David J. Kearney

April 9, 2021

Spotify (I Did It)…Never Say Never

Filed under: Music,Streaming,Technology,Uncategorized — David J. Kearney @ 7:55 pm
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I never thought I’d would live long enough to convince myself to subscribe to a music streaming service like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, etc. I am an old school tactile music collector. I like to own music, I like to read liner notes, and like to touch the CD, record, sleeves, and booklets. I have approximately 4000 CDs and a few hundred albums currently in my collection and I couldn’t imagine not having access to the physical media. A couple of things happened over the past year or so that changed my mind on all of that.

My 13 year old son, Caleb, discovered music and couldn’t get enough of it. His generation doesn’t care too much about owning or having the physicalness of the media. He took his own money and subscribed to the service. As we talked daily about music, artists, styles, and the many sub-genres of metal music his enthusiasm about Spotify shined through and the wide-variety and volume of music he had access to began to peak my interest a little. As he tried to convince me with the advantages of Spotify I challenged him to find some obscure stuff that I have in my collection, such as Tim Moore ‘High Contrast’, G.E. Smith ‘In the World’, and couple of other tests I threw at him. It passed my first set of tests. The second was usability. I experimented with the app on his devices and I was able to find, play, and playlist everything that was interesting for later listening. One of the areas that I thought might be missing was the ability just to “flip through” albums like I would in a record store for something that looked interesting. Caleb showed me how that would translate into Spotify language. It can be done easily, so now I have found things I never would have or hadn’t heard of until Spotify. If I love it, I go to Amazon, E-Bay, or the local record store and lay down some cash.

Another very unfortunate incident that I experienced (and still am experiencing as of April 2021) is that I used a streaming service that would stream my physically owned music to my devices. Murfie went out of business in November 2019 and I still am awaiting the return of my physical owned property (500 CDs). So much for having the best of both worlds. This will keep me away from companies that say they can stream, be a custodian of a collection, and operate a marketplace.

Read my Murfie story here: https://davidjkearney.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/the-murfie-saga-parts-1-2/

DO NOT EVER LET A SERVICE BE A CUSTODIAN OF YOUR PROPERTY

(it could be lost, damaged, and not cared for the way you would care for it)

There are now other ways to DIY stream your physical collection, such as with Apple’s iMatch (or whatever it goes by now) or by using a service like VOX Cloud.

I finally asked Caleb to fire up a Spotify Family Plan and get me setup. I am now a Spotify subscriber (via my son) and I absolutely love it.

I will still buy a lot of music at reputable shops and marketplaces (and store it in a place where I can easily get to it), but I will use Spotify as a way to discover more artists and buy those releases that need me to own them. In a way, I always felt like streaming was cheating a little bit. I know the artists are not paid what they should be paid, BUT I will not stop buying music just because I can stream music. In my case, more artists will get my money when I discover a new artists or releases I must own or when I come across something that belongs with its brothers and sisters in my collection.

Me being a Spotify customer is a WIN-WIN-WIN…a win for me as a gap filler, a win for the artists when I buy their releases at full price (that I would have done anyway and new ones that I end up loving), and for Spotify as a customer. If you were on the fence with regards to music streaming because you love to own music and actually have it to touch, I wouldn’t hesitate subscribing to a leading streaming service.

If you want some other options, check out these links…

YouTube video by Urban Knish regarding the comparison of Music Streaming Services:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8puNLoDNKk&list=WL&index=30&t=30s

Comparison of online music lockers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_online_music_lockers

Comparison of music streaming services

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_music_streaming_services

December 26, 2020

The Murfie Saga – Parts 1 & 2

Filed under: Music,Streaming,Technology,Uncategorized — David J. Kearney @ 12:43 pm
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Last Edited: 6/1/2021, 5/1/2021, 4/1/2021, 3/1/2021, 2/1/2021, 1/1/2021, December 2020

PART I: The First Fourteen Months

I was a paying member/subscriber of Murfie, Inc. since since 2013 (Murfie was launched in 2011 by brilliant entrepreneurial spirit years before the onslaught of major streaming companies). Murfie was primarily a Compact Disc/music marketplace (buying, selling and trading music CDs) that offered music streaming services of this media and was headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Over the span of 6+ years I purchased 567 music CDs. That is a pretty significant purchase over six years. I am sure the legacy Murfie ownership and staff made money off of my purchases and membership fees during this time to put food on their table. I was a dedicated customer and huge fan of Murfie…and I believe it showed.

In November 2019 Murfie ceased operations. Once Murfie ceased operations a small group of people were hired to return CDs from the climate controlled warehouse in Wisconsin to their rightful owner, for a fee. This group was called MCRS (Murfie Customer Return Services, LLC). During this time, I indicated immediately to MCRS that I wanted my collection returned (packed and shipped) to my home. Upon the request of MCRS, I paid $300.00 for this service on December 13, 2019. “The MCRS Team” stated to me “you must have been active in the Marketplace” when engaging to have my property returned. I was told my collection of CDs would be packed and shipped to me soon and I was in the queue. During this time, many other customers received their property via MCRS. Before I could receive my collection (from MCRS) Murfie ownership changed hands in late January 2020 (on or about January 27). Murfie was acquired (by a company also doing business as ‘Crossies’). The current business address for Murfie is 2622 West 17 Street, Pine Bluff AR 71603.

REFERENCE ARTICLE (Read me): Murfie’s Closure Leaves Members Waiting For Their Music

I did not wish to continue with Murfie under new ownership realizing this type of service was less enticing for me in 2019 as it was in 2013. It was a good enough reason to get my property into my possession. I didn’t want to pay for the service/solution that would stream and house a music collection when there were other options available in 2019. There was nothing personal against anyone in this decision.

During this transition period to the new ownership of Murfie I inquired numerous times about my collection and was given many reasons why it was so difficult to get my collection returned to me in a timely fashion.

New Murfie Ownership was planning to move Murfie to Arkansas to their owned warehouse, but an **E-Mail dated 1/29/2020** from MCRS, that included New Murfie Ownership, stated the following:

“Crossies, LLC has just signed a deal with Murfie to acquire substantially all the assets of Murfie. [ Note: MCRS is not a party to that deal other than as a conduit to hand over the efforts it undertook to represent customer interests] Essentially Crossies has independently built a Murfie-like business. They operate a music locker for customers who want their collection safely stored but they also stream music from customer collections and they operate a buy/sell marketplace. All this is pretty much what Murfie did. For Crossies, Murfie as a major customer acquisition project and they very much want all former Murfie customers to become Crossies customers. As part of the deal Crossies has committed to re-enabling Murfie’s storage/hosting/ marketplace functions for all who become Crossies customers by transferring their collections to Crossies. Crossies will incorporate customer collections, history, credit balances and unused portions of customer subscriptions from the date Murfie shut down. Most significantly, Crossies is also committed to finish the job we started at MCRS. They will return collections to any customers who elect to receive returns under the same terms offered through MCRS. They will eventually move customer collections to their own secure facility but until the returns are completed for those so desiring, the discs will remain where they are here in Madison.” This is not what happened. Someone didn’t tell the truth here.

As stated above, “They [New Murfie Ownership] will eventually move customer collections to their own secure facility [Pine Bluff, Arkansas] but until the returns are completed for those so desiring, the discs will remain where they are here in Madison [Wisconsin].” This. did. not. happen.

