#CommitToCreate 6pm-7pm CT TONIGHT!!!

Creativity is exercise for the mind….and much like exercise for the body…it’s hard to commit to going to the gym, but you always feel better after you have gone.

It has been easier for me to commit to going to the gym than it has been for me to commit to create and use my creativity….so…..I am starting a “movement”….or starting a mission to move myself to create on a regular basis and encouraging others to join me that will encourage this commitment and hopefully/eventually build a community of like-minded people that have a desire to create and support others in the struggle…because we are all Creative Beasts…and The Struggle is REAL…and THAT’S OK!

It starts tonight…with the first commitment…1hr…6pm-7pm CT (7pm-8pm ET for my east coasters and 4pm-5pm PT for the west)… I will be creative and create something for at least one hour…I hope you will support me…hold me accountable…even better join me, take the challenge and make the commitment yourself…and maybe even collaborate…and spark our next #CommitToCreate event!

I started a Facebook page that you can like HERE

….and a link to the first #CommitToCreate event HERE

Thank you for excercising your creativity!

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I’m Not Good With Names

My substitute name is “Jason”….but in some senses that’s better than nothing…every time someone messes up my name they always call me Jason…and though I always correct them and say it’s ok…I always feel a bit offended and lose a little trust and respect in the person who made the error…same with mispronouncing my last name…buy hey, maybe they are “Not Good With Names!”

“I’m not good with names…” = You don’t care enough about me to remember my name.

Could you imagine a doctor forgetting the name of their patient, employee forgetting the name of their boss (or vice versa), or somehow forgetting your in-laws name….how rude!!!

It is well known that people love the sound of their own name….from a very young age, if someone says your name and you listen you are rewarded…Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends & Influence People (certainly on my book list) says one of the six ways to make people like you is to Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. “The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.”[6] People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name. (great summary of the book on wiki here)

Here are a few things I do to remember names (of people I care enough about):

NOTE: everyone I meet for the first time I care enough about at that point to at least remember their name)

  • Listen intently the first time they tell you their name (you would be surprised how often we dont even listen when they tell us…as if its just a courtesy to ask)
  • Say their name over and over in my head 5-10 times immediately after they tell you their name
  • Use their name in the conversation as quickly as possible
  • Ask them to spell their name (if you are questioning the pronunciation or not getting the name clearly)
  • Say their name upon departure aloud and then another 5-10 times in your head
  • Try to remember their name 5 minutes after their departure to assure it “stuck”

This also works for names of friend’s, family, coworker’s spouses, children, and even pets…if you think people are surprised and impressed when you remember their name…try remembering the name of one they love.

It might be expected at this point in society for people to forget your name after one meeting (or even after a few seconds)…which I think is a shame…and i definitely don’t think that makes it OK…and if you want to create a raving fan, remember their name…politicians win elections doing this…I certainly love it when someone remembers my name….bonus points if you can pronounce it correctly…so ask for clarity there as well and confirm you have it right….and then remember it!

In the end….even if you think you are not good with names….and maybe somehow you naturally are not (though I personally feel like the spectrum of memory capabilities for one word is rather small)…GET GOOD AT IT…everyone will like you more if you can just remember their name!

Sitting in Discomfort…Comfortably!

You are waiting in line in a massive crowd that resembles more of a mob than a line….

You are on a road trip packed 4 people deep in mounds of luggage…the caravan just stopped for gas…now you have to go pee…

You are in a business meeting and two colleagues decide to get in to a personal argument infront of everyone….

You introduce two friends and they already know eachother from some other past bad experience…

You are in a nice hot shower and someone flushes the toilet switching the hot shower to an ice bath…

You are trying to sit quietly eyes closed focusing only on your breath for 10minutes in a world packed with haste and anxiety…..also known as meditating….

It’s unfomfortable…the Struggle is REAL…and THAT’S OK!

We all encounter discomfort on a regular basis…whether due to our own volition…or due to circumstances out of our control…and that’s ok…as long as we know how to be OK with it.  Being able to sit in the discomfort of our regular, daily, uncomfortable experiences allows us to have more control over our feelings and emotions…which in turn allows us to enjoy more discomfort and uncomfortable moments…to what end is this…sometimes I think “How about just enjoying more comfortable moments”….and the reality is that by enjoying more discomfort and uncomfortable moments you are actually turning them in to comfortable moments… not to mention that life is suffering, struggle, discomfort… ask the Buddha… and get used to it.

