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Mondays can be really hard. Something that can make Monday feel better is listening to some sweet jams and dancing around. Not only does it feel great, it turns out to be good for your brain, health and increases your smooth move repertoire. So go on, get down and shake your tail feather.

Credits:
http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/smarter.htm
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/why-is-dancing-so-good-your-brain

Oh hello Monday, how are you today? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your laundry list of things you should be doing, here’s a fun trick that can help you feel accomplished in the short-term while gearing up for that long-term visioning you’ve been up. Are you ready? Create a goal. Make it simple, and easy to attain. It could be as simple as “I’d like to cook dinner twice this week” or, “I’ll only watch two hours of television this week.” It can be anything, just make it something that 1) could have a positive impact on your week and 2) won’t put a big damper on everything else you have for the week. At the end of the week (or month, however you set it up), reward yourself with a gold star (or ice cream cone) to acknowledge a win!

That’s it! A simple goal that can be accomplished, well, it can feel really great to complete it. Even if it’s as straightforward as doing your laundry.

Hey! We’re back to Jean-Pierre telling us all about his work style and what he enjoys in his day-to-day. Read on!

How do you feel about working a lot of your time. Is it sustainable?
Not necessarily. But let’s first step back and define work. “Work”, “Labor” at its root in Latin, didn’t express a joyous activity but one related to the painful exertion of the body. So I don’t really think you’re ever supposed to enjoy work.  Obviously there are tasks you’ll enjoy more, but I don’t think you should expect continuous ecstasy from work. It has ups and downs, and we have preferences with respect to the tasks, but in my experience it’s not a place of constant joy.

So how do you feel about your current tasks?
I enjoy them – Wheeli is a place where I can exercise my creativity. I always thought of creativity in the most obvious sense: painting, playing music or cooking, but after a while I realized that my creativity is different. Building a team, handling a meeting, creating partnerships, understanding the dynamics of a situation – that requires serious skill and creativity to handle. I love challenging myself to see a problem and think about how we can solve it. How to make things happen.

What gets you going?
I like what I do now. I like transactions, I really like dealing with people to find something to agree on. I really enjoy the complexity of building products, relationships, partnerships between parties and understanding how to build bridges between us.

Are you having fun?
Absolutely, no regrets. There’s no such thing as failure. This experience is like a 9 to 5 on steroids. Most people have to work in the corporate world for 10 years before they have access to the lessons I learn on a daily basis. It’s hard to remember that when you’re deep in the grind, but it’s good to step back and be impressed with what we’re doing.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
There was a time when I wanted to be lawyer. Watching movies where they argue and debate, I thought I should be out there litigating. I took a fundamental of business law class through which the professor helped me realize that I like the topic, and would be good at it, but I wouldn’t enjoy the other requirements: writing 100 page contracts and reading long briefs. And he was right. So now I focus on business; I just spend a lot of my free time debating with my friends. I also like politics.

Any extra advice?
You have to define things for yourself rather than seek to mimic someone else’s life. How someone else succeeds is unlikely to resemble your success We all come to this life with different tools, backgrounds, experiences and it’s up to us to define what works for each of us on our own. Define what success means for you (not for others and/or society) and pursue it.

Want to find out more? Check our Jean-Pierre at these links:
Twitter: @jpsourou

Thanks for chatting with us and hurray for your newest venture!

Recently I was able to sit down with someone who I greatly respect and have a quick chat about what gets them going in their day to day. We strolled over to the nearby pier to talk while being surrounded by children playing soccer. Introducing Jean-Pierre:

Tell me about where it started:
My freshman year of school my father lost his job so I came home that summer not knowing my next move. I started working odd jobs fulltime and I realized I wasn’t at my full potential. I had several friends who had gone to culinary school and I reached out asking if they’d like to start a catering business. It took us a year to get our first client, but it was a pragmatic decision, it didn’t require any capital to start. A few years later, a friend approached me asking for funding to support a movie he was making, which I did, but then went a step further to start a production company and host a film festival. Between working fulltime and starting two companies I had enough cash to also go back to school. It was a busy time.

