protocol will be different. 

These feelings aren't even about going through the grief process post-layoff. I've been there & done that. I've moved on.  It's more about needing to know the way forward & developing that magic sauce that allows you to be "normal" or "made whole" & what others would say is a "fully contributing member of society" again. That's the phase of healing in which I find myself in now. 

I ordered "Lemonade" with the hopes that I could learn from how others have squeezed their unemployment lemons and made virtual lemonade, which is the 2nd part of the documentary's focus. The subjects turned their focus on discovering exactly what it was that they loved & figuring out how to start doing just that. 

The beauty of it is that most of their paths traveled in directions they never would have gone if they hadn't been laid off & because of that, they harbor no guilt about having been laid off and have no regrets about their lemonade: the direction their personal & professional lives have taken as a result.  

Cherishing the precious extra moments I have with my family during this period, volunteering, networking, strengthening personal relationships & blogging are truly steps in the right direction. Having that sense of certainty and knowing that I'm already doing what I love is a phase I would be thrilled to find myself in now, however, as of right now, it's still a work in process.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A taste of life on the other side

Twitter seems to be a buzz about good things happening to good people. Within the past week, I've read news about three people accepting new jobs.  Hopefully this is a sign that things are turning in the right direction in the Twin Cities & my turn for some good fortune will soon come too. 

Something very bad also happened to a family very close to us - they lost a portion of their home & a significant amount of their belongings to a fire.  There is nothing that I know of that could have prepared them for the shock & despair that goes along with a tragedy such as that. It will be at least 8 months before they will get their home back in the condition it was when they left home that day, but their minds & hearts will forever be altered.

When it is dark enough you can see the stars. - Charles A. Beard

Times like that call on us to rely on our faith to help us understand why good things happen to good people & why horrible things sometimes happen to good people.  If you're one of the people to whom something bad has happened you automatically think to yourself - why me? Why couldn't this have happened to someone else.  At least that was the immediate reaction of the victims of that fire. 

Once the initial shock passes, you are left with a feeling of relief - that you survived & that things could have been much worse.  It's faith that pulls you up from your knees & says: I know it's not clear now why this happened, but you are bigger than your circumstances & you will come out the other side a stronger person. It is my time to be thankful for the good fortune of others, and also to lend my hand & give strength to those who haven't been so fortunate.

The tulips opened up today - after a nice period of overnight rain.  It made me happy & very hopeful at the same time. It also gave me the inspiration for today's post.  Of course I wish I could take a taste of life on the other side right now, but it's not quite my time. I swear though I'll be ready when it is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Metamorphoses of Cultures

I've moved on to another book called "the future ain't what it used to be - the 40 cultural trends transforming your job, your life, your world" by three folks who founded iconoculture: Vickie Abrahamson, Mary Meehan and Larry Samuel. Best deal on a book that I've found in a long time - $1.00!  I will be looking at which of the 40 trends identified back in 1998 are still relevant today & writing about them. If you're interested, obviously, this would be a good one to check out of the library vs. buying it.

Vickie Abrahamson & Mary Meehan have since left iconoculture & co-founded a new custom consulting firm called Panoramix Global. Larry Samuel, Ph.D., moved on as well, founded Culture Planning ( and continues to write books related to cultural trends.

Within the 1st trend "Mind", I've already found things that are just as important to us now as they predicted 12 years ago:

1. "Need to acquire more and more intellectual capital"
2. "Shift toward self-education"
3. "Traditional forms of education and learning are being challenged..." This has been realized in more charter schools, homeschooling & flexible on-line learning options, not to mention ideas like the Personal MBA,, free on-line access to MIT OpenCourseWare as well as the likes of Kindles, Nooks and iPads replacing college/university textbooks.
4. "Greater recognition of community service performed by students, which lays the seeds for a whole generation of civic-minded adults."

I'm already looking forward to reflecting on some of the other 39 cultural trends to see if their early track record improves or worsens. 21st century life is such a manifestation of the metamorphoses of different cultures. Who would have thought this time last year that I would now be so immersed in Twitter - following almost 400 people, with 300+ followers.  There are huge communities of people out in the twitter universe self-educating. These communities are searching for "more intellectual capital", as well as sharing their gifts of insight & knowledge with their followers. 

I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of connecting with so many great minds that I otherwise would never have crossed paths with. Can't wait to see what new opportunities for learning that life presents in the coming year.  

Friday, April 9, 2010

Life is all about Choices

Just finished reading "Linchpin - Are You Indispensable" by Seth Godin.  This book gets to the heart of where the culture of the workforce started & where it's evolved to. It makes you reevaluate the career choices you make & why you are the type of employee you are. It also provides a vision for changing things if you don't like what you see & want to become someone with "gifts" to share - someone with "passion, discernment, dignity, humanity & generosity." There are so many truths in this book that you can put in your leadership "toolkit" and use to become a better manager, a better employee & a better developer of self and staff.

Erica Mayer recently introduced her twitter universe to an unemployed & homeless man named "D J" who has been blogging about his experiences. Erica took attention away from her own fundraiser efforts for clean water in order to ask people to follow this man on twitter.  She knew how much we could all learn from his plight, as well as how much might be accomplished if people came together to support his goals.  He aspires to raise awareness about & find solutions for homelessness.

"...there's some correlation between the passion and the effort that people bring to a project and the outcome." - Seth Godin

Life is all about Choices. D J has a choice about whether to give up or to keep fighting the circumstance he finds himself in and he's choosing to fight - hour by hour, minute by minute - one day at a time.  If you get the chance, think about reading D J's blog which you can find via the above link to his twitter account.  You'll be given a few "gifts" that you weren't expecting to receive, plus you'll appreciate your life a whole lot more in the process.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Early April Rain


 We just received a brief but needed downpour.  With the lack of March snowfall, it's looking quite dry outside.  The grass and tender young spouts desperately needed a drink. The rain has stopped momentarily & the sun is shining brightly from behind a thick white curtain of clouds lighting up the sky.

Late last night I received word that a friend who had recently been laid off had received an offer & was starting back to work. One of her networking leads had paid off. I quickly sent her a note back with my congratulations.  We had met a couple of times while she had been out of work, just to chat & offer one another some positive energy & encouragement.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that a few tears welled up in my eyes as I was typing that note.  I kept thinking "when will it finally be my turn."

“God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.” - Unknown

I'm doing my best to remain optimistic about my own search efforts. The employment figures seem to be improving every month, while I'm also hearing that long-term unemployment is still a major issue for many very qualified individuals.

Before the flowers have a chance to bloom & flourish, a little rain must fall.  When my rainy days finally stop, I know there will be a ray of sun following closely behind it, my garden will fill in & all will be right again in my world.