Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Restless about politics...

Good morning, readers!  Hope you're well rested and enjoying the start of a crisp Fall week.  After some heavy business travel, I'm happy to once again be at home enjoying the chill in the air, the turning of the leaves, the constant mud-slinging of the candidates, the sipping of mulled apple cider...wait, what?

Yes, it's an election year - another opportunity to be reminded of both the greatness and pettiness of our process of government.  I've intentionally avoided this topic in previous entries but feel inclined to say a few words in the wake of a new trend on Facebook and LinkedIn which causes me some alarm and discomfort.  I see friends, both personal and professional, some close and others distant, using our social  media boards as a form of personal base-camp to throw mindless and hateful rhetoric about one candidate or the other, inundating the social network with post after post about how "so-and-so is a liar", or "the douche bag hates women" or, well you get the point...

Now on the one hand, I do take a measure of comfort in the fact that people are talking about the election and showing some level of interest in what's happening economically, militarily, politically in our country and around the world.  As Americans, we should be involved and committed in the decisions that will impact our lives, our families, our future.  And I suppose it beats the alternative of complete apathy and disinterest in our social media channels on all things political but I would remind my friends and associates that there are other approaches to share your position or to make a political statement.  I offer the following purely as an alternative (I'd hate to have to un-friend you on FB)...

  1. Become informed.  Both candidates have a documented track record and both have websites dedicated to outlining their position on key issues and plans/approaches.  Much of the information there can be researched and cross-referenced with cited sources to offer facts in lieu of banter or speculation.  There's a wealth of information regarding any of the topics being debated and a variety of additional issues of import.
  2. Consider your sources.  Many complain about the polarizing nature of media to unduly support one party affiliation or the other.  I hear constantly of the evils of Fox News for being the biased voice of Republicans and others who retort that the liberals have all the other channels.  If any of that is even partially true, then be careful about allowing the reporters from any of those stations to make your opinions for you.  One of the sweet and simple truths of being an American is we get to educate ourselves, formulate our own opinions, question anything and everything we deem suspect or misleading.  It's one of our unalienable rights - you know - the one between "life" and "the pursuit of happiness".  We are blessed (most of the time) with the power of the internet, the ability to access a virtual library of information, news, reports, studies, that speak louder and truer than the constant barrage of slanted stories, filtered feedback and un-news from the large networks.
  3. What's in a debate?! I find it humorous that the majority of tweets and Facebook updates attempting to slander one candidate or the other occur during the televised debates.  We get it, you're watching the debates, and you need everyone to know you're watching the debates.  You must, therefore, be a good and conscientious citizen.  Sorry, but you've missed the point.  A debate is a sound byte, it's air time for the candidates to score style points with potential voters.  It's like the interview question in a beauty contest.  It shouldn't be the basis for your decision.  If nothing else, the debates have highlighted how often both candidates can (intentionally or accidentally) misrepresent their facts and the other candidate's record on issues or decisions.  You're going to rely solely on THAT to make your choice???  There's more to being President (or Vice President) than giving a good speech or Townhall.  There's actually leading the country that should be considered in the grander scheme of things.  It should take more than a flashy smile or a catchy one-liner to determine someone's vote.
  4. A healthy dose of accountability.  Romney has been the governor of Massachusetts; Obama has served as our nation's president.  Both have to be accountable for the good AND the bad that has occurred during their respective administrations.  Not once have I heard the President account for promises made and broken during his 4-year term.  Everything is "someone else's fault" or "what I inherited".  Governor Romney has attempted to credit himself for things in his state that were the policies of an earlier administration.  While I realize it's an election year, there's something inherently presidential about a man (or woman) who can look another in the eye, or in this case, America, and say, "I was wrong" or "I was overly optimistic in my assessment".  Not once have I heard either candidate express any misgivings over a poor decision - and can we all agree there have been a multitude of them in both camps?  I'll leave it to you to determine which candidate has more to apologize for or which shortcomings affect you the most personally.  I simply submit that nobody is perfect and that I would have greater respect and appreciation for someone committed to a return to accountability in our government.  Where I come from, mistakes are things that happen when you take risks.  You learn from them, you follow by making wiser decisions, and everyone ultimately benefits from the knowledge gained.  And they are inevitable - so let's get it out there in the open, discuss them, acknowledge them, and move forward.
  5. Don't just blab about it.  I voted yesterday.  I visited my local polls, waited an hour through the ID verification process, received my ballot card, and cast my vote for the Presidential election and several of the state election seats and referendums.  This puts me in greater standing than roughly half my fellow citizens.  That's right..HALF!  On average, only 54% of Americans actually show up to the polls to cast their vote on who will lead them.  It makes you wonder if these are the same 54% screaming in chat rooms or complaining in social media.  I hope so.  Because as far as I'm concerned, the remaining 46% don't really have much to moan about.  If you don't have the willingness to follow your words with actual action, kindly shut up...
  6. Be grateful.  I think it's also important to take stock of how blessed we are to be in the United States of America.  No matter how you choose to define it, we are a great country with a rich and storied history, though not a perfect one.  We have amazing freedoms, made possible by brave men and women who sacrificed in time, talent, and often with their lives, building up this concept and notion that a people could govern themselves, establish laws for themselves, and pursue a dream and vision.  In a few days, we'll again have the opportunity to take part in defining how that dream and vision will be carried out by our elected leaders for the next four years.  It's not a small thing, this ability to allow our voice to be heard in how we'll be governed.  It would be appropriate to show some measure of appreciation for that earned right.  

