Go BIG or Go Home!

I am loving this story, about the town of Portland, Maine, who decided that they were going to OWN the record book for the largest whoopie pie ever made. The previous record, accomplished out in Pennsylvania, was a robust 250 pound whoopie pie, a full 90 pounds above my own body weight. The fine folks up in Portland weren’t just shooting for 251 lbs, though. Hell no! If you’re going to go big on whoopie pie, you go ALL IN BABY and craft a sweet ‘ol pile to the tune of……wait for it…..1,067 pounds! That is a 326% increase over the previous whoopie pie record. You have to like a town that really goes for it.

So I started thinking about other records and what would happen if they were eclipsed by 326%. If I’m doing my math right….

  • An NFL team would have to score 311 points in a game to beat the current record of 73 points by one team in a single game.
  • A hockey player would need a 904 point season to beat Wayne Gretzky’s record of 212 points in a single season.
  • The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 SS is currently the fastest car in the world at a top speed of 267 mph. Build a car that goes 326% faster and you’ve got a car that will go 1135 MPH.
  • Walmart did $405 billion dollars in revenue in 2010. Is there a retailer who thinks they can do $1.7 trillion?
  • You’d have to lift 2,475 pounds on a bar-bell to beat a man named Hossein Rezazedah (Iran), who lifted 579 pounds in a weightlifting competition in 2004.
  • If you can live to be 486 years old, you’ll beat Besse Cooper of Tennessee, who is 114 and currently the world’s oldest person. I bet she makes a mean whoopie pie, by the way.
  • You would need to squirt milk 38.4 feet out of your eye to beat Ilker Yilmaz’s record eye-milk-squirt distance of 9 feet, 2 inches. Don’t think for a minute that I am making this up.
  • Do you have roughly 4,650 clocks? If you do, you’ve beaten Jack Schoff, who has 1,094 of them. I’d hate to live at his house.
  • Last but not least, Niek Vermeulen of the Netherlands has collected – get this – 5,568 airline barf bags.  I wish I were kidding. You want to beat his record by 326% and really send a message to barf bag collectors of the world? Fnid yourself 23,754 of them. Better get to work.

It remains to be seen if I’ve set some kind of record for most wasted, unproductive time on a blog post with this one. Or if you’ve set your own personal record for the most potential time of great value lost. But I’m glad I could be a part of it somehow.


In Through The Out Door

I’ve been reading a book about parenting lately that explores, among other things, how to embrace and engage your “spirited child.” We have one of those. A delightful little kid who has TONS of spirit. So we’re trying to figure out how to utilize that spirit in the most positive way we can. You see, my in-laws both spent their entire careers trying to better the lives of children. Not their own, though they did a damn good job at that, too.  So when they speak about and give guidance on what to provide children with at young age, I listen. Intently. The recurring theme is this: focus on their strengths and use those strengths to overcome or minimize any weaknesses. It’s not a very complicated theme, but some of the stories I hear from about their work seems to indicate that many parents  weren’t able to embrace that simple theme.

Once again, I’m getting sidetracked. This book I’m reading goes into fairly specific detail about introverts and extroverts. I began thinking about my own personality traits as I really explored the two supposed opposites. What I found was that I have most definitely lean towards introvert, but I do have some extrovert tendencies.

Let’s go to Wikipedia for some more detail. My responses below are in bold:

Introverts often:

  • Gain energy when they are alone – hell yes
  • Derive energy from the inner world, ie, feelings, ideas, impressions – yep
  • Are good listeners – nope, but I’m trying
  • Think before you do or say – most of the time
  • Maintain more eye contact while listening to someone than when you speak to him – big time yes
  • Have little interest, but any interest is very immersed – nope
  • Only deep relationships with others is called “friendship” – yes
  • Prefer to talk face to face than in the group – oh lord yes
  • Speak slowly, with pauses –  no
  • That they need silence to concentrate, do not like it when they interrupt the work or any other activities (eg, ringing phone) – pretty much
  • Benefit from long-term memory, which often have the feeling of “lightheadedness” and may have trouble finding the right words during a conversation. yes
  • Better than extroverts to cope with tasks requiring attention – perhaps, but I’m not convinced
  • Easier to learn than by reading a conversation with others – yes
  • Prefer to reveal their inadequacy wit and mismatch – yes bigtime
  • Work the same regardless of whether they are praised or not, – nope, love praise
  • May have difficulty remembering faces and names – big yes, but can remember almost ANY phone number

So you can see that I have a lot introverted features. I am generally very uncomfortable talking and participating in large groups and prefer smaller groups or one-on-one. It’s not like I start to shake and pee myself in large groups, it’s just not my preference. I try my best. I absolutely LOVE spending time with myself. Which isn’t to say I ALWAYS need to be alone, but having time to myself does get me re-energized and always has. I spent a lot of time by myself as a child, so perhaps I got used to it and embraced it.

Now, an extrovert, according to Wikipedia:

is the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self. Extroverts tend to enjoy human interactions and are generally enthusiastic, talkative, assertive and gregarious in social situations. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings such as: parties, community activities, public demonstrations, business, and political groups. Politics, teaching, sales, managing and brokering are fields that favor extroversion. An extroverted person enjoys and becomes energized by larger groups of people while time alone is less enjoyable and boring to them.

