Monday, December 26, 2016

At What Point Do We Accept Change?

“I know this is new and different, but in six months to a year from now, you will be used to this…”

I have used this line numerous times over the past 20 years.  As a project manager, the fear of change amongst the user community always looms large when changing software or processes.  I use a variant of the line above to put them at ease, or to remind them of how comfortable they are now from the last major update/change.  The fact is, we live in a world of constant change, and some of us are agents of change.  Amazingly enough, as the changes are accepted, people forget the pains they went through in the process.

This is not limited to the work environment either.  Anyone involved in a volunteer organization, trying to balance existing members with attracting new members has to be aware of changes in the population and public attitudes.  Steering a volunteer organization into the future is not easy.  By nature, everyone involved is a volunteer, so there is no concept of a “corporate mandate” that everyone has to follow.  In a corporation, top management directive helps, because everyone is expected to follow along.  Without a corporate sponsor and a steering committee, in a volunteer environment, you have to appeal to the membership.  Once you have “buy-in,” the same line can be used.

At home, in our personal lives, having children who you are involved with brings about changes in multiple ways (parent-child, between spouses, involvement with next/future generations).  There used to be the image, which was popularized that once you reach a certain age you got to sit on your front porch, in a rocking chair, sip lemonade and watch the world go by.  I cannot, at this point in my life, see myself sitting on a porch all day long.  Change, in a household way, seems natural.  Most of us expect to find someone to spend our lives with, have children, etc.  These are active parts of our lives and we do not “fight” the changes and accept them, in some cases, daily, weekly or monthly.  I know that the people who reach the rocking chair age, push back on that point.  I heard one lady state, “This is not where I want to be, but this is where I am at.” 

We are heading into a new year, a time where we sit back and reflect on the past year, the changes that have impacted us and put some thought into what we would like the upcoming year to look like.  Many New Year’s resolutions include some form of change.  Be diligent about the goals you set, and remember, when it comes to change, “I know this is new and different, but in six months to a year from now, you will be used to this…”

Monday, December 19, 2016


 “Hey, Wayne, I got a few minutes while I am in the car…”

How many of you have received a call that started that way?  How many of you have called someone and after “hello” said that line?

Or, how many of you:

  • Have received a text that started “Hey, just a quick…”? 
  • Have texted someone and used that line?
  • While at work, have sent or received an IM from the person one aisle away? 
  • …an email with a one-line question, from the person that sits diagonal to you?
  • Sent / received a text from a family member in the next room?

Whether in our personal lives, and now, to some extent, our business lives, we have learned to “fast path” our communications.  There are times where I am guilty of this.  I have worked hard to put away my electronic devices.  I rarely ever bring my phone to a meeting (unless there is an issue at home) - I no longer answer every ding, sound effect or related “you’ve got mail” indicators.  I am striving at work to answer emails at certain points in the day.  By checking these types of communications whenever they pop up, we are distracted from what our focus should be.  In meetings, I know that when the phone is more interesting than the meeting – it is over.

Of course, the corollary question is have we lost the ability to communicate face-to-face?  Are we learning from the millennials and our own children?  They spend a significant amount of time on their devices.  They can game and communicate.  They have free video apps to see their friends.  I remember years ago, I walked into the living and there was my daughter was doing her homework on her laptop.  She was busy typing on the computer and typing on her phone and there were at least three people in tiny boxes on her laptop, no one was talking.  They were, she explained to me, just hanging out.

The most extreme case of “my-cell-phone-is more-important” syndrome was recently in the subway.  She was in the hallway, underground, her large suitcase tipped over on its back.  In her hand was her cell phone talking to someone.  The suitcase was large enough that she needed two hands to put it right side up.  She did not stop talking on the phone, nor did she put it down (or in her pocket).  Struggle as she did, the phone was most important.

With the holiday season upon us, this is the time of year we generally spend with our family and friends.  A time of the year where we should be living in the moment; to take in all of the sights, sounds and excitement of our respective holidays.  Let us each make a commitment to put down our cell phones, turn off the ringers and ignore the clarion call of our phones.  Let us all live in the moment, spend time together and enjoy each other face to face.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I Like Food!

Dreaming of Food...

I like food!  OK, I put it out there.  I like various flavors, textures, smells and the feeling of having just enjoyed a tasty meal.  As a kid, my father jokingly referred to me as Electrolux, after the vacuum cleaner brand, because, out of my brothers, I was always the one that would swoop in and polish off whatever food was left on their plates.  As a parent, all of our children go through a phase in their life where they do not finish what is in front of them.  When you go out to eat, that can become a costly waste of food.  My parents had Wayne, so there was never food neither left on a plate nor wasted.  Like many peers, I was taught to eat whatever was put in front of me (except the hated liver).  Going to visit my grandparents, my grandmother would open the “dessert drawer” and throw that carrot in front of me, “Make all gone, Wayne, and you can pick something from the draw.”  My dad grew up learning to polish off a whole tray of fresh baked cookies.  I remember as an adult, visiting some cousins that exhibited traits of being good eaters, saying to my parents, then later to Debbie, “Don’t you feed him?  He doesn’t look healthy.”  I am not sure if this was a family thing, a cultural thing, or an American thing.  Food was always foisted onto me.

A number of years ago, a new word was added to the English language – Foodie.  This was officially added in the 1980’s.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Foodie (n) as “a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.”  Collins English Dictionary defines the word as, “a person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food.”  I am not necessarily interested in food fads.  While I enjoy cooking and eating, I cannot say that I have an “enthusiastic interest” in these.  One of my daughters thought she might be a Foodie, but I think she stated it best, “I am not a Foodie.  I just like to eat!”

“But, Wayne, your goal for the year was to transform your body.  How can you talk about eating like this?” 