On March 21, 2020 (prior to the Murfie move to Pine Bluff), I received 69 disks from my collection of 567 disks and was told the rest would need to occur after Murfie was moved. New Murfie Ownership was packing all of the Murfie compact discs into metal shipping containers and planning to leave Madison in April and move to Pine Bluff. I remained as patient as I could with my property in possession of New Murfie Ownership and the money spent to have my discs retuned to me before the move from Madison to Pine Bluff. I made an assumption that once the discs arrived in Pine Bluff that my collection would be on its way in a short time frame. I understand that the Murfie collection of customer-owned and Murfie-owned compact discs was somewhere in the range of 500,000 – 1,000,000. These disks were were moved in metal shipping containers from Madison, Wisconsin to Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Due to Covid-19, I understand that the moving of these shipping containers from Madison to Pine Bluff was delayed a month or so, which is very understandable and no big deal due to the pandemic. During this delay the CDs were housed outside of the Madison warehouse in metal shipping containers until businesses were allowed to resume operations to get these containers to Pine Bluff.

At some point in the May/June 2020 timeframe my compact disc collection (the remaining 498) was on the way from Madison, Wisconsin to Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A YouTube video on July 4, 2020 by New Murfie Ownership stated that the shipping containers arrived at the new Murfie owned location at 2622 West 17 Street, Pine Bluff AR 71603. At this time I believed that my compact disc collection would be unloaded, along with all of the others, and my discs would be returned to me within a reasonable timeframe (a month or so). Unfortunately, as of today (January 2021) to the best of my knowledge, the shipping containers that house the Compact Discs are still outside of the building at 2622 West 17 Street, Pine Bluff AR 71603. These containers have been pretty much sitting in the direct sunlight and climate for over six months at 2622 West 17 Street, Pine Bluff AR 71603.

If you are unaware, compact discs are very sensitive to heat over an extended period of time and I believe that my property (along with everyone else’s) has been degraded or worse, physically damaged, by remaining in metal shipping containers that were exposed to direct sunlight all summer long (roughly a couple of months in Madison and now over six months in Pine Bluff). Also, the liner notes/CD booklets are also vulnerable to the heat and moisture that would be in and around the shipping containers they have been stored in. Shipping containers have a tendency to sweat inside in high heat and humidity, unless they are well ventilated and maintain some sort of climate control (which I do not believe to be the case). This combination could potentially lead to the growth of mold spores on the organic/paper surfaces/CD booklets (to which I am also very sensitive. mold/mold spores can also be very damaging to ones health) and damage the layers of the compact discs.

I estimate the 498 CDs to have an average replacement value of $5.00 each, which I would expect to pay on on Amazon or at a local music store (the few that remain). This reimbursement/replacement value for my personal property would total $2,490.00 plus the $300.00 (from my family’s emergency fund) I paid in December 2019 to have my collection returned to me for a grand total of $2,790.00.

I am not wealthy, so my Murfie story exacerbates the impact for me and my family.” – David Kearney

I was told on multiple occasions when I would be getting/or could expect my collection back since December 2019. The list of times I was told by MCRS and New Murfie Ownership is as follows:

December 22, 2019 From The MCRS (legacy Murfie related) Team – “Hi David, Thank for your patience. We know that your collection is on the current pick list but we have to check with the team to see how far along they are. We will get back to you”. “… a deal is in the works…”, “… Since we are well along the way with picking your collection I would guess that you will have your collection before any deal is struck [with new ownership].” This is not what happened

January 30, 2020 From New Murfie Ownership – “We will do everything we possible to get you your CDs as quickly as we can”. “I am working as quickly as I can, and I will make sure you get what you need.” “If you need your discs back, we’ll get them back to you. I’m working with the landlord to restore access [to the Madison warehouse], then I’ll have the time I need to return discs for anyone that still wants them back. I understand that you are still anxious to have your discs back, and so far there is only one other customer that has been adamant about wanting their discs back, so you’ll either be first or second in line depending on what happens.” This is not what happened

February 17, 2020 From New Murfie Ownership – “You’re still first or second in line, as I have not processed any returns yet. I have to figure out how things are organized here in order to even start.”

February 20, 2020 From New Murfie Ownership – “All your discs will be marked as return only, at my cost, before the move, but on my timeline.” “Your user will be deleted from the site, and you will receive a full refund.” This is not what happened

Finally, during an E-Mail exchange on February 25, 2020, New Murfie Ownership and I both agreed that New Murfie Ownership could pull all of my disks out of the boxes as New Murfie Ownership was staging them for the move to Arkansas. At this point, once again, I thought my entire collection would be on the way (How exciting is that!). This is not what happened

March 21. 2020 – From me to New Murfie Ownership – “First 71 [ended up being 69] discs of my collection received today (just now).”

March 21, 2020 – From New Murfie Ownership – “The rest will have to be after the move, I’m sorry.”

Six Months Later with no E-Mail or other shipments or direct correspondence to me from New Murfie Ownership…

September 21, 2020 – From me to New Murfie Ownership – “It has been six months since I have received any more of my collection from you, so I thought I would check in. Please let me know when I can expect to receive the remainder of my collection (498 discs).”

September 21, 2020 – From New Murfie Ownership to me – “It’s been much more of a challenge here in Arkansas than I thought it would be. I still haven’t been able to break through a bunch of red tape from the city here. The CDs are here, but I can’t unload them to begin processing them. These problems also mean I can’t get the power turned on here. I regret this more than you know.”

September 21, 2020 – From me to New Murfie Ownership – “That doesn’t sound encouraging. I figured once you packed up in Madison and got to Pine Bluff that you would be golden with the warehouse you purchased. Unless you are getting close to a resolution with the city to begin processing the CDs I am open to other options, such as a reimbursement cost for the 498 discs and a refund of the shipping/CD return costs I paid in December so I can go re-buy these discs at another outlet. I don’t think this is an unreasonable request. Think about it.”

September 21, 2020 – From New Murfie Ownership to me – “I am getting close I hope.”

I never asked for or wanted any of this.” – David Kearney

I have made numerous additional attempts to be made whole and have had E-Mail exchanges with New Murfie Ownership and other third-parties about the return of my property since Murfie was acquired. Although New Murfie Ownership did send me 69 discs (12% of the entire collection) prior to the move in March, the remainder of my CD collection that I own has been in shipping containers in Pine Bluff, Arkansas since at least July 4, 2020. From December 13, 2019, when I made my payment in full to have my collection returned, until present there seems to have always been some type of reason or excuse or whatever other more self-justifying term that is preferred as to why the delivery of service I paid for in 2019 could not be accomplished. It has now been 12 months and I still don’t have my property in my possession.

This debacle, for me, has now spanned across three years…2019, 2020, and 2021, when it should have been a month or two…maybe three months at the most. My property should have been returned no later than March 2020.

Not only that, I was insulted by New Murfie Ownership for only wanting what I was told and paid for…

“You are currently the most toxic customer I have.”** – New Murfie Ownership to David Kearney

“You are not worth my time.”** New Murfie Ownership to David Kearney

Not a professional way to treat a paying customer. When a customer pays for a product or service that is agreed to by both parties it is expected that the product or service be delivered as agreed OR another solution to make the customer satisfied, at a minimum, is delivered. I never agreed to anything else other than what I paid for (I did not pay for endless delays and endless excuses) nor was a satisfactory alternative solution ever proposed by New Murfie Ownership.