Let’s hear about what you’re working on today:
Wheeli (www.wheeli.us) was an idea that came out of my traveling through Europe. I was headed there on vacation and a friend sent me a website for carpooling instead of the europass. He said it would make it really affordable but that’s not why I kept using it throughout Europe. I kept hitchhiking (digitally)  because it was a social way to travel. I’m still friends with some of those people today, and I thought, this is an experience that Americans could really appreciate. Especially college students who are isolated from major hubs of transportation. This way, they can connect with new people to travel where they need to be.

What is balance to you?
Balance is about understanding your limits and defining your goals, realistic ones. It’s hard to explain because I’m a dreamer, and with my cofounders I say we’re not trying to repeat something, we’re trying to create something that’s never been done. So you should still go for the impossible, but you also have to be real with yourself, listen to your needs. Understanding when I want to go see friends or when I want to spend seven days straight in the office is something I have to define for myself.

How much of your time is spent on Wheeli?
Most of it. Back when I was working full-time, holding down two companies and going back to school, I noticed that I’m really good at having an idea in my head and breaking down the steps required to make it real. Grouping together the tools and people or skills that I need to complete it. I think that if I had been able to funnel all my energy into one of those projects I could have done something incredible. So this time around I wanted to give it 100% of my focus and see if my previous success was luck, or if I really understand the process of starting companies.

Join us next week to learn what Jean-Pierre enjoys about his work and how he feels about the concept of failing.  

To motivate you this Monday, focus on what you’re putting in your body today. Instead of reaching for the cheetos that are all over your office, or hitting up the vending machine for some peanut M&Ms, try stepping out to grab a piece of fruit or some hummus to fill your belly. There’s all kinds of sayings about your body being a temple, and food as fuel, but honestly? You’ll just feel better having eaten well for the day. So, go forth and eat well!

Mindful Monday is almost a thing now. I love it.

Write it Down – your head is filled with ideas. Thoughts, emotions and reactions. There’s lots of recommendations out there to write things down, and it can really add some perspective to your day. So take a shot, and write one page today. It can be in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before bed. Just write for one full page. If you can’t think of anything to write, just describe your day, or what you’re wearing. Really anything to get you started, or fill a gap when you can’t think of anything.

Now that your company found some purpose (that was fast!), I wanted to write about personal purpose. There’s a lot of information around “finding your purpose”. Seriously, google it. You will become overwhelmed.

What I’ve been loving though, is this post on The Impact Trap, as it’s making this experience feel more human and flow-y. Overall, finding your purpose has to be a journey. Your purpose is going to look different from when you were 22 to when you’re 50. It just simply is going to be a different experience. There’ll be “oops” moments, and “eureka!” moments, and that’s all okay too.

The general flow though, is an understanding that in order to find general fulfilment, you have to look at your everyday life and think about your future all while considering what you’ve learned from the past. A job that you may take today may be completely different than what you would have considered years ago, but right now, it could be the right step for you. As long as your movement is always to increase your own sense of fulfilment, then you’re doing great stuff. Our job each day isn’t going to wow us, and it’s up to us to find and create our own challenges and moments of reward. You won’t always have the best boss, but you can for sure learn from the worst of them.

There are some tips to help you find your purpose, but before you do, realize that you’re already living your life, and that’s purpose right there. So, you may not need to quit your day job and become a surgeon or actress. It’s more to give yourself moments to reflect on what’s working, and what isn’t, and quietly finding ways to build more of the “what’s working” side of things into your everyday life.

Some Ideas to Get the Juices Flowing:

  • Write down your skills – write down what you’re good at. Reference it often, update as necessary. Star the items that you actually enjoy doing
  • Write down your values – consider what is important to you when you’re working. Do you have to agree with the product, the company mission, or enjoy the people you work with? Do you like working in teams or do you like working remotely?
  • What makes you forget to eat – what kinds of things let you get into a flow at work, or at home. Maybe you can start stamping out a line of code and forget what time it is. Maybe you research topics and discover it’s after work hours. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for your next blog post (I do!)
  • What can you live with – no job is perfect. No role is perfect and there are hiccups everywhere. So, start thinking about what are the things you can handle. It could be that you don’t mind working long hours, or making a little less money or working for a company that doesn’t have any street cred.
  • What makes you proud – think about what you want people to say about you. When they refer to the type of work that you do or the company that you work for, thinking about how you want that information shared will help you organize your thoughts around what would make you happy. It’s not about comparing yourself to others, but rather, thinking about what makes you feel invincible!
  • Try it – try things out, journey outside your comfort zone, take a risk. Try attending a class or a workshop, join an online course, consider reading a new book. Meet with someone who does that kind of work and ask them what makes them happy (or unhappy).

