My Problem With LinkedIn

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I reluctantly created an account on LinkedIn about six years ago. All those comments about “you’ve just gotta be on LinkedIn” finally got to me so I signed up without truly understanding why I needed to memorize yet another username and password. Once I logged in I found a couple of good uses for LinkedIn. The primary value-add to me was that no longer would my contacts become obsolete because LinkedIn allowed me to access updated profiles with people’s new jobs and titles. That is pretty cool, I thought, especially because it’s challenging to keep up with people I don’t communicate with on a regular basis. The other potential benefit was to be able to connect with the people that my contacts are connected to. If say, I wanted to be introduced to the new Executive Director of Hispanic Federation in New York, I would send a request to the person or persons in my network who are connected with that person. Easy peasy.

Here is where the value of LinkedIn has fallen short. On a number of occasions I have reached out to people for a) an introduction or b) a direct connection, with no results. Last year, a recent college graduate wanted to connect with an organization with a focus on international development. All he wanted was an informational interview to better understand their work. He reached out for my help and wondered if I knew someone there. I did not but was able to find a connection to someone in HR. I was thrilled! I reached out to her via LinkedIn and asked her to please email me or direct me to the best person in her organization to talk to. I found her phone number and left her a couple of voicemails explaining my reason for calling and requesting to be redirected if she was not the appropriate person to handle the matter. Chirp. Silence. I am still waiting for her response.

Another disappointment has been that not everyone keeps their information up to date on LinkedIn so it’s not as reliable a resource for current information as one might have thought. Then lately there are the daily requests to connect – from TOTAL STRANGERS! Whenever I attempt to connect with someone who is outside of my network the LinkedIn online police asks me for proof that I have a right to request such connection – that proof is in the form of the person’s email address. Apparently the strangers who are trying to connect to me have found a workaround for this blockade. I recently accepted a sales meeting with a total stranger because she implied that two important people from my network had given my name. I felt compelled to take the meeting but when I pressed her about the context in which Claudia or Renee gave her my name, she admitted that she had simply found me on LinkedIn and saw that I was connected to these former clients. WHAT?! I called Renee about it and she confirmed that she had not given this woman my name and that she is not someone she would recommend. Lesson learned – confirm with your contacts first before taking a meeting with a stranger who claims they got your name from people you know.

Even I have joined the bandwagon and in my career management workshops have encouraged women to keep the LinkedIn profiles up to date. What I’ve observed is that this is more valuable for employers than it is for the user. Employers use it to confirm what you’ve told them. Recruiters use it to mine for more names and resumes. My profile, according to LinkedIn, appears in searches umpteen times per week, but so what? No viable opportunity has ever come to me as a result of my profile being viewed on LinkedIn and I don’t know of anyone who has gotten a job through LinkedIn. I get frequent invitations to “upgrade” my account which means I have to give LinkedIn my credit card and allow them to charge me every month. Perhaps the results are better if you are a paying customer, but I don’t think so. Strangers would still pretend that they know me and request a connection and my requests for connections would still be ignored because of this fact – social media is for the masses. It is not personal. There are no short cuts to making true personal connections and unfortunately that calls for making the time to meet people in person and to continue to cultivate relationships with regular communications.

Would love to learn if you’ve been able to leverage LinkedIn – I am open to other points of view.

Much Love,

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Goodbye Hourglass – Hello Wine Glass!

That's me!

That’s me!

Did you see the moon last night? I took my walk at dusk yesterday just to that I could see the moon and it was truly beautiful. The moon was brighter and much more imposing than normal. It took possession of the sky as it came up over the horizon and quickly clothed the streets in white moonlight. As I walked under its gaze, I believe the super moon gave me more confidence and courage about this next phase of my life.

 

This next phase affects my health and my body. Youth has allowed me the luxury to hone in on matters of the mind and heart and leave matters of the body – physical health – to chance, as I have been lucky enough to be the beneficiary of good genes. Exercise and healthy eating became more important as I aged. But, at this age, it’s a different ballgame. I can no longer afford to “cheat here” or “skip there” because the consequences are much more visible than they used to be.

 

Take, for example, my growing waistline. Unfortunately, as my biological clock ticks closer to midnight, I am turning into a wrinkled pumpkin. While my waist is thickening, my boobs and butt are shrinking, making me feel like one of the m&ms on TV. The ever-so-slight musculature on my arms and legs is beginning to fade and I’m almost certain that my head is shrinking too! My feet, however, are still the same size. My strategy is to wear really cute shoes to deflect attention from my sags and growing middle. To add to my dismay, my skin appears be thinning and losing some of its bounce. I actually stood in front of the mirror and pulled back areas of my face to see what I used to look like. I think I could make a convincing argument for plastic surgery, except that the fear of turning out like full-lipped Mrs. Potato Head with squinty eyes wins every time. And, as if the thickening waistline and thinning skin was not enough, my cycle, once as reliable as Lindsay Lohan’s partying, is becoming lazy and fickle, demanding that I carry supplies with me wherever I go. That is really annoying.

