The Four Day Blitz: Making the Most Of Your Twenties

The Four Day Blitz: How to Make the Most of Your 20s

I would never repeat my early twenties. As valuable and pivotal as they were, the first six years of my twenties were hard. And I know I’m not alone. Being caught in the abyss of older than teenager, but not full fledged adult was challenging, particularly when you add in developing a career. I had limited funds, was making all new-post college friends in a city I never lived in before, and was figuring out dating while being reminded all too often that it was important to get prepared to turn 30. I felt confused, overwhelmed, and, honestly, isolated.

I was  perfectionistic, detail oriented, anxious, performance obsessed, and I didn’t have much of an on or off switch. I would just run fast, hit a wall, crash and repeat. I hadn’tperfected my workflow yet. My friends did the same and so friendships mostly consisted of celebrating a new opportunity with a Forever 21 shopping binge before a night of dancing at Nick’s Sneaky Pete’s.

Working towards excellence gives me great joy. It isn’t even the accomplishment that I derive pleasure from, rather, it’s the process. I know that if I’m not careful, I can over do it. I have therefore adopted what I call the four day blitz, a healthy compromise between hedonistic indulgence and self-tempered control, to make the most of your 20s.

four-day-blitz

The Four Day Blitz: How to Make the Most of Your 20s

1. Write down the things that you know would make your life awesome

For example, going to sleep on time, drinking green juice concoctions of kale, spinach, and chia seeds, meditating for five minutes in the morning, writing in a journal, reading The New York Times to stay up to date on current events, etc.

2. Admit your limits

Once in a while, you won’t be able to accomplish all of your tasks. As much as you try to be excellent every day, sometimes green juice doesn’t seem as appetizing as a tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks. And that’s ok.

3. Choose your blitz

Choose four (or five) consecutive days during the week when you will focus on high performance. In my case, I chose Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On those four days, I’m an unstoppable efficiency machine. I am tapping the TeuxDuex App so fast that my fingers are a blur, my lunches are set up in the fridge in a line as if the lettuce and carrots are working assembly style when the light goes out, a collection of Nature Made packets are lined up next to the pen cup on my desk right next to a tall bottle of Fiji water, each meeting has notes, and I am ready to lead! During these four days, I am free to enjoy the Type A woman’s favorite activity; the pursuit of perfection.

4. Rest

For three days, from Friday morning through Sunday evening. I’m free to do as I please. I feared that these three days would end up with a sink full of dishes and my college sweatpants reappearing. I was wrong. After four days of being so together, I found that I’m protective of my hard work. Although I may go to the movies and have popcorn, sleep in late and watch a marathon of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix, I never actually jeopardize my efforts.

Although I started out the four day blitz to give myself space to get more done, it can actually help you make the most of your 20s. It has also helped me along my journey to be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate with the person who helps me along every day—me.

 

Press Release: Thirty-two Professionals Selected for Inaugural IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector

July 29, 2013

The Research Center for Leadership in Action (RCLA) at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service is pleased to announce the 32 members of the inaugural IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector, a nine-month program enabling them to strengthen their leadership and management skills.

Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, IGNITE offers a diverse group of mid-career women directing nonprofit programs and organizations across the United States exposure to best practices, processes for building personal and organizational leadership, and opportunities to build and strengthen core management capacities.

American Express Foundation President Timothy J. McClimon said, “We are thrilled to support this extraordinary group of women working on critically important social issues who are poised to not only deepen their organizations’ impact, but strengthen the leadership of the sector as a whole.”

The Fellowship begins with a leadership institute in New York City from August 1-6, which includes a welcome reception in the NYU President’s Penthouse, a luncheon with top nonprofit leaders, and robust leadership and management sessions over four days. Over the ensuing nine months, Fellows will participate in peer mentoring and webinars to sharpen their leadership skills with the support of cohort members and Fellowship managers.

RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe said, “These women are advancing justice initiatives in game-changing ways across the nation. We are excited about giving them a chance to reflect, learn and apply best practices, and build a national network they can call on for ideas and support as they undertake ambitious change agendas.”

