Goof Sentiments: Sawyerhood from the West to the East

CLEVELAND 2011 (repost) – It’s hard to put into words when people ask (or tell) you to talk about your experiences and life in general.
Because what you’re asking about is magic.

I can tell you; I can show you by experiencing and sharing life with you, but it’s the individual way we perceive, think about and process the world around us that makes perspective “deep, magical or surreal”. Perhaps because I’m bipolar I; I don’t just see black and white; I’m captivated by the spectrum and everything in between. That being said,
This is for the geeks. Goof, dork, dweeb, ham … (insert nerd jargon ___  here.)

Growing up between Rochester, NY and California; dreaming, Disney and similar shenanigans were commonplace in our household.

As a hyperactive kid, there was always something to do: reading, movies, getting lost in the woods, climbing trees, catching alligator lizards at my Grandpa’s cabin in Grant’s Pass, OR and essentially anything that would move. Typical Sawyer-ish nonsense.

One of the best things about summer is time, or perhaps the absence of caring about it. Always a good time for reconnecting with old friends, family and some much-needed travel.

I remember Cape Cod, seafood, sand and surf…the smell of NO-AD 4SPF dark tanning oil (which I still use) and sun lotion in general.

Heading over to Sunday School in Dennis for a banana split or pistachio ice cream. Nom nom.

ice cream Dennis Massachusetts

Dennis, MA

Watching my family steam live lobster fresh from the pier (while us kids had french fries and chicken nuggets), and the smells wafting through the cottage as the adults imbibed over euchre, gin rummy and miscellaneous family card or board games (that quickly become a sort of heirloom).

Waking up in the morning to sunny-side up (and over-easy) eggs, hash browns and the fixins, climbing down the ladder that led to the kitchen and living room from the overhead loft, where my sister’s and my Harry Potter-ish twin beds lay adjacent.

I’m impartial to Backgammon, Scattergories and Scrabble –and naturally have become a bit of a Jekyll about winning. Okay, I’ll err on the side of modesty:

I don’t lose. If I do, it clearly must have been someone else’s fortuitous luck lol.

I remember those arcane trilobite creatures that were both fascinating and creepy: horseshoe crabs. Fish, slider turtles, barnacles and the sounds/muskiness of marine life and seashells. I could spend all day snorkeling and finding starfish; other random treasures.

ocean creature critter horseshoe crab beach Massachusetts

Womp

We would also frequent relatives in southern California where I was born, from Del Mar to Laguna Beach, and would roadtrip through the hills and wine country to visit grandparents in Fairfield, San Francisco and as far up as Oregon.

I remember the magic of looking for and seeing humpbacks breaching on the coast, and the whale watch in Cape Cod.

Traversing the Redwoods and wilderness near my Grandpa’s in Oregon; the solitude of cabins in Ontario and the 1000 Islands.

river nature outdoors Oregon wilderness

Sanctuary

I remember tents and storytelling in front of the fire, marveling at the wildlife and the elusive, chilling call of the loon (or is it heron?). Canoeing/kayaking out to an island and grilling out fresh catch, s’mores, corn on the cob and brats.

Staying up all night telling scary stories, talking about girls and fighting the endless debate of USA versus Canada. (Coke’s better than Pepsi…Hockey sucks! Lol).

Listening to the pitter-patter of the rain and wind against the tents, seeing how far we could rock the hammock before it flipped –and trying to hold on. And of course, as mentioned in the last post, King of the Raft.

A sense of comfort came with the unfiltered, unknown wilderness: a sense of belonging and discovery that stays with you. Through the crossroads, turning points and valleys along the way, remember to remember.

Pretty cool thing about life: there’s always something or someone that can knock you out of your lens and show you something new, something crazy, something poignant.

We just have to be receptive and ready.

Media, movies and entertainment had their place too: They were reserved for the road and on flights. Though I’ll save that for another day/post, I’ll leave you with boyhood sentiments via Max Goof:

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Google’s Oddball Behavioral Interview Questions: Sharing Your Story

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COLORADO – A close friend’s (who is like all of my Filipino “Aunties”) son Phillip, a program manager at Google recently gave me some pretty rad encouragement: Share your story.

As did Pastor Ben Garate during his sermon at iglesia este mañana: how the average Google employee is 31 years old.

As Demetri Martin put it in This is a Book, there is no formula, no algorithm for how individuals like you and me get from point A to point B:
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Growing up between upstate New York and California was idyllic.
Vacationing in Cape Cod and Ontario, Canada. Trips back west to Mexico, Laguna Beach, Del Mar, the Redwoods, San Francisco or Grants Pass, Oregon.

Dad, a surfer from Hawaii turned worship minister and engineer, was at the mercy of the 80s-90s tech boom (remember AOL, Atari, Nintendo 64, IBM typewriters and printers?); and endured the rise and fall of companies like Eastman Kodak, Xerox and Danka.

Mom was an artist and floral designer from Venice Beach dedicated to educating (yes, my sister and I were homeschooled till middle school) and preparing five adopted children to thrive as citizens in the global arts, education and business community.

Nina, my sister was adopted in Southern California, too. She was a ballerina before she evolved into a Rotary Exchange student traveling Europe and living in Sweden for a year. She then settled in Washington, DC with Teach for America, and was named among the coveted Cherry Blossom Princess winners as ambassador for Sweden in 2006.

After obtaining her Master’s from George Mason University, Nina joined KIPP as an educator serving underprivileged communities in the greater metro area. She lives with her husband Doug, former staff to Senator John McCain and daughter, Elsa Grace on Capitol Hill, in the Eastern Market neighborhood.

