Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: Jason Tom, Hawai's Human Beatbox

The past few weeks, I've been highlighting TED Talks that focus on inspiration and potential. This week, I'm sticking to the theme, but deviating the delivery method slightly to show you one of my favorite performances from TEDxHonolulu that happened earlier this month (see my previous post for a recap).

Meet Jason Tom, Hawaii's Human Beatbox.  He is not only a ridiculously talented beatboxer, get this - he started a beatbox school, that teaches vocal percussion AND does outreach with youth and the community.  Seriously rad.

Check out his performance here:
Couple things- I was at this performance (you can see the silhouette of my head and legs once in a while on screen- front row on the right) and I have to say that while the video is pretty amazing, if you ever get the chance to catch him live, it is SO MUCH BETTER!

Second, the reason his performance keeps with the theme of potential and inspiration is that I don't think I can think of a better example of stretching the limits of potential than what Jason can do with his voice.  The sounds that he creates from his body are seriously incredible.  Beyond that, what he has done with his talent is truly inspiring. His performance at TEDxHonolulu was one of the ones that inspired me to start this blog.

If you want to see more of Jason, check out his blog or his YouTube Channel.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Motivation Monday: What We All Want in Life is a Shot

Happy Monday, everyone!  Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and were able to enjoy time with your friends and family.

For this Motivation Monday, here's one of my favorite clips of all time.  It's the story of Jason McElway, Autistic Senior at Grace Athena High School in Rochester, NY.  His coach put him in the last game of the year, and what happens in those four minutes is pure magic and ridiculously inspiring.

"What we all want in life is a shot."

Friday, November 25, 2011

10 Gifts You Don't Have to Buy

I want to start by saying that I am a shopper.  I definitely spend my fair share of time at the mall and shopping online.  I have also gotten up at the crack of dawn to go Black Friday shopping.  So this post is not a judgment on shoppers in any way.  But all day today, I have been shocked and saddened watching the footage of all the Black Friday madness that has happened.

Here are a couple examples of the 2011 Black Friday insanity:

In LA, a woman maced other shoppers including children to give herself an advantage to get an XBox 360 on sale.

In Arizona, a grandfather was knocked out and rendered unconscious by the police who thought he was shoplifting.  He reportedly put a video game in his belt to free his hands to protect his grandson from the crowds.
These incidents make me believe that we have seriously gone too far.

Black Friday is the kickoff to the Christmas season, the season for giving. Sadly, this has digressed into the season of buying.  And not just buying, but competitive, violent buying.  I think we've lost the whole idea of what this season is about.

All of this has made me re-think Christmas giving.  It's not that we need to get rid of Christmas shopping altogether, I think we just need alternatives to feeling so obligated to buy so much for everyone.  So I came up with this list of:

10 Gifts You Can Give That You Don't Have to Buy
(or you don't have to spend that much on)

10.  Get together and do something fun.  When I think back and try to remember Christmas gifts through the years, I often draw a blank.  But what I do remember and cherish the most is the memories of time spent together with my family and friends.  You can get together for dinner, go to a play, do a crazy outing together, or just even get together at home with a bottle of wine.

9.  Sponsor a family in need.  This is the second year we've sponsored families through a program called The Lokahi Giving Project that helps struggling families in Hawaii.  There are hundreds of programs throughout the country that can help connect you with similar families.

8.  Make presents for others.  You don't have to have creative skills or any specific talent.  Just make something- make a beautiful card for someone, write a meaningful poem, create crafts, sew a shopping bag.  Trust me, whatever you can do will be cherished.

7.  Do a gift swap.  Each person brings something that means something to them and do a swap!  It doesn't cost anything, there's always a great story behind each item brought, and you can feel satisfied that the item will go to a good home.

6.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter together.  Or some other charitable organization.  Especially during the holidays, there are so many people in need.  It is good for the soul to give to those who need it the most.

5.  Give coupons of service.  Coupons for free babysitting for a busy, overworked mom or dad; a car wash and a tank of gas for a cash-strapped young adult; or an afternoon of help with someone's computer-  all can be so much more appreciated than anything you could buy.

