Monthly Archives: July 2011

Ooga Chaka


Warning, this post is totally from left field – but the idea for it has been circling my mind for a while now – so here goes.

Lately I seem to be channelling Ally McBeal circa 1997 – having somewhat creepy (especially if they feature the Ooga Chaka baby) visions of myself dancing through the bathroom stalls in an awkward panic or celebration. You know those classic scenes in movies or shows where the main character flashes out of their mind for a moment, lets their thoughts wander and stray and then snaps back to reality thinking – did that really just happen? Did I do a little dance down the grocery aisle or hum a few too many bars of that random song in my head?

Like I said, this post is coming from left field – but if you can relate to what I’m talking about here, feel free to post comments and we’ll see who else out there has these moments with us.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes it’s fun to just let loose and stop trying to be so perfect. Enjoy it now and then!

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up close and personal


close photo

Our cat, affectionately known as The Alley Cat, climbed mischievously into my lap the other night and proceeded to invade my personal space – so to speak. That oddly enough made me think about our personal boundaries – those physical, emotional and intellectual.

Obviously, as this grand cat teaches us, physical boundaries are pretty simple to identify and define. The emotional can be quite tricky. These are impacted by who you are interacting with, in what environment and the sensitivity of the subject at hand. For the last one – not 100 percent sold on whether to call it intellectual, mental or something else – but if you surround yourself with different types of people personally and professionally – you likely will have no problem relating to what I mean about varied levels of intellect and how they can impact your communication and ability to get to know someone.

Just some random marbles for you to ponder – as I’ll continue to do as well. This idea of relationship building can get quite interesting when comparing methods and options between friends, family, colleagues and even clients.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts as well! I’d love to build upon this post with your insight.

Yours,

Sara

Tales from the i.e.* Launch – Igniting the Sparks of Creativity in our Community


This March I attended my first HYPE Richmond event – the 804UM. The keynote speaker at this event was Andy Stefanovich and in the closing of his highly energetic presentation he mentioned that a “TED-like event” was coming to Richmond in June and to be on the lookout for news and details about how to attend and get involved. Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

logo courtesy of ierva.org


As buzz built about this event from the Spring to the Summer, I tracked social media posts, emails and news alerts for more information. On June 23, 2011 – I excitedly made my way to downtown Richmond for the i.e.* RVA Launch at LaDifference (read their recap here).

Not knowing what to expect I arrived early to scope things out. I was immediately pleased to be welcomed by event volunteers and see creative activities set up along the way to the “main event” location. This was not going to be your drab old networking conference for sure!

After Andy Stefanovich of Prophet and Tom Silvestri of the Richmond Times Dispatch kicked things off with a motivational shout, Ed and Kelly Trask were the first provocateurs. Introduced as an acclaimed yoga instructor, Kelly led us in a centering exercise and encouraged us to begin this full day with an open heart and mind. A few simply brilliant statements and ideas that Ed shared resonated with me from the get-go.

1. Take a minute to make a change .
2. Be aware of your surroundings – don’t let them pass you by.
3. Remember that “Little things make big things.”

Check out his work at http://www.edwardtrask.com/art/murals/richmond/index.php

There were several empowering and magical women on stage as well like Susan Singer, Valley Haggard, and Liz Kellinger – I was literally entranced by their stories of transformation and possibility. Susan inspired attendees with her journey as an artist with a mission of changing the way we feel about women’s bodies. Valley touched my heart with her passionate expression of vulnerability and ultimate realization that she could be accepting of all parts – as we should all be. Liz’s story hit closest to home for me as she described her road to self discovery.

There were proud stories of young entrepreneurs and scholars shared by Jeff and Joey Anderson of BioTaxi, Lisa Crawford represented successful student project initiatives at VCU, and Samantha Marquez humbly shared her story as a 15-year-old scientist on a mission to make a change.

inspired by the james


During our lunch break, I took just a moment to review the Twitter stream from my phone. I was elated to read positive quotes , posts, and retweets from the day’s event – and maddened at the more cynical and sarcastic comments (though luckily these were in the minority.) I have been pleased to see a healthy conversation between the supporters and naysayers since the launch and hope this open conversation continues – that’s what driving change is all about!

Out of several breakout pods, I was most in awe of Anoa Monsho, an inspiring writer from Dallas, Texas who expressed the importance of the power of story. She asked our group, “What are you trying to push Richmond to be perceived as?” – this is something we should all continue thinking about and sharing with one another during this initiative. She also honored us with a closing toast that can be read on the i.e.* blog.

an innovative name tag on team pink


As a young professional in Richmond I am genuinely excited to continue participating in initiatives that support i.e.* RVA’s cause. This launch, with its broad variety of speakers and attendees, was very well done and the many messages shared had to have reached each individual participant in their own way – some faces looked happy, some hesitant, some inspired. At the closing of the event, I was appreciative of a colleague sharing an idea we discussed during one of the many activities – that one has to practice writing fiction to improve their nonfiction writing. When we work in silos we never seem to reach the potential ahead. So fellow Richmonders and beyond, let’s keep working towards this collaborative initiative together and see where we can lead our city!