In the grand scheme discomfort (aka. “AWKWARD”) in humans could be equated to fight-or-flight response and sympathetic nervous system …ie. we aren’t comfortable, a fraid of something, threatened, nervous, and we want to fight our way out or run…when we are comfortable, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and allows us to lower our stress levels and relax…

So the moral of the story is… practice sitting in the discomfort… being OK with it… breathing… comfortably… and you will be able to force your parasympathetic nervous system to override your fight-or-flight response… the first few seconds/minutes of “sitting” in the discomfort are usually the most difficult…it gets easier with time and practice… and the benefits are amazing…. clear headed patientce in crowds… calm, focussed and collected head in business meetings… confidence in new and awkward social settings… ability to hold your pee for longer… it takes time, awareness and PRACTICE!!!

PRACTICE THIS: 

-Meditating and breathing alone and in crowds (start with a few minutes and work your way up…daily is best)

-Turn your shower cold for a few minutes at the end…and chill out (mentally)

-Take a little breath through the nose amidst a big argument or discussion (reward yourself with a smile)

-GO BE UNCOMFORTABLE….IT’S OK!!!

It starts with a little nose breath…

You feel it coming on….both the sensation of air hitting the tips of your nostils…the outer rims….the edges of the nostrils opening up gasping for air…and at the same time feeling the emotion and energy coming on…it’s the kind of breath that hits your solar plexus immediately and speaks mindfulness in a moment…you can run…or sit inside of it…that’s the difference between fight and flight or relaxation and calm…you can feel the change in your gaze…from focussed on something to focused on nothing…not without focus…rather focusing on nothingness…the breath becomes the one in control and you let it take control…even just starting a breath through the nose changes the whole intention as soon as you feel the pressure and suction coming towards and from your nostrils…like a vacuum forming in slow motion…and then the air…hits your nasal canal and dives in to your lungs and torso (somehow as mentioned before seemingly teleporting in to your center first) and expanding from there…calmly if you’ll let it…forcefully filled with anxiety if you can’t control it…and then you’re either ok or your out…flipped out…freaked out…or just out of sight…GONE!…I’m still here…calmly breathing…I’ll take two please.

….more about breathing here!

OZ pt2: Ryan The Friendly DJ

Let me say that over the course of my 12+ years in the Media and Entertainment industry that I have found that it is very easy to have an ego and almost expected in a lot of roles as it is often the easiest way to meet the expectations of the general public vision of larger than life personalities and lifestyles….Sales and Programming professionals at a radio station are in fact celebrities or at minimum they run in the same crowd on a regular basis…rubbing elbows with the the biggest brands and musicians, athletes, and TV superstars on a regular basis…and even more ego inflating…these celebrities actually NEED THEM!!!….if a rockstar needs you….I’m pretty sure that makes you a rockstar in some sense…or at least makes you feel like one!…aka easy head inflation.

That being said…I have also come across and worked with some of the most down to earth, humble, friendly and helpful sales and programming people in the world….and it unto itself is very refreshing and humbling and a great reminder of how wonderful a practice it can be to eliminate the ego (for more on eliminating the ego…check out Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday….also on MY BOOK LIST)…that certainly was the case when meeting Ryan (The Friendly DJ) as on the journey down my yellow brick road to Oz over the past 6 months…..

I say Ryan a few times as I worked late hours and he worked the night shift as a DJ on the Rock station….always passed my office with a friendly “hello” or glance of the eyes….I listened in a few times…followed him on social media…and overall caught good vibrations at every step in the process getting to know Ryan before we actually formally introduced ourselves (one night randomly after seeing each other all too often)…it was easy to talk music with a rock DJ…and so we did briefly…and carried on…until I had a project I was working on for a big whiskey brand that needed a cool, smooth, rock representative….and I asked Ryan to voice a spec script I had written for an upcoming major presentation…no questions asked…no money promised…he CRUSHED IT!!!…even improved the script with a few heartfelt emotional ad libs….and thanked me for thinking of him…..I was the one wanting to thank him….what a friendly, humble, ego-less, kick ass professional!

