how do you carry on? #lasvegas

While watching the news coverage from Las Vegas today I thought about our confrontation with pain and despair.   In my binary mind I think we really have two choices.

Give in and go down a road of misery and contempt.

Or.

Pull those close to you inward and be kind to any and all people you interact with.

When you feel overwhelmed in a world that seems to be sinking fast, recall the words of Mohandas Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Fight evil with kindness.

Fight apathy with empathy.

Fight inaction with advocacy.

Don’t give in.  Be the change.

 

 

 

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@joerogan laughter is infectious

@joerogan is my favorite podcast.  Joe is incredibly well read, smart, and entertaining.  His guests come from a wide swath of backgrounds and Joe is able to build rapport with all of them.  His guests may include MMA fighters, scientists, or comedians.  Joe is always true to himself and never changes who he is based upon whom he is talking to.

My favorite part of the show is when Joe finds something funny and belts our the most infectious laugh.  I find myself laughing at his laughter.  I might be walking my dog while listening and passers by give me odd looks as I belly laugh along with the show.

In those moments, I can actually feel chemical changes in my body.  I feel happier and lighter.  I appreciate it Joe, and thanks for the lift.

take the job and then figure it out.

I’ve heard it said more than once that if you get offered a job but aren’t sure you are qualified, just take it and figure it out as fast as you can.

I have recently followed this advice by taking on a part time technology contract position in which I have little experience to speak of.  However, the people I work with have been encouraging as they have helped educate me in technologies I had literally never used before.

The more often I work, the more I learn and feel slightly more competent every day.  I watch training videos in my free time and am in the process of installing some VMWare tools to learn even faster.

I must admit that the first few days were wrought with anxiety as I thought people would see through my confident exterior.  My face was tired from the constant clenching of my jaw and my fingernails were chewed down to the skin.  Thankfully each day has gotten easier and I will eventually be competent in my role.

I wouldn’t say I am in the “fake it till you make it” camp, but sometimes sitting back, being quiet, and searching for information prior to asking for it can be a decent strategy for a new job.

 

@ThisIsSethsBlog for inspiration

I just found Seth Godin’s work online

Aside from the content, the thing that amazes me the most about Seth’s writing is that he commits to publishing every day.  I don’t yet know if he writes every day or manages to bang out 5 in one day and save them for the rest of the week.  However, the dedication to daily publishing is quite inspiring.

When I started my blog it was a spin off of some professional writing I was doing on LinkedIn.  @blogsofstuff was focused on personal finance, life hacking, and anything of interest to me at that time.  As the name implies, it was full of “stuff”.

Sometimes I would go weeks without writing.  I always felt that my posts had to be really unique and mind blowing to be worth while.  I am learning that consistency may be the better approach.  There is no need to create a masterpiece 3 page blog every time I write.  Sometimes a few paragraphs on a more regular basis will yield better traffic and interest.  At the very least, it will force me to sit down and produce.

As all of the experts say, “done is better than perfect.”

healthcare advocate

healthcareOK…

Some of this may be a little gross, but it is important to read this in becoming your own healthcare advocate.

I went to a dermatologist today to have a plantar wart treated.  Plantar warts are unpleasant.  They are warts that grow on the bottom of the foot.  They make every step feel like there is a pebble in your shoe.  As the warts grow so does the pain.

After numerous over the counter treatments and old wives tale remedies that failed to shrink the wart, I decided to have it professionally treated.

I met the dermatologist.  She was a newer doctor and not one that I recognized from the practice when I visited a few years earlier.

She examined my foot and was indecisive about my lesion.  She was thinking out loud and settled on a diagnosis of a callous.

In my opinion she was misdiagnosing my problem.  I have had warts through most of my life and was quite familiar with their characteristics: cauliflower looking skin, black dots in the middle, regrowth after trimming, etc.

When the Dr, seemed committed to the callous diagnosis I had a pit in my stomach.  I don’t go to the doctor often and for me to have my chief complaint minimized felt frustrating.

In a split second I needed to make a big decision… Do I accept the diagnosis that I believe is wrong and leave the office dissatisfied?  Or… do I advocate for myself with the understanding that the doctor will be offended that I am questioning her judgement.  So many things could go wrong for me.  She could think I am questioning her because she is a female (untrue).  She could think I am questioning her because I think she is young (untrue).  None of these are good outcomes and will lead to extreme awkwardness whether I am right or wrong.

I decided to go for it.

I very politely told her…”with all due respect to you and your training, I believe my experience is consistent with a plantar wart.  Can you have a peer consult and take a look?”

She was clearly irritated and left the room as she told me she would ask a partner to look.

After a 20 minute wait, the partner came in and examined my foot.  He manipulated it in a way that was different than her style.  The results from his physical manipulation were different than when she did it.  He looked through a special magnifying glass lined with lights.

When he looked up from the visual exam, he asked her “did you use this?”

She said yes.

But in that moment I knew I was right and she was wrong.

The senior doctor smiled and shook my hand as I thanked him for his time and flexibility.

He said that he and the other doctor would discuss outside and be right back.  Again, I immediately knew that this meant she did not make the correct diagnosis.

When the original dermatologist re-entered the room she said that the senior doctor thinks it “may” be a wart I was not surprised.  We agreed to try freezing the wart and she applied the treatment.

In the end, my decision to break societal norms and question the expert led to a more useful visit for me.  I feel badly that the clinically trained doctor made a mistake.  I also feel badly that she will probably be angry and may telling herself I questioned her because of her gender.  Hopefully, she will be self aware and think about it at the end of the day to learn from the experience.

