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  • Some post-run real time thoughts on turning 50 and heading into the next half-century of my life.

    I still love the written word more than any other form of communication or culture, and nothing will ever have the impact on me that the grimy, poetic, real-time kinetic energy that is The Basketball Diaries did so many decades ago.

    In my next half-century I hope we can have a more public dialogue on trauma, its reverberations and the damage we carry.

    Ocean waves rules, and they will always rule. Even just sitting there and listening to them come in.

    One has to leave the house. I know how hard it can be sometimes, but we have to stay connected to the larger world to feel alive and grow, and when you can't get out or get-up, call me.

    Outside of my children's laughter I'm not sure anything is greater than the feeling of sunlight on my face. One has to do sunscreen though, I wish I had been better about it.

    If I knew my body would feel like this at 50, I would have done it differently along the way, not sure how, but differently. I would have avoided closed ski trails, hotel room fights and lawn mower blades for sure.

    Luck is real, and yes success involves hard work, showing-up and being prepared when the moments arrive, but without luck the odds are far greater.

    But privilege is very real too. And if you have it, which I certainly do, check it, and do better, we did nothing to earn it.

    This is not an original thought, but be the change you want to be in the world, don't complain, or rail on imaginary foes and slights, do shit, make a difference.

    People will cut you in line, they will be unfair and cruel, those who suck may not get their comeuppance and there are lots of assholes out there. You have to learn to live with this, otherwise it will kill you, slowly anyway.

    If you have love to give, give it freely, and don't be ashamed to do so. I've received so much of it, and I know that's not the norm, but I also hope that can change.

    And at every phase of my life I've been blessed with great friends, I don't know how that works, but I'm endlessly appreciative of that and I look forward during my next half a century to meeting those of you I haven't yet.

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Or The Ongoing Search for Story and Flow in Loop 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century, Part III.

    INTRODUCTION

    In case you're wondering what's going on here please feel free to take a moment to visit Parts I and II in this ongoing series where I unpack the syllabus for Loop 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century and the thinking behind it.

    (Pause)

    Welcome back.

    CONNECTIONS

    As we enter the enter the middle section of the semester we begin discussing the tools needed to find a job. But we also talk about love.

    More on the latter in the moment.

    Things at this point in the semester tend to kick-off with a Mixer organized by the administrators who run the In the Loop Program. There have always been two Mixers during the semester, but we now work together to integrate them into the syllabus. The Mixers gives the students the opportunity to meet Lake Forest alumni and both start, and practice, the process of connecting with those who might help them as they craft their careers, and narratives, as well as building a network of contacts they can (re-)connect with over time.

    The focus on thinking about how best to make connections begins during the first part of the semester as we both read, and talk, about pieces on "networking, or as one guest speaker on storytelling described it, 'connecting,' because as he said, networking is 'tired-ass" language.' All of which can be found in the previous post in this series: "Did I Mention Story: Or The Ongoing Search for Story (maybe I did mention story) and Flow in Loop 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century, Part II."

    We debrief the Mixer(s) in the following class and explore a mix of questions focused on assessing individual behaviors/connections (or lack there of) and the structure/content of the mixer itself. Questions discussed include:

    What went well? And what didn't?
    What would you do differently? And what you like the school to do differently?
    Which of your goals did you achieve and how did you go about doing so?
    What next steps have you taken, or will you be taking?

    Any one of these questions can be taken as leading questions, though the final one is the most bluntly so. I ask it because I want to know if the students asked for numbers or emails, attempted to schedule discussions with anyone of interest, or formally thanked any of the Alumni they spoke to for their time?

    If not, why?

    We then talk about love.

    LOVE

    As the semesters have evolved over time I have been struck again and again, and in looking back over my own work life, am reminded again and again, how much pressure there is to take the jobs that are available, pay well, suit what one's parents' want one to do, and on and on.

    But what about doing work we love? Do we even know what we love?

    I was always interested in bringing this kind of thinking into class, and when and where I could, I did, but it never felt quite formal enough. Until that is I ran into a brief piece in the New York Times titled, “The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love.”

