Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Camino Real Imports (Pagosa Springs, CO)

When I was visiting my folks in Colorado earlier this month, we had a great time visiting, exploring the waterfalls, eating at great restaurants, and everything…but the greatest thing of all was Camino Real Imports- basically a gigantic warehouse full of art that many would consider tacky. I find it fantastic as a lover of vibrant colors and patterns. Some day I will return with more money and buy lots and lots of ridiculous things.

Some day.

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Three Leadership Lessons I Learned by Screenwriting

Once upon a time, I took a screenwriting course in college. I recently picked up the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and have been thinking a lot about leadership. At some point, I thought back to those screenwriting days and discovered that I’d actually learned a few great real-life leadership lessons from learning to write stories that haven’t happened about people that don’t exist. Here are a few.

1. Stay true to your characters and your story.

Just like a plot hole or an out-of-character reaction can pull your audience completely out of your movie and cause them to question everything they believed, wavering from your character and your values erodes trust and the belief you know what you’re doing.

I don’t get out to see many movies, but I remember Superman Returns in 2006 being one of the worst I’d ever spent money on. The list of flaws is long, but the huge problem I noticed is Lex Luthor’s plan to take over the world by creating a continent of kryptonite, causing the rest of the world to flood.

Luthor’s a pretty smart guy (aside from his desire to destroy Superman), but his scheme doesn’t make sense on even the most basic level – people might want to live above water, but what value would money have if you’ve destroyed the rest of the world and can no longer survive yourself? How are you going to produce fresh water, food, or housing on an island made solely of crystal?

When the smart Luthor starts off with such an idiotic plan, the film’s numerous flaws rose to the surface rather than being ignored as I enjoyed the ride. Others dropped out of the film earlier with other errors – each time you deviate from character, you create an opportunity for someone to stop believing you.

Giving inconsistent guidelines or demanding things of employees that you’re not bringing yourself is death as a leader. Employees begin to wonder why the rules are different for them than others (or you) and notice every inconsistency. Your team needs to believe you care about their success as well as your own.

2. Conflict often produces growth

Most people don’t like conflict. I don’t go seeking it myself. In order to have a truly great story, however, the protagonist (that’s you!) uses conflict to catalyze their growth and future success. In Breaking Bad, Walt gains power within the meth industry each time he takes on a new level of boss within the cartel. In Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope grows and achieves more of her goals when her smaller dreams come crashing down – she can’t get backed for city council and her friends run her campaign for her, she loses a city council job and gets a national parks job, she loses a boyfriend and finds her husband.

In each situation, the protagonist fulfills more and more of their capability through either conquering fears or fighting through failure…but they don’t avoid conflict entirely.

Conflict is an inevitable part of growing. An animal has to eat plants (or even other animals) if it wants to continue to mature and reach its potential as an adult. You can’t reach your capacity by avoiding conflict, but in order to avoid Walter White’s ending and come through the conflict in a better place, go back to No. 1 and hold true to your character and your principles.

3. Stories don’t have to be linear

And they rarely are. Encourage your employees to take time to pick up knowledge or skills they might not otherwise learn. Heck, take those opportunities to do things you otherwise wouldn’t for yourself. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Memento would have been bland and uninteresting if it were told in a linear manner – the story needed to be completely re-written. Because each fragment loosely connected, audiences spent the whole movie in the protagonist’s shoes, trying to piece everything together. The Wire brought stories of different segments of society together, telling Baltimore’s story. Early seasons’ interactions brought depth to stories told in different parts of town in later seasons.

I didn’t just grow up deciding I wanted to be a writer or a leader. I had no idea what I wanted to do – when we did a test in high school that showed what jobs we’d be good at and enjoy, my list of potential careers was seven pages long.

I spent time in the Marine Corps because I happened to pick up the phone with a recruiter after moving back home shortly after losing my girlfriend, car, and job all within a couple months. The Marines helped me find my motivation for higher education and for helping others. It also provided the GI Bill and later the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which gave me the opportunity to attend college without going into debt.

I was going to be an urban and regional planner if it weren’t for that philosophy course I took – I had initially been focused on a major that would help me make money and have a stable career. The philosophy course caused me to re-examine my priorities and what I wanted to pursue, and I ended up in journalism. I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t take screenwriting courses as part of the major.

(Hey, I didn’t say that connecting the dots would ALWAYS result in positive outcomes.)

Learn from everyone you can. Listen to people from all parts of your life. If you spread the roots of your knowledge out broadly, you’ll be able to pull thoughts from anywhere and be in a position to help as many people as possible.

Ultimately, that’s what being a leader is about anyway – helping others to live the best life story they possibly can.

