Lessons From Dogs

We’ve had our second dog, Ben, for a few months now.

Our first dog Max is 8 years old. Many of you have met him – he’s a lab, shepherd mix that often reminds me of Kristen Wiig’s character on the Lawrence Welk show on SNL. He’s high energy, but pretty consistently neurotic.
We didn’t want to get a puppy because thinking back to when Max was a puppy, it took a lot of work to potty train him and he destroyed two pairs of pretty fabulous leather shoes Brian had, as well as several articles of my clothing and shoes, along with a few pieces of furniture. There are worse stories, but I’ll leave it at that.
Due to that experience and how insanely crazy our lives are, we thought a one year old dog would be perfect. We found Ben on Craigslist. The description was thoughtful and sincere and the owner thought he was a lab/shepherd mix, just like Max. We named Max after Brian’s grandpa and ironically, Brian’s other grandpa’s name was Ben, so it seemed like an omen. Ben is almost the exact opposite of Max: scared, shy, nervous, and introverted. His previous owners kept him outside 24/7, so when we brought him home we had to carry him inside.
Having Max in our lives for the past 8 years has taught us many things, and having Ben around for the past few weeks reminds us of new things, some thoughtful and some a little silly. I’m sure there are lots of online resources that will list out things people have learned from their dogs, but these are the things that have stood out to me during the last month from playing with and observing our dogs:
  1. You can teach a young dog new tricks (and we all know age is just a number): The first few days we had Ben we had to carry him inside. Once we got him inside, he wouldn’t leave the carpeted living room. After a few days, he walked in on his own, excitedly. He walks around the house everywhere on his own now too. We also had to put him on a lead line if he went outside because he would run away. Now we just let him out and he comes back when we call for him.
  2. Opposites really can attract: Ben and Max are bosom buddies – it’s like every aspect of their character perfectly compliments the other.
  3. Shitting in the house is not as bad if you always do it in the same place: Ben can’t seem to figure out how to ask to go outside, probably because he never had to before, living out there all the time and all. We try to let him out frequently enough, but sometimes we miss the mark. For some reason though, he always goes in the same place. It would be better if it weren’t on carpet, but it’s somewhat of a consolation that he doesn’t spread it all over the house in different places.
  4. Pets don’t need much to love you: It’s funny that with both our dogs, regardless of their personality, when you stop, pet their face and talk sweet to them, you can see the genuine love in their eyes. It’s so basic.
  5. Life can be simple: unless dogs for some reason decide they’re going to bite or attack you (or maybe shit in your house), they seldom hurt you. Dogs are pretty simple. They don’t manipulate you. They don’t take advantage of you. They don’t talk bad about you behind your back. They get fed, shown love and run around and they’re pretty happy. Sometimes it’s a good reminder to get back to the basics.
  6. It’s not always necessary to be everyone’s best fried: Max (and Brian) might beg to differ, but Ben and I feel differently. Everyone has their pros and cons for sure. None of us are perfect. Ben takes awhile to warm up to some people and there are a few people he hasn’t really warmed up to at all yet. Maybe he never will. Who knows why, really, but at the end of the day, he’s reminded me, it doesn’t matter. We are all allowed to spend time with those that bring us joy and none of us should feel obligated to reduce our joy to be around people who bring us down.
  7. In the right environment, you can discover your voice: Ben didn’t bark at all when we brought him home. Max barks all the time, mostly at other dogs and animals, seldom at people (see earlier comment about Kristen Wiig’s character). It’s not that we enjoy having our dogs bark, but they’re dogs and we don’t reprimand them for it. It’s actually been really satisfying to see Ben starting to bark and enjoy the ability to “speak his mind”.

21586908_10156779603169698_5390712485803980702_o

Advertisements

Perspective and Gratitude

(originally written on 9/28/17)

A lot of you are probably aware that the new Macklemore album came out, Gemini. I’m a huge Macklemore fan and am super excited because the hubs got me tickets to his show for my birthday!! I love a lot of the songs on this album and generally his music is pretty thought-provoking, but one in particular really struck a chord with me and the fact that Kesha’s in it was the icing on the cake.