 

So as I watch my body transition from an hourglass to a wine glass, I am trying to figure out what I can do to keep aging at bay for just a little longer.  Walking by the light of the moon after dinner, I felt like doing something like this was a possible answer. Whatever I have been doing, in dieting and exercise, is no longer applicable. My body is different so I need a different approach. This may mean pumping up my exercise routine, restricting my diet, and changing my sleep-wake patterns. Another possible answer is to let go of vanity, accept what’s happening and let nature take its course – spoiler alert – nature wins. Either way, change is coming so I might as well embrace it – though no one said I have to like it right? Perhaps drinking some wine will help.

 

I pray that the super moon inspired you with fresh ideas and boosted your confidence to thrive in your present cycle.

 

Much Love,

 

 

 

What if this were your last week on earth?

nirvanaI had a conversation with my husband recently about what life in retirement might look like. He painted a picture of a quiet life with no responsibilities and hardly any demands on our time or bank account. Every basic need – shelter, food and water – would be taken care of. I really want to believe him when he describes this nirvana. But, I can’t help feeling that its lacks some realism – point taken, it wouldn’t be nirvana with realism. I worry that costs continue to increase and even if our living quarters are paid in full, there are still maintenance costs, health costs, and just plain costs for actually living and enjoying life – that last part is where we, like some other couples, usually disagree. I think about some of today’s retirees who also envisioned a different life after 65 but find themselves having to work because they can’t afford the cost of living or they find themselves with limited mobility due to an illness and cannot do the things they thought they would do.

 

My real issue is not with my husband’s vision and how realistic it is. Planning and saving for retirement is very important and we all face a similar challenge when planning 20, 30 or 40 years into the future – we can only make an educated and well informed guess. Then, we hope for the best because, after all, it’s still only a guess. My real issue is how my husband lives for that future – one that is so clear and real for him that he does not recognize that the present also offers a myriad of opportunities to enjoy life. He does not have to wait until retirement to relax and have fun. So what if the lawn does not get mowed for a weekend? He is so concerned with reserving all of our money, energy and happiness for the future that he is missing out on the present of today. No one can guarantee the future so the best thing I can think of to do is put money in our 401K plans while also taking advantage of our health, income and abilities right now to travel and experience new things.

 

How we deal with life is a choice. There are two things that I know for sure about life. One is that change is inevitable and two is that our life will end and we cannot predict when that end will come. Those two facts have influenced most of my life’s decisions. Planning for how we will live between the time that we stop working and the time we die is prudent.  But, because we don’t know when that end date will come I also believe that making the most of every day, pre and post retirement, is just as important.

 

A movie I watched this weekend reinforced my beliefs. The movie was about a man and a woman who meet and fall in love only a few weeks before the end of the world. As it dawns on them that this is the end, they spend much of the movie trying to rewrite chapters of their past by trying to reconnect with people they regret not staying with. But, as the end of the world approaches, they realize that how they want to spend those final hours is basking in each other ‘s presence and fully enjoying  the love they share. If we approached every day like it was our final day on earth, what would we do differently? I would definitely say “I love you” much more, hold my loved ones closer and tell them how much fuller my life was because they were part of it.  I would hang out with friends more and make some new ones. I would forgive all past hurts.  I would not judge and stop fearing being judged.  I would definitely spend more time laughing and enjoying the beauty that surrounds me. I would play and sing all of my favorite songs and ask others to join me. I would go to the ocean, to the mountains, to the vineyards, and to my backyard just to take in the smell of earth, water and sunshine.  Lastly, I would not stress over the dishes in the sink, the money in the bank, or the calories that I’ve eaten. I strive to live this way but I have a lot of room for improvement – especially lately when I have been allowing every day minutia to obfuscate the big picture. I was reminded again this week with the passing of a friend who was only 58 years young that our last day on earth can come sooner than we think. Those losses are quite sobering. I sincerely hope that when my last day comes, I will go knowing that I lived and loved richly.

