Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

10 Lessons I Learned From My Cat

Meet Reagan. He's a 5 year old ragdoll cat that you'll often hear me call "kitten." In true tradition of enjoying writing, here's some lessons learned from him. Many apply to business and personal -- if a few catchy gif images or memes were added, this probably could be a Buzzfeed article!

For those unfamiliar with ragdoll cats, here's a few fun facts. They are BIG (ragdolls can be 2-3x the size of other cats). Ragdolls are very docile -- they often lay on the floor on their backs totally relaxed. They will greet you at the backdoor when coming home. They are young at heart -- while most cats tend to act like a kitten for about 2 years, ragdolls tend to stay that way for 3-4 years.

Another way to put it, ragdolls are 'puppy like' with the benefit of being litter box trained.

1) Non Verbal Communication: Anyone whose studied communications knows that non-verbal communication is 90% of communication. Cats do this partly with their eyes, specifically by the intensity and pace of blinking their eyes. "Slow blinks" are reassuring are communication that things are good. Try it sometime, you'll get some slow blinks back (also works with dogs).

2) Emphasize Key Words in Verbal Communication: Understand we get exposed to lots of communication, emphasize the key phrases that matter. Kitten can understand certain words, with emphasis and repetitive context how you use the word being important.

He knows about a dozen words, including synonyms that he'll respond to. First the obvious ones: hungry, food, water, and thirsty. Now the fun ones: basement, movie, brushed, paper, scratch, kitten-house, blanket, play, marshmallow, head-butt, na-night, and bedtime.

3) Value Life's Essentials: Learn to be humble and appreciate the basics. That simple act of adding a little food to a dish, or refreshing a water bowl can take you 15 seconds and be acknowledged by an amazing amount of happiness. It's one of those things that causes you to pause, what other little things can you do towards others you interact with that brings happiness?

4) Find a Quirky Vice and Embrace It: A quirky vice adds personality. For me, mine would be between having an iced coffee or eating chicken parm. For kitten, it's getting a hot cocoa sized marshmallow. He knows the word -- he knows they are kept in a container that makes a 'poppin' sound when opened. It's not a daily thing, and it's not a reward for good behavior. He goes wild hearing the word "marshmallow," then the contain top popping open. He'll "alligator role" on the floor when presented with one. Some cats like a piece of chicken, others shrimp, this one likes marshmallows and embraces it with a sense of humor. Again, quirky vices add personality.

5) All Kittens Head-Butt: Ever do a weird multi-step handshake with an old friend? Dorky? Yes. It's fun, and likely ends in nostalgic laughter. Just like the idea of slow blinks, I learned a few years ago that all kittens head-butt each other as a sign of happiness / non verbal communication. Don't be afraid to be a little dorky and embrace nostalgia.

6) Find Enjoyment in Simple Things: While marshmallows are a quirky vice, it easily could have also been the brown shipping paper found in Amazon delivery boxes. Between that, and an old school piece of string or ribbon, it serves as a reminder that simple things can be some of the most enjoyable. Often these simple nothing to experience.

7) Gamification Makes Adulting Easier: Ragdolls need to be brushed periodically. That's the animal equivalent of adulting -- not always fun, but necessary. 15 years ago I read the book Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. A takeaway I've carried since then was the idea of "play," which today many would call "gamification." Long story short, through trial and error I've turned what should be a struggle to brush into something he enjoys.

8) Tolerate Laser Pointers: a red laser dot moving around the room is a fun game -- it's distracting -- but ultimately it's a game. No matter how many times your paw touches the dot, you never really 'capture it.' The game is fun, the game is distracting, but an old school piece of string is more fulfilling -- it's real, you can touch it.

9) Value Relationships: We all know the saying, "you get what you put in." Many of the items above are little things that only require thought and consideration. Often the relationships we value most mirror this.

10) Appreciate Time: Something we all tend to reflect on is how much time we have left with someone or something, relative to the time that's elapsed. I've had 5 great years with kitten, lots of memories. I hope he's part of my life for many years to come, and at the same time I'm reminded to not take that potential for granted. Maybe that's why I'm able to put together what ended up being a long list with much longer descriptions than expected.

What do you think? Anything you'd add?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Train Trip 2016

The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has always been a favorite attraction of mine. It fulfills my love for history, culture, and technology. The attraction includes four segments, and one of the standouts is how travel speeds improve over time.

I've always wanted to travel cross country and now I have the chance. It's a bucket list item of mine, and it's loosely planned by design.

43 second mark: "And we can travel from New York to California in less than 7 days."

When I completed undergrad, I graduated on a Saturday, had a party that Sunday, and then Monday I started my first day of work. When other friends took some time to travel I was "smiling and dialing" trying to get ahead. Years later when I completed my MBA, I graduated on a Saturday and the next day boarded a plane to Atlanta to look at career next steps and scout places to live.

While its great to be focused on the future, living in the moment and savoring the present has become a welcomed pivot. As I've grown older and more successful I've come to respect the most valuable commodity we have is time. In some ways I've experienced a lifetime of material gains, and while I'm grateful of that, there is a void of experiences I have not made as much progress on as I'd like.

The idea of traveling across country has always been a desire, but never something I dedicated the time to, nor thought I would do until I retired. Here's some trip highlights planned currently on my bucket list.