Now, back to the turning of the leaves and the mulled apple cider...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Restless about Manhattan...

I mentioned in an earlier post about my recent trip to NYC.  Aside from the "Monster in 24E" which we covered earlier, my trip was amazing!  Just another reminder of why I so enjoy my business trips to the Big Apple.  Haven't been in awhile?  Well read on to learn why NY should be on everybody's "must do" list...

I was in town for meetings with Amy Anson, my counterpart from London.  It was a great opportunity to compare and contrast our different markets, approaches, team structures, and processes for recruiting in the professional services arena.  During her visit, we spent some time in our Secaucus, NJ and NYC (Times Square) offices.  It was also an opportunity to hit some amazing restaurants while in town.  This leads me to my first "Why NY is awesome!!" observation:

The Food

In my humble opinion you can't find better quality ingredients or food anywhere else in the world (including my beloved South).  And the variety of restaurants is beyond compare!  If you can think it, you can find it in NY.  Whether you're looking for intimate and family-owned or something right out of Zagats, you better come hungry!  A few of the places I sampled are below:
Amy Anson at Osteria al Doge (Italian)
Churrascaria PlataForma
Sushi/Sashimi from Haru
And don't think you need to hit a fancy swanky restaurant to find good eating.  Some of the best food in town can be found in the small cafes and shops on practically every corner and side-street.

The Views

Another unique aspect of NYC is the skyline and the city streets.  I've been to so many large cities within the US and around the world.  And I gotta tell you - there's just something magical about NY.  I still get goosebumps every time the city comes into view on one of my countless flights to LaGuardia.  And every city block has tremendous potential for a unique and interesting photograph.  I guess it's the anticipation of what you might find next!
Times Square at daybreak...
Typical Manhattan side street...
I love New York at night!

The X-Factor

Another unbelievable and amazing quality of New York is the fact that a place that is so large can often be so small.  Not following me?  Let me offer an example.  During this recent business trip once meetings and appointments were all finished, I found myself with a free night.  For me, that's a no-brainer: dinner out followed by a show on Broadway.  I ran to the TKTS kiosk and secured myself a ticket for "Grace" a new play starring Paul Rudd and Ed Asner.  There were easily a dozen other choices that would have been equally satisfying but I'm a huge fan of both Rudd and Asner so my decision was easy.
Outside waiting for Grace
Following dinner at Haru (sushi!), I zipped over a few blocks to the theater.  Got to see Ed Asner and say hello as his car dropped him right in front and he spent a few minutes saying hi to the crowd and shaking hands (only in NY!).  I entered the theater and struck up a conversation with the person seated next to me.  Low and behold, it turns out she's just recently moved to NY from Nashville with a dream of breaking into the NY acting scene.  I offer to introduce her to the one person I know on Broadway (my favorite Mormon in Manhattan, Natalie Hill).  Well wouldn't you know it turns out this girl is originally from Orem, UT and used to dance with Natalie's younger sisters (again, only in NY!).  She doesn't know Natalie (except through reputation) but would love the chance to connect with her.  So, a few text messages later a dinner meeting is arranged and this total stranger is now a new friend.  I love this city!!!
My new friend!
Not feeling the x-factor yet??  Well, right before the show I texted a former work colleague from Atlanta, Danny Palmer to see if we could connect.  Danny and I worked together (in recruiting) at Sapient and he made the move several years later to NY to break into the stand-up comedy circuit (he's a funny guy).  In any event, I get a confirmation from Danny that he's hoping to get some stage-time later that evening at Comic Strip Live.  He shoots me the address and we confirm to meet following my play.
Danny and I at Comic Strip Live
I leave the theater around 10pm and get to Comic Strip Live in about 15 minutes.  Danny is hanging out in the bar area and we get to catching up on old times, people we know, etc.  And because Danny is a regular, drinks are free (too bad I don't drink the "expensive stuff") and I'm introduced to some of the other "regulars" that Danny spends time with (you guys were awesome!).  Ready for the cool part? We're sitting there for about 15-20 minutes when in walks none other than...Chris Rock!!  Cool as you please as if he's just another regular.  He and several of his entourage want to secure Chris a little "microphone time" to work on some new material and would the club mind if he hops on stage for a bit.  That's right, folks - only in NY!!!  Danny gets me into the theater area where we and about 30 other patrons are treated to a 45 minute stand-up routine by the man behind Nat X who entertained on SNL from 90-93.  And he didn't disappoint (unless of course you were the poor heckling woman who failingly attempted to record his bit that ended up reduced to tears once he worked his art).
Chris Rock performing...
So take it from the Restless Recruiter.  There's no place quite like New York for culinary creations, photographic beauty, and the best of the unexpected!  If you need a traveling companion, I'm only a phone call away...