Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Run a Half Marathon

Early this year I wrote a blog post explaining why I would not run a marathon. Alas, today´s post is about why on November 20, God willing, I will run my first half marathon.

On the one hand, long-distance running is eerily similar to:

o   Raising kids
o   Writing books
o   Trying to publish those books!
o   Having a relationship
o   Life´s challenges

The reasons why I’ve officially registered for the half-marathon and started training: 

o   Because I want to know what it feels like to cross the finish line after running 13 miles with hundreds or thousands of other runners
o   Because the discipline of training spills into my writing career
o   Because I´m going to write about it and it´s the only way to do it with authority
o   Because it´s not quite the same to overcome an obstacle or reach a goal because you have to than because you set out to do it, willingly.  

It doesn´t need to be a half or even a full marathon. What goal are you willing to take on because you want to and not because you have to?  

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Diario del Éxito (Success Diaries) will be published in book form late in 2011 by ediciones Obelisco.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Age and Running ... Out of Time

Pic by my daughter. Aug. 2011
Abraham Lincoln said that by forty you have the face you deserve.

Today I turn 48, and I´m ok with what I see when I smile into the mirror, dimples, crows-feet and all. I wish I had liked myself as much when I was 15, when instead I felt ugly and inadequate. Alas, The perks of youth are often wasted on the young!

Just in case I may be deluded, I ask my friends that if they ever see me wearing blue eyeshadow, black eyeliner and false eyelashes, caking on the makeup, teasing my hair and wearing leopard tights at 70, to please slap me. That´s what friends are for! Only Cher can pull that off – for now, anyway.

I don´t believe life begins at 40 or at 50 but I also know I´m not the same person I was at 18, 28 or 38. At 18 I dreaded turning 20 and at 48 I´m ok with nearing 50. In fact, I´m looking forward to it.

After my training run - Aug.25.2011
Of course there is a “but”: I´m running out of time. We all are. I suspect that´s the reason why I don’t watch TV. It´s a HUGE time-waster. There are so many other things to do; in my case there are books to write, kids to raise, races to run, places to see, people to love. My Spanish grandmother will be 95 in January – I need to visit her soon.

If I momentarily feel over the hill (like next to a 20-year old at a club), I remind myself that one day I will look back at the picture taken today after my run and think: “I was so young then”, so I better relish that now.

At 48 I´m running my first half-marathon in November … Maybe at 50 I´ll run my first marathon. In the meantime, I´ll take one day at a time. I hope you do too.

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Success Diaries will be a book (Diario del Exito) published late in 2011 by ediciones Obelisco.

Monday, August 22, 2011

David Perry on Being a Successful Connector

David Perry is the CEO / founder of David Perry & Associates, Inc., an award-winning full service communications firm with international reach based in San Francisco. DP&A’s specialties include community and government affairs, social media, public/media relations, crisis communications, web and graphic design and a full suite of video production and special event services.

Perry serves on the Board of Directors for ChinaSF whose goal is to attract and retain Chinese investment and business expansion into San Francisco and the Bay Area, and to also support San Francisco Bay Area businesses in their business efforts in China. With offices in Beijing, Shanghai & San Francisco, ChinaSF is a public-private initiative of the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED), in close partnership with the City of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), supported by funding from private sector partners.

He was kind enough to carve out some time to share his views of success and productivity in the following interview:

LCL.-  What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?

DP.- I remember after my mother died, finding a scrap of paper in her desk in her handwriting that said: "Success is a journey, not a destination." That has stuck with me for the last 34 years. Success is doing work you enjoy and feeling that you've contributed something to the common good, no matter how small. It's self-measured, not gauged by others.

LCL.- How do you help others become successful by means of your services?

DP.- I'm what the book The Tipping Point refers to as a "connector." I like putting people together: media with clients; clients with customers; friends with friends. My job is, as I say in my firm's tagline, is to "create dialogue fearlessly." I don't believe anyone can truly control anything -- certainly not in the realm of public relations or communications. Communications are not controllable, but you can help create an environment in which informed conversations takes place. That's what I do for our clients and colleagues.

LCL.- What does a typical day look like for you?

DP.- Like right now -- 6:30am: hour of reading news and social media posts on my iPhone, huddled in the dark in bed with coffee on one side and husband on the other.
8am: gym (unless some early morning crisis averts that discipline)
9am-6pm: client correspondence / email and the deluge begins. I'm a great believer in "to do" lists and every time I have an idea I type it into my daily calendar so that I don't forget it. Typical day involves advising clients on media strategy; setting up a media preview or launch for a client and in-between actually writing original copy / text about a project. And -- always -- throughout the day I'm talking / e-chatting with members of the press and sharing info about our clients. Every one of our clients gets "pitched" in some way, every day. I have a number of standing meetings with clients but if I can, I avoid them. Most meetings are deadly and inefficient for advancing a real workload. I'm constantly getting info via social media and email and much prefer one-on-one and short exchanges of info to old-fashioned business confabs. In the evening, although I'm often pulled into an after work networking or client event, I'm home with my contact lenses off, feet up and laptop on my lap checking to see what "to do" list items got digitally crossed off. Weekends -- one day of nothing and one day to be proactive about work projects, think and create original written content.