Throwback Thursday: The Tett Tales

I recently came across an old memory card with some recorded interviews for a fun social thing I was going to do in the 2014-15 Thunder offseason before everyone from the inaugural season was let go.

I hated that I never got to make the video or put it out, so I drew up some sketches, added some background music, and now I present this silly little throwback for my friends from Portland.

Getting ‘Em to Do What You Want

With the exception of very few people in the world, people want to help others. Great! That doesn’t mean they’re actually going to help you out, however, especially if you’re asking them to do something that may take away from their goals (no matter how important it is to you!).

Use these few tips to help nudge ’em to your side. These apply to co-workers, bosses, teammates, friends, and even two-year-olds – it’s also basically what you’re doing when you’re doing marketing properly.

  1. Plan ahead.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, right? So, if you need to work with someone who’s busy, who has been difficult to sway in the past, etc., you’ll want to do a couple of things. First, evaluate whether this is something you need this person to do. If Sally is always busy and Adam has free time and Adam can get the same information, have Adam help you out.*

Secondly, if you know the person well, you should know what motivates them. When I was in the Washington Air National Guard, a couple of my Airmen were simply motivated by the desire to be the best. If I wanted them to do something, I’d simply have to suggest that a co-worker had done the same job faster/more accurately than they could probably do it. Others were more motivated by how their work would help the team. Some would do it if they saw it as a challenge; others felt comfortable doing a project if it was something they already felt they knew and could easily do. Figure out what motivates that person and get them to motivate themselves to help you.

  1. Ask in a timely manner.

Continue reading Getting ‘Em to Do What You Want

Unleashing Your Inner J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith is a below-average NBA player by Player Efficiency Rating. He’s a former Knick who has become a key player for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they attempt to overcome an injury to Kevin Love to earn their first NBA championship. He also has an EWA (Estimated Wins Added) of 3.1.

Timofey Mozgov is an above-average NBA player by Player Efficiency Rating. He’s a former Knick who has become a key player for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they attempt to overcome an injury to Kevin Love to earn their first NBA championship. His EWA is 6.1.

The move that was most-covered in the basketball media was the pickup of Smith (and Iman Shumpert, EWA 0.8). Players, especially publicly, are not judged by their actual value – they’re judged by the few moments people remember from them. Unfortunately for Mozgov, this was his introduction to the public:

Smith, however, has a penchant for taking a lot of shots, some of which happen to land, knowing that people will only remember the big ones he hits.

Unfortunately for most of us, most professions don’t have general managers and scouts poring over our production and discovering how well we can fit in. It’s up to us to sell ourselves and make people believe we’d be able to produce those possessions that result in wins for their team. So how do we make ourselves J.R. Smith in the interview process while realizing we’re Mozgov – a consistent producer, good teammate, and guy who doesn’t seem to want his own personal limelight?

In honor of Smith, I’m going to throw up three points. Continue reading Unleashing Your Inner J.R. Smith

The Ends Don’t Justify The Means: Stop Respecting Floyd Mayweather and the Patriots

The love of money is the root of all evil.

Sadly, a large portion of the country and the world seems to adore money, to the point that people like Floyd Mayweather and the New England Patriots have such staunch defenders.*

Both parties hide behind the “well, you don’t have any evidence” defense after ensuring evidence wasn’t available by either destroying it or hiding it when the investigators had no way of forcing them to be forthcoming with it. Both parties claim that their accusers simply don’t know what they’re talking about; that their record speaks for itself – effectively, the ends justify the means.

That the undefeated, most lucrative boxer in the world and the reigning Super Bowl champions would both adhere to this policy is disturbing enough; what’s far worse are the fans (and organizations) that exonerate them and justify their actions due to their success in their field.

The Rule-Breaker Floyd Mayweather Tom Brady/Patriots
Rules broken Domestic violence; unwritten rules of boxing about attempting to actually fight. Videotaping opponent signals; tampering with game equipment to gain an advantage.
Excuse Domestic violence: “You don’t have any pictures.” Boxing: “That’s how to box.” Videotaping: “Everyone does it; we didn’t think it was wrong.” Tampering: “If you don’t have definitive proof, then we want an apology.”
The winnings 48-0 record, hundreds of millions of dollars Four Super Bowls, tied for the most of any QB/coach tandem
The fan defense “Sure he beats women, but you have to respect his record.” “Okay, maybe it’s boring, but that’s how he wins and what makes him great.” “Everyone does it (probably does it)!” “The NFL is out to get us!” “Okay, maybe they cheated, but it didn’t provide an advantage!”