**I NEVER insulted or verbally attacked anyone at Murfie (legacy or new) I only presented facts. Also, I have never told anyone at Murfie (legacy or new) one thing and then did another.

<As David Kearney shakes his head> “I cannot believe I am in this position.” – David Kearney

Had I known in 2013 what I know now, I would have never have joined Murfie. The money and time I have invested was not worth it and the way I have been treated over the past 18 months was definitely not worth it.

The Ending of Part I

Will David Kearney ever be made whole?

Will the saga end as promised?

Will a fair and equitable solution be spread across the land?

Will companies and owners of companies ever do what they say they will do when they say they will do it?

Find out in…

PART II: THE CONCLUSION OF THE MURFIE SAGA

STAY TUNED FOR THE CONCLUSION OF…

THE MURFIE SAGA

COMING SOON!

But still nothing as of…

January 1 – 2021

February 1 – 2021

March 1 – 2021

April 1 – 2021

May 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

**With a very, very “Special Thanks” to Allen D, Cheryl C, and ‘The New’ Mr. Murfie himself for making this all possible.

When a company tells YOU that YOU are not worth their time…BELIEVE IT!

If you want your property taken care of as you would take care it…this is not the company for you…move on.

If you want a company to take care of you as they promised they would…this is not the company for you…move on.

If you are all questioning doing business with this company…go with your gut…move on.

However, if you like excuses, being belittled for insisting on what was told to you, enjoyed being lied to, told that everything is always someone else’s fault, and generally like to gamble with your money and property…this is the company for you. Good Luck.

September 17, 2020

Regaining Space from Your Music Collection

Filed under: Music,Streaming,Uncategorized — David J. Kearney @ 6:34 pm
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If you find yourself running out of space due to an expansive CD collection (for those of you that still consume music this way) there are a couple of things you can do to regain some valuable space and organize your collection.

My CD collection is well into the thousands and I expect it to continue to grow for the next 15-20 years, or until CDs are no longer made and I have all the titles I am looking for. My life revolves around my family and my music, so I can’t see me not loving either for the rest of my days.

Here are a few products and strategies you can implement to regain some space taken by your collection:

  1. Space Saving Sleeves – www.spacesavingsleeves.com

These sleeves are much like the clear vinyl/record sleeves that are used to protect records and their jackets. However, you replace the bulky jewel cases with the slim, clear sleeve that preserves the integrity of the CD and booklets and take up 75% less space. They are a really slick solution to regain space and protect the CD, booklets, and other content. Recycle those plastic jewel cases and regain some space.

2. Snap-N-Go CD Storage Container – shorturl.at/bANSV

These containers are similar to a shoebox, but are a little more durable and visibly appealing. They can hold between 125 – 150 CDs that were placed in the Space Saving Sleeves above or 30 CDs in jewel cases. A nice solution if you don’t have a shelving solution for holding CDs.

And, if you are really strapped for space and need your music collection physically out of your way you can always…

3. Rent a Climate Controlled Storage Unit

All localities have multiple options available to self-store your possessions. The cost of these units will not be as pricey as it might be to ship your music collection to another state where you can’t get immediate physical access to your property. Check the availability and prices in your area before you do anything with your property that you will, no doubt, regret. If you don’t want to shell out the money for a storage until, a friend probably has rented one already and you can store your collection there. CDs should not be stored for long periods of time where they are exposed to high heat and/or moisture, so a climate controlled unit would be best.

As a cautionary tale…

NEVER EVER ship your music collection to a place where you cannot get immediate access to it.

NEVER EVER LET ANOTHER PARTY STORE YOUR PROPERTY WHERE YOU CANNOT GET IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO IT.

For other ways to manage you music, see my post on DIY – Streaming Your Music Collection.

DIY – Streaming Your Music Collection

Filed under: Music,Streaming,Uncategorized — David J. Kearney @ 4:06 pm
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I had been looking for a way to get to all of my digital music collection on all of my devices. Due to the size of my collection, I also didn’t want the constant chase of increasing storage on my devices to hold all of my music on each.

Seven or so years ago I found what I thought was a great solution, but it required having a third-party digitize/rip and store my collection. As you might imagine, this solution wasn’t perfect because the control of my music collection (my property) was out of my physical control, but it did allow me to have my collection available on all of my devices via streaming. If you are under space restrictions there are space saving solutions for larger music collections (CDs, albums, cassettes, etc) that are a much better solution than giving up physical access to a cherished collection. When you give up your possession to a bailee, you may be giving up best storage practices for your sensitive music collection.

As I sought a solution where the control of my property was under my control and in a climate controlled secure environment I came across Apple’s iTunes Match service. I have been using it to stream my entire collection for awhile and it works like a charm….and I didn’t have to ship my property to or have my property held by a third party.

I have 4000+ CDs, which is over 250GB, and I can get to all of that music that I ripped on my iMac on all of my Apple and iTunes devices…anywhere. I stream all of that music for $24.99 per year and the music remains in my possession and under my control. Also, I have an unlimited plan with my cellphone/iPhone carrier, so I don’t pay any additional bandwidth/usage costs to listen to my music.

iTunes Match is separate and apart from Apple Music and its purpose is to allow you to stream your digitized music as a DIY. It can be also integrated with Apple Music to gain access to your owned collection along side the music streaming service, but I didn’t have a need for a music streaming service, so iTunes Match can be used as a standalone service.

I bit the bullet and subscribed annually and within a day I had access to over 4,000 titles on all of my devices. The service uploaded my collection to the cloud and made that collection available on all of my devices (it allows access for up to 10 devices). I didn’t have to buy increased storage space, trust that a third-party would care for my collection as I did, or have my property under someone else’s control. For $24.99 per month, I am able to store and stream up to 100,000 songs…I am currently approaching 40,000. I did uncover that the service will not upload a single file that exceeds 200MB. I had a couple of concerts that were contained in one large file that exceeded 200MB, so I had to cut the file in half and re-import for iTunes Match to make available in the cloud….easy solution. Generally, most songs are between 5MB – 10MB in size, so the limit of a 200MB “song” shouldn’t be a common occurrence in most collections. iTunes Match also allows me to “download” whatever files/songs locally to play off-line if I don’t want to use or can’t reach the Internet to stream.

I have been running iTunes Match for months now and it has lived up to my expectations and I am able to get to my entire collection of music…anywhere, anytime.

Currently, I store my music collection at home. It is climate controlled and I can get to it with no barriers. I use http://www.spacesavingsleeves.com and Snap-N-Store CD Storage Boxes to reduce my CD collection foot-print. Using these solutions I have been able to reduce my physical music collection footprint by almost 75%. Using these storage solutions along with iTunes Match is a much better solution than a giving up direct access to your property and to manage your media. If you are really confined to space, you could rent a small local climate controlled storage locker/facility after you have digitized your collection to store your property. Sure, it may be a little more expensive than having a third-party hold your property in a warehouse somewhere, BUT it will save you time and grief down the road (trust me on this).

