Bloggables

Fortune

Yesterday was my 28th birthday, It has occurred to me, as it occurs to many on their birthdays that this is a great time to reflect. I’ve come to a fantastic conclusion. I am one of the most fortunate individuals around. I have more material wealth than i need, and, much more importantly, I have the people around me who I love and treasure and I live every day with experiences that I value. Feeling fulfilled every day is incredibly lucky and rewarding, and I am happy to be reminded of it at this time.

Strategy

There’s a fine line between strategy and tactics, but in difficult situations where you have to work for what you want, you sometimes have to play your cards close to your heart. 

This was a lesson that I learned today. I am very close to accomplishing my goals. I’m remembering that when making a deal, it is essential to understand what the people you are dealing with want, Successful negotiators are able to identify what they want as well as what the people they are dealing with want and find an acceptable middle ground that both sides can agree on.

I’m on the cusp of such a situation, which if it pays off, will pay dividends. The next few days will identify how this works out.

Here’s to poker faces, keeping calm, knowing what you want and having the audacity to chase after it.

Wealth

I have heard so many stories of wealthy people being insulated from the difficulties and horrors of the world. This makes me wonder, does wealth insulate, or does it buy insulation. Is it a choice or simply a result?

Movember

This weekend, I shaved my beard in honor of Movember.

Movember is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancer and associated charities.

By encouraging men (which the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved, Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides getting an annual check-up, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of any family history of cancer, and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

You can find out more about the kinds of programs funded through Movember here: http://us.movember.com/programs/research

I look pretty ridiculous with just a moustache, so I plan on growing a movembeard instead of a movenstache.

You can support my fund raising efforts by donating on my page here:MoBro.co/amsimms

Happy Movember!

Giving

Today I donated blood at the blood center. It felt really good to do so, and I am happy that I have the opportunity to continue. I think part of the reason I like to donate is because I think of it as a very pure way to  give and help someone. 

That really appeals to me. In the Jewish tradition, doing good deeds is valued in society. Jews have a term for this, mitzvot (plural). The highest form of mitzvot, is the mitzvah (singular) of giving without knowing who the recipient is, knowing only that they need. This is giving simply because giving is a good, and just thing to do.

I like to think that what I did tonight will be able to help someone when they are in great need. It is good to give, and I feel that this should be reason enough to do it. I also like knowing that what I do will be invested back into the community, and when we help eachother, we all grow.

Passion

Passion is a great thing to have at work. It can be a wonderful motivator to push you to do your best and really outperform yourself. That said, it needs to be moderated by patience. I realized today, that I am very passionate about what I do. I really try to do the most good every day I come to work.

Sometimes, however I need to remember to not let that passion blind me. When others have different opinions, it’s essential to remember that they are just as valid as mine, and that having an alternate perspective is valuable, and something to be embraced.

Also, when you are passionate, it should not allow you to be aggressive with your beliefs. It’s one thing to believe in what you do passionately, but it’s entirely different to use that passion to brow-beat someone else’s thoughts. 

Remembering this keeps me humble, and a little humility, coupled with a lot of drive will get you far.

Perserverance

Sometimes perseverance is what it takes to get you through the day. This is a lesson I’m taking to heart today, as I’ve started to study some subjects that are not of major interest to me I’m reminded of what I wrote about yesterday.

While my short term interest is not there, I am able to commit myself to doing well because I am reminding myself of my end goal, and accept that this is part of the process. 

Sometimes you just have to buckle down, do what you need to get done, in order to get to where you want to be. Perseverance, as well as focus and remaining committed to your goals and values is key.

How can I add value today?

I know I am successful if I can walk into work every day and ask myself “How can I add value today?”.

This might seem trite and contrived, but I contend that it is a powerful statement, which carries a lot of implications. If I can come into work and ask this question it says a lot about me, where I am mentally, emotionally and professionally.

Take a moment, and reflect about jobs that you have held, ones that you have loved and hated, and ask yourself if you can say this every day about the place you work? You’ll soon see the true power in asking yourself how you can add value.

Asking how I can add value says that I am engaged and want to be at my job, and that I realize that my goal is to add value and therefore improve my organization. It shows that I am critically engaged in what I am doing, and not just showing up because I’m being paid.

Asking how I can add value says that I want to advance both myself and my organization.

It’s worthwhile to now reflect on what this little question does not imply - that you love your job, your boss, or your position within your career path. It does however, empower you to reflect on where you are and why you are there.

I’ve found that understanding this can be a useful tool to get through a tough time at work, or a difficult job that you don’t really want to do, because it can bridge where you are with where you want to go.

Leadership Values

My philosophy: Relationships matter. People matter.

People drive value, because people are valuable. Invest in your people, and you will add more value than in any other way.

I believe that this holds true in any organization, business, or activity. As leaders we need to value the people and partners that we work with. 

I’ve been reflecting a lot about this as I look at my progress in business school, my career, and my work in the several community organizations. One thing that has really come through to me is managing the value of people.

