leave your mark, by aliza licht

leave your markI am a fan of Aliza Licht’s alter ego, DKNY PR Girl or @DKNY on Twitter, as well as a follower of her personal success. Through social media, I have come to be a supporter, so I bought and read her book, Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It In Your Career. Rock Social Media. In the midst of all of this, life happens and Saturday, sadly, Beau Biden passed away. He was only 46 years old. Prayers go out to his family.

Perspective can be a timely thing.

Licht’s book is an easy read, though it did take me a while to finish it. I am not just starting out in my career. And while I found the end of the book with social media tips and the anecdotal stories throughout the most interesting, I do think it’s geared towards those who are early on in their career. Here’s where I make the above connection in reference to Beau Biden… Life is short.

I did not know Beau Biden personally, but his passing at such a young age has truly made me think. I just finished Licht’s book, focused on how to have an amazing career and from what I’ve read, it seems like Licht really does, so she knows what she’s talking about. But the amount of time, effort, and energy she describes you need to invest in order to have an amazing career, is staggering. It leaves no time for anything else.

At one point in the book, she discusses the positive aspects of always checking work email, even while on vacation. It helps you stay connected and on top of your game even while you’re away. But I don’t want to stay connected and on top of my game while I’m on vacation. I want to have nonsensical conversations with my family about nothing. I want to browse in stores I will probably never be able to afford. I want to drink fruity drinks with umbrellas and ask the wait-staff how they managed to wind up in tropical paradise. To imply that you have to always be work ‘on’ is rather depressing to me and I think a bad message to send to those just starting out in their career.

I enjoy my day job. I would even argue that I’m quite successful as far as my career goes. But staying hyper focused on  your career to the neglect of other aspects of your life is not only sad but it’s wrong. I don’t know what the right work/life balance is. And maybe there are some who relish career first and everything else secondary. But while Licht’s book makes light of some of the situations she’s in, I would never want to be in a situation where I’m looking at a camp for my child but all I can focus on is what’s happening with work (actual book example). That’s called not being present.

We all get caught up in a busy work life. At times, we all bring it home and it’s hard to shake off the big project, the phone call, the meeting that happened that day. Speaking of work, the head of my group stated in no uncertain terms during a meeting last week that we all need to take vacation. Relax. Recharge. It makes you a better employee. It makes you more productive. It also makes you more well-rounded.

So much of Licht’s advice was sound and prudent and while she often states the obvious, there truly are some who may not know better–and for that, valuable lessons’ shared. However, I can’t imagine spending every waking moment focused on how my day-to-day routine and enjoyment of life will help get me where I want to be in my career. There has to be time for fun. There has to be time for naps. There has to be time to be present. Because whether you’re 46 like Beau Biden, or 106, life is short and personally, wishing I had spent more time working, even when it’s something I love, is not a regret I foresee having.

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Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

mindy kalingI was MIA last week because my day job has been insanely busy and I’m still figuring out this whole thing called balance–bear with me. But I’m here now!

So I admit, Mindy Kaling’s book was a filler for me. I was waiting for some of the books on my to read list to be released and I ‘needed’ a book in the interim. I was rewarded with a fun and quick read.

Mindy Kaling is really funny. I have never watched The Office–and no I do not live under a rock, I just haven’t seen it. I am however, tempted to watch Kaling’s own show, The Mindy Project. (Though adding another show to my repertoire at the moment is not in the cards–though tempting.) Back to the book.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) sort of reminded me of a Seinfeld episode. It’s about something and nothing in particular all at the same time. While it could certainly fall into the memoir category–I think I got it off the new release table in Barnes and Noble–it’s really more anecdotes and funny experiences from her childhood to the present. In addition to the humor and sarcasm throughout the book, Kaling also provides us with touches of seriousness–for instance, things that bring her to tears, hopes for her personal life, and observations of her immigrant parents settling in the U.S.

But at the opposite end of the spectrum she shares how her and her best friend wouldn’t stop quoting SNL’s The Church Lady’s “Isn’t that special?” until her mother lost it; about how she frequently uses her debit card to buy things that cost less than $3 (I can sooo relate to that), and how revenge is a dish best served hot… I’ll leave the book to explain that last one. There are also some fun pictures of friends and fellow actors–like the one where she’s explaining to Will Ferrell what comedy is. I think he understood.

Kaling is clearly very gifted, she writes, acts, directs, and produces–and this book is another extension of her talents. So if you’re looking for a quick pick me up on a snowy day (I’m on the east coast, all it does is snow here these days)–grab this book (pre nor’ easter) and settle in for some fun.

Book Review: The Single Woman: Life, Love, And a Dash of Sass

the single womanI stumbled across The Single Woman, aka, Mandy Hale, on Twitter. While it’s the title of her 1st book, it’s also her moniker, website, Twitter handle, and then some. Selfishly, one of the reasons I purchased Hale’s book was because I wanted to see how she translated her blog–The Single Woman.net–into a book. What I didn’t expect was how much I would love the book–and not just because I’m single.

There were so many quotes, sayings, and Bible scriptures (Hale is a Christian author) that resonated with me. A few of my favorites:

  • Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.
  • Do the thing you’ve been putting off. Don’t let something you meant to do become something you never did.
  • God can turn your biggest flaws into your biggest cause.
  • You cannot ask someone to like you or love you more than you like or love yourself. You have to set the standard.
  • What we are waiting for is not as important as what happens to us while we are waiting. Trust the process. (And I could go on and on…)

This book reminds–not only singles–but everyone, to be mindful of their self worth. Not to settle–whether you’re in a relationship, or not, married, or not. It reminds people to have hope, to be thankful for what they have and thankful for what they don’t have. I found myself nodding my head so often while reading this book. It now has a prominent and permanent spot in my home office on my desk where I will always be able to see it and pick it up when I need a little lift. Or when things don’t appear to be going the way I’d like them to.