And then there’s me. Perhaps because I came from what my AP Literature teacher called such a cultural “anomaly”: a family out of the United Colors of Benetton (summary below); I guess it was only natural I turned out a complete disparity from convention or status quo. Out of instability: Stability.

Russell Phillip Fernandez (Filipino, Hawaiian)

Jeannette Marie Fernandez (French, Canadian, Italian, Hispanic)

Nina Elizabeth Smith (née Fernandez) [Caucasian: Irish, Swedish, Nordic]

Byron Isaac Fernandez (Asian American: Vietnamese, French)

Mark Samuel, Anthony John and Matthew Joseph (African-American)
[Mom and Dad adopted 3 biological brothers when we moved to Rochester, NY from Southern California).

Our family’s Roma lifestyle suited me growing up. In New York I began with gymnastics, but evolved into scholarship: training 6-7 days a week for the Olympics in figure skating, and medalling at the Regional level. My favorite competitions were the biannual Empire State Games in Lake Placid and annual North Atlantic Regionals.

After that came a brief stint with lacrosse before realizing piano was my true passion, and I began practicing 4-6 hours a day to prepare for Conservatory at university.
I would hear something and just sit down and play it, and my math grades were remedial so my Mom thought music training would help (apparently the Mozart effect she raised me with crib side wasn’t enough ;)

Then scholarship for piano performance at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory turned into a transition to Public Relations (PR) and Marketing with psychology minor.
I realized business acumen in writing and communications, married with an intuitive understanding of the mind and human motivation, would be an essential aspect of my career, regardless of industry or function.

I failed in Cleveland, many times. I nearly evaporated in Vegas from 2009-2010, consumed in a haze, a pseudo-reality that nearly took my life.

But in 2012 I finally went home, to my family, and put them and the community before my stubborn, sick, beaten down shell of a self. Regaining personal wellness, power and belief in the Colorado community of Montrose has been humbling and inspiring.

Van Gogh was onto something: For my part, I know nothing with any certainty. But the sight of the stars makes me dream.

As I look toward the next chapter along the journey; I take with me the memories, people and places I have had the ears to hear, the eyes to see and the hands to hold.

And I’m ready once again to step into the unknown.

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Burnout, Balance and Bad Grades: Why the Latter Don’t Matter

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Joe Fernandez, this Fernandez don’t care.

Heeding the advice of concerned family and friends, I finally took up Paul Roetzer’s aforementioned challenge, the Unplugged Experiment.

For a little over a week, I took a hiatus from the internet. Went home out West, traveled a bit. Reflected on the clear distinction between career obsession and motivation, and the recent burnout because I had lost perspective on maintaining work/life balance.

Admittedly, I cheated here and there. (Checked in once in a while via mobile…)

But I learned some valuable lessons, thanks to said vacation and continued webinars/courses with HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University:

  • Oversharing: No one expects nor wants to hear from you 20x a day. Even with the best of intentions, blowing up people’s feeds eventually grinds their gears enough to solicit a swift, quiet unfollow, unfriend (and now uncircle). Make it count.
  • Impatience: Sense of urgency is one thing, desperation another. As my 26th year approaches, I’m beginning to realize life in the fast lane starts to catch up with you (pun intended?). Sometimes a screeching halt to pause and really think about the who, what, when, why, where and how of things imparts new insights, but you have to be looking for it.   
  • Listening: PR folk are notorious for the gift of gab. We’re just that fun and cute, right?! But sometimes it’s not cute anymore, and as I’ve read time and time again: No one likes the guy at the cocktail party that simply can’t resist babbling on about how awesome he is

Similar to liking and +1ing your own posts (because apparently we weren’t aware you think highly of what you’re sharing), or begging for RTs (great thread David Meerman Scott recently began on G+).

From an inbound perspective, how do these practices compel people to act on your content, brand? I’ve actually noticed those that Like or +1 their own stuff garner little to no engagement. Sandbox not big (albeit, unassuming) enough…

As Joe Pulizzi puts it, creating and sharing awesome stuff should speak for itself. I might actually have an aneurysm if I start seeing incessant RTing of people’s own tweets next.

Moving on.

The greatest lesson I learned over the past few weeks? How fun it is to disappear for a while. The value and perspective gained from observing and listening, offline and online.

Of course, with every gain there’s a loss, which, though frustrating, I mostly found liberating (and now amusing):

My Klout score plummeted from 57 to 49, blog score from a 92 to 91 (reminders that I should probably post now have been noted and sent to HR somewhere between Vegas and San Fran reprieve).

Whoop-de-do. Freedom, getting out and actually living (feeling the salt and breeze of the Bay on my face for the first time in years) for once was worth every single, solitary punitive demerit.

Speaking of, all the fuss over Klout scores has gotten cumbersome and in extreme cases, pretty alarming. Dabney Porte recently told me women were coming to her, distraught over whether or not to link their Foursquare accounts to KLOUT — but were doing so anyway out of fear their scores would suffer. I was appalled…and kind of disgusted.

Seriously? I’m not active on nor a proponent of location-based apps, but at some point reason needs to take precedent over popularity and ego-mongering.

Final lesson from the last few weeks:

I didn’t pass my first attempt at the final exam for IMU, which requires a 75% passing grade. (Close, but no cigar). I also have never been one to just get by on the minimum. Learning you can earn certification with honors only invigorated the challenge for me.

After all, in this realm close is not enough.

 

RELATED LINKS

Nellie Akalp via Dan Holowack >> Work Life Balance: How to be an Entrepreneur and Stay Sane

HubSpot >> 5 Marketing Metrics Not to Obsess Over

Joe Pulizzi >> Content Marketing World: Why Cleveland?