    This piece eloquently speaks to identifying what you love and making it your work, and so I now assign this piece as one of the Response Papers due during the semester (more on the Response Papers here), and I ask the students to address any questions they want in response to the article, but to also consider the following:

    What task(s) has absorbed you completely? Said, differently, what do you love?

    This assignment has also come to serve multiple purposes. First, and most obviously, talking about how we do work we love in a more formal fashion, but also as an exercise to begin laying out a structure for the next class presentation, and more on that later, which focuses on the field or industry the students are intrigued by or already immersed in.

    The intent here is to launch a conversation about what one might want to know about an industry of interest, if one is trying to figure out what one will need to know if one is going to "love" their work. My goal is that through the discussion of this article we get to a point where we more or less idenitfy the below elements about the world of work, which then also provide a framework for the presentations themselves:

    Hours
    Diversity
    Training
    Travel
    Benefits
    Types of Jobs
    Flexibility/Telecommuting
    Salary
    Culture/Work Environment - for example, values
    Location - particularly top companies
    Opportunities for Advancement
    Requirements - skills, classes, degrees, training, licenses

    SKILLS

    I'll come back to the presentations themselves in a moment, but before we get to them, both here, and during the semester, we take a field trip. One field trip we've consistently taken over the years - respective schedules permitting - is to the studio of Carlos "Dzine" Rolon, who talks about how he draws on everything from the ideas he loves, his childhood, inspirations, and personal connections - as we do in class - to create art, and run his business.

    More recently, though I've also built-in a field trip to the IO Theater to watch the Improvised Shakespeare Company, which allows the students to see professional improvisers at work. I've written previously how I strongly believe that the skills, games, and expectations that make for effective improv are an important part of this class and by extension the job search.

    This is followed by an in-class Improv skill-building session, which comes during a stretch of classes where we focus on specific tools and skills. A series of guest speakers join us in class, and speak to:

    Improv - history, exercises, applications to the job search;

    Creating a public profile - everything from personal websites to utilzing Twitter and LinkedIn;

    LinkedIn itself, inlcuding upgrading their LinkedIn pages and enhancing their understaning of the platform's tools for job search and making connections;


    As well as staff from Lake Forest's Career Advancement Center to talk about how the students can enhance their resumes, drawing on current best practice, which has proven to be one topic that is continually changing.


    FIELD PRESENTATIONS

    We also hold the field, or industry, presentations during this time, and with this presentation I invite the students to present individually or in groups. The important thing is that they explore work that excites them and I use the following Expectations/Grading Rubric to assess their work:

    Expectations/Grading Rubric - All categories are scored from 1-5, 5 being the best.

    I. Preparation

    Have you organized your thoughts in advance and have you been thoughtful in doing so? Please take this seriously.

    II. Presentation

    Are you taking your time, speaking clearly, and allowing yourself to breathe, and the words to flow? Further, is what you're saying aligned with what your actually sharing with the class in terms of the final product?

    III. The Basics

    Please look to answer questions such as:

    The top companies in the field.
    Where they are located. And the cost of living.
    Academic requirements.
    Skills and experience.
    The range/types of jobs.
    Organizational structure.

    IV. The Amenities

    Please look to answer questions such as:

    Salary range. Or ranges.
    Benefits.
    Hours.
    Advancement.
    Updated systems.

    V.  Organizational culture.

    Please look to answer questions such as:

    What does a day on the job look like.
    Dress code.
    Values.
    Happiness.

    Grading:

    A - 24-25 points

    A- - 23 points

    B+ - 22 points

    B - 20-21 points

    C - 19 points and below

    CONCLUSION (for now)

    I will save the final part of the semester for a final post on the class, but one last thing we do before heading into the final stretch, is we start examining how all of these steps, tools, and  strategies hang together when it comes to the job search. I also assign an article by an author I love, myself, to help the students further organize their thoughts, and that piece is titled “The Search: Obtaining the Right Job, Finding Yourself, and Crafting a Career.”

    I hope you read it too.

    If you have any questions or thoughts on any of this, please let me know.

    Otherwise, speak to you soon.

    Control Your Own Narrative: Or The Ongoing Search for Story and Flow in Loop 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century, Part I.

    Did I Mention Story: Or The Ongoing Search for Story (maybe I did mention story) and Flow in Loop 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century, Part II.