As careers progress, paychecks increase, and competition grows, it’s easy to lose sight of things that are truly important. One thing that is most important to me are the people around me. I value the relationships I build, and I value the people around me. 

I’m fortunate to know many great, talented, and amazing people. I love to network, and to my own benefit it’s started to pay off. Successful leaders are capable of influencing others to meet organizational ends. But I feel that this is more than just a self serving method of working.

As I reflect on where I’ve come from, and where I’m going, I’ve realized that what I’ve done more is open myself to being influenced in a positive way by those around me, and that has led me to much more success, than anything I’ve done to influence others.

To me, this means is that people matter immensely, and in more ways than are immediately quantifiable, in any given situation. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to lead, and hope for more. What I’m really grateful for, however, is the willingness of others to share with me their ideas, hopes, and thoughts. 

It’s this reflection that has landed me on my core values: Relationships matter. People matter.

Values

Tonight we had our first session of our values based leadership class.

On the bus ride back to Milwaukee, much of our discussion was on what our values were. What things did we find important, and what do we want to have featured in our lives? What makes us happy, and what motivated us to seek the extra workload of school on top of our busy jobs?

This conversation was really cool. My classmates are all different, and to hear from them, to share their stories, their values and their interests was a really rewarding experience. In glad I’m doing this commute, I think that it will lead to some really cool, very close friendships by the end of this program, and furthermore it makes the time go by.

Everyone is clicking really well. There’s enough that we have in common to be able to relate to each other, but enough diversity to keep it interesting. This decision feels right. I’m happy to make this commitment, and I’m looking forward to what is to come

Truth.

Daily affirmation

Who cares what other people think?
Be yourself.
Trust yourself.

These are some photos from my happiest place on Long Island, New York.

Getting what you want

Tonight, I had a realization. It starts off with an old phrase, we’re all familiar with, and turns into a hard application of that principle.

To get what you want, you must first know what you want.

It’s a simple expression that portrays a difficult notion - it challenges you to ask what you want. I’ve finally realized what I want in my career.

I recently posted about getting into graduate school at the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While I’m a proud badger, eager to start classes, I know that it will be a lot of work. It also represents the opening of new opportunities for me. 

One kind of obvious opportunity is the school’s career office, bunt more significantly, it offers me the opportunity to study more about business and to learn about what they do and to explore areas of interest to me. This is exciting because it’s a new world, which is entirely different from the policy world I’ve known the past 5 years of my career.

Recognizing this, I’ve concluded that I need experience that will build on the concepts that I will be studying. I’ve chosen that I will need to have some time working under a financial professional. This requires that I change gears and leave the policy and legislative office I currently work in and seek opportunities in different offices. 

These opportunities may manifest themselves in many ways, namely an internship at a large financial institution like a bank or an investment firm, however I think that I may be able to stay within my organization and still gain the experience I seek. 

I’m going to refrain from going into detail here about where exactly I intend to pursue this goal, but I will elaborate how I concluded why a financial position is a good fit for me now.

I should preface this with the fact that I am one of the poorest math students there are. I can mitigate this with the fact that I am a driven, intelligent and mature individual who is capable of recognizing a weakness and commit to growing in an area that needs considerable effort. 

I’ve been thinking for some time now, that I would be very happy to leave my current city. I am in a wonderful relationship with someone I truly love and am looking forward to growing more with them. She’s also not from where I live and would be happy to move to somewhere where there are better opportunities. Knowing this gives me confidence to seek a career in a field that offers flexibility.

Taking that into account, I’ve really settled on finance. My MBA program offers a focus on finance and there are positions in that field available everywhere - even internationally, which is an exciting option. I have dual citizenship, and a field which offers options globally will afford me the opportunity to take advantage of that fact.

I think that if I can find a senior professional willing to take me under their wing, I can offer my hard work, a positive attitude, and a tech knowledge that many older professionals lack. Keeping this in mind, I can offer and receive something which will be mutually beneficial.

For a while now I’ve been taking a scattered approach to my job hunt, and as a result it’s yielded me nothing, because I haven’t been offering much. At least now, I feel like I’ve gotten my bearings, and can pursue this in an intelligent way.

I’m feeling good about this.

I’ll leave you with an uncanny bit of inspiration - it’s insight from what I would consider an unlikely source, but it struck me as valuable nonetheless: 

Summer Vacation

Today I am on a much needed vacation at our summer house in East Hampton, NY.

I love coming here, the house is the same as it is before I was born, the area is quiet, the setting is beautiful and I am surrounded by my family. We’re all finally old enough to be relaxed and enjoy each other’s company.

I am happy.

This quiet calm is bliss.

I can see why people who work in high stress jobs in the City come here for respite. I love it here. After a few days of feeling the stress leave me, I’ve really grown to get some perspective on what I need to do in my life. I think that’s very much the point of taking a vacation like this.

I know I will go back soon, but for now I am calm and happy, and reminded of my happy place :)