To learn more about the IGNITE fellowship, please visit: http://bit.ly/17VL9fB

2013 IGNITE Fellows:

Alethea Simon, Vice President of Programs and Policy, Greenhope Services for Women, New York, NY Ayeola Kinlaw, Director and Engagement Manager, Center for Public Research and Leadership, New York, NY Elizabeth Clay Roy, Chief Strategy Officer, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Boston, MA Erica Hamilton, Vice President and Executive Director, City Year, New York, NY Erika Davies, Director of Membership & Development, Association of Black Foundation Executives, New York, NY Gaylon Alcaraz, Executive Director, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago, IL Iliana Estevez, Federal Programs Manager, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute, Washington, DC Imelba Rodriguez, Senior Program Director, Bridge Street Development Corporation, Brooklyn, NY Inez Gonzalez, Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Pasadena, CA Jennise Hall, Director of Finance, Turning Point, Brooklyn, NY Jovian Zayne Irvin, Managing Director for Regional Talent Recruitment and Strategy, Teach For America, New York, NY Joy Messinger, Deputy Director, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Chicago, IL Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy, The Opportunity Agenda, New York, NY Kia Chatmon, Development Officer, National Organization of Concerned Black Men, Washington, DC Krystal Portalatin, Co-Director, FIERCE, New York, NY Margarita Guzman, Program Director, Day One, New York, NY Meredith Freeman, Program Director, Fair Food Network, Ann Arbor, MI Monique Miles, Deputy Director, The Aspen Institute, Washington, DC Nathalie de Los Angeles Hodge, Program Director for the NYCHA Resident Training Academy, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Brooklyn, NY Nicole Oglesby, Project Director, IUPUI Community Learning Network, Indianapolis, IN Pamela Saelieb, Advisory Services Consultant, Taproot Foundation, Los Angeles, CA Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director, Empower DC, Washington, DC Rachelle Olden, National Director for the Roosevelt Institute Pipeline, Roosevelt Institute, New York, NY Ramatu Bangura, Program Director, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Bronx, NY Raquel Lynch, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte, NC Rosita Choy, Director of Operations, National CAPACD, Washington, DC Shreya Malena-Sannon, Program Director, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Brooklyn, NY Simone N. Sneed, Director of Development and External Affairs, Inwood House, New York, NY Sindy Benavides, Director of Civic Engagement and Community Mobilization, League of United Latin American Citizens, Washington, DC Tameeza Alibhai, Policy Manager, AKDN, AKF-Afghanistan, Washington, DC Tiffany McQueen, Director of Educational Programs, LINK Unlimited, Chicago, IL Tonya Davis-Taylor, Program Director, Palladia Inc., New York, NY

NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership in Action conducts breakthrough research on leadership and offers customized leadership development and capacity-building programs. IGNITE is a program of RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network, which aims to strengthen communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color. Learn more atwagner.nyu.edu/leadership.

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow One of American Express' three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social sectors, American Express is making grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 10,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector. The Academy brings together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and nongovernmental organizations.

About American Express American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more atamericanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress. Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

This Press Release is in the following Topics: NYUToday-featureRobert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

Repost: 3 Things to STOP DOING today to transform your non-profit

*This article original appeared on Huffington Post.com

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I've worked in the social impact sector for my entire career. As much as I often believe that I should have gotten an MBA directly out of undergrad, that wasn't the path I ended up taking and over the last 12 years I have observed and learned a tremendous amount about effective management and leadership. At the time the 2012 Non-Profit Almanac was published there were 1,537,465 registered nonprofits in America. With such a wide variety of missions and focus it can be assumed that they vary widely in their degree of excellence and efficiency. That said, no matter if you are working in a new organization and building your first board, or have been around since the turn of the century and are working to ensure your relevancy, in a nonprofit there is always much to be done. And often times, it feels like too much.

If you've worked in a nonprofit in the past or currently work in one, you know that the way you manage your resources (people, goods and time) is a critical determinant of your success. How you prioritize dramatically impacts your fate. For most, the idea of adding more to do is overwhelming, which is why I believe that discontinuing just three things can change absolutely everything.