As for me, advocating for myself was rewarding.  Too often we accept experts as dogma.  In my case the results of a misdiagnosis would not be too impactful, but if it were for a more meaningful health issue the impact could be of life or death.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do not be embarrassed or ashamed to persist until you are satisfied with the answers.

best man speech, 15 years old

 

champagne-glassesAbout 15 years ago, I was honored to be the best man in my friend’s wedding.  It was a destination event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I remember the day was very hot and we were all wearing heavy wool suits.  I knew I wanted a short toast and the weather definitely solidified my decision….

It went like this.

Friends and family, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Kevin and Erin.  When Kevin asked me to be his best man I was humbled but excited to fill the role.

I was there the night that Kevin and Erin met so I feel uniquely qualified to send them into wedded bliss.  Watching their relationship evolve from a single dance at a frat party to this wedding today allowed me to also get to know Erin.  She is smart, kind, funny, and most importantly …. tolerant!

Kevin and I met in college.  We were roommates and became fast friends.

I can be judgmental with my friends.  I might rank them and the absolute best friends are those like Kevin.  I know that I can ask Kevin to help me move apartments or bail me out of jail at 2 AM with no questions asked.

And ever since Kevin and Erin’s engagement last year, I have been preparing to to formally give up the title as Kevin’s best friend.  Today marks the final transition of that process as Kevin and Erin pledge eternal love.

But Kevin you know you can always count on me any time.  If you ever need me to bail you out of jail at 2AM I will be there in a flash.

But from now on, you’ll need to call Erin first!

Thank you and Cheers!!!!

when in doubt, do right

Over the past couple of weeks a number of major venture capitalists have written mea culpa articles apologizing for the ways that the contributed to a misogynistic culture in Silicon Valley.  The first was a bit vague and general but seemed to focus upon inaction in the face of adversity.  This individual recognized that he was silent as others created an environment of fear and hostility among his female peers.  The second VC acknowledged that he was a “creep” (because creep sounds better than serial predator) and had a hard time expanding his dating pool beyond his coworkers and subordinates.

Each of these folks garnered a lot of feedback following their admissions.  Some of it was negative as many people boiled the message down to “talk is cheap”.  While others praised the authors as “brave” for opening a dialog about current injustices and taking accountability for their actions.

I felt that both were weak, somewhat public relation stunts borne of white privilege.  It seems that each character entered into this foray under his own volition and control. They were able to craft their own message and own the sentiment.  One of the authors resigned his post at a VC but coincidentally, the other guy retired only a month prior…dubious timing.

The thing that bothered me most about the apology tour is simple.  It should have never been necessary in the first place.  We all make mistakes in life so no stones are being thrown in that glass house.  However, when you participate in a pattern of systemic and prevalent culture of hatred and dehumanization of half of your co-workers, a simple apology essay doesn’t cut it.

I can tell you first hand about this because I lived it and I did the right thing and it was one of the times in my life that I look back upon as a watershed moment.  It solidified who I am as a person and gave me the moral high ground to expect more from people around me.  It also provided the experience to teach my future children that being kind and just is simply not that hard.

I was in a fraternity at college and during rush season we held a number of parties and open houses to meet potential members before offering them bids to pledge.  Of course looking back, fraternities were the dumbest and juvenile organizations at my college but I digress.

One individual came to all of your events.  I’ll call him NP.  He was interested in the culture of our fraternity which had no prevailing identity.  We weren’t jocks but we had athletes.  We weren’t service oriented, but we volunteered.  We weren’t an academic fraternity but we had future doctors.  We were just a group of regular guys who liked to hang out and drink beer.

NP met all of the current brothers.  He was Indian and had a stutter at times and went out of his way to put himself out there.  I liked him but we weren’t friends yet.

At the end of rush season the fraternity meets to decide whom to invite into the group. Names are read and discussed and votes are taken.  Sadly it is very similar to the scene in “Animal House” as each pledge is reviewed on a projector screen.

When NP name came up, there was limited conversation and he was to be skipped for invitation.  It was at that moment I became the man I am today.  I stood up and said something to the effect….

“I am disappointed to hear about the direction that this vote is going.  NP has been to all of our events.  He has made efforts to meet every one of you, although you have not done the same.  He looks different than you.  He sounds different than you.  If you want to still vote no, that’s fine by me, just be honest that its because you’re racists and that it doesn’t have anything to do with the effort NP has shown getting to know you all. ”

And then I sat down.

The vote flipped and NP was a new inductee.

Eventually word got back to NP about the meeting and thankfully he focused more on the fact that I had his back over the dismissal he was about to face without it.

I think that the meeting had just as big as an impact on him as it did for me.  As he learned that I stood up for him against odds and put my reputation on the line to do the right thing made a lasting impression on him.

Now if you have read this far you may be asking yourself…how does this compare to the VC problems with misogyny?  How dare I compare a simple fraternity membership issue to something as big as wide scale discrimination?  The answer is simple to me.  Culture is derived by the actions that are praised and punished within an organization.  Little interactions turn into medium interactions that turn in to larger interactions.  When micro agressions are tolerated, it builds the foundation for more absurd activity.  When people can comfortably treat others as inferior without repercussions a snowball effect can take place.

Alternately, when people do the right thing in small ways such as hold doors open and keep elevators open for rushing staff a culture of respect can follow in meeting rooms.

Good begets good and bad begets bad.  I think it is really that simple.

So to the VC on their apology tours, its good that you recognize your roles in creating this mess.  But talk is cheap and I look forward to hearing from those who you now help to right your wrongs.