I will never let a third-party hold my property/cherished music collection ever again. I suggest that you stay as far away from that option, as well, but that topic is for a separate forthcoming discussion.

iTunes Match is the perfect solution for me to get access to my entire digitized music collection on my devices. It is certainly worth looking at before you make other, possibly regrettable, decisions.

For an article on iTunes Match, please visit:

https://www.imore.com/itunes-match

If you have any questions, please contact me at David.kearney@comcast.net

February 12, 2020

Whole30 … err Whole 40 – My Whole Experience

On January 4, 2020 I started the Whole30 Program.  On February 12, 2020 I completed the Program…Whole40.

If you are unaware, Whole30 emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy for thirty days.  This allows for the slow re-introduction of these foods to see if any of them are adversely impacting you.  For more information on the Whole30 Program, please visit https://whole30.com/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole30.

My wife got me started on the idea of doing the Whole30 a few years ago when she experienced it for the first time.  Although I didn’t fully participate during her first Whole30 go-around, I did eat whatever foods she prepared, while still eating whatever I usually did when not having a meal at home.  During her first Whole30 in 2017, we experienced some household issues that disrupted the graceful end to her Whole30 experience.  Although she completed it, the tail-end was a bit rough and not the way she wanted it to end.  The re-introduction of foods was not done smoothly or methodically.  2020 was the year she was going to take another stab at it.  This time, I was going to join in on the experience.  Over the past year or so I have been feeling a bit run down and not quite myself, so I thought I give it a try (along with some other things I have tried)…thinking my lethargy may have been due to my diet or something in my diet.  I started Whole30 on January 4, about 9 days ahead of my wife.  I did so since I had no other reason not to.  My wife had some social obligations where she didn’t feel comfortable starting this fairly restrictive program on January 4, so she started on January 13.

The Whole30 for me started with typical fare that I usually had in my diet…salads.  I have 11.jpgalways enjoyed a good salad, but I did have to tweak things a bit to make sure that anything in addition to the vegetables was Whole30 compliant.  I usually like a lot of dressing…the kinds with a lot of added stuff and high in calories, so I had to resort to making my own that was Whole30 compliant.  I generally made my own dressing because it was simple enough and less expensive than store bought Whole30 compliant dressing.  I like oil and vinegar, so the dressings I made used this as a base.  I also had to make sure that any meat I put on the salad was compliant.  That generally meant no cheap canned chicken, no cheap canned or pouch tuna, no marinated beef, no lunch meat, and no run-of-the-mill bacon.  As it turns out I actually make great dressings (IMHO) and easily cooked meat (or my wife cooked it for me) for my salads ahead of time. I also had to cut out putting any beans, pasta, or croutons on my salads (I do like a salad with some crunch, but oh well).

I have always enjoyed eggs…eggs with toast, eggs with bacon, eggs with sausage, eggs with (fried) hash-browns, and eggs with cheese…sunny-side up, scrambled, poached, over-easy, and hard-boiled.  All I had to do was alter a few things to 5.jpgbe Whole30 compliant.  My new daily favorite became microwaved scrambled eggs with veggies (usually onions & peppers) and occasionally with compliant sausage or other compliant meat that my wife made.  It was easy enough to pull together at work and is actually quite enjoyable.  My wife also made a few frittatas along the way that were also very enjoyable.

I never had any problems with chicken, ground meat, steak, most pork, or fish, so in the protein department I was good.  Again, a few changes needed to happen.  I needed to make sure that any protein I was about to savor was compliant.  I typically consumed meat with some sort of seasoning or sauce…usually drenching it in all kinds of stuff…stuff with sugar and high in calories.  For simplicity sake for Whole30 I  resorted to compliant hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Texas Pete Original) and regular yellow mustard as a sauce/seasoning substitute.

Generally, I enjoyed all of the foods that were Whole30 recommended, but I did need to make a few modifications from my usual preparation to be compliant.  One of the big things for me was keeping it as simple as possible, as I didn’t want to get bogged down too much in meal preparation.  Also, eating out may have been an issue if I looked to eating out as treating myself or for entertainment or for a quick meal that I didn’t have to prepare, but I was able to pretty much avoid eating out for over a month to make things easy for me.  I did have a few meals outside of my daily Whole30 routine, which consisted of garden salads without dressing.

Before Whole30, snacking was one of my dietary failures outside of my day-to-day meals.  I think I reached for food for comfort, out of boredom, as a stress reliever, because it was there, or maybe between meals when I thought I was feeling a little something/anything.  It’s also interesting that when people see you eating, they are more than happy to leave you alone until you are done.  So perhaps I was eating for some quiet time, as well.  Snacking would include chips, sweets, pepperoni, popcorn with heavy butter and salt, cheese & crackers…basically anything I could take a bowl of, a plate of, or handful of was fair game.  I would snack at work, in the evenings, and on the weekends.   I also had to avoid the foods that my co-workers put out in the kitchen and at their desks…donuts, left-over catering, the candy bowls, and all the other stuff co-workers leave around for others to consume.  Looking back, I  did consume a lot of food between meals.  I consciously cut down on the snacking and after a few days or so I didn’t have the same cravings between meals that I used to have.  When I did feel an urge to snack, I would refrain as long as I could and hopefully make it until the next meal.  If I couldn’t fight the urge between meals I would resort to either an apple, an orange, a banana, a Lärabar (Apple Pie), pistachios, or a V-8…something Whole30 compliant.

There can be a lot to Whole30 and I can see how it can be difficult, especially if you need a lot of variety in your diet, if you regularly eat out, if you don’t really like to cook/prepare meals, if you have an attachment or “addiction” to certain foods, or if you socialize over food.  My meals didn’t need to be a culinary event or gourmet or something a foodie would love.  I didn’t have any “Have-to-Haves” as far as food went.  Fortunately, I was able to keep it simple.  During Whole30, I generally had eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, and whatever awesome Whole30 meal my wife made for dinner for the duration of the program.  My wife needed more variety than eggs and salad, so dinner usually consisted of a Whole30 meal that I would never have taken the time and effort to prepare for myself, so the variety was a bit of a treat.  Otherwise, I would have had a breakfast/lunch combination of eggs topped with a salad for dinner.  During most of the 40 days of Whole30, I never felt hungry or that I was missing something.2.jpg

As far as side effects that have been known to impact those on the program (https://whole30.com/is-this-normal/),  I may have experienced them to some degree, but I did have a viral illness during the first couple weeks or so of Whole30 that may have masked any direct side effects with being on the program.

I very much enjoyed the Whole30 program.  I do feel better, I seem to sleep better (according to FitBit), and I am in more in control of the foods I put into my mouth.  My awareness of how foods could impact me and how much sugar and other unnecessary ingredients are in food seem to be the most stand-out benefits of having stayed away from non-whole foods for over a month.  I no longer wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn or acid reflux.  And after 40 days I have lost around 15 pounds (not that Whole30 is intended as a weight loss diet…it is not).  It was a win-win all around for me.  I don’t plan to go back to eating the way I had been for the past couple of decades.