4.  Bake goods to give people.  Seriously, who doesn't love brownies or cookies?  And I swear, I can taste when something is made with love.

3.  Make gifts-in-a-jar.  Another low-cost idea for gifts is to create baking mixes, soup mixes or bath salts in mason jars.  Here's a great site that shows you how to create them.

2.  Make scrapbooks/photo books.  When I do that thing where I think of the things I would grab if my house was on fire, I always think of my photos.  What a better gift to give than a photo book or scrapbook of old photos?  Photo book software has gotten super user-friendly and photo books are now super easy to make.  I love iPhoto's photo books, and I've also had great results with My Publisher and Blurb.  You can also go old-school and make the kind with real photos too!

1.  Spend TIME with those people you love.  This is the #1 thing you can do this Christmas for those you love.  It really doesn't matter what you do, just spend time together making memories.  If you're far away, pick up the phone or Skype them.  Time and attention are really what people truly want.

Finally, Leo Baubata writes the blog, Zen Habits.  He recently wrote a post titled, "The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents," which is an incredibly good read that I highly recommend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I made the turkey this year!

Haha, if you know me and my cooking skills, you'll know that is a completely laughable statement.
I did, however, make a Cantaloupe Turkey!  Thanks to inspiration from Disney Family Fun, we made this AWESOME turkey of fruit:
One of these days, I'll work up to the real thing.  Baby steps!

I love Thanksgiving.  It's like a break in our hectic lives where we can just stop for a moment and appreciate the things in our lives that we so often take for granted.

Here are some of the things I'm thankful for (in no particular order):

My family and friends.
My sister is visiting us for this Thanksgiving.  Yay!
Having a body that allows me to jump, take crazy adventures, and take me wherever my heart desires.

Having an amazing husband that is truly my best friend.  Despite the fact that we drive each other bonkers some time, I can't imagine going through this awesome adventure of life with anyone but him.
Plus, he makes an awesome Fat Elvis!
Living on a magical island that has an overabundance of gorgeous rainbows.
Photo by Kengo Ueno
To have a job that highlights my strengths, where I work with with people that are not only truly talented and great people, but are also lots of FUN! 
This are my coworkers.  Seriously.  Aren't they rad?
Live in a country where I am truly free.  Where the right to voice my opinion is not only protected, but encouraged.

My awesome dogs.
Moxie and Rocco
TED Talks.  And being able to go to one LIVE this year!.

I am constantly how much it has increased our possibilities & enhanced our lives.

Finally, I am so grateful for all of you who are reading this blog.  I've wanted to start writing again, and this blog has been such a great way to get back into it.  Thank you all for checking it out and for all the great feedback.  A special thanks to Donnie for the inspiration.


Last thing, I stumbled on this great website, Epic Thanks that is "a world-changing photoblog of global gratitude."  They ask you to post a image of something you're grateful for.  Scrolling though it is both humbling and inspiring.  I'm posting on there, and I encourage you to do too.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday- The Surprising Science of Motivation

In this Tuesday's TED talk, Daniel Pink, author of best selling book, Drive, challenges the traditional idea that we are motivated by external rewards.
He clarifies that extrinsic rewards actually work quite well for simple tasks where there is a clear set of rules and a single set of solutions. However, science has proven that for more complex, conceptual problem-solving, larger rewards actually lead to poorer performance.

So what does motivate us for non-mechanical tasks?  
Daniel simply and elegantly boils it down to three things:

  1. Autonomy- the urge to direct our own lives.
  2. Mastery- the desire to get better and better at something that matters.
  3. Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
As a salesperson who has chased bonuses, commissions and reward trips for over a decade, this was a pretty tough idea for me to believe.  But as I thought about it, I realized it was never the money or rewards that really drove me (although they were definitely a nice perk), it was always something else.  Something internal.

You see, my parents kicked me out of my house when I was 16 years old.  I needed to find a way to pay for college, and I quickly realized that making $6/hour as a cashier at Target would never cut it.  So when I found a sales opportunity selling Cutco knives, of all things, I jumped all over it.  Now the whole Cutco experience is probably an entire future blog post in and of itself, but what it gave me was the chance to start controlling my destiny. Unlimited sales income meant the harder and smarter I worked, the more I could make.  