Continue reading The Ends Don’t Justify The Means: Stop Respecting Floyd Mayweather and the Patriots

NFL Draft: Don’t Write Anyone Off As A Bad Pick Yet

We had the NFL Draft last weekend. Grades are already awarded for teams that haven’t had a down of football with their new players, because everything must be graded instantaneously. They’ve also, in effect, graded players who have yet to step on the field professionally on their professional value.

If we can learn anything from real life, it’s that we should stop writing guys off as busts or as bad picks so soon. Not just because it’s embarrassing when you get things wrong, but because it’s ridiculous to declare someone’s career over after a year or two in a situation that may not play to their strengths.

My first job coming out of college was as a communications specialist (mostly doing social media communications) for an Ivy League school. I couldn’t believe my luck – I’d done a decent job of producing quality content in my internship and while writing for my college newspaper, but to get to work at a prestigious university?

After a few months, I felt like I didn’t belong and had ruined my career before it began. Continue reading NFL Draft: Don’t Write Anyone Off As A Bad Pick Yet

Why the DH should be baseball’s standard in one simple analogy

Recently, a couple of professional pitchers got into a public argument about whether or not the DH should come into the National League the way it has basically every other league in the world. In case you’re unfamiliar with baseball, the viewpoints are summarized neatly in the analogy below (analogy is mine, so if you love/hate it, tweet me: @BeaudryDFW).

A restaurant has a really popular way of producing dinners. They have phenomenal chefs that, because of how involved their product is, require four days’ rest between work days. The restaurant’s owner doesn’t want the chefs to burn out, so he hires five of them and they work once a week. There are sous chefs and other assistants that help out on a part-time basis each day, but their roles are limited.

The restaurant also has eight waiters. They do a great job, are highly compensated, and they are among the best in the world at what they do.

At the end of the night, the chef and his assistants clean all the dishes. It’s one of those necessary tasks that is part of each person’s job description but isn’t really considered important enough to hire someone for. There’s space for nine people to do the dishes, so the waiters and the chef finish it off, since they’re paid the most.

The restaurant is crazy popular! The eight waiters sometimes struggle to serve every customer with complete satisfaction. How do they fix this problem?

A National League fan would have the chef come out on occasion on his day of work and wait tables. Sure, he won’t be very good at it as it requires a completely different skill set than the one he’s paid for, and it will take away from his performance in the kitchen, but chefs have been doing this a while in other places, so that’s the way it should be done.

An American League fan would simply hire another waiter. Since there isn’t any more room in the dish washing area, he can join the sous chef and other assistants in skipping the dish washing. Service is improved, the quality of the food remains as high as possible, and someone else has a job.

A requiem for Russell “Bodie” Westbrook’s 2015 season

As foretold in the prophetic HBO series The Wire, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended exactly as we should have expected, with the Thunder missing out on the playoffs. In fact, this entire NBA season (especially post-All Star Break) was described in Season 4.

The key to the interpretation is Russell Westbrook – I’m far from the only person to associate him with Bodie every time I see him. Not only does he look similar to J. D. Williams as he played Preston “Bodie” Broadus throughout the series, but he plays basketball exactly like Bodie approached the Baltimore streets.

The criticism of Westbrook is that he doesn’t always have the big picture in mind. He doesn’t have perhaps the gift of organization and always doing the right thing that will do the most good. However, he shows up every day. He’s extremely loyal. He’s always going out to do his best in the way he sees as best. When he doesn’t respect D’Angelo, he doesn’t do what he says and does what he thinks is right. When Westbrook maybe isn’t running what Scott Brooks draws up, he’s doing the exact same thing. And maybe Westbrook is the one who’s right after all.

Let’s look at how Season 4 played out for Bodie vs. how the 2014-15 season played out for Westbrook and the Thunder.

The Wire, Season 4: The Barksdale crew has been all but destroyed. Avon is gone (others online have gone so far as to say Kevin Durant resembles Avon; I don’t see it much, but he was the kingpin and Durant, similarly, was the league MVP). Everyone but Bodie, Poot, and Slim Charles is dead, in prison, or otherwise out of the game. Continue reading A requiem for Russell “Bodie” Westbrook’s 2015 season

Four Good Communication Reminders from Daniel Tiger

Recently, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to spend at home with my two-year-old daughter. As we don’t have many movies, we rely mostly on Netflix for entertainment options when there’s time for it. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (derived from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) doesn’t just teach children useful lessons – they’re lessons that can be applied to anything.

Here are a few useful songs for use in communications:

  1. “When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do”

Are you adding an event? Improving a process? Reorganizing? When you have enough details to tell everyone about the upcoming changes, make it known! Continue reading Four Good Communication Reminders from Daniel Tiger