Don’t be fooled. While the title of this book may look like it’s only for singles, it’s categorized as religion/inspirational–so all those that are spoken for–feel free to pick it up and don’t be ashamed! This book is so much more than someone just saying, “it’s ok to be single; one day you’ll find your soul mate.” It’s real in saying that you have to be happy now, especially if you’re by yourself, or else how do you expect to be happy with someone else? Finding some one, or some job, or becoming a size 8, is not the answer to all your problems or dreams for that matter. There’s simply more to life than any of those things and more to happiness.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s a quick read (I read almost half of it while sitting under the dryer at the hairdresser. Ok, so I was under the dryer for an hour, still–you see my point.) You can see how the book was translated from her blog through the repetition of references through some of the chapters. However, this serves to reinforce a point being made and a reminder of  “we’ve all been there” instead of being a drawback. Good luck to Ms. Hale. I’ll be following The Single Woman, even when the day comes that I’m no longer single.

Book Review: The Master Plan of Evangelism

PrintThis book is a bit of a departure from what I usually read and review. It was loaned to me by Rev. Stanley, the executive minister at my church; someone I love and respect. Plus, if the executive minister of your church tells you to read a book, you read it. So I did. In the spirit (pun intended) of being totally transparent, I’ve had the book for a few years and figured it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, so it has taken me some time to get to it. However, because it’s so short–and actually really good–I read it in a few hours on Sunday. Sunday…fitting, huh?

I think it can be enjoyed by believers in Christ as well as non-believers; but Christians will clearly get more out of it. It is a short book and an over all quick read. (As such, I am slightly embarrassed that it took me years to get to it. But hey, I had some serious vampire and romance novel series to tackle.) There are plenty of Bible references and passages throughout the book to illustrate the point and premise–which is that Jesus focused on teaching and nurturing his disciples so they could spread the word about Christ’s teachings after his crucifixion here on earth.

The primary theme was that you have to concentrate and pour into a few to then train them to do that same. You can’t expect people to join a church and then leave them on their own to grow in Christ and learn about the Bible by simply coming to church every Sunday. It takes devotion, dedication, study, a willing spirit, and so much more. Often, it is said that churches are focused on growing the congregation and their working budgets, but aren’t truly focused on bringing people closer in relationship with the Lord. (Of course, my church–Mt. Calvary— is all about teaching and helping you grow in your relationship with Christ. There’s my shout out.)

The concept and theme of this book can be applied outside the church and when it comes to corporate America and beyond, it already is. In my day job, we focus on marketing and building a relationship with our most engaged clients. In turn, they become advocates for our services and company. How often do your friends or family recommend a brand, service, vacation spot, etc. to you? Think of loyalty programs, discount cards, etc. People share their insights and how you too can have the same experience. In The Master Plan of Evangelism, it’s no different. Only, instead of talking up a great hotel, the book is detailing how to successfully spread the word of Christ. How to build a following. In place of points towards another stay, eternal life is the reward. As far as I’m concerned, that’s better than any discount program out there.

At its core, the point being made is that Christ focused on a few to spread the word to many. He did it with purpose and thoughtfulness. The results are astounding. I read recently that 32% of the world’s population are Christians, over 2 billion people. I’d say Jesus’ methodology worked well. And Amen for that.

Book Review: Wild

WildI’m beginning to think I’m not a memoir person. This is a concern for me because one day I’d like to write my own. I’ll think on that.

Back when I was in a book club we read, The Glass Castle, I hated it. We also read, A Million Little Pieces, which I not only hated, but knew was a lie before James Frey (the author) did. And then there was Eat, Pray, Love–which was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. I will say, I’ve seen parts of the movie and they were at least ‘watchable.’ (That however, may be due to the fact that I am a Julia Roberts fan.)

This brings me to Wild. I was able to finish it, I didn’t hate it, and I don’t think it’s entirely false. Spoiler alert: But really, you’re so strung out on heroin that you can’t find a vein and you have a bruise on your ankle from shooting up, yet you quit cold turkey with no withdrawal symptoms??? Wow! That’s quite an accomplishment. To top if off, as a woman hiking alone for months, only once did you come across a man who meant to ‘do you harm?’ Gives me new faith in humanity. Maybe I should move out west.

The book may be better appreciated by someone who backpacks and/or hikes, neither of which I do. There were some parts I could relate to, the grief associated with your mother passing away from cancer, as did mine. Or marrying someone too young and subsequently getting divorced–did that too. I don’t even take issue with the other self harming and rather irrational and dangerous things the author does. I give her kudos for actually hiking the Pacific Coast Trail on incredibly limited funds the way she did. And trust me, she is nowhere near as whiny and self-absorbed as the Eat, Pray, Love chick–hence why I could finish this book.

I found the book to be slow and overall, not very engaging. She encountered people on her journey, but we never really got to know any of them well enough to feel connected to them or what happened to them along the way. As a matter of fact, I had trouble keeping track of who was who because I really just didn’t care and they were all so fleeting. Her relationship with her family was sad and dysfunctional, but that too was somewhat confusing. There was a scene with her brother that still confuses me, but again–I just don’t care enough to even try to figure it out.

Yes, the book has an inspirational quality to it, how could it not. A young woman setting off on a hike through several states, alone, discovering herself. Yeah! But the translation fell flat. I honestly just wanted to finish the book to be done. Thankfully, I am. I do give kudos to Cheryl Strayed, the author, for revealing so much personal information. The things she shared, especially her ‘drug use’ and ‘relationships’ with men left her wide open to intense scrutiny and severe judgement by those who read the book–so good for her for having the courage to put her story out there. I do hope it helps someone.