But it wasn't about the money.  It was what the money meant to me at that time.  It meant I could pay for college myself.  It meant I could move out of friends' houses and into my own place. It meant I could prove to my parents and more importantly to myself, that I could make it.

That internal motivation still drives me today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Motivation Monday- Never Give Up

Today's Motivation Monday is the story of world-class sprinter, Derek Redmond, and his 400 meter race in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Derek had prepared for this moment his entire life.  He was favored to win the event.  He took an early lead in the race, and then the unexpected happened.  What he did in the face of disappointment was courageous and truly inspiring.
Here's what I love about this video: first, Derek's unyielding commitment to finish what he had set out to do in the face of ultimate disappointment.

How many times do we suffer setbacks or failures and just quit?  I think of all the times something far more minor has not gone my way - not getting the promotion I really wanted, having my ideas shot down, or having my heart broken, and how instead of finishing the race, I just walked off the field.  I can't even imagine the devastation he must have felt in that moment when he realized his dreams were dashed, but he had the courage to finish.

It's not about what happens, but how we deal with it. 

I truly believe it was the single decision to finish the race that paved the way for him to look back on this moment and see the positive (not to mention pave the way for his successful public speaking career), compared with a world of regret and despair that might have happened if he didn't.

Second, his dad running onto the field to help his son was immensely powerful.  He was literally a shoulder for his son to lean on.  We all sometimes need that person that will break through security to help us, even if we aren't asking for help.  I am a fiercely independent person and I generally fight to do everything on my own.  I am learning that it is not only important to cultivate and nurture relationships with people in my life that will be there for me in tough times, but also to be that shoulder to lean on.

How do you deal when things don't go your way?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ferris Wheel Friday

Photo of the Day
Something about this photo just makes me so happy.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Secret to Surviving Conference Calls (and Other Forms of Corporate Torture)

This morning was a doozy!

First of all, I woke up before 5 a.m.
I need to point out that I am not a morning person.
I am the opposite of a morning person.
The only way 4 a.m. and I get along is if I'm seeing it at the end of a fun night.
Not the beginning of a new day.
I got up this early because I had to fly to Hilo for work, which I do every week.
However, I had to get on an even earlier flight than normal because I had a mandatory conference call.
And, because I live in Hawaii, these calls are ridonkulously early for me.

So, here I am, in Hilo.  Bleary eyed.  Super early in the morning.  
Sitting in my rental car.  In the rental car parking lot.
On conference call #3 out of 4 this week.
NOT a happy camper.  NOT even really awake.  All in all, pretty miserable.
(Did I mention I hadn't had coffee yet?)

About an hour into the call, it dawned on me.
I can be on this call... ANYWHERE!  I don't have to sit in this crappy parking lot.
So I drove, to the most beautiful place I knew in Hilo.
And I got out of my car, parked my butt on the rock wall, and listened to my conference call while gazing at this:
And suddenly, it was all good.

It was only then that I noticed what a gorgeous day it was.
The sun was shining in Hilo, where it's usually overcast and rainy.
The waterfall was stunning.  Like take-your-breath stunning.
The sunlight hit it in a way that there were multiple rainbows shooting off the mist.
It was magical.

I started to walk around and noticed brilliant flowers like these:
which are everywhere in Hawaii, but today I really noticed them.
And in that moment, while my conference call continued, I realized something.
If you're miserable, change your situation.
Now, I know when I hear stuff like that, I imagine BIG changes.  Like quitting your job and traveling around the world for 4 years kinda-big.  But what I realized today is that changing your situation doesn't have to always be that dramatic.  Just a simple thing like changing your scenery, or seeking something beautiful, can make a impactful change on your perception.

I'm positive some of you are saying, "Easy for you to say, you live in Hawaii and have beautiful things like waterfalls and tropical flowers all around you."  And I completely admit, Hawaii is insanely gorgeous.  But even with magical things all around you, if you're not open to them, you can go through your entire day, your entire life even, without experiencing them.  There is beauty everywhere.  You just have to look for it.  If all else fails, you can alway go to that happy place in your head.