Yours,

Sara

jumpstart your productivity – a great article from the99percent


I’d like to share this wonderful little article by Jocelyn K. Glei for the99percent.com. A friend and colleague sent it to me recently and I find a great deal of this theory to be true. Also true, starting such a habit – no matter how beneficial – is extremely difficult! But in the end rewarding.

For the original article, please visit: http://the99percent.com/tips/6954/The-1-Step-Plan-for-Super-Productivity

“When I interview creatives, I often ask them what advice they would give to the next generation, the up-and-comers. Curiously, there’s one incredibly important habit that nearly all of them possess that is almost never mentioned. So what is the secret ingredient in their productivity regime? It’s simple: They get up early.

To take a (very) random sample of creative luminaries from the wonderful Daily Routines blog, Charles Darwin, Toni Morrison, Le Corbusier, Stefan Sagmeister, Benjamin Franklin, Emily Post, Gerhard Richter, and William Wegman all make (or made) a habit of getting up early.

A recent study conducted by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, backs up the theory that early risers tend to have a more proactive – and thus productive – mindset:


[Randler] surveyed 367 university students, asking them when they were most energetic and willing to change a situation. It was the morning people who were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen” and “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself.”

The data makes sense: If you’re getting up early, you probably already have a good idea of what you want to accomplish that day – otherwise it would be hard to motivate to get up in the first place. Being an early riser also indicates a natural affinity for ritual and discipline – both key traits of especially productive people.

Here’s none other than Ernest Hemingway on the merits of getting up early:

When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write… You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

Aside from lending some sex appeal to the early riser, Hemingway also makes an important point about the wonderful side effects of getting up early: You accomplish tons of meaningful work before most people even get started – allowing you to coast through the rest of your day with a sense of achievement and significantly less anxiety.

What if you’re not naturally an early riser? Or just hate the idea of it?

I’ve talked to loads of folks who insist that their most productive time is late at night – their creative energy naturally peaks when everyone else is asleep. And, to a certain degree, our ingrained biorhythms are a factor. Some of us are predisposed to late-night creation, while others naturally wake with the sun. Age is also a factor. (How many elderly people do you know that sleep in?)

That said, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably: 1) working as a creative professional, which means you are in the business of being creative, and 2) looking to get an edge. As Randler argues in the Harvard Business Review post on his research: “Though evening people do have some advantages… they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule. When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards.”

Like it or not, most of the world works on a 9-to-5 schedule, which naturally provides the early riser with a certain advantage. In a great piece Cal Newport wrote on the habits of successful professional writers, he notes that they all get up early, adding: “Several [writers] did mention that they might also be efficient working very late at night (and sleeping through the day), but that this seems incompatible with being a productive member of society.”

Certainly you can be a productive night owl, but when it comes to the business details we all have to attend to – the emails, the scheduling, the negotiations – there are definitely benefits to being on a daytime schedule.

In a recent conversation with energy management guru Tony Schwartz, he argued that less than 10% of the general population possess the unchangeable biorhythms of the die-hard night owl. In short, most of us can re-train ourselves to become early risers if we’re motivated.

So how can you become an early riser?

Getting up early is like most any habit that makes you a more productive creative: It’s hard at first. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Set an exact time to get out of bed.
If you normally get up at 11am, it’s unrealistic to start abruptly getting up at 6am. Think about what time you’d like to be getting up in the morning, and work up to it. Try to wake up 30 minutes earlier every week, until you get to the desired time.

2. Move up your bedtime in sync with the time you plan to get up.
Seven to eight hours of sleep is the recommended dosage for maximal productivity (with a few super-human exceptions). So if you’re getting up at 6am, you’ll want to go to bed by 11pm at the latest. If you try to go to bed at midnight and get up at 5am, you’re eventually going to run into some problems.

3. Get out of bed immediately.
The moment that you start procrastinating – read: hit the snooze button – it’s very easy to convince yourself of a multiplicity of reasons why you wouldn’t want to get out of bed yet. Don’t even allow those thoughts to kick in – just get up!

4. Expose yourself to sunlight.
Sunlight is key to adapting your circadian rhythms. If you’re having trouble getting up, don’t close your blinds all the way, so you have some natural light as your wake-up call. Once you’re up, a short walk (or run) outside helps reinforce the message with your body.

5. Develop a routine for your morning.
Whether it’s taking in the sunrise, brewing a cup of tea and reading the paper, or walking to the café down the street for a cup of joe, you’re more likely to continue to get up early if you develop a brief routine that is, in itself, a reward.

6. Stick with it.
Know going in that it’s going to take some time to adapt to waking up early – probably about 30 days. Don’t expect to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from Day 1. But if you stick with it, getting up early is likely to become one of your favorite rituals.

***

It’s a lot better to sail into your business day feeling like you’ve already crossed a finish line, than to put off your vital creative work until after you’ve devoted your best energy to other people’s demands. As designer and early riser James Victore said in a recent 99% interview, “I get more work done by 9am than most people do in a full day.”

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