This is not me. For the most part. I believe very much that I have some extroverted tendencies. I do enjoy human interaction very much. In small groups. There are times when I am very talkative, though you have to know me quite well. Other than that, nothing in that description fits me very well. It’s all very interesting stuff. More from Wikipedia – and this pretty much nails it on the head for me:

Although extroverts and introverts have real personality and behavior differences, it is important to avoid pigeonholing or stereotyping by personality. Humans are complex and unique, and because extroversion varies along a continuum, they may have a mixture of both orientations. A person who acts introverted in one scenario may act extroverted in another, and people can learn to act “against type” in certain situations. Jung’s theory states that when someone’s primary function is extroverted, his secondary function is always introverted (and vice versa).

So I see facets of both traits in my own children. I will, in observance and the experience of what my in-laws have told me, do my best to have my children embrace their strengths and whether they are introverts or extroverts doesn’t really matter because one isn’t better than the other. But it’s fun to delve into this stuff again (I studied and minored in Sociology in college). Yes, by the way, I have taken the Myers-Briggs test. I came out as an INFP, but was extremely close to ENFP. So there you have it. Your complete reading of my personality. Fascinating, I know. Or not.


Company and Privacy

Tomorrow (March 8) will mark exactly one year since I changed jobs. It seems completely impossible that one year has gone by so quickly, but the numbers don’t lie. Many of my friends ask me how it’s going and if I think I made the right move. As you might imagine, sometimes it takes a year – or even longer – to know for sure if you’ve done the right thing when you make a job change. Making a change that dramatic can be traumatic. Me? Hell, I consider myself lucky that I elected to make the change. Not a lot of people seem to be able to do that on their own these days. So almost every day, I thank my lucky stars I even have a job.

The answer to the question, by the way, is a resounding, amplified, loud YES. Believe me, there are still days when I feel like I’m walking through the dark woods with little-to-no guidance, but for the most part I must say the move has been insanely positive, exciting and of course educational, but professionally and sociologically. There haven’t been many days when I wanted to get back to the utter comfort of what I did before, to slink back into the old chair at Ask and just put it on robot. That happens when you do something for nine years – it becomes robot. So you rust it out and move on.

So, that thing about walking through the dark woods – I think this feeling is amplified when I think about where I came from – a larger organization with a lot of processes in place.  I spent nine years there and Ask in 2001 was actually a lot like where I am now:  a younger, leaner, wild-west of a place. When Ask was bought for 2 billion bucks in 2005, everything changed. My job itself didn’t change much, but the company around me most certainly did. It matured. Fast.

I spent an additional four years there after the acquisition and, all told, ended up learning a TON and soaking up an environment of extremely smart, creative, driven people. People whom I sometimes miss daily. When I think about Ask, I never think “boy, I miss that job.” Because I don’t. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I didn’t really feel challenged there anymore. It was like throwing on that old, comfortable college sweatshirt during my last year, which by the way, was one of my most successful years there. I, like the old sweatshirt, was completely functional, but worn out, frayed – and, yeah, time for something new. So when I think about Ask now, I think about some of the really fun times I had there with really great people. The frustrations and crap fade away with time. Much like life itself, it’s the relationships that matter most. I don’t keep in regular touch with many people there, but I do occasionally drop in for a hello on chat or email from time to time. It’ll be fun to hang with them again when the situation presents itself. And it will.

The new job? I guess I can’t call it the new job anymore, can I? The last year has been a seachange, learning to navigate the sometimes choppy and sometimes smooth waters of an entirely new set of heartbeats. Retail is an interesting beast, let me tell you. I was on the ground floor of the Newbury Comics internet business for about a year back in 1998-99 and that’s the extent of my retail experience, other than working in a mall record store in high school in 1988-89. As you imagine, though, given my interest in hockey, the perks are lovely. Many people ask me if I am sick of hockey yet. No, I am not at all.

Ten years after Newbury Comics, at this time last year, I plopped into the chair of Marketing guy (online and offline) at one of the country’s largest hockey and lacrosse retailers. Niche retailing, they call it. I’m still learning every day. I learn from my boss. I learn a LOT from our store managers, whether they know it or not. I learn from my co-workers. And I sincerely hope they learn from me, because I do believe I have a lot to share. Geez, I hope they feel the same.

Anyway, isn’t that what life is about? Learning. Learning about work, about people, about everything. Tonight I had to explain to one of my children what “company” is. In the process of potty training, he has learned what “privacy” is, so in the context of one of those conversations, the subject of having “company” came up (as a quick sidenote, my boy has only requested privacy on the potty once, otherwise, it has required my or Steph’s, um, company). So I had to tell my son what” company” was and the only thing that popped into my head was to tell him “company is when you need someone with you.”

I have to say, needing someone with you is a statement for the ages, whether it applies to work, home, or friends. There are the very rare people you meet in life who are truly, completely satisfied being alone. Think about that for a second. How many people do you know who are 100% happy by themselves? Not many. Company is what it’s all about. Be it your spouse, your co-workers or your friends, company is what makes most people’s world’s tick. When you look back on it all, you’re sure as hell not going to think about all your jobs, are you?

I know I won’t. But I can tell you this: I love my job. And I love company. Am I making any sense? I’m not sure.