For me, Whole30 was not all that difficult to complete.  I am certainly not bragging, just telling my story.  I don’t think there was anything that I craved obsessively over and I wouldn’t consider it the end of the world if I never had cheese, bread, beans, or alcohol ever again.  I did have the here-and-there “it would be nice to have some potato chips”, but it wasn’t an urge I couldn’t control.  My lack of uncontrollable urges might have been due to the fact that I was already regularly eating a lot of veggies, fruit, and eggs, so I was just removing the non-compliant stuff from my diet and avoided snacking like I was used to doing.  Overall, it was a fun experience.  I set my mind to it and got it done.  Anyone can do anything for 30 days or so if it is something that an individual wants to do.   If you don’t want to do Whole30 (or anything else for that matter)…it’s going to be hard.  Easy things are hard when you don’t want to do them or if you dwell on how “bad” it is.

The staples in my diet beyond salad and eggs were:

  1. BLACK COFFEE
  2. Salt & Pepper
  3. Hot Sauce – Frank’s Red Hot and Texas Pete Original
  4. Apple Cider Vinegar
  5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  6. Home Roasted Oven Chicken Breast
  7. Ground Beef
  8. Home Made Compliant Sausage
  9. Lärabar – Apple Pie
  10. Steak
  11. Potatoes – Regular and Sweet
  12. Vegetables (pretty much any and all)

I finished Whole30 on February 12…40 days after I started, to coincide with my wife’s Whole30/31 completion.  The plan is for my wife and I to slowly re-introduce those foods that we have stayed away from back into our diet since they may be beneficial, overall, to our health.  Well, maybe not the alcohol…which is much more socially beneficial for me.  If we add these foods back in slowly, I may be able to determine what foods adversely impact me and to what degree, so I can minimize their intake.  At this point I am in no hurry to throw back a candy bar, down a bottle of beer/wine, or eat a loaf of bread.  Regardless of how the reintroduction of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy go, my plan is to treat meals and food as I have been over the past 40 days.  Simply, all I need to do moving forward is maintain the core of the Whole30 Program and be very aware of snacking as well as the choices I make when planning a meal.

The way I see the Whole30 program is that it was very helpful.  Did it solve all of my woes?  Do I feel like the 25 year-old me?  No.  However, it did help me understand food a bit better and how I interacted with food.  Do I feel a little better?  Yes.  Well enough that I am going to refrain from going back into my old food habits.  I should have tried it sooner…back in 2017 when my wife first gave it a shot.

Here are a couple of Whole30 recipes that were pretty awesome (above the others) that my wife found and made for us:

Chili – https://www.wellplated.com/whole30-chili/

Tomato Soup – https://www.tasteslovely.com/paleo-whole30-tomato-basil-soup/

Keep in mind that a dietary reset or an elimination diet via Whole30 or other program is only a piece of the puzzle to overall health.  A mental, emotional, and physical reset is sometimes needed, too, to put you back on track in those areas.  Take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, as well

David J. Kearney

david.kearney@comcast.net

http://www.davidjkearney.com

January 23, 2019

There is No Place in Leadership for Obsessive Negativity

Filed under: Leadership,Management,Self Improvement — David J. Kearney @ 11:37 am
Tags:

Over the past few years I’ve spent some time digging into #leadership and the traits of being a good leader. Taking nuggets from the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, to Jim Collins, to Mark Cuban, to taking LinkedIn Learning courses on management and leadership, to those that I observe everyday (whether or not they are in a public facing or high-profile leadership position). I try to take in all the good that I observe and model that into my own personality. One thing that I aspire to is to become a better leader that demonstrates effective skills and genuine empathy for my peers, my team, and the company I work for. What has become apparent is that not all leaders are created equal and not all leaders are at the same experience level or have the same career desires, so there is no one individual that is at the pinnacle of leadership. However, there are a few traits that have no place in leadership. One is Obsessive Negativity.

There is a difference between having a bad day here-and-there as a leader or needing to occasionally vent, but a leader should never make it a habit in belittling their team, their company, or their peers. Over my working career I have been witness to some of those in leadership positions repeatedly saying to its team “We Suck”. I have heard leaders say that if the company were “a real company” that it would do “X”. Another one that I have heard frequently is “At my previous company we did <insert what they felt was a much better way to do something there>”. Leaders that refer to their peers as “idiots” have no place in the context of leadership in an organization. Don’t get me wrong, a one-off comment can be toxic, but people generally understand an off-the-cuff remark as just that…a one-off, the blowing off of some steam. Not that it is an acceptable remark, but one that can be overlooked if it was out of character for the individual. Unfortunately, if repeated enough, this also begins to rub off on other team members or peers, which starts an echo chamber to endless negativity. This exacerbates the negativity and allows the behavior to breed.

Perhaps obsessive negativity evolves out of self-esteem issues, general frustration, the need appear smarter then everyone else, the lack of self-control, or perhaps even a team, a company, or peers that could, in fact, be better. However, leadership is not something that should even consider constant reinforcement of how bad everything is, how bad everyone is, intimidation, temper tantrums, or shame tactics as modus operandi. Leaders need to change what needs to be changed through discussions, presentations, and negotiations and not through obsessive negativity.

Although leadership has different meanings for different people in different scenarios and industries, generally, a leader is inspiring, motivational, passionate, and one that cuts a path for the rest of the group to follow. A true leader within a typical professional business environment, religious organization, civic organization, nonprofit environment, etc. is one that is positive, passionate, humble, and visionary. A “leader” that constantly points out the flaws their team, their company, and their peers is certainly not exhibiting the aforementioned traits of a good leader.

During direct observations and stories that I have heard about how bad leadership is in other organizations, one of the criticisms that was mentioned to someone caught in the crossfire of bad leadership was that they needed to have “thicker skin”. It’s as if having “thicker skin” makes bad leadership permissible. Sure, having think-skin is a good trait to have in any situation or environment. If you do frequently get upset or offended by what others say, that is certainly a skill that should be improved upon. It is important to be able to keep from getting upset or offended by what other people say and do, but it’s obsessive negativity that becomes very toxic, very quickly to a team, a company, and a leader’s peers when it is constant and directed.

Leadership is much more than being good at a task or group of tasks. Being a great leader comes with great responsibilities. Not only is leadership a privilege that requires a deep level of service and sincerity to the organization and those being led, it requires building a strong sense of trust and loyalty. Without trust and loyalty, those with a desire to be a “leader” for the glamour will ultimately fail.

If you aspire to become a great leader, ensure that you understand not only what leadership is, but also what leadership is not. Leadership is many things, but there is no place in leadership for Obsessive Negativity.

