You Do What Ya Gotta Do

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve muttered this old saying. Sometimes it’s just an acknowledgement when someone says thanks for some extra effort, an aw-shucks shrugging off, “No problem!” kind of response.

And there are the other times. The times when it’s not me saying I get to choose Door Number One, with its fancy, top-shelf hootie-hoo whatever it is with a party to boot… it’s usually doing what needs to be done, even if it’s Door Number Three. The new word for this is “adulting”, which those in their 20’s often say with either great accomplishment or equally great disdain in their voice. It usually depends on whether they’re buying the spectacular shoes and big-screen TV, or they’re suffering through another bowl of ramen noodles so they can make the rent payment without having to ask their parents for help. The ramen crowd always gets props from me, by the way.

Funny sidebar: I’ll never forget one of my high school friends, when he’d break the rules, his dad would always say in his best game show host voice, “You’ve done it now, Mister… now you get to see what’s behind Dooooooooor Number Three!” Which was, of course, his funny way of announcing the grounding or whatever consequence was to follow. Funny to him, mind you… not to my friend so much. He never tipped his hand as to what was behind Door Number One or Door Number Two… we knew for sure Door Number Three was always going to be a major bummer though.

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Tell him what he won behind Door Number Three!

Okay, so that was a little bit of a rabbit hole, but kind of not. Usually Door Number Three was the result of the infamous “poor life choices.” So I guess Door Number Three was about the here & now – what often was, and still sometimes is, way more fun in the moment than doing the right thing.

It boils down to emotional intelligence, which completely fascinates me. Someone who can put their emotions in perspective within the greater situation almost always earns at least some measure of respect from me. I totally get that it’s not that they don’t HAVE feelings – it’s that they can keep them in check as the situation warrants… the old stiff upper lip. Not always terribly popular, by the way. I want Door Number One, or even Door Number Two, and I want it now. Bring on the ice cream sundae… with extra sprinkles. You too?

I also  get that some of us are just more impetuous than others, and it takes serious commitment to stretch our emotional intelligence. Delayed gratification. Choosing to “do what you gotta do.” And let’s be honest, we all have those moments when we just want to take the easy way out – whether it’s a shortcut at work, putting off the groundwork that makes things happen down the road, or blowing off the 5am workout and staying in bed.

Maybe for you, it’s choosing to stop and take a deep breath when you get that snarky email from a bullying colleague. It’s logically rebutting their laundry list of demands and emotional spew, when what you really want to do is the old “eye for an eye,” repaying their snark with well-deserved sarcasm.

Someone asked me this week about my leadership style and how I establish respect. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it comes down to EQ, and just “doing what you gotta do.” It’s choosing Door Number One when you sometimes want Door Number Three, if just for a minute. Staying above the fray. For me, when I don’t make it personal and emotional, I don’t get dragged into the drama. And I sure don’t need the drama.

Okay, so I’m moving on for now. I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting on with doing what I gotta do. Catch you next time – and thank you for reading.

PS – here’s a good recent read re: EQ, from Forbes.

A Dollar Waiting On a Dime

“Oh, for crying out loud… come on already! We got a dollar waitin’ on a dime here!”

I can still hear my former boss’ voice in my head and picture him high-tailing it up the hallway to the next meeting or call, hollering over his shoulder to keep everyone on track. And as much as he was the dollar to our dimes, he used this completely in jest, never thinking himself more than anyone else. He was the guy who led the company, but would stop on the way in the front door to straighten the welcome mat so we’d make the best first impression. True story… can’t tell you how many times I saw him do that. He was a one-of-a-kind leader, and I hope I do a good job of following his example. So even when he would stop and wave his arms, squawking about dollars and dimes, there was almost always a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face.

The bottom line… the dollar, whether it’s people or projects, is to be mindful of what’s most important to me and keep the main thing, the main thing. It’s super easy to look up and realize I’m on the way to getting stalled out by the less essential, waiting on the dimes in my life to get moving. That’s another one of those things that’s true in business as in life, right?

If you’ve ever driven a stick shift and had to stop on a hill, you know the agony of a stalled engine and having to dump the clutch and gun it to get it rolling again. Even now, I get sweaty palms flashing back to the first time I had to get that old Datsun going again on the hilly side street near our house. I kept working at it and finally mastered that magical clutch-gas combination without all the herky-jerky stop & go.

I juggle priorities, just like everyone else, and some days, like yesterday, it feels like I’m herding cats to get even the little things accomplished. I’m waiting on this thing, or that phone call, or another email. Yesterday I got dimed, big time. So today, I’m back in that old stick shift truck, not letting that blasted stop sign on the hill get to me. In the world of dollars and dimes, I’m aiming to come out ahead. Wish me luck.