1. Don't just hire, on-board your staff.

Warren Buffett says to hire for integrity first and foremost hire for integrity, intelligence and energy. If you are able to hire someone who meets this criterion, the first 90 days are critical, not for them, but for your institution. As an employer, the first 90 days of your new employee's time with your company is an opportunity to provide three critical understandings: (1) What is my job? (2) Do I have the tools to do my job? and (3) Does my supervisor care about me? These critical questions explored by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in the game-changing book, First Break All the Rules, can be answered through an on-boarding and orientation program that extends beyond a slide show or single appointment into a program that includes meetings, multi-media materials and review to ensure information is being absorbed.

2. Stop raising money and start making friends.

Money is one of the most taboo subjects that we all must deal with on a daily basis. Asking for money causes most people to shrink in fear and step away. Too often fundraising (or nonprofit business development) is thought of as something that's about money. It's not. It's about relationships. When you learn about raising money for political campaigns, nonprofits or personal projects, one of the first things you learn is that you need to ask all the people you are closest to first. That is not because it's fun, but because people give to people. By focusing on engaging people interested in your work as people, i,e. by telling stories and sharing you work, you invite them to get more involved and to ultimately prompt the question "how can I help?" If you're struggling to raise funds, pause and ask yourself whether you've really developed relationships or just emails in a spreadsheet.

3. Just say no.

Whenever I walk into a nonprofit and see offices covered in paper and cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling, not only am I immediately concerned about its knowledge management systems (or lack thereof), I am also concerned about its level of efficiency. Working smarter, not harder, is a foreign concept to many of us because it's not something that is easy to see. If someone is working until 8:00 p.m. every day, we assume they are working hard when, in fact, they may simply be inefficient. If your organization consistently feels that it's merely churning its wheels, or staff is exhausted, it is time to pause and assess. Before taking on any new initiatives it is valuable to check in on agency capacity and make honest and sometimes challenging decisions. The ability to say "no" can save you from years of exhaustion. Take a moment to assess. Be brave and speak up. Remember, as my father taught me when I was a kid, its quality over quantity that counts.

 Follow Simone N. Sneed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/catchbrilliance

Curating is the new Work/Life Blanace

*Originally posted on Levoleague.com 

In our busy lives we are encouraged to put as much into each moment as possible. With a limited amount of hours in the day it is neither possible nor advisable to do it all. For many of us, that has meant a precious dance with a theory known as work-life balance. It is a preposterous notion that you can balance a 40 hour work week (if you’re lucky) with your family, friends, sleep, food, self care, school, etc. I believe that we need to release work-life balance as a goal and instead focus on work life integration.

The job of a museum curator is to find pieces that, when placed together, tell a story. Ideally the components will work together, each having different value and significance, all coexisting in harmony.

Managing your life by curating it’s content allows for flexibility and the maintenance of the integrity and value of each component of your life. This type of curating allows each of the various sectors of your life to be valued for what it is, not for what it is not. It takes work out of competition with life.

Curating

Interested in shifting your approach? Here are three ways to curate your life.

Be intentional

Taking control of the flow of your life and all that you get from your life is best done intentionally. When you are saying yes to a new commitment (a board position, volunteer opportunity, new job, weight loss goal, etc.), be sure that you have taken a moment to pause and carefully consider your motivation and also develop a clear personal understanding of what you hope to gain from the experience.

Respect each component’s individuality

Work is a valuable component of one’s life. For many of us, our work defines us. Create space for other areas of your life to exists in their own fullness. For example, when you’re on thebike at the gym, do not read work documents on your iPad. In order for your life to work, you must allow each component the chance to be appreciated and enjoyed purely.

Allow for fluidity

The content of your life changes, this is the only constant in all of our lives. You can curate your life best by being flexible. By allowing yourself a sense of nimbleness, don’t be taken off guard by unexpected alterations. If out of the blue your position at work changes, take a moment to consider it’s impact and then shift your collection as necessary.

The most important thing to remember when curating your life is that you always have final say. This is your masterpiece. Be joyful in your ownership.