#leadership #eq #management #culture #legalprofession

July 22, 2018

Review: H10 Hotels Ocean Blue and Sand – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

https://www.oceanhotels.net/en/punta-cana-hotels/ocean-blue-sand

Travel Dates: July 14 – 20, 2018

Review Date: July 22, 2018

Introduction

Just to start this review off on the right foot I want to make sure that it is understood a few things as it pertains to what perspective I am writing this review and why. My family (wife and 11 year old son) typically sets a family vacation budget in the range of $3500.00 – $5000.00 USD annually. I did not get overly involved in the search of a vacation destination. I am pretty much open to anything and flexible and as long as a vacation includes my son and wife. Otherwise, it really doesn’t matter to me. We have typically taken pretty safe American vacations over the years that includes cruises that departed from the U.S., a Washington D.C. historical vacation, Hershey Park amusement park and all things chocolate vacation, Ana Marie Island in Florida, Niagara Falls, and Virginia Beach a couple of times. My wife recommended trying an “all-inclusive” and found the Ocean Blue and Sand by H10 Hotels. I was certainly open to the idea and we thought we could have a great time in the Dominican Republic. We already had our passports from previous cruises and Niagara Falls trips, so why not stretch a little and see a little beyond the borders. I don’t get overly involved in choosing too much about vacation and my wife loves doing the research and trying new places. I didn’t get crazy researching anything before our trip like the culture, the citizens, resort, or anything like that, so I went into this trip with very few expectations, other that what my wife mentioned to me…so here it goes…

Booking/Reservations

My wife began making reservation using BDTravel which she came across while looking how to book this vacation. She ended up using BDTravel to book the resort, flights, and transportation in January of 2018. The process was not crazy easy and I witnessed and few language barrier issues and a couple of other issues arose during the booking/reservations process. Initially, the credit card used did not go through and as she called to straighten out the problem, it ultimately was not with the credit card company, but with BDTravel processing. It took a few days to get the trip booked and charges applied to the credit card. The issues started with a lack of understanding on our part in who to call for assistance. Once she did connect with someone there was a definite language issue that caused a delay in getting the reservation issues resolved quickly. This eventually got worked out and we were booked for our typical July family vacation. Another issue that arose as we got closer to our vacation involved my wife calling Air Canada to get assigned seating with the round trip flights that were booked through BDTravel. As she was arranging seat assignments she found out that one of the Air Canada connecting flights on our return trip home was moved to a later time, which would cause us to miss our connection flight home. I understand and know first hand that airline changes happen all the time and that we would need to make adjustments…no problem. While my wife was on the phone with Air Canada for seat assignments she asked them to change our home bound flights and we were happy to do whatever we needed to do to get us home. Apparently, the way the flight was booked, BDTravel needed to make the change. This is where some of the frustrations started again…no clear main customer service center to call and there was definitely a language barrier to quickly resolving the issue. When she did call a couple of numbers on the website we got many hang ups after they heard us say ‘Hello’. I am jumping to the conclusion that perhaps they couldn’t speak English and hung up, but after a few times it is more than a coincidence. Once she connected with someone that could speak English and understand our problem they knew what to do to get the flights corrected, but it took way too much time for a simple flight change. But, as before, the issue did get fixed with some persistence and we got what we needed to get home, but not after my wife spent over an hour on the phone weaving through the layers of people to find the one that knew what to do. I will share some of the blame for this as we don’t speak Spanish, so the language issues were on both sides.

July arrived and off we go to the Dominican Republic…Punta Cana!

Flight

The flights were uneventful to and from Pittsburgh. We chose to use Air Canada and had connecting flights through Toronto both ways. We chose to use Air Canada partially because of the times, costs, and our familiarity and comfort with Air Canada over an off-brand airline. And we know that Canadians can be the friendliest people on the planet ;>)

Arrival in DR

We arrived in Punta Cana on July 14 around 4:00 PM to sunshine, blue skies, and the opportunity to unplug. The security and customs lines were long, but went fairly quickly. Unbeknownst to me, a lot of people travel to Punta Cana, so it was a bit of a shocking scene when we arrived due to the heards of people that were going through the security and immigration/customs process, but we managed the process to get out of the airport.

Transportation

Once finally out of the airport we stood in a transportation line for BDTravel. We paid a little extra to have BDTravel provide shuttle service to and from the resort. We were told to meet up with the BDTravel rep the next day at the resort between the hours of 11:45 – 2:00 to find out about our departure shuttle. We were guided to our shuttle. The ride from the airport to the resort was an uneventful 30 minute ride or so through a little bit of a town with gas stations, malls, and restaurants and a rural area in a small van with a handful of others going to other resorts.

Check In

We chose to book the resort with “Privilege” status, at an addition cost. This “Privilege” added a few other amenities to our stay, such as a Privilege only “club house” with premium drinks and snacks, butler type services, an alternative breakfast spot, stocked mini bar in room, private beach tents/cabanas with bar service, and the ability to make reservations at restaurants vice standing in line when these specialty restaurants opened. We also had a check-in process that was at a different location and was very welcoming…with drinks and moist towels to freshen ourselves up a bit. Once our check-in was complete a golf cart whisked is away to our building and room. This was a nice touch.

Room

Our room was on the opposite side of the property, so not having to drag our bags to our room was helpful. Our personal butler kindly carried our heavy bags up to the third floor for us. There are no elevators on premise for whatever reason. The room was OK. I understand via my wife that we should have received a fruit basket and a couple of other things for my son that we didn’t receive, like a robe, but I am not on vacation to complain. It is the resort’s job to make sure that things get done right and not for me to complain during my stay. The room was OK, but it did seem a little worn in areas, but it is a location in the heat and combined with the sea air it can’t make the maintenance of these places all that easy. Unfortunately, we did notice bugs that we didn’t think should have been around, ant-like things, that seemed to hang out primarily in the bathroom. At first thought we thought they might be bed bugs, but after an inspection by my wife the beds seemed clear of bugs. My wife wasn’t particularly fond of the bugs in the bathroom, but again I am not going to complain. We had a maid in our room every day and if she didn’t see it as a problem to report, either she didn’t care or wasn’t doing her job or whatever. I have a fairly stressful existence in reality and I don’t want to get all fired up with something, so I learned to be OK with them…’one with the bugs’. I was here to relax and forget who I was with just me and my family.

img_9977-1

Property

The property, overall, was beautiful. Two giant pools, enough pool chairs, two pool bars, plenty of restrooms, and a large buffet area for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a selection of restaurants that offered a different experience over the buffet, a great reception/bar area with live music, and small water areas with wildlife.

Beach

This time of year, either due to weather activity or seasonal changes, there was a lot of seaweed in the water and on the beach. I really had no major expectations and there was nothing that the resort could do about it. My son and I didn’t let the seaweed issue bother us; we were in the ocean every day, laughing, chatting, and enjoying our time together. My wife was sort of put off by it, but my son and I became “one with the weed” and closer because we had some quality time together. The water was not crystal clear blue ocean water, but whatever.

Food/Restaurants

Some people find that the food on cruises and at resorts to be fantastic, but I always find the food during these experiences not good, not bad, but OK and edible. The presentation is what captures the stomach…not necessary the food.  This is no slight to the resort, but when making food for thousands of people the food tends to be just OK. The foods, in general, did taste a little different from what what might be expected. The hamburger was good just different, the pizza was good just different, the soups, fries, eggs, bacon, etc., was good…just a little different than the equivalent in the U.S. The food was fine in the restaurants we went to (Italian and Japanese hibachi )…good, but a little different. My son was able to find a few food choices that he stuck with during the week, such as pancakes, fries, crepes, pizza, and dessert. All was good and we enjoyed it.

