Monthly Archives: February 2015

Walker Stalker Con San Francisco @WalkrStalkrCon @jasonandkaren #TWD #WSCSF

If you have been following this blog since the beginning, you all know that I am a fan of “The Walking Dead.” That fandom includes being both an avid podcast listener and occasional free agent podcaster. I have friends who have taken their super fan status and parlayed it into phenomenon known as “Walker Stalker Con” and it happens in seven different cities per year. They throw these incredible fan experiences that include celebrity panel discussions, cosplay contests, unique and specialized vendor, photo ops and special surprises. In their own words, “Walker Stalker Con is not just a convention. It is a fan meet-up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and became part of a greater community of zombie lovers! Walker Stalker Con is two or three days of events, panels, and experiences that zombie fans won’t find anywhere else!” These cons have expanded to include celebrities from television shows such as “Breaking Bad”, “Lost,” movies like “Gremlins”, Freddy Krueger flicks, and many “… of the Deads.” Aside from meeting my boyfriend at the inaugural Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2013, I have also made new connections and friendships to a ton of incredibly creative, funny and talented people.

WSC SF was the first one held on the West Coast and although I am an Island Girl, I am also a Bay Area baby. The con schedule also coincided with my daughter’s birthday, so it we made plans to go. She could hardly contain her excitement at meeting celebrities, actors and podcasters alike. We’ve been to SDCC twice so far but WSC is so intimate compared to the beast that is SDCC, I knew this would be an incredible experience for her. My friends who host ““The Walking Dead’Cast” are based out of SF so they had planned a live podcast recording and meet-up for Friday evening. And, to top it all off, Jason offered me the opportunity to host a couple of panels. Time to get my Black Milk con gear picked out. Chee-pono!

(I bought the Zombie Nation Skater dress specifically for WSC ATL 2013 and I love it. That purchase led me to a Sharkie addition to their leggings, shooters and dresses.)

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Fri night, the “Bob-B-Q”  and ive podcast with Jason and Karen of “The Walking Dead’Cast” (Follow @jasonandkaren on the tweets.)

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When we arrived, we were excited about the con and pretended to be afraid of walkers!

Jason and Karen hosted a live podcast, along with Mr. Blahg, and part of the set decor was a callback to our groups’ arrival at Terminus.

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(That photo was from May 2014, before they had come back to start shooting.)

The character Gareth had a “truth trough” that he used to sort out whether those who arrived would survive. If newcomers accepted the cannibal lifestyle, they would live. If not, smack went their heads and slit went their throats. Jason decided it would be fun (fun?) to have a trough on stage during his live podcast and ask contestants from the audience to answer trivia question. Failure was not an option. Here are the girls dressing the set piece.

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The live podcast was a lot of fun, with special guest Melissa Hutchinson and Gavin Hammond, two VO actors from Tell Tale Games “The Walking Dead.” That game is extremely story driven and it was my crack for a few weeks. I found myself swept up emotionally to the point where I cried at the end of Season One. No. I sobbed. Melissa and Gavin have such a close working relationship that their panel felt more like having drinks during Happy Hour with friends. They provided insight into the game and shared a little bit about being a VO actor. My favorite part of the panel was when they tried to switch roles and Melissa played Kenny (who swears a lot) and Gavin played Clementine, the pre-tween girl in the game. Honestly, I’m not sure who had more fun with the live podcast panel, the folks on stage or those of us in the audience.

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And it turned out that J&K had a surprise up their sleeves to celebrate the birthdays of Mr. Blahg and my daughter. Quite a special birthday for my daughter, right? And the con had not even begun.

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Day One of the con, we arrived during the VIP opening hours to see the vendor hall before the general admission masses descended. We ran into James (of James and Eric, the godfathers of the Walker Stalkers Podcast and convention.) Yup, James is one of the OG Walker Stalkers who founded WSC. I got my hug, we said our hellos and before he zipped off, James looked at his watch and said, “The next two hours will make or break the success of today, how things flow and how the crowds move, this is it…” WSC SF was a success and they announced that they will be back in 2016!

In my own mind, I was excited to be moderating my first WSC panel. In my day job, I host meetings, lead education courses, moderate panels and speak at conferences but I hadn’t ever led a panel at a con. My assignment for Day One was the Cosplay Contest. Whoop whoop! Talk about a fun way to jump into panels and to end the first day of the con. The lead person for all things WSC Cosplay is Hacksaw Jack and we had been corresponding via email. We met for the first time and Hacksaw was setting up for the Social Media Cosplay contest. What a great way to include fans who couldn’t make it to the con in person! Contestants just snapped a pic in front of the backdrop, con staff uploaded the pics with a specific hashtag and fans would be able to participate through on-line voting. Super fun!

