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The Amusement Park of Life

June 6th, 2018

Let’s say you’re at Disney World waiting to ride your favorite attraction. You see a sign that the wait is 2-hours long. You hesitate but know that you’ll regret it if you leave without riding the one thing you came to Disney for. More important than the 2-hour wait are the people who stand beside you. Who are you waiting with? If you’re with the right people, those that inspire you and make the mundane more interesting, then the time lapsed won’t seem like waiting, instead it will be an extension of the overall experience. On the other hand, if you’re with people who make a living off of complaining, then that would suck.

In life, waiting is inevitable. We wait for red lights, for restaurants to seat us. We wait for more education or experience. We wait to find partners or start families. If you’re not careful your whole life will simply be a waiting game. Waiting is a necessity, but if you’re waiting with the wrong people, you’re wasting precious time.

Just like the complainers in the line at Disney World, there are people in life who have grown so tired of their own waiting games and ordinary routines that they focus their time on finding new things to complain about and new people to critique. They’re never satisfied because they’re doing nothing to improve their own lives, they’re only looking for ways to grumble about their current situations. It’s easy to become that complainer when you’ve been standing in a Disney World line for 2-hours, it’s 100 degrees out and there are screaming children surrounding you.

But in that moment, that’s when you’ll realize if you’re actually waiting with the right people. Can they make light of the uncomfortable situation? Will they stay positive in the face of heatstroke? Are they distracting you from how much your feet hurt because of how entertaining their stories are? These are the people you want to hold on to.

In the waiting game of life, there will be countless unpleasant moments. Surrounding yourself with the right people will turn any amusement park day of misery into a good memory in the years to come. When you’re truly living life to the fullest, you’ll make it to the front of the line without even realizing how long it took because you were enjoying your time in every queue.

Paving the Way for Women’s Opportunity

May 23rd, 2018

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” – Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony fought hard for women’s suffrage. She died 14 years before women were ultimately granted the right to vote, but she was a pioneer in the progress that was made. What seemed like such an unavoidable convention at the time, to inhibit women from having the same rights as men, is now seen as a historical misfortune by most. Granted there are numerous areas in today’s world where women still fall silent to the systematic inequality that has been deeply seeded in so many.

As a woman, reflecting on this quote of Anthony’s is humbling. To know that women today have been given the right and freedom to be who they want to be, which was once only a dream for countless others. To be considered complete and sufficient on one’s own, without the guidance, support or security of a man, is indeed a privilege.

But that’s not every woman’s goal in life, some women are deeply passionate about raising their children and making a home (as are some men). That’s great; there is value in their efforts. The issue becomes present when those very women forget that their right to have a say, and their liberty to choose between life’s opportunities was also fought for by many. Just because they’ve chosen a life path with less resistance and more broadly accepted convention, doesn’t mean they aren’t benefiting from what has been fought for on their behalf.

Unfortunately, these days it seems that women are pitted against one another. The stay-at-home moms of the world feel threatened by those who are balancing their careers and their families; those who spend their time in a board room feel judged by the women who stay busy caring for their children. And all of this contention for what? Neither of these lifestyles are better than the other. They’re both noble. The issue arises when people are so defensive that they’re unable to respect the preferences and sacrifices of another.

3 Types of People to Avoid in Organizational Politics

May 9th, 2018

Stick around any organization long enough and you’ll hear a recurring conversation begin to emerge. Regardless of the type of organization––nonprofit, corporation or an interest-based club, where people are, organizational politics will be also. Whether the desire is to grow, build organizational awareness, or create more effective goals, there are a few types of people or stances that will most likely make themselves known. You’ve probably run into one or more of these people a time or two:

  1. The “Millennials-Are-Everything” Person

We get it. Millennials are important. They’re significant to organizations as they become more influential in society, but every group has to analyze its goals, mission, and target audiences uniquely to determine if initiatives angled toward a younger audience would be beneficial to its overall growth efforts. Jumping on the millennial bandwagon just because everyone else is may not benefit your association in the long run and encouraging those that are pushing the pro-millennial bill too fiercely, could aggressively hinder your working relationships with other key audiences and stakeholders.

