Today I find myself walking through Terminal 5 of the JFK airport making my way to my gate to catch a JetBlue flight to Syracuse. I just completed two career conversation trainings in Syosset, one targeted for all employees on how to prepare for and have a career conversation with their managers. The second session was to prepare people managers for their role in these conversations. Anytime I complete a training I always find myself in a state of exploration for the rest of the day. I tend to question and ponder about everything and anything lol...but I got off on a tangent.
I typically fly American Airlines so it had been quite a while since I had flown JetBlue and my first time flying out of a terminal that was primarily theirs. As I walk through the terminal I notice right away that it has a different vibe to it than I am used to. The restaurants, signs, power kiosks, etc. just have a different look or feel. Almost like a personality of its own. For example, where typical you would see a sign for "Information" or "Customer Service" the sign at the JetBlue terminal reads "Just Ask". So it got me thinking...what I am experiencing is the JetBlue brand. A hip, more tech savvy, fun type of airline versus the more traditional American Airlines is what I would guess given what I am seeing and feeling.
So what does this have to do with you? I got to thinking about it and your personal brand is as critical to your overall success as JetBlue's corporate brand is to theirs. Yet I wonder how many of your can say that your personal brand is strong enough to be felt or seen or experienced by those around you. Give it try. Pick 2 - 3 people that you interact with on a frequent basis, 2- 3 people you interact with less frequently and 2 - 3 people you interact with every now and then. Ask them all the same question...If you could pick 5 words to describe me what would they be? Are there any similarities in their responses? Any major differences? Are you happy with what you are hearing? Are you not happy with what you are hearing? Is your personal brand what you want it to be? Is it consistent?
Don't go overboard on the analysis but do take the time to review and think about the results. Are your actions or inactions reinforcing or negating your brand. Consciously decide what you want to be know for, what your brand is, and proactively works towards building it. If you want to be known for your strong work ethics and great follow-up skills, what actions do you need to consistently take to portray that? After putting your plan into action check back every 6 months or so with a similar group of people to see if you've made any progress. Having a strong, consistent personal brand will help you get noticed for all the right reasons and will give you a leg up in your organization.
How do I even begin??? Tonight I realized what a sheltered life I truly live and how blessed I am; yet I don't remember the last time I cried as much as I am crying now. I am truly heartbroken by the reality that I just experienced and I only hope that by writing this you are moved to do something...no matter how big or how small...anything. Let me explain.
I was at an evening event in downtown Portland, typical when I am away on business for a meeting. I decided to leave early so that I could go back to my room and relax. As I walk back with a colleague I spot a homeless man on the street. I live in Miami and have traveled to quite a few places, so it was not a shock to see this...dare I say I was even desensitized. As I walked passed the homeless man, out of the corner of my eye I could see something on his lap with hints of golden yellow.
A doll, I thought, as I continued in conversation with my colleague. I couldn't help but take a second look because curiosity was getting the best of me. It was a child, may 2 or 3 years old tops. A CHILD. A beautiful, little baby boy. A child sleeping in the streets, in the rain, in 50 degree temperatures. My mind could not comprehend what my eyes were seeing. It can't be, I thought to myself. Is it a scam? It must be a scam. This can't possibly be a child out in the street with people walking right passed him without as much as a second look... right???? This can't be what this little baby has to deal with at this age.
My mind was on a rampage and my heart was pounding. I went up to my room and couldn't shake the thought... but what if it wasn't a scam... what if this is truly a child out there in the cold and rain. Was I honestly not going to do anything? I mean what could I do?
I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep unless I looked further into the matter. So I went downstairs and spoke to the hotel valet about the situation. Sadly, their initial thought was that I was brining up the topic to complain about having to see the homeless family (and I say see because they never approached me... they sat quietly on the floor not disturbing anyone). So then I thought to myself, are hotel guests really complaining about this homeless man and his 3 year old to the point that the people at valet have had to call the cops to try to get them to move. Is that our first instinct??? How dare they disturb us and remind us of the reality out there.
In the end they confirmed that this is in fact a sad reality in Portland and I would guess that it is a reality in many other cities as well, including Miami. It is just not as visible as it is here... or is it that we blur it out of our peripheral? In the end, I returned to that family with a few tokens that I could gather from my belongings... a warm hat for the baby, an umbrella so they could keep dry and some cash that for once in my life I actually had on me so they could get any essentials. We exchanged few words... just a simple God bless you. I walked away doing the best I could to hold the tears in and completely broke down once I reached my room. Feeling a little better because I did something but feeling completely helpless because there is so much more that needs to be done.
In life I truly believe that the people who enter your life are meant to teach you something. This gentleman and his beautiful baby boy have left me with a lot to think about and have placed a different perspective in my life. They've reignited my humanity... they've reminded me what truly matters in life. They have reminded me why we should give of our time and ourselves to others... no matter how big or small. We cannot as individuals sit by, see the suffering of others and discard it as an inconvenience for us. We can't be ok with our children living in the streets. There an old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child". We are their village. If one of us is down we all need to pitch in to help.
I will be exploring, and most importantly taking action on, ways to help homeless families... what will your crusade be? I challenge you to find a cause you are passionate about, a cause that ignites you and do something about it... anything... no matter how big or small. Just don't allow this world to become desensitized to the realities around us.
I find myself at the airport in a predicament that I frankly try to avoid like the plague. I have a middle seat. Typically I book my flights two or more weeks ahead of time and carefully pick out the ideal seat on the plane (a la Sheldon Cooper). However, due to a series of last minute schedule and priority changes I had to rebook this same trip three times. So I thought to myself...that's ok, I'll just continue to check availability late in the evenings leading up to the trip and I'll be good to go.
Well...needless to say it completely escaped my mind. Until this morning, that is, when I find myself with that middle seat and no availability to move. At this moment my only choices are sulk and contemplate the dreaded 6 hour flight to the west coast that is waiting for me or reflect on the learnings from this situation. So here's my nugget ...you either organize it or you'll forget it.
What do I mean by that? If you have something you want to do or need to do either add it to your calendar, jot it down on a to do list or capture it in your phone. The system or medium you use doesn't matter. All that matters is that you capture it somewhere that you frequent. If it gets "written" and organized in a system that you access it'll get done.
1. A good old fashion little pocket size notebook. Jot down your to do with a little check box instead of a number or bullet point so you can check it off when completed (or just cross the whole line out).
2. An App on your phone. There are plenty of apps that already come with your phone or that you can download at little or no cost to help get organized.
3. For really important items consider setting up an alarm on your phone to alert you. Most alarms allow you to customize the label so you know what the alarm is alerting you to.
4. If typing isn't your thing try a voice memo. Again most smart phones already come with the software installed or you can download one at little or no cost.
Bottom line...don't leave the thought or to do in your head. You have enough things going on in your life so why risk it. Capture it somewhere and refer back to that place on a daily basis.
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