Great question!  If we look at the “celebrity” chefs, who are definitely Foodies, take their food expertise seriously and eat / taste as part of their livelihood / life style, a majority of them are not overweight.  “Yeah, but…” no, there are no “yeah, buts” in this case.  Enjoying food does not equal gluttony.  I do not count the calories of the foods that I eat.  I no longer eat until I feel like I am about to explode.  I limit the types of foods that I eat on a regular basis, saving the more “unhealthy” options as an occasionally “treat.”  What I have found is that by changing my perspective, my daily meals are to fuel me for the day ahead and have certain parameters that are repeated, which means that the foods I avoid, over time, I no longer miss.  When the infrequent meals come that I want to “let myself go,” I find that I enjoy them more.  Like anything else, once I set my mind to it, became diligent (some might accuse me of being anal), and followed through, my eating habits changed.  However, let us not be fooled…I still like food!

Monday, December 5, 2016

On The Road Again

Debbie and I have not had a road trip alone together since before Gab and Bec were born.  The last one was a vacation where we went from LA to the Grand Canyon to Scottsdale, Arizona.  The opportunity for the road trip this time was to pack up various items from my aunt’s condo and bring the fully packed car from Florida to New Jersey.  We arrived on Monday, and the first three days in Florida were spent working and taking care of my aunt’s business.  Thursday afternoon arrived, we had the car loaded with our luggage, various knick knacks, chachkas and memories.  As someone we talked to during our trip said, the spirit of our aunt was looking upon us.  At which point we raised our glasses of beer and toasted Temie.  We said goodbye to Temie’s neighbors, then off we went, just the two of us, in a car, and the open road ahead.  We had not booked any places to stay.  Excited – Yes!  An Adventure – Yes!  Would we make it in one piece?  Would we still be a happily, married couple?  Finally, it was road trip time and vacation (NO WORK). 

For years, I always poo-poo’d driving distances on vacation.  As a family, we did drive to Disney once, but I had a convention in Charlotte, so we tied the two together.  Otherwise, hop in the airplane and show up at the destination.  While there is a lot of empty spaces between cities, we enjoyed the opportunity to visit places we have never been to and realized that driving allowed us the chance to see more of our country, see new places and meet new people.

Some highlights:

  • Visiting friends in Jacksonville – they wanted us to stay the night, but I decided to drive half way to the next stop – Charleston.
  • Driving from 10:30 – 1:00 in the morning - there is NO ONE on the road.
  • Arriving in Charleston in time for the tour guide to pick us up, greeting us with, “Welcome to this adventure.”  Adventure include: 
    • Visiting the oldest tree east of the Mississippi, Angel Oak, that supposedly George Washington visited while smoking hemp from his pipe.
    • Wine Tasting at Deep Water Vineyards
    • Spirits Tasting at Firefly Distillery – who knew they had 27 products?
    • Beer Tasting at Low Tide Brewery
  • Dinner at a local barbeque and bar in Charleston, where next to us there were two people from Queensryche (that were playing that night) eating next to us
  • Walking the historic streets of Charleston
  • An evening spent in Richmond, Virginia where we ate dinner at Southern Railway Taphouse.  At 10:00, the place transformed into a local 20-something year olds hangout and we realized that we were more than double half the patrons age.  We feel young, but…
  • Being fans of “Triple D”, stopping for a late lunch at Johnny Rad’s in Baltimore…fried edamame,  good pizza (El Gato, garlic white) and tasty dessert (Salted Carmel Bread Pudding).
At 8:30 pm Sunday night, 1,350 miles of road behind us, and multiple pits along the way, we walked into our front door.  The four-day “open road” adventure complete.   It was a great trip and we found some places we want to visit in the future.  The best part – we are still talking, are a smiley couple and had a great time being together.  It was great to be off the grid, not pay attention to emails and texts, and just spend time together, focusing on each other.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

I Can See the Finish Line from Here

We have reached the last month of the year.  Many people take time off during this month, whether because they need to use up their vacation time or to spend with their families.  However, the one thing we should not take a vacation from is reaching our goals!  “Yeah, but, Wayne…”  No yeah buts.  If you are close to hitting your goal, why would you quit when you are so close?  Have not started yet, you still have time to begin, or, at least get a jump-start on next year.

Look, in 2015, I had what I thought were achievable goals.  When we got to September, I said, I still have time and put off taking them seriously.  I did not take my goals seriously.  I did not focus on what I wanted to achieve.  A simple goal was not easy for me to achieve, and why?  I could have easily balled up my hand and stuck out my index finger, pointed at any number of things in my life, made excuses and passed the blame onto anyone or anything besides myself.  Hard lesson – that finger only could point back to me.  If my goals were to be achieved, it was up to me and only me.  I cannot give examples of where I could have placed the blamed, because that would mean I thought about it.  But, nope, it was my fault, my non-focus, my lack of diligence that caused my failure.

Fast forward to now.  I came across Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-hour Workout.  The book did not focus on just diet, it did not focus on just exercise, but made the point of transforming oneself, taking responsibility and finding an accountability partner.  12 months after reading the book, during which time I have read 30+ other books, I find that I am once again read The 4-hour Workout.  Why?  I want to finish the year strong by being re-inspired.  I want to finish the year to make sure that I am still focused on my goals.  I want to finish the year finding out if I missed something of value, as they say we do not retain everything we read the first go around.  And, most importantly, as close as I am to where I wanted to be, I want to do everything I can to achieve and possibly surpass my original objective.

There is 1 month, or, 31 days until we reach the finish line.  In front of us is the holiday season, which are merely hurdles in our path that we need to navigate, jumping over them (or going around) while keeping our eyes straight ahead on the tape spanning the end of our paths.  Join me in the sprint towards the end…and I will see you at the finish line.