  1. The “Traditional Roots-Always-Win” Person

While millennials aren’t everything, doing nothing to encourage innovation in a changing society, will also leave an organization with less-than impressive outcomes. There will always be members of the “old regime” and they’ll attempt to stand their ground to see that no changes or advancements find their way in, but this has to be avoided. An organization that never innovates will become irrelevant regardless of how well a tactic worked 30 years ago. 

  1. The “Our-Leadership-Sucks” Person

This can be a legitimate claim and if so there will be more than one person saying it, but steer clear of the people who continuously blame the leadership and never do anything to make the organization better. These are the people who secretly enjoy blaming something or someone that they “can’t control” because it makes it seem as if their hands are tied. While in reality, they’re happy with the way things are because if they changed, they’d actually have to put forth effort.

The moral of the story is that it’s easy to talk about changes that need to be made, but when looking for great people to be part of an organization, look for the “do-ers” not just the talkers. People that are willing to put sweat equity in, will always bring more to the table than those who have lofty ideas but lack the work ethic to employ them.

Marketing Communications isn’t an Afterthought

April 25th, 2018

In our world passionate people have the ability to make things happen. From fighting for justice to creating innovative products and solutions, it takes passionate “big idea” thinkers to make the world turn and keep it moving forward.

With that being said, these “dreamers” while effective, often get ahead of themselves and jump to the end game before they’ve carefully thought out the steps to get there. Because marketing communications may not initially be a must-have to simply open the doors of a business or initiate a social movement, putting marketing strategies off until later may seem justified, but it will create issues in the long run including inconsistent brand identity, varying messaging, and a lack of brand awareness.

At some point every organization that has these issues comes to the conclusion that they have 2 different logos, no marketing strategy, and Tim’s 15-year-old niece isn’t cutting it anymore for social media management. Incorporating marketing communications into a business, organization or product development plan from the beginning, will ensure a cohesive overall brand identify and will set the stage for successful promotional efforts.

The longer that technology and well-branded initiatives have been a regular part of our lives, the better we are as a society at being digital skeptics. We can quickly evaluate a website or a social media page and decide if it’s legitimate, and most of what we are analyzing is subconscious. You don’t have a check list to go through such as…Are the images cohesive? Are there any typos on the website or social media posts? Is relevant contact information provided? Instead you just quickly glance at a page and analyze all of those things without ever realizing what you’re doing.

As our culture becomes more technologically savvy, maintaining minimum cohesive marketing communications is no longer an added privilege, but a basic necessity of representing a legitimate product, organization or movement.

Cincy Stories – Embracing the Unfinished Narrative

April 11th, 2018

In a world that teaches us to wrap up our life stories with tidy bows, Cincy Stories, a relatively new non-profit in Cincinnati, has taken a different approach to hearing and embracing the diverse experiences of those in our region. By accepting the narratives of people’s lives exactly how they are, without enhanced details or dramatic effects, the organization has cultivated an environment that acknowledges value in others through transparency.

Many of us are used to stories encompassing an epic before and after, lost to found, or rags to riches mentality. We hear testimonies at religious functions and career inspired motivational speeches at professional conferences, but what we rarely hear is a story that is simply put. That is honest and unfinished. Regardless of anyone’s level of success or sense of purpose, as human beings our stories are not flawless with plots that rise and fall in seamless timing, instead, they are imperfect and ever-changing.

Cincy Stories has tapped into a groundbreaking and yet strikingly plain realization, that we internally crave realness and truth telling. We find community and connection with others when we hear their honest, “this is where I’m at right now” stories. We often think that we’re unable to tell our story of professional success until we’ve reached the end of our career or our insight on love until we’ve been married for 50 years, but the truth is that people desire right-now transparency, as it breaks down walls and builds interpersonal bridges.

At the Cincy Stories public event on April 3 at Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine, Paola Garrido shared her journey of searching for identity between her Dominican Republic roots and her new home in Cincinnati. Her story didn’t end in a perfectly orchestrated advice session, explaining how others should find their identity, instead she simply explained her unfinished, yet moving and relatable story of discovery. In a recent feature by Movers & Makers, Cincy Stories’ journey of organizational development was described as incomplete, saying, “The end, or resolution, is nowhere in sight. But the power of a story, in the telling and the hearing has been plain to see.”