Entertainment

We didn’t participate in many property entertainment offerings nor did we do any off-site excursions. I understand that there are all kinds of excursions and things to do, but we sort of just went with the flow and did our best to just chill and relax, without any schedule or “Have-To’s”. We did sit for the magic show one evening that was really good. My son and I also bowled in the resort’s six lane bowling alley and played a couple of games of pool. Other than that we just hung out.

img_9930.jpg

Service

The service all around was hit or miss. There were some service staff that seemed very happy to be there and others not so much. Maybe it was us…the Americans, but we did tip everyone that serviced us, so maybe it was just our perception. There were two guys that seem to really enjoy what they were doing…Marino at the Privilege beach bar area and Alcide, a waiter that we encountered during our last hours in the buffet. Hats off to these guys. We probably tipped Marino $25 – $35 through out the week for greeting us when we arrived at the cabana spot and added some little touches here and there. He seemed genuine. We typically tipped the wait staff a few of bucks for meals services and to up to five dollars if we felt someone went above and beyond. I am pretty flexible as far as service goes and I don’t complain all that much about anything, so it really bothers me to say that there were a good amount of service people we encountered that didn’t seem overly thrilled to be there or wait on us. Maybe I will take some of the blame for that, maybe a language thing or cultural difference in expectations.

Sales People

So how in the hell did a Sales People category end up on a vacation review? Apparently a big thing in the Dominican Republic and region is the selling of timeshares. It continues to be a high pressure tactic even after telling many H10 people we weren’t interested in timeshares or interested in the ‘Welcome Breakfast’ with free gifts, AKA a timeshare high pressure sales meeting. We weren’t interested even looking at timeshares. Generally, I was on vacation and wanted to be left alone with my wife and son. The addition of Privilege should have at least bought me the right to be left alone. Not that it was all that much of an issue, but my Privilege band should have provided me with that benefit, too. Also, another minor annoyance were the vendors selling souvenirs on the property. There was a day and a few evenings where vendors seem a little more aggressive about selling their stuff than they needed to be. Sure, the family bought some items from these guys, but when I was done I wanted to be done. The hassling, haggling, and deal making was fun for about ten minutes, but when I was done it would have been nice for it to be done. I understand that this is the culture and their way to make a buck, but sometimes it is a little much. If you plan to visit, just be prepared.

Checkout

The check process was a little clumsy. Someone did come and pick us and our luggage up from our room to a place where we could wait for our BDTravel shuttle back to the airport. No one told us that there was a formal check-out process or to proceed to the Privilege service desk.  I was looking for a BDTravel branded person and/or vehicle to arrive at pickup time, but all I noticed was some uniformed guy in a green shirt looking for a pick-up among many other drivers of other shuttles doing the same. The green shirt guy was ultimately the pickup for us, but had I not asked, I would think he would have left. I have stayed at quite a few hotels in the U.S. and don’t really remember the last time I did a formal checkout. I usually just leave a hotel without checking out and the receipt is emailed to me. Apparently, the resort must give give you a check-out slip to give to the pickup shuttle company. Again , not a big deal, just a communication issue and caused some guests that were picked up prior to us to wait a little long than they needed to in the shuttle.

Language/Culture

The language/culture is a bit different for a family like mine, but we got by fine. None of us speak Spanish and a few resort personnel didn’t seem to speak English. Not a big deal, but if you are uncomfortable in these types of situations or want everyone to speak perfect English, the Dominican Republic might not be the vacation spot for you.

Departure

After seven days of being on a beautiful property, relaxing the best I could, and providing my family with a new experience, the end was imminent and the trip home, back to reality, had to come

Summary

Overall the property is beautiful and very picturesque and it reminded us everyday the we were indeed somewhere other than our hometown. Direct non-stop sunshine, sand between my toes, all you can consume food and drinks, and time away from reality with my family with a little bit of a culture twist…you can’t ask for much more.

Pros – The Privilege add-on was worth it even though we didn’t get or take advantage of everything it offered, we did see and use a couple of things that paid for itself. We spent quite a bit of time at the exclusive “club house” that was on the beach and made reservations at a couple of restaurants.

Cons – The sales people could really become a bother and the bugs on the bathroom (presumably only in the bathroom?) were two of the biggest cons for me. I don’t let a lot of things bother me on vacation…I am on vacation, but it seemed there was a lack of consistency all around.

Q&A

Q. Do you need any special shots or vaccinations?

A. My wife did research on this and the conclusion we came to was that we should be OK if we weren’t leaving the resort, so we didn’t do anything special and don’t appear to have any issues or tropical diseases at this point.

Q. Can you drink the water?

A. We took advice from many sources, including a sign in the bathroom, not to consume the tap water…not even to brush your teeth. So none of us brushed our teeth for a week. Just kidding, we just used bottled water which was in abundance. The only thing we used the tap water for was for showering. We did make sure our son understood not to drink the tap water, even when showering.

Q. Did you have any stomach illness?

A. Not even a remote sign of an upset stomach. I ate a wide variety of food and everything was fine.

Q. Do you need to speak Spanish? Is English spoken in the DR?

A. Spanish would have helped and I wish I could have brought that as an aid. To fake it by saying “Hola” and “Gracias” seems like more of an insult. As soon as I said “Hello” an individual would know to shift to English and not represent my “Hola” for “I speak Spanish”.

Q. Why did you pick DR, Punta Cana?

A. It was a little out of our comfort zone, my son likes the idea of foreign countries and is interested in other cultures, we were never there, and at least one of us (me) didn’t care where I went with my family, as long as it was dedicated time without running into Joe, Bob, Susie, or Jane…AKA, people I know.

Q. Is there WiFi?

A. Yes, there was WiFi available and it was pretty solid. Important for an eleven year old, but not so much for someone trying to escape reality. The Internet wasn’t unavailable for a few hours one day, but other than that it was really solid and robust.

Q. What did you pack?

A. Too much! We packed multiple changes of clothes in anticipation of needing attire for the oceans/pools, dinner, and just walking around. If we each just brought a few pairs of shorts/swim suits, a couple t-shirts, and underwear along with some toothpaste, tooth brushes and deodorant, we would have been just fine.

Q. Do the pools have any water toys?

A. I didn’t see any resort supplied water toys, but we did bring some cheap blow-up tubes and rafts that we gave away at the end of our trip. They were nice to have.

Q. Did you feel safe?

A. I felt safe the entire time, especially as a guest in a foreign country whose primary language in not English. We did see uniformed guards around with clubs, but I didn’t see any of these guards with guns or other weapons.

Q. How was the weather? Did it rain at all?

A. Weather was great, no complaints. It did rain a couple of times here-and-there, but only for 20 minutes or so. The rain at one point was hard, but we all took the opportunity to jump in the pool and get rained on.

Q. Would you go back to the DR again? Would you stay at the Ocean Blue and Sand again?

A. I would probably return to the DR again, but it would be better if I could make an honest attempt at Spanish. The Ocean Blue and Sand was nice (aside from the couple of issues we experienced), but I have no other all inclusive resort experience to compare it to, so I can’t say that the Ocean Blue and Sand was better or worse than any others, but I wouldn’t rule it out. I do think BDTravel should be avoided and next time we might consider a travel agent to avoid some of the initial issues we had where language was a barrier.

Q. Why did you decide to write this review?

A. It was an experience off the beaten path, out of the ordinary, and something I thought could be useful to someone thinking about doing something similar. I could have written reviews on other vacations I have taken, but they would have just blended in with many of the other typical U.S. vacation destinations and experiences.

July 12, 2018

Talk to My Lawyer…Or My PM?