 

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Dime, schmime… (Daisy & Buster, who totally do NOT get the concept of rushing anywhere, ever – unless, of course, there happens to be a tennis ball involved).

 

 

 

 

Like socks on a rooster…

One of my dad’s favorite sayings… I have to admit, for a long time I had no idea what this one meant – he was always just so proud of himself when he could work it into a conversation that we had a good laugh and moved on with our lives. He really is pretty groovy and comical sometimes.

The thought of “socks on a rooster” still always makes me smile, if only because of the mental image that always pops in my head. You just pictured a chicken wearing fuzzy socks, right? Me too. Never gets old. It elicits a mental giggle… and it gets me. Every. Time. In fact, I’m smiling as I type this.

For the longest time, my husband would give me that weird “I just don’t get you and your people” look when I too would get to say, “Looky there, just like socks on a rooster…” in just the perfect situation. While I was giving myself an internal high-five, he was thinking I was a little off my rocker. Not sayin’ he’s totally incorrect, but the satisfaction made the raised eyebrow totally worth it (For the record, I’ve even heard him use the rooster socks reference, which is awesome. And a riot. I’m rubbing off on him. And there’s nothing he can do about it.)

Back to the roosters and their socks. I finally ran across this one day, and it made perfect sense to me.

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You’re giggling right now, aren’t you?

 

My ah-ha moment! So I still love Dad’s interpretation of the saying, which actually probably was learned from my Gram… hilarious in her own right. It IS at least partially about the right fit when you didn’t think you’d fit at all.

But there’s the neat-o factor too. Don’t we all want to be unique and neat and wonderful and find just the right fit? Yep, we do.

It’s about who we are – in business terms, especially in the world of advertising where I spend my days, it would be our unique selling proposition – our one thing… the thing that makes us special and worthy of consideration. We all have it – it’s a matter of tapping into it, embracing it, and putting it out there in just the right way. It’s getting that individual message to just the right people – the people who are going to think what you have to offer fits the bill like – well, socks on a rooster.

For my sister and me, the Thelma and Louise of aspiring authors, we each like to think the other has neatness for days… with plenty to spare. And we dream of the day when everyone else gets on board with our neater-than-chicken-socks story.

Ripe is Rotten

I love this saying. Actually, I love funny or clever sayings in general – my guess is that this affection comes from my dad and family, all masters of the quirky and brilliant soundbite. Not to mention the “proud of myself because I made you roll your eyes” chuckle that usually follows. But this saying is a fave, at the top of my list.

This one actually comes from an old boss – another wizard of the one-liners. And it speaks to our need to keep learning… insert Shawshank reference, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Who just pictured themselves on the beach at the end?

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Love a beach sunset… always.

It’s true in business as in life. Ripe is rotten. At the point you lose that zeal for learning, always staying fresh (read that relevant), you drop to the ground like a bruised apple, getting passed up by the more discriminating pickers – whether that means prospective bosses looking for their next rock star or your teenager cracking on your mom or dad jeans. And heaven forbid you’re in business for yourself, and your customers think you’ve crossed over and are stale or passé.  The cider press likely isn’t far behind – squish.

Even in tough seasons… in fact, especially in tough seasons – those periods of big changes we all go through – I hope you’ll keep on keeping on. Find something to learn about, something that makes you even more fascinating and cutting edge – think exotic banana smoothie drink with an umbrella in a fabulous glass, instead of plain Jane bland banana smush. You want to be Superman, not Clark Kent, right? I want to be a little Julia Sugarbaker – confident and fabulous – not… well, whoever her boring opposite would be. Snore…

I’m off my soapbox now, so I’ll save the shameless and plucky Steel Magnolias reference for another day, you get the picture.

I attended a spectacular conference focused on learning how to pin down what makes you valuable and how to articulate it. The sessions covered the gamut from negotiating to networking, based on Mika Brzezinski’s Know Your Value & Grow Your Value books (I’m a fan, by the way). One of the speakers was JetBlue’s Bonny Simi, who chronicled her career evolutions, and they were GIANT leaps – 3-time Olympic athlete to sports reporter to pilot to executive. Talk about never rotten! (PS – this quick clip gives you a little insight into her journey and advice)

So just like I’m stretching myself here a little bit in the blogosphere, I’m clinging to the vine in lots of areas. Still not ripe yet, still growing. Stay tuned.

Nerdy? Or curious?

It’s all about positioning.

I referred to myself in a previous post as nerdy. No surprise to those who know me, I’ve always been lumped in with the smart kids – maybe sometimes with the cool kids, mostly because I grew up in a super small town, so there was some overlap, but yep – nerdy kid, party of one, right here.