By the way, where was this gorgeous place?
Rainbow Falls.  If you're ever in Hilo, I highly recommend it.  
Especially if you're stuck on a conference call.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: Start With Why

Can you think of a person who had every possible advantage:  looks, education, money, upbringing; and yet, ended up a failure?

On the flip side, can you think of someone who, despite every obstacle, every disadvantage, achieved monumental things that defied expectation?

What is it that all the great leaders of the world have in common?
And how can we apply these principles?

Simon Sinek tackles these questions in one of my favorite TED talks of all time.

My takeaway from this TED Talk- if you want people to follow you, don't tell them WHAT, show them WHY.

TED Talk Tuesday

Monday, November 14, 2011

Motivation Monday- Every Monday Matters

Simple Truths is an online store that makes gorgeous, inspiring books that can be read in under 30 minutes.  They also produce really great motivational videos that you can view on their site for FREE!

They also have an iPhone app that you can get here.

They're perfect for staff meetings, or anytime you want a quick burst of inspiration.

So in honor of Monday, here's the Simple Truths video, Every Monday Matters.

How are you making this Monday matter?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happiness, Kona Edition

I'm writing from one of the most magical and majestic places in the world, the Kohala Coast.  I was super lucky to be able to escape the carmageddon of APEC on Oahu for the past couple days and get to work and do a little play on the Big Island.

Talk about happiness.

This morning, I was walking through the Hilton Waikoloa and saw the coolest thing - the glass table in the foyer was acting as a prism and broke the morning sunlight into the most amazing rainbow!  It was like the Northern Lights, all shimmery and beautiful.

That rainbow inspired me to go on a photo safari through Kona and find vibrant-ly colored gorgeous little pieces of Hawaii.  Here's what I saw on my rainbow day today.

What gorgeous things have you seen today?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Makes Me Happy

Continuing with the Happiness theme of the week, I decided to make a list of all the things that truly make me happy.

My fabulous and hilarious French Bulldogs, Rocco and Moxie.
 Especially when they're dressed up in ridiculous costumes.

My husband, and his impeccable taste in clothes (and women) ;)
Gorgeous sunsets.
Hawaii's overabundance of crazyamazing rainbows.
My family and friends. 
Jumping pictures.

 And of course, CUPCAKES!  

What makes you happy?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happiness is Like a Butterfly

Continuing with the Happiness theme from yesterday's TED Talk post, here's the inspirational quote of the day.

Just for today, stop chasing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday- The Secret to Happiness

Have you met my friend, TED?

If you haven't, I think you should go to the site immediately and check it out.
Like now.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and it all started as a super rad, invitation-only conference that brought together pioneers, visionaries and experts in those three fields to share their ideas in 18 minutes or less.  

The amazing thing is, a few years ago they started airing the videos online.
They even have an app, so you can watch them on your phone.

I just love TED Talks.
I truly believe that watching one TED talk a day is arguably a better education than many formalized educational programs.

So in honor of my deep admiration and overall giddiness for all things TED, I've decided to make Tuesdays "TED Talk Tuesday," where I could share my absolute favorites with you.

Today's talk is by Harvard Professor, Dan Gilbert, who also wrote the best selling book, Stumbling on Happiness, which I highly recommend.  

What is the secret to happiness?  Dan presents research that challenges the idea that happiness comes from getting what we want, and shows us that happiness is actually something we create, even when things don't go as planned.

What do you think?  Do you think that happiness is created?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Motivation Monday- I am a Champion

Today is Motivation Monday!

This video is one of my all-time favorite pre-game, pre-interview, pre-whatever motivational speeches.

Hope it helps kick-start your Monday morning.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Most Epic Photo Ever Taken

Are you on Quora?  
Quora is sorta like Google on steroids.
You ask a question, and get insightful, mostly intelligent replies.
I'm kinda hooked.

One of the Quora questions I've been following is 
I initially thought there would just be a collection of gorgeous landscape photos.
National Geographic-ish.
Ansel Adams-ish.
But the results have been stunning.
And disturbing.
And awe-inspiring.
And shocking.
And some have made me downright cry.