Filed under: LPM,Management,Project Management,Technology — David J. Kearney @ 10:37 am
Tags: , ,

This article was published in the January/February 2018 edition of Project Manager Today. The article was authored by Carl Pritchard with contributions by David Kearney (me), Steven Levy, and Becky Winston.  Project Management applied to the practice of law…Legal Project Management.

June 29, 2018

Got Complaints?

Filed under: Self Help,Self Improvement — David J. Kearney @ 4:20 pm

In my younger, immature, and youthfully enthusiastic days I have to admit, I complained a lot. I complained about people, places, things, and events.  If someone wasn’t acting like I thought they should, or working as hard as me, or weren’t as “smart” as me I would complain…to anyone that would listen, particularly if it made me feel good or look better to others.  If an event didn’t go the way that I thought is should have or I somehow thought if something was done my way it would have been so, so much better.  If the lines in a store or restaurant were longer than I thought they should be or if service didn’t meet my standards, I would say, “If I was the manager…”

Now I am about to complain about complaining.  As I make my way through my days it appears that people complaining about anything and everything is on the rise, whether it is one group against another group, us against them, or among friends or co-workers.  Complaining seems to have become a game to see who has the best compliant or who can put someone else down the best.  After examining why this has become a pastime, I have to think it is either an insecurity issue or a way to maneuver to appear better then someone or something else.  In the past few years I have listened to others complain like there is no tomorrow and wondered if that was what I sounded like in my past life.  Yep…that was me.  Insecure, young, and perhaps a little over confident…and maybe even just plain mean.  As I have made an effort to get out of that trap, because it is so easy to go along with the crowd and jump into what amounts to be a “bitching session” rather than abstain from participating or just leaving the conversation altogether, I find myself a bit more sympathetic to people, events and situations that are being complained about.

It seems like building someone up or helping them grow in their weaker areas is too much effort and complaining is the easy way out.  I hear comments like “So-and-So is so stupid”, “Why can’t So-and-So be like me”, “How did So-and-So get hired here”, “Why can’t they just do what I said”, and so-on and so-on.  I am sure you have heard these or something very similar.  Maybe you have even uttered one of these phrases.  If you find yourself complaining excessively about an individual, group, or event here are some ways you could actually help:

If an individual, group of people, or event is not living up to your expectations…

  1. Don’t assume that this is somehow a way to make you mad…no one is out to get you.
  2. Find a way to make the situation better. Mentor an individual and give constructive feedback to a group or an event leader.
  3. Realize that not everyone is going to be or can be a workaholic, or be like you, or like the boss, or like those that have been doing a task for years.
  4. Take into account that not everyone is as “smart“ as you are in certain areas and they may never be.
  5. Recognize that others have their own style and ways of doing and understanding and looking at things and just because it isn’t “Your Way” doesn’t necessarily mean that that another way is wrong.
  6. Look at things from other perspectives…not just one, but many and ask yourself maybe this happened or that happened or something is going on behind the curtains that can’t be seen entirely. Give the benefit of the doubt.

Although there are exceptions to this rule, people generally aren’t looking to get one over on you or take advantage of a situation and this isn’t a contest about who is most incompetent.  Sure, there are certain ways certain things need to be done and if that process is not followed, a problem could cascade downstream.  Outside of a strict production environment, there are some allowances for things to be done creatively or differently.

I am certainly not advocating that complaining isn’t warranted at times, but it isn’t needed under all circumstances with everything all of the time.

I have to believe that everyone wants to do his or her best, take pride in what they deliver and in who they are, and get a pat on the back.  Otherwise, I would complain all of the time.

The Complaint Department is now closed.

March 9, 2018

Secrets to Getting Lucky

Filed under: Uncategorized — David J. Kearney @ 8:42 pm

I was hanging out with my kid the other day (he is ten, by the way) and the topic of luck came up. He asked why some people are luckier than others and why he was not “lucky” sometimes. I did not just want to say that luck just happens or that if you wish or hope that you might get lucky…I needed something fatherly, I needed something I could use as an example, I needed to not underestimate the opportunity I had in front of me. At ten he still holds me in high regard (he is not a teenager, yet), so I needed something inspirational and applicable. I quickly reflected on my life and the things I have accomplished, things that have seemingly came out of nowhere, and opportunities that stretched me further than I ever would have thought possible, and quickly realized that the so called luck in my life or things that could be perceived as “lucky” was not just about being in the right place at the right time. It was not about riding coattails. My luck had more to do with my relentless pursuit of learning, a curiosity about countless subjects, a strong work ethic that I was taught as a boy, the ability to do things independently, and having wheels-in-motion around a couple of different things at a time. I told my son stories of what appeared to be luck from opportunities that I was given. I have been engaged to write articles for various publications, asked to be a speaker at a conference, and to contribute to a television show episode. I became interested in writing and actually published a book about a topic I became curious about, I make myself vulnerable in writing songs and making them available on various music sites, and I have started building guitars. I have also achieved a level of success in a profession by taking action and having mentors take an interest in my direction. All of these things came from something. Something always comes from something, so the wheels I had set in motion became “luck” and the wheels I set in motion today may morph into “luck” tomorrow. I explained that it all comes from actually doing something before things actually happened. That something is work. I told Caleb that just plain/dumb luck does happen, but you can’t wait for or expect it to happen. It is the exception and not the rule that sometimes “luck” just happens. I also explained the other side of luck “just happening” and that if he worked hard and multiplied that action in a couple of different areas that he would have a much greater chance at “luck”. Luck does not come from hoping or wishing or being envious or jealous, it comes from taking action and that action morphing into an opportunity. Sometimes that “luck” may be what you expected or something you didn’t see coming, but nonetheless comes from having wheels-in-motion. I continued that hard work doesn’t always pay off, or at least not in the ways that you might expect, but not working seldom, if ever, pays off.

When I thought I was wrapping up this conversation and wondering if what I said may have been sinking into Caleb’s head a repeat episode of VH1’s Behind the Music came on. The band that was featured in this particular episode isn’t all that important for the sake of this teachable moment. He asked me what their story was and I explained their specific story as it played on in the background. I wrapped much of this band’s story into the common theme behind many famous or popular bands/musicians. Most popular bands/musicians have a back-story and had many wheels-in-motion that contributed to their luck and that their success was not found by sitting on their couch hoping they would be discovered. They did things. Those things might have been playing terrible venues and countless dive bars, writing songs for other people, being a backup or studio musician while working a “day job”, and/or joining an established band and creating something new while surviving on ramen noodles. I think I was able to get my point across from my experiences and extrapolate my experiences to those of famous musicians and make Caleb realize that in order to be lucky or have things come his way that he needed to work and find passions and embrace whatever comes from this work.

My final words to Caleb were to not assume that those that looked “lucky” didn’t work for it or didn’t deserve it. I told him that everyone that I knew, either my co-workers or friends outside of work, worked hard and had put in the effort to Get Lucky.

I have had a couple of days now to reflect on the conversation I had with Caleb and it does appear to be true more often than not, that one thing leads to another. If this is true, then many things can lead to many things and what seems like a streak of good luck is typically set in motion by that ‘one thing’. It is almost a given that those that are lucky were open to saying ‘yes’ to something outside of their comfort zone, they always expected more of themselves than anyone else, they embraced vulnerability, and weren’t afraid to go it alone and stick themselves out there. Plant many seeds of luck! …and Get Lucky!

 

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