It’s Not the Kite, It’s the Air

I love the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams! I can’t help dancing every time I hear it! I like it so much, I bought the song for my iPod and the video for my iPad. Once, the song came over the intercom while I was eating dinner with three friends in a restaurant. All four of us started dancing in our chairs. The song just makes you, well … happy.

I watched an interview with Pharrell Williams on CBS Sunday Morning. During the interview, Pharrell said something I’ve been thinking about a lot. He was asked, “Are you afraid if you give yourself too much credit, it would all go away?”

Pharrell’s answer, “For sure. You see people spin out of control like that all the time. I mean, those are the most tragic stories, the most gifted people who start to believe it’s really all them. It’s not all you. It can’t be all you. Just like you need air to fly a kite, it’s not the kite. It’s the air.”

What a perfect?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? metaphor … “It’s not the kite, it’s the air.” Ego check. Happiness and success are rarely achieved alone. Each is produced with the help, support, and patience of the people around you. You should thank them for it from time to time.

I’m posting this the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. A good time for anyone to look at their life and assess. As I look at my life. Let me tell my wife, family, and friends … THANK YOU!!! … for your help, support and bountiful patience! If I’m a kite … they’re the air. Thank you to my readers as well. If this blog is a kite, you’re the air!

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31D2BBC – Day 2 – Write and Publish a List Post

person hands woman pen
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31D2BBC = 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge. I explain the challenge in my post, “31 Days to Build a Better Blog from ProBlogger.” The second day of the podcast challenge is “Write and Publish a List Post.”

Technically, I can put a check in this box. I’ve created a few list posts since starting this blog. I have a few ideas for future posts. The posts I’ve created so far are listed below. (My first sneeze page!):

  1. My Blogging History
  2. You Need Tools to Blog
  3. The Entrepreneur’s Bucket List (American Express Open Forum)
  4. Annual Checklist for Nonprofit Board Members
  5. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog from ProBlogger
  6. Do You Know Your VP’s?
  7. Ask Yourself, How Much Time, Money and Energy?
  8. Are You Guilty of “Wishful” Recycling?

The catch is, I have not followed all the suggestions for a list post. That’s my challenge! The podcast episode is 21 minutes of tips, ideas, and wisdom. Listen to the episode to get the complete picture. The core tips I want to apply are:

  1. Create list posts using all 3 of the different styles
  2. Create list posts that serve as “sneeze” pages for my blog
  3. Use images as much as possible
  4. Use bullet points or sub-headings to help break up the formatting of longer posts.

I will keep this in mind with future list posts. Especially using more images in posts.

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Are You Guilty of “Wishful” Recycling?

green trash bin on green grass field
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I live in Fairfax County, Virginia (USA). I follow the county government on Twitter. The county recently did a tweet with a creative term for a vexing program … “wishful recycling.” To quote the tweet, “About 30% of material that passes through local recycling sorting facilities is not recyclable — it’s waste placed in the wrong container or acceptable recyclables contaminated by dirty items. Learn how to stop ‘wishful’ recycling: http://bit.ly/2z8L4bo

I must admit. I’ve seen some interesting stuff in the recycling dumpster at my apartment complex. Using “Wishful recycling” as a non-offensive way to describe the problem I hope gets people to ask the question … “Am I wishful recycling?” Recycling facility workers everywhere will thank you if it does.

Do you know what the five largest “wishful recycling” items are:

  1. Plastic bags
  2. Shredded paper
  3. Tanglers (hoses/hangers/cords)
  4. Styrofoam containers
  5. Dirty diapers

I did some research for this post. Wishful recycling causes real issues at recycling centers. Plastic bags and shredded paper does gum up the equipment. Dirty diapers and food containers (with food still in them) contaminate the material that is recyclable. It drives the workers nuts and reduces the income the local jurisdiction can get for recycled material.

Don’t be a wishful recycler! Spend a few minutes learning what is and IS NOT recyclable? Here are a few articles:

  1. Are You A Wishful Recycler?
  2. Adjusting to New Recycling Realities; 5 Ways You Can Help Stop “Wishful Recycling”
  3. A Simple List of What Can and Cannot Be Recycled
  4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Portal from United States Environmental Protection Agency)

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Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

blur shot of a person in a restaurant
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I eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Paramount Network. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was awful. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out, and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash their hands either. Then I realized, if a restaurant doesn’t take the time to clean and re-stock the bathroom, why would I think they clean the kitchen? If I see roaches or other critters in the bathroom (and I have), I bet there are critters in the kitchen as well. I decided a dirty bathroom is a good sign I should get out of there BEFORE I eat a meal.

Why worry about the restaurant’s bathroom? Bathrooms are used by customers. Some restaurant managers don’t care or are too busy to make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked. If a place customers see is a low priority for cleanliness, what’s the priority for places NOT SEEN by customers. It’s a red flag at least!

My sister-in-law works in the restaurant industry. She has another test. Look up at the air vents in the dining room. If they’re dirty, so is the kitchen. Do you have a test? If so, please share …

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Start the Next Chapter of Your Life (Quote)

599a4e251b6623aa46e7409004b38f18You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” – Unknown

It’s a great quote because it explains the concept in simple terms … reading and chapters. It’s easy to translate to what I think is its true meaning … thinking forward or thinking backward.