LCL.- Do you believe in balance (family/work)?

DP.- Yes. My husband and family come first. I love my work but the main reason I love it is because it gives me a life that is creative, diverse and helps support my at-home reality. Balance isn't always "1/2 work”.

LCL.-  What would you tell others who want to live a successful life but feel they aren’t quite there yet?

DP.- Breathe and stop complaining: nothing ever got achieved by negativity or fear. This isn't mystical advice - it's practical. Whatever you're feeling negative about, stop and ask yourself: what have I got going in my life that's positive? The fact is: anyone reading this article has more advantages and gifts than 98?% of the world's population. Use those gifts to help others, and be patient with yourself.

LCL.- What have you yet have to do in life?

DP.- Take a full year to do nothing but write. That, I would like to do. My favorite writer is P.D. James, who didn't start her (incredible) writing career until after she finished a 30-year stint working in the British civil service. I'm hoping I get the same chance!

Follow David Perry & Associates on Facebook and Twitter for information and inspiration.

Success Diaries will be published as a book (Diario del Exito) by ediciones Obelisco late in 2011. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

13 Reasons to Run

I started running when I was 12. I still remember the burning feeling in my chest, the pain in my legs and the extreme fatigue because I didn´t know how to pace myself. Still, at the end of that run I felt good: my pre-adolescent difficulties seemed to wane after having accomplished the difficult task of running.

36 years later I still run regularly. So far, running has helped me overcome many challenges to include a broken heart, separation, divorce, financial strife, unemployment and more. 

Why I run:

-       It´s free
-       You can do it anytime, anywhere
-       It doesn´t require fancy equipment other than a good pair of running shoes
-       It´s a great way to explore new surroundings
-       It can be a form of meditation
-       It´s an excellent cardiovascular workout
-       You can do it alone or with someone else
-       You can run while you push a baby stroller
-       Running helps produce endorphins, which are a mood enhancer
-       The discipline of running spills into other areas of your life
-       It helps keep your weight in check
-       It´s a great conversation piece
-       It beats getting hammered

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Success Diaries will be published in book form in Spanish, late in 2011, by Obelisco.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rollerblading Life Lessons

Sunday I unpacked my rollerblades – that hadn´t been used in at least three years – and decided to take the kids to a nearby parking lot so I could revive the feeling of being on wheels, while they skated or biked beside me.

I´m a runner, not a skater, but I enjoy skating because it´s a challenge. Years ago I broke my tailbone after a bad fall, but that didn´t prevent me from snapping those wheels on my feet again. I do, however, wear protections every time.

As I started gliding on the concrete again, I felt rusty, but then I remembered the little tricks that make rollerblading (and goal setting, and life) happen:

-      Practice falling before you start skating. Having a plan helps you recover sooner from any fall in life.
-       Lean forward into the skates, to avoid falling backwards. Lean into problems in life instead of resisting them.
-       Keep your eyes on your destination. Just doing that helped me turn and make figure 8´s again. In life, don´t lose sight of your goals, and eventually you will reach them.
-       Relax your body, stay calm, engage only the muscles that need to be engaged. In life, relax your body, stay calm, engage the muscles and senses that need to be engaged. In both cases, this prevents exhaustion.
-       Enjoy the ride. In life, enjoy the ride.

The picture was taken by my 10-year old, who wore my skates right after I did and after I gave her the few pointers above, she glided away from me as if she had done it her whole life. I hope she keeps it up both on rollerblades and in life.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sharing Difficulties Helps Overcome Them

No matter how many self-help books you read, how many positive affirmations you chant, or how often you tell yourself that you build your own reality, there will be times in life when you feel that none of this is helping you to improve your situation.

If you have no work, no money to pay the bills, if your marriage is in shambles, you have health problems and your best friend turned her back on you, it´s not easy to smile.

Something I learned when I experienced some of the previous circumstances all at once, is that if you share your problems with others, they become more bearable. Not only that, but you open yourself to the possibility of receiving a helping hand. After all, if those around you don´t know you´re going through a rough patch, how can they offer to help?

Pride doesn´t fill your pantry nor does it solve problems. On the other hand, there is no reason to be embarrassed because you´re going through difficulties, no matter what they are. When I dared to share my own challenges with others, I received help I never asked for, and that, I will be forever grateful for.  

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