Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: My Year in Review

2010 was an eventful and transitional year for me, with highs and lows, and moments of happiness and sadness.

January
I started the year determined to branch out professionally from managing technical projects in the web/tech space. In an effort to make new contacts and connect with unusual suspects, I finally embraced social media, and created accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. Gradually, I met many new, interesting people, and really became energized about work and professional networking.

April
In April, my mother passed after a long illness. I felt the full gamut of emotions: grief that my mother had passed, relief that she was no longer in pain, sorrow that my daughter's time with her grandmother was so short, and resolve, to go out and embrace life.

 
In October, on the date of her birthday, I posted some of my memories of my mother.

May
Toward the end of Spring, I joined the Reserve Hose Fire Company. I'd been looking for a way to give back to my community, and volunteering as a firefighter instinctively felt right.
I'm still a probationary member with much to learn, but I've enjoyed the experience so far and look forward to continuing on.

June
In June, through some new contacts I'd made on LinkedIn, I ended up helping to stand up the Buffalo chapter of the Social Media Club. This was a great, energizing experience, and a true coming together of talented people from many different fields. The only thing more exciting about starting the club will be seeing how it will surely evolve and become even better next year!

September

I had the good fortune to attend the Business Innovation Factory's annual summit (BIF-6) this year in Providence, RI. The conference featured more than two dozen innovators who took the stage and told stories demonstrating their passion, creativity, smarts and discipline to get things done in new and valuable ways. I found the event absolutely exhilarating and fascinating.

Also in September -- my daughter turned three and transitioned from a small in-home daycare to a preschool. To mark the occasion, I wrote a short post about her.

October
My story Costumed won the 13th Annual Saugus.net Halloween Ghost Story Contest.

I also visited Chicago in October, and though I've been there many times previously, this visit was memorable because I was introduced to Intelligentsia Coffee and sampled some of the best coffee I've ever had.

November

I had the opportunity to visit Shanghai, China to attend a marketing offsite in November. It was a wonderful opportunity to visit a faraway country, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.





December

In December, I accepted a new position as Brand and Business Innovation manager for the Superior Group. In my new role, which will commence in 2011, I’ll be responsible for the creation, development, and maturation of new ideas and driving innovation for the business. I'm very excited about the new position, and look forward to a productive 2011 in my new role.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drive by Daniel Pink (Book Review)

In Drive, Daniel Pink challenges the old guard notions of motivation that remain entrenched in business today and still hold that people are driven primarily by external carrot and stick motivators.

Examining and citing old and new research, the author contends that carrot and stick motivators actually only work in certain circumstances (with rule-based routine tasks) and people are instead strongly motivated today by some combination of the following factors:
  1. Autonomy - the desire to direct their lives
  2. Mastery - the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose - the yearning to do something as part of something larger than ourselves

The implications of a reassembled paradigm of motivation are huge and far-reaching. In a normative workplace, everything from prescribed work schedules, fixed work processes, and performance bonuses could and should be recast if you approach motivation differently.

One other note. It's worth noting that Daniel Pink writes very well. Though the text gets high marks foremost for its insightful arguments, the writing is masterfully fluid. That is, it's comfortable and easy to read without ever sacrificing intelligence and rigor for accessibility.

You can read more about Dan Pink and Drive at his website: http://www.danpink.com/.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (Book Review)

There is an early sequence in Unbowed when Wangari Maathai describes a fig tree and nearby stream where she would constantly go to fetch water. Even as a girl, Maathai relates how fascinated she was by the crystal-clear stream and all the life in the water and around it, in the shrubs, reeds, ferns, and surrounding fig tree. Later she would realize how everything was connected -- how the "fig tree held the soil together, reducing erosion and landslides," and how forests, fresh water, wildlife, everything contributed to a functional, sustainable biodiversity.

Fundamentally, Unbowed, is the story of Maathai's devotion to the natural balance and sustainability she felt at a young age. The text details her education in Kenya and abroad and key role in establishing the Green Belt Movement, an environmental and communal grassroots organization based in Kenya with a primary focus on planting trees and combating deforestation.

The book details Maathai's many struggles and obstacles to keep the movement going in the wake of government opposition and resistance. As Maathai writes, "Working for freedom and justice is often a lonely and dispiriting business." Fortunately, for the people of Kenya and all of us, she was able to persevere and grow the movement into the international organization that it is today. In 2004, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of all her work with the Green Belt Movement.

You can read more about Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement via the links below:

The Green Belt Movement (Website)
The Green Belt Movement (Facebook)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

First Storm of the Season

Our snow-covered backyard, courtesy of an intense band of lake effect snow: