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April 30, 2005

aahhh St Barts - The Perfect Vacation

Christine and I took one of the most incredible vacations ever. We celebrated our 10th anniversary by going to the French West Indies - St Barts. It was great on a number of different levels. First and foremost I "checked out" of anything work related for a solid 8 days - the first time I've ever done this - and initially very hard to do so. One of the reasons we went to St Barts was that I knew it would be hard to communicate from there. It's pretty isolated - although I did find an occasion or two to browse through my email to see if there was anything urgent.

After a 5 hr flight from Chicago to St Martin we hopped on a 8 passenger puddle jumper over to St Barts. The runway is small, really small, and it ends on a white sandy beach just in case. After arriving we were picked up and driven to the Eden Rock resort which only has 20 or so suites. Ours was right on the ocean overlooking an adjacent beach. If you're going to St Barts and want to go first class there's really only three places to stay, Eden Rock, Hotel Carl Gustaf and the Guihanna Spa. Other than that there are huge villas that dot the landscape throughout the island to rent. There are a number of stars that live there on and off. Dave Letterman has a place there.

The island is idyllic. White, white fine sand beaches, clear blue water and quaint little villages around the island with the best restaurants in the world. The food is mostly french, and very expensive, but truly amazing. That was the hardest part - picking the restaurant for the evening. We were about 2 miles from the Gustavia port - the main town on the island. Loaded with mega yachts and some of the best high end shopping in the world. The island is 2 miles by about 10 miles long with about 6,000 permannet residents.

The vacationers were mostly European so that made the beaches even more enjoyable :-). About a 100 yards or so down the beach was one of our favorite local hangouts - Nikki Beach. It was a restaurant/bar with literally beds with canopies on the beach. About 3:00pm every day yachts would pull into our harbor and guests would be shuttled to and from in a dingy where they would hang out drinking champagne/wine, eating sushi to all hours of the night - what a scene.

We spent most days on the beach, under a tree with attendants running around to suit or every need - did some snorkeling, explored a bit, did a lot of reading, took a lot of naps. Like I said - perfect.

If you're looking for a high end vacation, without the crowds, small and quaint, great service, great food, great beaches, not a lot of nightlife (but just enough) - I'd highly recommend St Barts and the Eden Rock.

Oh yea, funny thing. We ran into a 3 other couples from Denver who had rented a large sailboat and were sailing the islands. They pulled into our harbor/cove area one night and low and behold - one of the couples was Kristi Kalizinsky and Eric Lamar who I worked with while I was with Qwest. Small world!

April 30, 2005 in Biographical, Travel, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack

Did I say That?

A couple of weeks ago Seth Levine of Mobius Venture Capital had a great post on being "responsible" in a relationship. Seth points out that if each person takes 100% responsibility for the communication inside of a relationship (personal, business, family, etc) that there is probably going to be much more frequent and meaningful conversation vs. each person being 50% responsible. 

I'd like to take it one step further.

I've been around a great deal of people that are totally oblivious as to how they "occur" to the person(s) that they are talking to, being with. In fact, I'd assert that by far, the majority of people have no idea what others are thinking about when they speak. Most are more concerned about what they are saying than what is being heard. Of course, all of us process whats being said by others through whatever filters that we have, based on our past experiences. The best communicators put themselves "in the other persons shoes" during any and all communications. Simpler said, when you're speaking, what is the other person hearing - other than your spoken words. How are you "occurring" to them. What are you leaving them with - what are they thinking. You see, in the end, it doesn't matter what you say - what matters most is what they hear. It's that perception that they will take action on. Not by what you said. btw - the best way to tell what heard when you said what you said.....ask them! More importantly, ask them for the color around what you said. And beware, most people are not honest enough to tell you.

So taking Seth's post one step further, the most powerful relationships are those in which you are 100% responsible for what the other person is hearing/thinking during whatever conversation you are having with them . So you are not only 100% responsible for what you have said, but also 100% responsible for what they heard. This is about being "intentional" in a conversation. At the end of this conversation, what do I intend to have them think about, feel, etc.

We've all heard the old adage "talk is cheap". From my perspective, we've "cheapened talk". Conversations today have become more and more about trying to prove something. That's not a conversation, that's a one way communication - a lecture. A conversation is about exchanging information, sharing ideas, experiences, in a way that imparts knowledge or creates an environment for something to occur - good, bad, whatever.

Now , you might be left thinking that this sounds a bit complicated, or hard work. Try it on. And if you find that the conversations are longer, have fewer of them, but really concentrate on what the other person might be left thinking about. You'd be amazed at the broadening/deepening of the relationship that will happen. Fewer, higher quality conversations will open up a whole new world.

April 30, 2005 in Business, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack

April 03, 2005

Attitude - It's up to You

I was going through some old Management Consulting files when I happened to come across this short excerpt on “Attitude”. I'd like to take credit for this but I can't - I'm not sure of the source. It struck me how core this can be to the success of any organization, whether that be a company, a family, a group of friends - whatever. Here you go...

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It can make or break a company...a church...a home. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

I'm a firm believer that we create our own destiny. That our daily choices make who we are in the present and the future. Our choice of attitude changes the way others interact with us, what they chose to say, or not say to us, what they are left thinking after our interactions. You are always leaving someone(s) with an impression.

April 3, 2005 in Biographical, Business | Permalink | TrackBack

April 02, 2005

Il Papa Morto

I was watching CNN today when the breaking news was that the "Pope has Died". I, like many others, knew it was coming given his failing health over the past several days, months - but I was still stunned. It hurt.

I was brought up a Catholic, going to church every Sunday as a family, all eight of us in our Sunday best, week in, week out. Half the time I paid attention, half the time I didn't (probably because they said mass in Latin until I was 12 or so). But I did what I was suppose to do. Later, I became a bit disenchanted, removed from the Catholic religion during my late teens and into my adulthood. I just couldn't come to grips with being at odds with the teachings of the church and my own personal beliefs. I think there were millions of others who thought the same thing during the 70's, 80's. It was a tough time for the Church. One of the things that really bothers me are hypocrites. How could I devote myself to a religion and not agree with the teachings.

John Paul II changed all of that for me. Although I still didn't, and don't agree with all of the teachings of the church, he found a way to reach out to people. It was if he transcended  the religion that he led and spoke to us beyond the "rules". I'll never forget the gatherings in Denver in the late 90's during World Youth Week. Hundreds of thousands of kids with parents and chaperons in tow, pilgramaging to Denver to be together and to be with the Pope. The scene was amazing. If he could move teens like that, he was OK in my book. Or when he led the rise against communism - Kissinger still credits JP2 as being the single biggest cause for the rise of democracy and the fall of communism. Or when he "scolded" our President for "invading Iraq" - loved it! Here was the so called "most powerful man in the world - Bush" being reprimanded by the Pope who was in his 80's and in poor health.

John Paul II died today and I was deeply saddened not because we lost the Pope, but because one of the greatest leaders of all time, a leader who gave us hope, a leader that gave us all new possibilities, is now gone. We might not all agree with what the Catholic church has to say, but when you look at what that man has done, he was a godsend. He helped changethe world for the better, he gave Catholics a reason to be proud again. JP2 - we love you!

April 2, 2005 in Religion | Permalink | TrackBack