After taking some steps above, it could help you shed some light on things that bring you strong purpose, passion or intrinsic motivation. My biggest takeaway (and it feels like some serious motivational speak here) is to realize that it’s okay to journey in different ways, try things out, and learn from each experience as you shape your personal purpose journey. G’luck!

 

Credits:
http://boz.com/articles/the-impact-trap.html?utm_source=99U&utm_campaign=d1470a03eb-Weekly_02_15_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bdabfaef00-d1470a03eb-149029621
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-willpower/201201/find-your-courage-and-compassion-one-question
http://markmanson.net/life-purpose#YirbF7:Hs5R
http://zenhabits.net/life-purpose/
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-find-your-lifes-purpose-and-make-yourself-better-person.html
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-questions-help-you-find-your-life-purpose.html

 

Feedback is a pretty essential thing in order to make people feel like they’re cared for, and that they’re doing a good job. Positive and critical feedback both helps an individual learn how they can improve and grow while understanding that their manager is investing in them.

However! Feedback isn’t so cut and dry. Have you ever seen those funny drawings of ineffective client feedback on a design? So, how do we deliver feedback that’s actionable, helpful, and above all, considerate?

  1. Consider the Person – does the individual clam up when they receive feedback? Do they become defensive? Are they open to feedback? Are they their own worst critic? Understanding the employee you’re evaluating will help you figure out how much to dial-up or down the pressure around your feedback.
  2. Consider the Situation – when something happens in the workplace that requires attention, always take into consideration the other parties and extenuating circumstances at play. It’s possible those factors had a larger effect on the employee’s response and they’re things they cannot control.
  3. Open the Floor – feedback can be delivered, but it also can be conversed. When you deliver feedback it’s great to also ask the employee how they feel about the feedback. Not only does it give them an opportunity to address anything concerning in your feedback, but you’ll learn a bit more about how they take feedback.
  4. Discuss a Plan – after the feedback has hit the floor, how do you ensure that the employee understood and agrees? A great way is to discuss how your employee will take this information and act moving forward. If they’re stuck on what to do next, you can review the situation that required feedback and discuss what could have been done differently. Let the employee lead with how they’d handle the situation differently rather than demanding a change. That way, the employee feels empowered that they have created a good plan (that you approved) to move forward with.
  5. Connect – do a quick check-in after all of this. How is the employee feeling? Are they frustrated, excited, sad? Make sure that they know this conversation was for growth and improvement, and offer another time to connect if they’d like to discuss further. It’s important that they understand there’s more space to discuss.

One last thing. It’s really important that when you’re delivering feedback to understand that you can really only deliver feedback to someone’s role, not their person. I.e. if Susan has a really annoying voice, you cannot tell her to change her voice (that’s impossible!) However, if Mark’s talking non-stop in client meetings and talking over others, you can chat about keeping his communications in meetings to be a little bit more concise and offering space for discussion.

Good luck on your feed-backing!

 

Credits:
http://www.fastcompany.com/3042572/why-giving-feedback-this-way-does-more-harm-than-good

 

Just Flow

While reading Daniel Pink’s Drive, he mentions the works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who, by the way, I’ve coined Mika for short in my head), as extremely influential. Well, NYPL saved me, and I found Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention as a Kindle download. The book overall has been incredibly interesting, and forgive me for using the google for details in the post but gosh darn NYPL you gotta give me more time with a book! I read through it quickly to meet my deadline and I can’t get it back, so, Google. Thanks. For being you. And now I know actually have to go pick up Capote so I read it with a tad more leisure.

Mika spends most of the book talking about creativity – defined as someone who changed a domain (think Nobel Prize winners, big-deal CEO’s etc, not Betsy upstairs who makes pretty impressive origami), and what their characteristics are. The book discusses their upbringing, personal life and work process to try to find similarities and differences. Most of the book comes from the interviews Mika and his team performed, but the end of the book is really where I had some fun. Mihaly offers some his own thoughts on how we can all achieve flow and creativity.