This might be a little TMI, but about 5 and a half years ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Molly. We had both recently had babies and often spent time each week consuming copious amounts of espresso and venting about our new crazy lives with kids. It was so nice to have someone to relate to and vibe with during such a changing time in my life. One day, the topic of our new “mom-bods” came up and we both took a moment to complain. I said something to the effect of “If I would have known this is what was going to happen to my body after having kids, I might have modified some of my wardrobe choices in my pre-kid years because at some point you can’t get away with certain wardrobe options.” She was like “YES!!!”. But then we both thought about it and we talked about how some day it’s only going to be worse. We’re going to get old and have saggy skin and not want to wear sleeveless shirts or dresses without tights, so maybe rather than lamenting about the past, we should let it help shape the present.
Perspective. It’s one of the two things the hubs says are the most important things in life. That and expectations.
The Macklemore song, The Good Old Days, tells a similar story. I recommend listening to it and thinking about how that perspective can impact your life. The official music video is here and the lyrics are below. Enjoy!
I wish somebody would have told me that
Some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days

I was thinking about the band
I was thinking about the fans
We were underground
Loaded merch in that 12-passenger van
In a small club in Minnesota
And the snow outside of 1st Ave
I just wanted my name in a star
Now look at where we at
Still growing up, still growing up
I’d be laying in my bed and dream about what I’d become
Couldn’t wait to get older, couldn’t wait to be someone
Now that I’m here, wishing I was still young
Those good old days

I wish somebody would have told me that
That some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
‘Cause someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of the good old days

Wish I didn’t think I had the answers
Wish I didn’t drink all of that glass first
Wish I made it to homecoming
Got up the courage to ask her
Wish I would’ve gotten out of my shell
Wish I put the bottle back on that shelf
Wish I wouldn’t have worry about what other people thought
And felt comfortable in myself
Rooftop open and the stars above
Moment frozen, sneaking out, and falling in love
Me, you and that futon, we’d just begun
On the grass, dreaming, figuring out who I was
Those good old days

I wish somebody would have told me that
That some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
‘Cause someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of the good old days

Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young
May we always look back and think it was better than it was
Maybe these are the moments
Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
While missing out on now
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve thrown some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now
Those good old days

You don’t know, what you’ve got
Till it goes, till it’s gone
You don’t know, what you’ve got
Till it goes, till it’s gone

I wish somebody would have told me that
Some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days

Focus

My friend Diondra is super into yoga. After I left Expedia, even though I only knew her for a few months, she convinced me to go to Wanderlust in Whistler and do yoga with her for 5 days. It was actually awesome and I’ve gone to several since then.

It was at the first Wanderlust where the intro to a yoga class began with a story I’ll never forget, although I will likely not deliver it as eloquently as the instructor.

She told a story of a man in India who discovered a small town up in the hills. The town was beautiful and full of vibrant art, handmade goods and produced amazing produce and other delectable treats. He moved to the town and thought to himself that others should see this beautiful place. He decided that in order to attract others to the town, he would host a parade, including having a gorgeous elephant at the end of the parade. He decided to have vendors along the parade path, so everyone who came could enjoy the food and art at the same time.

Hundreds of people showed up and the parade was beautiful. It was at the end, when the crown jewel of the parade, the elephant, should have made the biggest impact. The elephant started walking down the street, but soon became overcome with the joyous scents of all the food on display along the street. The elephant just couldn’t help himself and quickly deviated from the parade path, knocking over people, stands and making an utter mess of the place. People screamed and ran off and the man was embarrassed and hung his head.

A woman from the village came to the man and asked if she could work with the elephant and if the man could give it another shot. The man said he didn’t know but there was no harm is trying.

The woman worked with the elephant. She adorned his trunk with beautiful decoration and trained him to focus on it during the parade. Sure enough, on parade day, the elephant focused on the decoration, not allowing itself to become distracted by all the chaos and distractions going on around it.