Here are some of the ones that stand out to me:
Tiananmen Square, China, 1989
A lone man standing in brave defiance to "the man."

My sister and I traveled to China in 2009 and were in Tiananmen Square during the 20th Anniversary of the massacre.  It was the eeriest thing to be there with hundreds of teenage soldiers gripping machine guns every few feet.   It was even eerier to hear our tour guide tell us there was "no such thing as the Tiananmen Square Massacre" and that it was "propaganda constructed by Hollywood."
This photo reminds me of just how misguided her statement was.

National Geographic Photo of a 45' Whale Encountering a Person (Auckland Islands)
This photograph is simply stunning.

A sunrise in Norway reflected in a bubble.
I love the simplicity and the lightness of this photo.

Sudan famine, 1993  
An infant girl slowly crawls to a food distribution center.  
A vulture lurks close by, waiting for her to die.

This photo is one of the most painful photos to look at.  It highlights something that our privilege of life in America never allows us to comprehend.  Forbes blogger, Mark Hughes submitted this photograph and wrote, "This image explains something very basic and true about our world, and something we are very reluctant to admit: in order for some of us to have more food than we need, children have to starve to death and animals have to eat them. We purchase our excess with those children's lives. And this photo captured this truth purely and literally for us all to see."

Hughes continues, "The photographer, Kevin Carter, chased the bird away and then sat sobbing uncontrollably after taking the photo. In April of 1994, Carter was informed he'd be winning the Pulitzer Prize for the photo, and he was presented with the prize on May 23rd of that year. Two months later, he killed himself out of grief and desperation over all of the things he'd seen and his depression at the things humanity does to one another."

The best photography to me has a way of capturing the essence of our humanity.

What do you think is the most epic photo ever taken?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TEDxHonolulu - It's About Time

The first time I saw a TED Talk online, I was completely hooked!  This was back when the talks first started and required an uber-exclusive invitation.  Since then, I've watched hundreds of TED talks online and have been dying to attend a live event.  
Today, on the rather auspicious date of 11-1-11, I finally got to go.  TEDx Honolulu totally ROCKED!  It was a collection of over 30 of the most creative, inspiring and interesting talks from a crazy diverse group of people in Hawaii.  The talks ranged from filmmaker, Edgy Lee comparing culture to jams and jellies, to a band of 7 guys playing only their iPads; from Cardiologist Dr. Robert Hong presenting on problem solving, to Sig and Kuha'o Zane reflecting on their prints and hula; from Hawaii's human beat boxer, Jason Tom, to Michael Wall's transforming the entire room into a symphony playing plastic tubes.

The talks were all pretty great, but if I had to pick three favorites, the first would be the talk by Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona.  How rad are these guys?  They are crazy (in the best possible way) teachers that put history lessons to music and create music videos for their students like this one:
First of all, mad props for Amy's impressive collection of wigs and costumes (you know how I hold wigs and costumes near and dear to my heart ), and second, Lady Gaga?  I adore Gaga.  Amy and Herb make me want to go back to high school and learn History all over again. 

Another one of my favorite talks/performances was by Jake Shimabukuro. Despite the fact that he's the spokesperson for Farmer's Insurance, and my household doesn't exactly support Farmer's (go State Farm!), I loveloveloved Jake's performance.  He played his version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and it brought tears to my eyes.  

Here's a recording of that song from a few years ago:
One of the best things about TED is how intimate it was.  There were only 100 attendees allowed, and I got to sit just a couple feet away from the speakers.  Look how close I was to Jake's performance:

My absolute favorite talk of the conference was Kealoha, nuclear physicist from MIT turned Slam Poetry legend.  I have always heard about Kealoha, but never heard him perform.  His performance BLEW MY MIND.  It inspired me and fired me up to take on the world like Russell Crowe inspired his troops in Braveheart (although most of those soldiers died, so maybe that's not exactly the best analogy, but you get what I mean).
TEDx Honolulu was one of the hands-down best events I've been to on the islands.  I walked away elated, inspired and beyond grateful to be a part of it.  I've decided that  my goal is to do something so amazing that one day I get invited to speak at one of these events.

If you were asked to do a talk for, what would you speak about?