Repost: How to Become That Girl You Always Wanted to Be

*Originally posted on Levoleague.com

How to Become That Girl You Always Wanted to Be

I moved to New York City in March 2009. As the recession swept across the country, I stepped into what essentially was another world compared to the small suburb I grew up in.

Every day, as I applied for jobs and attempted to network and get interviews I ran across “that girl.” You know, well put together on that 9 a.m. downtown 5 train, green juice in hand, reading the economist on her iPad before heading in for a long day of work at a job she found fulfilling before meeting friends for a class at Soul Cycle or drinks on the roof of the Soho Grand. You know you’ve seen her. And I’ll be honest, I was envious.

In college, my best friend and I would watch The Real World (when it was good) and eat Chips Ahoy and frosting. Fitness and wellness were utterly foreign to me, but when I moved to New York and felt the pangs of envy for a life I didn’t have — it dawned on me. Her life was that way because she chose it. So now, four years later, as a proud 6 a.m.-four-days-a-week-Chelsea-Piers-gym-bunny, I have a few pieces of advice for all of us building the lives we’ve dreamt of for years:

Become Who You Want to Be

Transform Envy to Action

It’s true, jealousy is not a good thing. That said, the root of envy is often a desire for something you don’t have. By paying attention to these moments you can harness a unique opportunity to see a growth opportunity for yourself. If there’s someone you know whose career you’re jealous of, ask yourself what is it that they have that you’d like. Is it the salary, the title, what they get to do each day? Then, begin mapping out how you could make those things happen in your own life.

Modify, Modify, Modify

Yoga instructors often advise students to modify positions and focus on making the pose meaningful to you. “It’s your practice” is a phrase that is used in many classes. The same is true in life, if you’re goal is to be “perfect” you’ve missed the mark because our perfection is in our humanity. If your goal is a daily early morning work out and then you take a job that requires you to be at your desk at 8 a.m., modify the goal and focus on doing what you can, when you can, and how you can instead.

Celebrate

One of the things about adulthood that caught me off guard was the decrease in special events. Without a graduation looming, I realized that celebrations outside of birthdays and holidays required a bit more initiative and felt in some ways even more important. As you create the life you dream of, be sure to take the time to enjoy it. It can be easy to be so focused on looking ahead that you forget to look around and realize how far you’ve come.

What are your methods for self-actualization in your relationships, fitness, career, and lifestyle?

Repost: Want to Thrive? Make Fewer Decisions

*Originally posted on Levoleague.com

Want to Thrive? Make Fewer Decisions

It was nearly 2 p.m. and I was sitting at my desk staring blankly at three lunch menus. My eyes were endlessly roving between the glossy pages and my brain was unable to decide between my standard kale salad, vegetarian pad thai, or the new vegan place. As I continued to decompensate, I realized something was off — how was I so out of mental energy that I could barely make simple decision like what to have for lunch?

After a busy day of early morning meetings, answering emails, checking Facebook, updating my LinkedIn, and beginning to think through a board presentation I hadn’t merely run out of steam, I had run out of capacity to make a decision.

In the customized age we are making more decisions than ever, this day in age the average American adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions a day. No wonder we all feel exhausted. Everything from what to wear to work, which train to take the office, to what printer to send your documents. And in a 24-hour period of time, there is a limit.

Numerous studies have shown that using up your mental bandwidth for small decisions negatively impacts your capacity to make larger, more complex, and ultimately more impactful decisions. At work, this can compromise our ability to become an innovative and valuable leader and colleague.

The trick? Make fewer decisions.

Our own POTUS Barack Obama is well-known for routinizing the routine. He says, “I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Make Fewer Decisions

Want to simplify your life today? Here are three simple steps to get on the path to fewer decisions.

1. Almonds in a snack bag are you new friend. As much as commercials try to tell us that most of us are waking up and calmly eating Greek yogurt in a terry cloth robe before work starts, I know that this is not true for the majority of us. That said, keeping a desk drawer full of oatmeal, sandwich bags of almonds, fresh fruit, granola bars, tea bags, etc. helps answer the question of what to have for breakfast or snack. Go buy yourself a reusable snack bag and start your decision making off the right way for the day.