 

Much Love,

Beware The Spin Cycle

Photo from multiplemiss.wordpress.com

Photo from multiplemiss.wordpress.com

I have been blogging for over two years and I am in a rut. I used to be able to sit down and have an idea for the blog right at my fingertips, literally. Lately my screen, like my mind, has been blank.  Could it be that I have exhausted the topics I want to write about? Why can’t I find inspiration in everyday life? What has changed to obscure my ability to see teachings in ordinary events and want to share them with the world?

 

First, indulge me by reading about my process for writing this blog. I sit down and ask myself what happened during the week that was interesting, challenging, emotive,  or thought provoking? For the few weeks the answer has been – nothing. Really?!, I say. Nothing happened? Nothing I reply. Of course stuff happened. Look, this week alone I was in 12 meetings, gave 2 employee reviews,  prepared for 2 board meetings, attended 2 events, conducted 1 coaching call, and responded to a dizzying volume of calls and emails.

 

That’s exactly what is wrong. My weeks have become a constant, dizzying succession of tasks. I am checking things off and mechanically transitioning from one interaction to the next.  You know the spin cycle right? That’s exactly what I’m living in. The speed and volume of the things that demand my attention are sucking every drop of energy from my being. So, it’s no wonder that by the end of the week I feel dry of ideas and creativity. Clearly, I have surrendered all of my time and not left any for me.

 

I know how this happened. As I have taken on more work, I have shifted my focus to the discreet tasks that make up my days. Not wanting to “drop a ball,” I have become the juggler who hones in on the ball in the air only for the seconds that it floats there and then switches to the next ball that comes into view. As one who is preoccupied with one ball at a time, I am missing the entire show. Now that my life is so busy is when I really need to be able to pull up from the spin cycle to reflect on and learn from my current experiences.

 

Finding how to pull up from the spin cycle is a challenge.  Fortunately, now that I’m writing about my rut, an observation has popped into my mind (yea!). During the 35 minutes it takes for the metro to arrive at my stop in downtown Washington, DC , I catch up on emails, look at my calendar to plan my tasks and then populate my to-do list so I don’t forget them. On the ride home, I do the same thing. One day this week I felt so tired that I did not do anything but observe people who, by the way, also use the time to juggle their demands through their phones. It felt weird being so unproductive while everyone else seemed so busy.  I realized that I would get a lot more value from giving myself time to recharge my mind and not think about tasks but connecting to the bigger picture – why what I do gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. There is much more I can gleen from my interactions, my intuition and my creativity than from checking off a list of tasks so I have to make the time to pull up.

 

My days and weeks will continue to be busy and full of to-do’s. Allowing myself to be sucked dry in the spin cycle is going to rob me of the wealth of teachings that are occurring every day. It’s up to me to intentionally make the space in my day to look at the big picture and see the interconnectedness of all things. If this blog resonates with you, I hope that you will join me in finding ways to preserve energy for your own growth and illumination.

 

Much Love,

Nightmares Stink!

nightmare-signI am so glad the weekend is here. This was a rough week. I woke up from really disturbing nightmares for three nights in a row making me one sleep-deprived little puppy. They were the types of dreams that you wake from feeling upset and sweaty and keep you up for another couple of hours. It makes me wonder, where do nightmares come from and what are they telling us? My nightmares told me that I need to relax.

 

A number of things happened last week that could have left a print of anxiety on my brain causing the horrible dreams. Believing that a skunk momma had decided to set up a nest under my deck was indeed stressful. The strong distinctive skunk smell would waft into my living room late in the evening and get so strong that it would give me headache. At first I thought it wasn’t a skunk because all of the windows and doors were closed. Then, a Google search revealed that this is a common problem, and that it often requires hiring a professional to come trap the animal and relocate it. Thankfully, it appears that we spooked it or the skunk was just visiting because I have not smelled it since. Bonus:  we also found a tip on the Internet to soak rags with ammonia and set them out around the affected area – apparently skunks don’t like the strong odor – ha – payback! I thought it was all over. But, the stink of worry, anxiety, and fear about dealing with an uncertain situation wafted into my dreams. In the nightmare I saw sheets of water gushing down my home’s walls. I began to call for my husband to cut off the electricity but when we ran to the basement we could not find the breaker panel. The house began to flood and I began to fear that we would get electrocuted. Needless to say, I woke up with my heart pounding. The other nightmares are not as clear and I don’t remember them well.  What I remember is how awful I felt when I woke from them, and how tired I was for the rest of the day. Clearly, my brain had found a way to play out the week’s emotions surrounding the skunk issue.

 

So, this weekend is devoted to sleeping in late, napping and resting. And, just for peace of mind, I am soaking more rags with ammonia and throwing them under the deck.

 

Much Love,