Then shortly thereafter I was laid off….(as mentioned before in this post a bit of a blow to the ego I didn’t think I had)…and I didn’t even get a chance to participate in the presentation or share Ryan’s spot with the Whiskey brand….and, of all the people that I had worked with over the past year….Ryan (The Friendly DJ)….was the first to reach out to me….show compassion for my loss….lift me up with kindness and positive motivation complimenting my skills and what he had seen from me in such a short period of time (passion, hard work, creativity, no ego)….and go a step further to promise to connect me with a few people that would help me on my journey down the yellow brick road over the next few months…one of the biggest networking aficionados in the city (Chris The Connector), an agency professional (Ryan The Strategy Strategist), and an creative journeyman (Dan The Trusting Friend of a Friend)….the seeds he planted and the little kick start he gave proved gold on the road to OZ….i’ll share more of the journey over the next few posts….moral of this part of the story….egos exist….so do good friendly ego-less people…both often where you least expect them…Thank you Ryan!

OZ pt1: “Never Burn Your Bridges…” Thanks Dad!

My dad has had tons of sayings and too many puns over the years to ever even count…but one that always stuck in my head from an early age…earlier than me even really having built many bridges….was “Never Burn Your Bridges”…mainly saying that the relationships that you have put time in to cultivate you should never destroy… and should make efforts to maintain all of your past relationships, as you never know when you might need that relationship to help you bridge some kind of gap to your future goals.

~6 months ago, January 16th, I was laid off from my job after a merger that led to multiple budget cuts and restructuring on a national scale…this was a first for me…it was surprising but not completely unexpected as I had only been in the role and market for less than 1 year and knowing the industry this type of mass restructuring while under newfound national pressure (re: Q1 after a massive merger) is not uncommon….BUT IT STILL HURT…fortunately it only hurt my ego…(side note: I later found that my ego had damaged many more things about myself and others and probably deserved it!)

I could have been angry, bitter, depressed, frustrated…I could have chosen to lash out and burn every bridge I had spent that year forming…and even potentially other future and past connected bridges…but I did not…..I didn’t let this obstacle ruin my relationships that I had spent time to form and cultivate….even better, I used it as a reason to propel relationships that I built during my year with the company AND over the course of the previous 12 years of my career.

This week, after 6 months of maintaining current relationships, re-engaging past relationships, and re-establishing a strong relationship with my mental and physical self…I was re-hired to the same company, with the same compensation, doing similar work, but for the national team….all because I had not burned any bridges!

To make a (maybe far stretched) connection….I think all of my bridges are more like side streets and alleys on my yellow brick road…and as this well crafted response on What is the deeper meaning of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum? puts it:

“…For all of us life is certain to contain scary and challenging adventures, but you’ll be okay if you can make friends with the best aspects of yourself and refuse to let the bumps and burdens close you off to what’s good in the world and what’s good in other people. Simple enough, but for those who can achieve this then there’s always delight to be experienced and magic to be found….”

….so Thanks Dad…and thanks Wizard!…back to building bridges….or laying bricks!?!?

P.S. more on my journey down the yellow brick road to Oz coming soon!

15 seconds…Thank You #ignitechi

15 seconds is just enough time…to make an impact…to make you awkward and then comfortable…excited yet empathetic…to make you emotional…engage you…to lead you in and then bring you up and drop you down…or bring you down than lift you us…and inspire you…maybe there’s 5 seconds to allure… then 5 seconds to allude….and 5 seconds to conclude….or maybe its 5 seconds to allure…5 seconds to excite… then 5 seconds to conclude…the hour glass formula would be – 3 second intro, 3 second thesis, 3 second proof, 3 second repeat thesis, 3 second conclusion (see forthcoming post)…..15 seconds is just enough for 3 thoughts…one intro…one body…one conclusion…or one patient and provoking thought…don’t over think it…say hello…tell me why…say good bye…get my attention…give me a treat…tell me what to do…15 seconds…that’s all I got….20x in a row…and I tried to make the most of every moment…all thanks to Ignite Chicago!

Tuesday night I was challenged in 15 seconds…20x…5 minutes…to communicate…passionately…in my case, about breathing (see my other post about breathing here)

Thank you Ignite Chicago for teaching me the value of 15 seconds…and thank you to all of the sponsors that helped make this event happen… Catalyst Ranch (the venue) a super cool and creative meeting and event space, Lagunitas Brewing Company (the beer) who provided a Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin to calm the nerves and lighten up the crowd, Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Pizza (the pizza) who kept everyone well fed and energized, and to Ali Karabassi and CoderDojo Chicago (the charity) who made this fun event a contribution to a worthy cause…

CoderDojo MISSION: CoderDojoChi is a volunteer run nonprofit organization that teaches web, game, and app development to youth ages 7 to 17. Our mission is to create a fun, collaborative environment to explore STEM. Through challenging play, youth can build memorable experiences with mentors.  All classes are 100% free of charge thanks to your generous donations.

