What Me Worry?

17 09 2010

The true cost of growing, learning, sharing knowledge, and job improvement is not something that can be assessed in a practical sense. Employers who restrict (or forbid) travel for educational events provide a huge disservice to their clients, employees, vendors, frequently to themselves, and certainly to their companies.

There is no instance in the business world where staying behind the curve is a benefit. The simple fact that the world is changing so rapidly should be a giant red flag to management for the necessity to stay as far ahead of the learning curve as possible.

The cost of travel is relatively high, but the cost of not traveling is much higher. Basing these decisions on ROI is a fallacy. There are probably as many conferences with little value as there are conferences with tremendous value – how do you choose what is important to attend? That should be the biggest decision an employer can assess on this subject. There is a great article about the importance of continuing education in an economic downturn (link attached).

We spend inordinate amounts of time with systems – tracking, logging, and evaluating our time. Justifying project expenditures. Proving we are performing to the very best of our abilities. Success should be the ultimate proof of our use of time and resources. What difference does it make if your employees perform to the best of their abilities without results?

Quality time spent must be a combination of education, building relationships, developing new skills. And yes, relaxing occasionally to assimilate new ideas, technologies, and strategies for improvement. Most people want to improve their skills and abilities – trust them and empower them to do so.

Face time with buyers and even competitors is far more valuable than 200 emails; 500 form letters; 2000 text messages. I will be labelled a heretic, but I believe this is far more important than Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In or any of the other social machinations. I am not discounting their importance – they can all be extremely valuable tools, and should be used to further relationships and help forge future interactions.

But conferences are all about communication, learning, growing, and improving – one on one, or in groups of peers. This is not about how quickly we can disseminate/assimilate brief snippets of computer generated personalized sound bites (and regurgitating the information to our lists of contacts.)

Surrounding ourselves with, and physically interacting with, people of like interests and goals. This is what successful humans do. This is what we do best.


New and Improved

7 09 2010

It doesn’t really matter if you are on the internet, in a big box store, or simply need a new appliance. Need a new SUV – Coach Purse – Vitamin – Nautilus Machine – iPadlaptopPDA? It’s all about: “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.”

So you buy something new because it will fill that place in you that’s hollow. Feels like an extra empty something aching for fulfillment. Surely you will be sated. But you’re not. You must have more.

That new thing will be better, more efficient. Faster. Flashier. Shinier. The apotheosis of your existence (at least until tomorrow.)

Laundry detergent is whiter, brighter, cleaner. Deodorant is constantly new and improved – there is absolutely no excuse for possibly smelling human.

Continue to purchase everything because we can always be newer, better, more evolved. Mel Brooks got it right years ago – “consumption be done about it?”

Hot Freaking End of Summer Recipe

1 09 2010

“Now is the winter of our discontent.” Everyone is familiar with this famous quote from William Tell, but every winter is the winter of my discontent. It is almost 100 degrees outside today, but I know freezing weather, ice, snow, heavy sweaters, dismally bleak and bitter frigid days are just around the corner. I am a testy bitch when it comes to the end of warmth, so I am trying to find a silver lining in the inevitable onslaught of sub-arctic hell. So on a brighter side I am playing with a plethora of end-of-the-season fresh peppers just now coming into their own.

New Mexico produces an awesome pepper called “Hatch” that serves as a milder version of the Serrano Peppers that I can’t cook with (because some people in my family complain about their food being too hot – come to think of it, these same family members also love winter – an argument for euthanasia if I have ever heard one). The recipe that follows can easily substitute Serranos if you are not surrounded by whiny people. Many other great summer, winter, and othwise recipes are readily available at Epicurious, a great resource for foodies and cooks (they also have a great app if you use those things).

Risotto Stuffed Peppers

8 large Hatch Peppers
3 Cups Arborio Rice
2 Tbls. Butter (not butter spread or margarine diluted with water or air)
2 Tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 White Onion, finely chopped
1 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1 Cup Mixture of Fresh Oregano, Basil, and Garlic, finely Chopped
1 Fresh Jalapeno, Seeded and Finely Chopped
3.5 Cups Vegetable Broth, Infused overnight in Assam (Black) Tea*
1/2 # Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined, and very coarsely chopped – saute briefly
1.5 Cups Freshly Grated Asiago Cheese

Place one cup tea in broth and refrigerate overnight to infuse flavors.

Roast Peppers under broiler until all four sides begin to blacken. Cool and remove 1/3 off the top of each (creating a "boat" to fill), removing all seeds and membranes

Heat butter and oil in 1 Quart saucepan, add onions, cilantro, herbs, garlic, and jalapeno – stir for approximately 2 minutes.

Add Arborio rice and one cup of broth. Cook over low heat until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Keep adding liquid and stirring until it is all absorbed – risotto should be thick and creamy. Add cooked shrimp and stir into risotto.

Carefully spoon mixture into pepper shells until almost completely filled.

Top with Asiago Cheese and refrigerate for approximately two hours (can be prepared to this point the day before.)

Place in convection oven at 350 degrees for one hour, until cheese is melted.

*Assam Black Tea can be purchased at adventureswithtea.com.

Serves four people.

Sounds difficult but is remarkably easy – especially compared to the task of chipping two inches of ice from your car windows in preparation for a miserable winter of discontent.

Come to think of it, I believe that quote may have come from William Shatner or some other William – either way, Billy Hell I hate cold!