2. All black everything. Or the true story of how I stopped getting lost in my purse. Have you ever needed to find a business card or your lipgloss only to spend 15 minutes searching the bottom of your purse and only coming up with a handful of crumbs, loose change, and a golf pencil with an indeterminate origin? Well, take back your sanity by taking my advice. Last year I made a switch to a single black purse that contains five all black items (makeup bag, iPhone, iPad, moleskin, and business card holder). Try it, trust me, this step alone will change your life.

3. Purchase a mannequin. Ok, please don’t really do this, unless you are a costume designer or have a kitschy vintage home theme, because I doubt this would work well for your social life. That said, taking the time to lay your clothes out the night before is an easy way to save your early morning decisions for something more valuable, like negotiating a raise or facilitating a meeting.

How the 'Me, Me, Me' Generation Has Freed Purpose

millennialsI promise this blog is not another stinging critique of Joel Stein's recent Time magazine article decrying the millennial generation (again). In fact, this article expands rather than constricts the dialogue and brings every generation into the picture.

First and foremost, I am a millennial. Despite my peers claiming themselves as '80s babies, I won't lie to you -- my earliest memories situate me firmly in the 1990s. My mental map begins with Bill Clinton, wanders through Nick at Night, and ultimately lands me with a post-college career that began in the mid-2000s.

That said, as a millennial, I'd like to start with a thank you to Joel Stein and to his generation and to my parent's generation and to my grandparent's generation. In fact, I'll extend my gratitude to all the generations that came before us and to all of the authors of the parenting books of the late 1980s and 1990s. Thank you for instilling in us a sense of inherent self-worth and purpose. Because of your willingness to love us differently, you did something radical and created a generation of individuals who are not merely dreamers. We are doers, and in many ways, you have allowed us to become pioneers, and therefore it is inevitable that we are misunderstood.

In many of the recent articles on millennials, there is a critical narrative that has emerged and has lead to what I believe is the beginning of a cultural zeitgeist, and that narrative is about purpose.

While it's true that the recession has lead many of my peers to experience a "delayed adulthood" during which we seem to not be accomplishing many of the storybook tenants of the American dream, we are making more gains than any previous generation on a much more critical underpinning of the American dream.

The pursuit of happiness.

We've been raised and encouraged (both explicitly and tacitly) to ask for something morefrom our lives and all of it's components. As fewer people are aligned with a specific religious affiliation, we see the search for purpose evolving in new directions.

And leading that charge are millennials, who are seeking purpose and attempting to redefine success, as Arianna Huffington recently suggested, by aligning their passions with their day-to-day existence.

I've seen the theme emerging not only in dinner parties and late night storytelling sessions with friends, but in various sectors beginning with the vast world of social entrepreneurship. Take, for example, the work of Echoing Green's Work on Purpose program. Echoing Green's program provides a variety of opportunities for people of diverse generations coming from a multitude of sectors to engage in the reflection necessary to clarify their purpose and then translate it into a career with impact.

At a time when our society is in total tilt, the emergence of a paradigm shift centered around joyfulness is a phenomenon that we should be paying serious attention to. This isn't just a hippie ideology reincarnated in millennial "entitlement." Joy is an economic force that makes sense. Innovative companies are expanding their definition of profit and are making tangible investments and partnering with groups such as the Kantian Group, a consulting firm established by millennial co-founders Alexandra Douwes and Nellie Morris to helpintegrate purpose in their work because all signs suggest that purpose is the future.

A brighter future is something that we all are hoping for. Studies show that there is a correlation between purpose, well-being, and happiness, and I would venture to say that that we haven't yet maximized our potential as a society, in large part due to the lack of meaning (and subsequent engagement) in many of our lives. This isn't simply an assumption: According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, Americans had reached all-time happiness low. But I think we millennials are on to something.

Purpose is not a millennial desire. It is a human need. And rather than ask "who will save us all," maybe there's an opportunity for us all to save ourselves and make a life of purpose, meaning and fulfillment the new status quo.