Nerdy can be gut-wrenching during the teenage years… not so bad once you emerge on the other side. It’s hard for the 14-year old bright kid to see that – but by the time you get into your 20’s and 30’s, most of us kinda nod appreciatively and think, “Okay, I see it now.” The adjectives change – now you’re quirky, curious, sharp or a quick study. See? Positioning.

Part of the evolution is becoming more comfortable in your own skin, no doubt. Whether you’re a person or a person selling a product or a feeling or an experience, it’s knowing who you are and where you fit in relation to everyone else – the competition, if you will.  But maybe some of it depends on which side of what my husband describes as the “completely overwhelming rapid-fire interrogation” you’re on, at least for the nerdy versus curious debate? P.S. (insert eye roll) It’s really not as tortuous as he describes. Mercy… give me strength.

It’s a matter of perception, right? It’s figuring out my unique position in relation to everyone else around me, and totally owning it. So for me… I’m planting my flag firmly in the cogitative camp.

Three words… a great exercise for me, and for you

Continuing on the “who am I” train today… it’s actually a great exercise periodically.

What are three words I would use to describe myself? What are three words others would use to describe me? Are they the same?

Okay, so I was asked this recently. My three words today would be smart, committed and positive. The words sometimes change a little, depending on what’s swirling around me. You’ve probably done this too, right? If not, do it right now… stop reading and ask yourself what three words best describe you, and then come right back here. You might use words like driven, bold, pragmatic – or today’s word of the day on my dictionary app – pedagogue (I’ll save you a Google search – it’s someone who teaches). The point is to ask yourself about you – your fingerprint, your personal brand, your “thing.”

Here’s where it gets real. I ask others their three words to describe me. And not just my mom, who, let’s be honest, thinks I’m pretty close to perfect (sorry, siblings – lol). Seriously – if you’ve never done this, it’s enlightening. Ask a cross-section of people in your circle – social, work, family – what words they would use to describe you. Some of them will be very affirming… and some might be hard to hear or read. And that’s the thing about this exercise – if their words are on par with your words,  great! The attributes most important to you are on strong footing. The scholars call this brand congruence. I call it me being me – can I get a “Whoo hoo!”?

If, however, you feel they’re missing the mark a bit, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it’s a good point of reflection. The fact that you asked and then actually do something about it is the important part, because a lot of us just be-bop through life assuming we know what others think… not so much, for some of us. So for that, fist-bump for you.

When my circle’s words aren’t exactly what I had in mind, it’s where I start to ask myself what little changes I can make to get closer to who I want to be/think I am. Maybe it’s working on a bad habit, or remembering to be grateful.

Wish me luck on my next round of words from those in my circle, and the fine-tuning that is sure to follow.

 

So what’s my story? What’s yours?

Me again. Still figuring out this blog thing. I equate it to my professional world, where I work in marketing. Buzzwords abound, as in every industry. But stringing together a bunch of buzzwords – does that really tell my story? Is that who I am? Am I an experienced integrated strategic communication professional, laser-focused on the touch points that impact downstream revenue for internal & external stakeholders? Well, yes… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, right? Blah, blah, blah. My story is more than that.

My team and I work with business owners and marketing decision makers — people who are trying to tell their story to their potential customers. And my advice is always to figure out what makes you unique. Your brand is your fingerprint, distinctly you. Your story shouldn’t be the same as anyone else’s. What’s “that thing?”

So that’s where I am, at least in the context of this blog. Examining my fingerprints, so to speak, looking for my voice. It’s kind of exciting – and not just because I get to break out my thesaurus, my favorite reference book. And there you go – now you know at least one of my fingerprints, maybe my thumbprint, reads something akin to nerd.

 

So this is me, starting a blog…

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My sister and I have always said we’d like to write a book. Baby steps.

Where I work, we talk often about a crawl-walk-run approach to projects. You don’t start out running a marathon, so it makes sense that our wildly funny and best-selling epic from our incredibly interesting lives (my blog, my description… ever the optimist, right?) will have to start with a first sentence, a stretching of writing muscles, so to speak. Before we even get to that momentous first word of our sisterly tome, I need to get used to putting my thoughts into written form, developing a style. Not that I have a problem with speaking out, mind you.

I work in advertising, currently in marketing, so I am used to speaking, writing, presenting. But not always completely original material, so to speak. I hope this leads me down the path of sharing interesting personal insights, writing about things I know in a way that you’ll want to read what I have to say. That always makes the best writing, in my opinion. I am looking forward to writing about what’s important to me professionally – marketing, advertising and branding. With a sprinkling of fun things that are personal to me, thrown in to keep it amusing.

So here I go… my journey of a thousand miles is beginning. As soon as I hit the publish button, I will have taken my Confucius-y first step (actually, that quote comes from Lao Tzu, but you get my point).

The picture above is me, marking the occasion. I hope you’ll stay tuned.