  • Take a train cross country (San Fran to NY)
  • Write a book
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial
  • Tour the Smithsonian 
  • Try yoga
  • Learn the basics of sailing
  • Unplug digitally and from the news media for 14 days

So what's the trip look like? Here's some stops:

  • Atlanta > Washington D.C. (Smithsonian)
  • Washington D.C. > New York (9/11 Memorial)
  • New York to San Francisco
  • CA (ad-hoc, includes renting a VW and driving the Pacific Coast Highway)

What do I hope to gain? Chance to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, be spontaneous and have a true once in a lifetime adventure. Intent is to unplug, take in the surroundings and relate back to those that made this cross country journey generations ago. I plan to travel light, just a basic brown leather duffle bag and a L.L. Bean backpack. Not my intent to live publish along the way, rather journal the trip and share as an overall experience.

Huge thanks to everyone that's help me with tips and suggestions to make this trip possible !!

 - Keith


If you've ever seen the "Carousel of Progress" try to get the lyrics out of your head :)

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,

And tomorrow's just a dream away.
Man has a dream and that's the start,
He follows his dream with mind and heart.
And when it becomes a reality,
It's a dream come true for you and me.

So there's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Just a dream away.

p.s. for those with 20-minutes to spare, here's the full video.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Solved! Why Tetanus Shot Hurt

When I was about 12 I attended summer basketball camp. One day I was late to camp because I had a doctor's appointment. Normal checkup, not memorable, except for one thing, my first tetanus shot.

Seems like that shot hurt for days. Other tetanus shots I've had since then never hurt like that. Now I know why... basketball camp.

Just had a physical and part of that was updating by tetanus shot. Shot didn't hurt, nothing memorable, until I decided to work out later. Upward rows with 15 reps and about 60 seconds after finishing it hit me. My right arm BURNED. Left arm was fine.

Mystery solved. When you're having a tetanus shot try to refrain from physical activity shortly after that works the muscle area where the shot was administered.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wait, the Chicken Parm Diet is a Thing??

Saw this on The Telegraph: Eating pasta helps you lose weight, says Italian study.

"A new survey of more than 23,000 people, however, has linked pasta consumption to both lower body mass and waist-to-hip ratio. 
Published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, the study said pasta consumption is associated with better weight management in part because it often occurs as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet."
Normally a headline like this would be something you'd expect to read on The Onion. Mind blown it was The Telegraph. A year ago was having fun the the term #ChickenParmDiet with friends. Basically made it a meme where you could eat all the chicken parm you wanted IF you put the effort in to keep up with daily Fitbit goals.

Appears the science has caught up to this hypothesis. That's exciting. I can talk chicken parm variations like Bubba could tell Forrest Gump different ways to make shrimp. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some dietary planning to work on.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Age 35. What's Next?

Wow, 35. That's a big a number to me, and in many ways it feels like turning 25 was not that long ago. 

If I'm being honest, never put much thought into what being 35 would look like. This dawned on me driving back from the beach the other day. I've always pictured life in 2-3 year brackets, but those brackets just magically stopped at 35. 

So now what? 

To say 35 is going to be an interesting year and turning point is an understatement. Several new chapters starting, some ending and a wide array of items I'd like to achieve identified. 

I feel fortunate and humble that I've been able to accomplish many things before that age of 35 that some may never achieve in a lifetime. While that's an interesting thing to acknowledge, by no means does it define me, or what's next. 

The Next Five Years
  • I have the means and want to experience what its like to be a young professional, while I can. 
  • I seek to be self aware of my strengths and my shortcomings
  • I want celebrate those that have been great friends, and shift others politely to acquaintance status
  • I focus to meet new people, both with shared interests, and those that can challenge my beliefs
  • I want to professionally work with those that value my knowledge and capabilities. I have enough expertise and proven wins to warrant this. With these folks I strive to build new things and be innovative. 
  • I want to become more liquid. In this case making sacrifices to not be as reliant on a paycheck. Instead I seek to have a diverse stream of income sources ("old Keith" will appreciate this). I believe this will make life less stressful and allow me to appreciate my career / primary income source even more. 
  • I will take this one step further and continue to grow my consulting practice and seek to work with those that are amazing to work with and whom I can add value towards. 
  • I will strive to focus better on physical and mental wellbeing. I went through a period where health and fitness took a backseat (Facebook's "On This Day" reminds of of this almost daily). I've made adjustments around health and hope to find balance (and selfishly age well in the coming years)
  • I want to focus on experiences and quality of life, over materialism. Had the privilege of acquiring some cool stuff in the past. Been there, done that. It brings moments of euphoria, but not happiness. Happiness can be a skill, it can be a passion you share with someone else regularly. Some of my happiest times is queso dip with friends chatting about random stuff, or having people over to BBQ and then making it a late night playing Cards Against Humanity. 
  • I want to help others more. I've always enjoyed mentoring when possible in particular. As an only child I've had to self navigate more often than I'd like. I've seen this happen alot with fellow only children and eldest children in particular. 

Elusive Goals: I don't know if I'll ever be an adjunct professor teaching an Intro to Marketing college course. I don't know if I'll ever be a pee-wee soccer coach either. These have been goals of mine for 15-20 years. If they happen, it'll be amazing and worth the wait. If they don't, that's okay too. 

35 is here, whether I want it to be or not. It's time to stop thinking only in 2-3 year brackets. It's time to think longer term -- challenge beliefs, and not only for strive for quality of life experiences, but quality of life I can share better with those I enjoy and appreciate the most.