My living room now has a silver elephant on the shelf. Namaste.

Truth Versus Reality

Yesterday I heard a segment on NPR that really got me thinking and I thought it was worth sharing. The main question that was asked and answered that was particularly fascinating to me was, “how is truth different than reality?”

The journalist, Brooke Gladstone, talks about it in her book and her answer is that the truth are facts, things that are proven. Reality, however, incorporates truth, but truth could really only make up 25% of our own reality. We all take our experiences, influences, and perspectives and apply that to facts we digest, which ultimately determines our reality. We all have different realities that we live in and some of ours are closer to some than others.
Brooke Gladstone applies this concept to the current political environment, but it can also be applied to partner marketing quite easily. It’s not uncommon for there to be a difference of reality between us, the partners we work with or our clients. Understanding the whole context of what makes up their reality often helps overcome the disparity, which is also something that Brooke urged listeners to do. Listening to people and understanding what is shaping their reality is crucial to solving problems and differences.
Screenshot 2017-11-02 13.51.13

Gender Gap in the Workplace

 

DeathtoStock_TheDancer-10

Some of you may be surprised I haven’t sent a Thoughtful Thursday out about gender inequality in the workplace. I’ve discussed it with many of you from time to time and it’s something I’m very passionate about.

This past week, disgusting stories have come out about Harvey Weinstein and his deplorable sexual assault acts used against women in an effort for them to get into big roles for their career. It’s the extreme case of what many women know to be true – that women are harassed, assaulted and treated very differently, due to their gender, in the workplace.
I personally have a few “little” stories of sexist comments made to me throughout my career, but they don’t even come close to what I’ve read from other women.  Mary Keene-Dawson, a very well respected digital marketing consultant in London, states in this article that she’s experienced “men pulling their cocks out in meetings in an attempt to intimidate me during a tough negotiation.” This behavior is beyond appalling and Rolling Stone is correlating the insane amount of stories now coming out to the Weinstein scandal, stating that: this is not a personal problem, it’s a systemic problem and the Weinstein scandal may be the final straw that broke the camel’s back to make bigger changes to the system.
I hope they’re right.
Years ago in my Expedia days, Dara made a BHAG (big harry audacious goal) that Expedia would have women in 20% of the leadership roles by 2020 or he wouldn’t get his bonus. Although I have no quantifiable data about the response of employees, I do know anecdotally that many women appreciated the gesture, but felt like that goal fell short. I remember saying “he probably won’t even be around by then anyway,” which ended up being the case.
But now we’re seeing real change, as shown in this article about the CEO of Oath. He wants women in 50% of leadership roles, which makes sense, since women earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees & 60% of master‘s degrees and they make up 49% of the college-educated workforce. Tim Armstrong, the Oath CEO, references Gloria Steinem as his inspiration for his initiative. Gloria advised him “companies perform better when there’s men and women so don’t think about women-only, think about how to combine that.” Both genders bring value to the table, so having equality of genders in leadership positions is where companies will find the most benefit, as shown in this McKinsey study.
There are two main sociological problems in accomplishing this goal, according to Sheryl Sandberg.
  • One is that “Data show that for men, professional success is correlated with being liked, while successful women are treated with increased disdain.” Think about that. As women grow more successful, people like them less. As men grow more successful, people like them more. No wonder women have a hard time getting into senior leadership teams or running companies.
  • The other problem she states is that “women are seen in a positive light when they advocate for others, but the opposite holds true when they promote themselves.”
So really in order for women to get more successful, they need other people to advocate for them and then when they become more successful, people will like them less. That’s pretty fucked, but thankfully at least one part of that problem is being solved by people like Gloria Steinem, Sheryl Sandberg and Tim Armstrong. Hopefully with the sharing of information, all of us can do our part to be more conscious about our responses to sexist things we observe in the future. And maybe even by sharing information we will start to see real change in the leadership mix of more companies soon.