Are you a backward thinker or a forward thinker? Re-reading the last chapter is focusing on the past and the mistakes you’ve made. Stop that! You can stay stuck in the past or move on. You can’t change the past, so the choice is clear … or it should be. Be a forward thinker. What are your GOALS, not your MISTAKES? Where do you want to be in the future? How do you get there? Make a plan. Focus on that.  Start the next chapter.

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31D2BBC – Day 1 – Create an Elevator Pitch for My Blog

landscape photography of factory during daytime
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31D2BBC = 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge. I explain the challenge in my post, “31 Days to Build a Better Blog from ProBlogger.” The first day of the podcast challenge is “Create an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog.”

I can put a check in this box! My tagline is my elevator pitch. I added, “The Journey to become a Certified Associate in Project Management,” as a tagline when I created the blog. It’s what I usually say when someone asks me what the subject of my blog is.

A funny thing. This is my 33rd post. So far, I have not written about the CAPM or my journey to get it. I started thinking another tagline might be … “I have a lot to say and share. This blog is a great place to say and share it.” But then I realize how silly that sounds and go back to my first tagline.

One down. 30 to go!

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I’m a Proud Member of the “Swoop In” Club

dreamstime_m_128365221Let me start by explaining what the “Swoop In” Club is. I was a member of Toastmasters International. As a Toastmaster, you have to give speeches in front of the club. The first speech all new Toastmasters give is called “The Icebreaker.” It’s one of the most comfortable speeches because it’s short and you talk about yourself.

A woman joined the club. She talked about her divorce for her icebreaker. She described how she survived divorce because her friends “swooped in.” I remember thinking that was powerful! No one wants to go through a divorce, a death in the family or any other crisis. Unfortunately, a crisis happens to all of us at some point. Will your family “swoop in” to support you during a crisis? Will your friends?

A few years ago, my wife and I were living and working in a group home. It was hard work, but we enjoyed it. The crisis came when we lost our jobs. It’s risky to live and work in the same place. If you lose your job, you lose your home at the same time. That’s what happened to us. We lost our jobs and had to move within three days. That’s short notice when you have a house full of furniture and personal belongings.

My wife and I got the news on a Thursday afternoon and had to be out of the house by Sunday night. We sat in the house for about an hour recovering from the shock. Once the shock was over, we started making calls. I called my parents and friends. She called her grandmother, brothers, and friends. It was the same story told over and over. “We lost our jobs. We lost our home. We’re not sure what we’re going to do. We’re not sure where we’re going to go. We have to be out by Sunday night.” It could have been terrible, but something else happened … PEOPLE SWOOPED IN! Our family and friends said over and over, “I’ll be there!” It was wonderful!

We spent the next day arranging for a storage unit, renting a moving van, buying moving supplies and getting the house as ready as possible. Saturday morning, with almost no notice, people showed up. We had a crew of family and friends helping us pack the house and get us moved out. One friend canceled a planned weekend vacation to help. By Sunday morning, most of our stuff was in storage, and we were living with a relative.

My point is not the story of our crisis. My point is I’m now a member of the “Swoop In” Club. A proud member! I no longer have to wonder about my family and friends in a crisis. I know if a crisis hits, they come running … and that’s an awesome feeling!!! Are you a member of the “Swoop In” Club?

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Ask Yourself, How Much Time, Money and Energy?

time-money-energyAre you thinking about starting a new project, joining a new club or learning a new hobby? Are you always being asked to serve as a volunteer, on a board or committee? The first question you should ask yourself is how much time, money, and energy will this cost? Make sure you have a good idea of the actual costs before you say yes.

How much time? How much time does the commitment require? Are there meetings to attend (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)? How long are the meetings? Are the meetings during the workday, after hours or on the weekend? In addition to meetings, how much time does the average person spend reviewing documents or working on tasks between meetings? You want to make sure you have a complete count of the time needs vs. your availability. Time is valuable. You only get 24 hours daily minus sleep. Protect it! Say no if it requires too much time.

How much money? Will you be required to pay dues, fees or make donations? Will you have to buy tickets to anything (an annual gala, conferences, concerts, shows or games, etc.)? Are there other expenses? Do you have to contribute to a soup kitchen, food drive, shelter supply closet, or team uniforms? Will you have to travel? Small costs can add up quickly. Can you afford it all?

I served on a board once that served a lite meal at each board meeting. The committees took turns providing the food. If it was my committee’s turn, I had to share in the cost. Also, I had to make an annual donation plus the price of tickets to two events each year. Bottom line – try to get a realistic idea of the costs for the commitment. I have seen good people forced to resign or stop a commitment due to the financial burden. Say no if it requires too much money.

How much energy? This is the hardest one of all. Most people don’t think about energy cost. Have you heard the saying, “A meeting of the minds but the minds didn’t show.” Well each of us has a finite amount of mental energy to spend each day. All commitments require mental energy. Sometimes, a lot of mental energy! It’s important to show up to commitments with a clear, well-rested mind. If you’re asked to serve on a committee or board, they want you to do more than show up and keep the chair warm. Don’t forget to add stress to mental energy for a total score. Say no if the mental score is too high.

Why did I write this? There are always needs to serve on committees, boards, sports teams, church groups and the like. It’s a great way to learn, grow, network, give back or make a difference. However, I have seen people get involved in projects and it not work out. In most cases, the relationship failed due to a misunderstanding of time, money or energy commitments. I don’t want it to happen to you.

 

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