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Working Well Can Make You Well

I’ve been ecstatic all day. The Health & Wellness Coalition just announced that our firm’s been selected for a Working Well award. What an honor to be recognized for a program that I helped launch and one that’s so greatly benefited our team. None more than myself.

My metamorphosis began when we started our worksite wellness program in October 2007. You can’t lead a wellness initiative, encourage employees to be healthy and then light up a cigarette. So I quit. And haven’t looked back. One bad habit extinguished.

Who knew yoga would captivate me so? I was addicted to our on-site yoga classes right from the start. Yoga isn’t just for the limber. While it does builds muscle and core strength, it’s also meditative and calming. Nothing like tuning out the busy world and focusing on your inner flame to find and maintain balance.

Eliminating the Negative

I recently finished a week-long detox diet. Not a hardcore detox mind you – I ate food, but cut the salt, caffeine, sweets, processed foods, alcohol and meats for a week. (I know it sounds severe, but it wasn’t so bad.) When the week was over my taste buds celebrated with the delicacy that is food. It never tasted better. I swore I was eating the best, juiciest apple in the world and then realized it wasn’t the food that had changed.

And this butterfly keeps gaining momentum. Once I started making healthy changes and feeling better, I wanted to do more. Now I’m riding bikes, running 5Ks, hula-hooping in the back yard and trying new healthy recipes. My latest passion is cooking Indian food. And thank you Manjula for the best recipes ever. I’m grateful that I work at a company that embraces wellness, and I look forward to where this journey leads next.

Jimmy LaFave Understands His Personal Brand

Jimmy LaFave Does the Right Thing – and That’s Why Fans Love Him

Early Sunday evening, Jimmy LaFave and accordion player Radoslav Lorkovic sat on the edge of the outdoor stage at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas, and played a song. Not so unusual, until you consider the circumstances.

The performance came after LaFave and his band had played for two-plus hours on the hottest day of the year so far in Kansas. The kind of day that makes you sweaty just sitting still, yet the band held nothing back. One of the performers playing today, LaFave hasn’t achieved super-stardom, but he’s well-known and universally respected among contemporary musicians. The kind of act that inspires some fans to travel hundreds of miles just to see him.

Just in Time to Miss the Show

One of those fans got the time wrong Sunday. He drove all the way from Hays, Kansas – a three-plus-hour trip – only to arrive just as the concert was ending. He bought one of LaFave’s CDs, took it over to have it signed, and explained that he’d missed the show.

So, as crews loaded out sound equipment in the background, LaFave and Lorkovic gave the guy a little private show.

In the big picture, it’s a small thing. But it’s the small things that make a difference.

Gained At Least One New Brand Evangelist

LaFave probably wasn’t thinking about his personal brand. He was just doing what he thought was right. But that’s what defines him in the eyes of his devoted fans – he has much to give, and he loves to share it.

I hadn’t seen him perform before Sunday, and I’d never heard one of his albums. I enjoyed the performance so much that I forgot about the heat while the band was playing two remarkable sets of restrained, diverse virtuosity. I became a devoted fan during his impromptu acoustic performance for one guy – who probably figured that the six hours of driving was worth it after all.

Learning With Spirit

Words I never thought I’d hear: “You’re going to Malaysia.” The statement filled me with equal parts exhilaration and anxiety. When some fellow WSU students and I formed the Barton International Group last fall, we wanted to spread our wings. Still, I’d never envisioned a trip that required 37 hours of travel just to get to our destination.

On June 14, our entrepreneurial 14-member group embarked on a two-week trip to Spirit AeroSystems’ Malaysian facility. Our goal? To advance Spirit’s efforts to create a unified, transglobal corporate culture. Our tool? Research using the McKinsey 7-S management model based on seven organizing factors – structure, systems, style, staff, skills, strategy and shared values.

Making New Friends

The employees of Spirit Malaysia embraced our effort – and us. They willingly answered our questions whether it was an individual interview, focus group, or job shadowing. We had access to everyone from C-level executives to cafeteria staff. Our most gracious hosts invited us out after work, even taking us to the equivalent of an American Dave and Busters.

Our strenuous 15-hour workdays and nightly reports taught me much more than any teacher, book or blackboard ever could. I left Malaysia with new skills: how to strategically approach a project, develop a consultant-like mindset, lead a group of students – and navigate in a foreign country.

Continuously keeping my mind focused on our final deliverable – a presentation to Spirit CEO Jeff Turner in August – offers insights to what life will be like after graduation. One thing I know now more than ever. The lessons will never end.

This learning thing’s a lifelong endeavor. One that will take you places you never imagined.

Film or Digital?

If You Have to Ask, You’re Missing the Point

My camera kit weighs about 35 pounds. It’s a large-format Toyo field camera. And yet I love lugging it around. I may never be happier than when I’m shouldering my big backpack, searching for inspiration. For the perfect combination of light and shadow.

The Toyo captures one photograph at a time, on a 4-by-5-inch sheet of film. It takes a minimum of five minutes to get one photo. The average is probably 10 or 15 minutes. I might bring back half a dozen photos from an afternoon’s outing. By contrast, I took well over 100 shots at a recent 90-minute concert with my digital camera.

For years, debate raged among photographers over the merits of film versus digital. Film advocates grouse about the loss of craft, about textural and tonal subtleties. They assert that a person who’s known only digital understands far less about the inner workings of photography.

They’re (mostly) right. And their arguments are irrelevant.

Adapt or Perish

Professionals long ago abandoned film for all but the most specialized applications. They’ve stopped arguing about it, too – because they have better things to do. Such as taking photos that do the job for their clients. Film can’t compete in today’s marketplace. Period. Like it or not.

I’m reminded of this old dispute whenever the world changes – such as the advent of social media or the mass move to Twitter. Some folks debate the merits. Some lament the passing of the status quo.

The smart ones just keep moving forward, dealing with and adapting to the changes.

I still love toting the old Toyo, or occasionally retreating to my musty darkroom. Still (with apologies to Paul Simon) – Mama, don’t take my digital camera away. The world has changed, and so have I.