Flow is when you have struck the balance of challenge and skill, when you’re really working through some interesting topics, and it’s still hard enough to be interesting, but not so hard that it’s discouraging. Think about the last time you worked on a project and then suddenly you realized it’s been hours and you have been jamming. Just straight jamming. He sees flow as being connected to intrinsic motivation because you’ll need to be really into your personal jam-session.

I’d recommend reading the book overall, but it’s a nice smorgasburg of lots of different types of creatives and the ways they work or achieve personal pride and success. And let me tell you, all creatives are pretty different from each other, but here are some takeaways I picked up on:

  • Perspiration + Inspiration – Creativity is a small percentage of coming up with good ideas, and a big percentage of executing those ideas. Especially the sculptors – once they had something gorgeous in their mind, they had to painstakingly create it.
  • Devil’s Advocate – You have to look at things from all different angles, and push yourself to come up with new ideas all the time. Try looking at things from the opposite side all the time.
  • (Good) Idea Generation – Those new ideas? You have to know enough about your domain to pick out which ones aren’t good, and discard them. Chat with others to bounce the ideas around and challenge yourself.
  • Incubation – you need time to step away from your work after diving deep to let your ideas marinate. Take a vacation, a walk, a break, something!

Mihaly tells us to spend each day by opening ourselves to new experiences, and trying to find the excitement in the everyday. By spending each day checking in with yourself while remaining open, you’ll start to hone in on what drives you intrinsically. And, it’s okay if that honing in doesn’t happen until later in life. Some of the interviewees knew from a young age their mission, and others it was late in middle-age (or later). So! It’s never too late to start checking in with yourself.

So, go flow. Go flow on with your bad self.

 

Credits: Flow designed by Adam Terpening from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr, Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

 

 

 

Intrinsic Motivation

In my slow and sluggish return from holiday, I figured my first post would be about vacation fatigue. Instead, this past weekend I was inspired to write about something that has been sitting in my “to-write” list for quite some time.

While attending a wedding on the edge of New Hampshire and Maine, I was meeting some curious subjects. A wonderful trio of friends were back together after a few years apart, two of us traveled from NYC to beyond cell service to watch our third marry the amazing man she met seven years ago working trail crew up in the white mountains. Now, the NYC-gals were the odd-balls in this grouping, as we did not intend to do a “quick” 10 mile hike the morning of the wedding. Over many beers and some good stomp-dancing, the trail-crew friends were infectious in their general joy. Whenever they spoke about the work they were doing, whether it was guiding, ski-patrolling or eyeing lice on pigeons their whole face lit-up. They were animated, excited and just so very passionate.

On our (very) long trip back to the city, we got into the conversation around motivation. This was a group of people who aren’t the richest, who may not have the nicest things, but are inexplicably happy with what they’re doing. It may be the connection to Earth or preservation or whatever, but mostly I assumed it has to do with their ability to tap into intrinsic motivation. So! Quickly put, I just wanted to define(ish) intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. It’s something people talk/write about a lot, and this past weekend was an amazing example of it.

Extrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated by external forces. I.e. my gal and I both like to work because it affords our lifestyle in NYC; we enjoy being able to eat out, get drinks with friends, attend music concerts and have nice things. We also work in industries that may not be the most personally fulfilling but we’re respected by the people we work with, our parents, and our peers.

Intrinsic motivation is when you’re driven by something deeper inside of you. It’s the parasite-lover who now simply studies parasites for a living. It’s the teacher who is completely invigorated by watching people understand a tricky concept. Intrinsic motivation is seen in people who like to attempt to accomplish a task “just because.”

We’re all a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and I think the key here was finding people who lead with the internal passion at their core. Maybe it’s that they found “purpose”, or maybe they have parents passing them cash under the table, but either way, I was envious. It doesn’t mean I’ll leave my job to join a non-profit to go save the world, but it certainly means we should all be taking time to check in with our guts and see if what we’re doing each day is coming from inside ourselves or outside.

In the meantime, I think I’ll certainly be considering more outdoorsy stuff – I saw four shooting stars and the Milky Way! It was awesome, and maybe some more quiet time will give me opportunities to tap into that passion-core. Which I’m now coining. Passion-Core.

Credits: The Noun Project, Shooting Star designed by misirlou from the Noun Project

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