If you haven’t yet….please donate…check out this event…support the speakers…or if you are passionate about anything, SIGN UP TO SPEAK!!!

Charity is a great act of SELFISH SELFLESSNESS!

Both volunteering and donating are charitable, extremely selfless and generous acts of kindness…  That being said…not many people donate anonymously and I’m pretty sure its impossible to volunteer anonymously.  Many people support charities for selfish reasons…which in my opinion is GREAT….KEEP DOING IT!!!  Whether its for because you personally believe in that specific charity’s mission….have a friend or family member that’s been impacted by that mission…or that works there…or to help yourself manage your finances…be more grateful for what you have…or even functionally get some sort of tax relief…or because you enjoy seeing the impact on the community that you live in…or the first hand experience of the emotions brought upon by this good will in the faces and eyes of those less fortunate…or simply because it allows you to do something that no one else would otherwise pay you for…like running an event….or in my case cooking for people!

I donate money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Red Cross, and La Casa Norte (a Chicago based non-profit serving youth and families confronting homelessness)…they are all great organizations, with great missions, and I highly suggest you check them out and see if you have any money you could part with that they could benefit from…or time…

I volunteer cooking lunch and dinner meals for the La Casa Norte Logan Square youth drop in center on Tuesdays because they need to feed young children confronting homelessness…and I love to cook…and I’m learning to cook for larger groups…and I probably wouldn’t get hired or have time for an entry level line cook or catering job….and Cooking is Meditation for me…and they need the help…and I’M HELPING!

I volunteer at the Logan Square Farmers Market as a Compost/Landfill Disposal Coordinator (I made that title up…mainly I help people figure out what bin their waste should go in) because there are a ton of compostable materials at a farmers market and most people aim for the thing that looks like a giant trashcan…and it gets me out of the house on a Sunday morning…it’s great people watching and forest bathing (it feels like a forest because the sun is peaking through the trees and there are all types of plants, fruits, vegetables and animals…mainly dogs… around)… the people are really nice and grateful (not just the staff but the attendees)… and I get to go to the Farmers Market to browse after i’m done…and they need help…and I’M HELPING!

I feel like my volunteering acts of charity have much more of an impact on my life than the monthly donations…which have much more of a negative impact on my finances….of course the volunteering has much more of a negative impact on my time…or does it…in the end I’m doing it in part for selfish reasons (I’m sure they don’t mind)…but volunteering can have a huge impact on your life, especially if you are looking for your dream….you might just find it in a volunteering opportunity…don’t stop donating….just add volunteering…it’s much more rewarding! (Selfishly)

I will leave this message with a challenging thought to provoke this paradox….what if we volunteered at or donated to a charity non-profit that we didn’t selfishly agree with or somehow get something out of…what if there the donation or actual volunteering would somehow hurt our “Self”….imagine the possibilities….how it could open our minds and test our patience and acceptance.. everyone is suffering…no ones suffering is any more valid than anyone else’s…The Struggle is REAL…and THAT’S OK!

Deserved Desire

You always get what you desire.

You know it when you get what you deserved.

We Talkin’ About PRACTICE!!!

Here are some dictionary definitions of “practice”:

(n.) repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.

(n.) the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.

(v.) perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

(v.) carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.

We use the word often when describing yoga, meditation, patience, etc….but I don’t hear the word used often to describe working out at the gym, being in a relationship, going to work, and other daily rituals or habits….it’s all “PRACTICE” to me!

When we can approach all of the elements of life as a practice…a journey…that is on the path to acquire or maintain proficiency…we can better appreciate the process and our present moment….recognizing that we are not perfect and this life is not solely available to us for the accomplishment of some result….

I am no longer a fan of the phrase “practice makes perfect”…mainly because perfection doesn’t get me anything…other than eliminating the need for practice anymore.

I practice friendships…

I practice love…

I practice eating….healthy…trying new things

I practice reading…

I practice listening….

I practice creating and observing art…

….failing, vulnerability, non-judgement, spontaneity, compassion…

….as a huge Philadeplhia sports fan….to quote 76ers Allen Iverson….YES….WE TALKIN’ ABOUT PRACTICE!

So….LET’S “PRACTICE” LIFE!