This is a candid pic of me meeting Hacksaw Jack, taken by Eugene Shim, one of our live panel Cosplay judges, and Vanessa Shim is in the photo making her cosplay debut as “Rosita”. She looked awesome!

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My daughter and I had a great time in the vendor hall. She enjoys talking to artists, something I discovered about her during SDCC. This year, I’m going pack a lunch while she chats up the comic book artists. And of course, we took a few photos in the hall. One with Michonne’s pets, one with the Well Walker and one with Melissa Hutchinson.

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You’ll have to check the Walker Stalker Con website to see the full Cosplay contest, the official photographers grabbed some incredible images. We had a team entry who were dressed up as a mash-up between the Muppets and The Walking Dead. There was a duo of damsels dressed as walker Disney Princesses. A Dr. Who entrant, video game Cosplay, and of course dozens of walkers and stalkers crossed the stage. My friend in Cincinnati found this photo on social media someplace, not sure who took it.

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No con is complete without an official celebrity photo op and my daughter chose to take hers with none other than Chandler Riggs. She floated back to the hotel with me and her smile lit up the San Francisco night sky. She kept saying that she was having the very best birthday ever. I’m grateful to Jason & Karen, Mr. Blahg, James and all of the WSC core staff and volunteers for being so welcoming to my daughter. Just look at that smile:

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That was most of Day One of Walker Stalker Con San Francisco. More to come…

Josh Chang in Concert #hula #HawaiianMusic

I’m excited about performing tomorrow at Josh Chang’s second CD launch party. We will be wearing pretty dresses and real tuberose lei 🙂 There will be incredibly talented guest musicians coming in from Hawai’i. And if you can’t make the show, you can buy a CD!

http://www.joshchangmusic.com

Support Hawaiian music. Support independent artists. Please.

Mahalo nui loa!

Lunar New Year 2015

Lunar New Year marks the one year anniversary of the DiversityNerd blog and I have about 50 posts on this site. Considering I committed to posting once a week, I didn’t do too badly in reaching that goal. The last two paragraphs of my first post read as follows, written about the Year of the Horse:

 

On New Year’s Day, look forward, not backward, as this is not a time to even talk about the past.  Keep positive thoughts in your mind about the future.  This year, give love.  Remember karma?  Well, the Horse can be impulsive, “act now and think later”.  Be sure to radiate positive energy so impulsive actions won’t bite you in the ass.  Don’t be a douche, be good to others, give more than you take and do it all with love.

If you’ve read this far, mahalo nui loa/salamat po (thank you very much) for hanging in with me, I really appreciate it.  There will always be a message about Diversity and Inclusion in this blog, as my career is truly a part of who I am.  In addition, I will continue to nerd out over important things like “Star Wars”, “The Walking Dead”, “Downton Abbey”, “Scandal”, “24” (can’t wait for the re-boot) and “Elementary”.  My daughter turns 16 this month and her high school experience an endless source of material to write about.  I’m waiting for the ink to dry on my divorce papers so a story or two about me dating is a definite possibility in 2014.  And, I stay active with fun things like paddling outrigger canoes, dancing hula, wogging half marathons and occasionally kicking and punching at the dojo.  On some days, this blog will be a mindless string of run-on thoughts and other days, I will say something profound and prolific.  The only thing I can promise is that it will be my truth, the truth of Jennifer “Jae” Pi’ilani, a DiversityNerd.

It is sort of crazy how much my life has changed in just one year. As the ink continued to dry on divorce papers, the spark of a new friendship with a man who lives 2,000 miles away ignited to a long distance romance which is now a stable, loving and committed relationship. I am not sorry about not having blog posts about Tinder swipes or bar hopping or booty shaking at the club as I re-entered the life of a single woman on the dating scene. When I least expected to find a friendship on fire, this man walked into my life back in 2013. What started with an innocent night of talking and laughing about nerdy stuff led to a new beginning for both of us. Since then, only two days have passed where we haven’t communicated in some form or fashion. I am more connected to him than anyone else I have ever date, including the man I married.

Work continues to undergo chaos and change as we work to transition all four HQ locations to Texas. People are leaving the company for new opportunities every day and that is a new experience for most of us. I feel a weight on my shoulders to help the company be successful in this move. I also feel a responsibility to ensure that the new work environment continues to live the values that we have all grown accustom to in our current affiliates but evolves to include new cultural priorities. Business as usual won’t cut it in the future.

My return to the dojo has filled my life with new goals around martial arts. I want to train and become the badass black belt that Sensei Richard always wanted me to be. Not because rank is important to me but because it proves that I have accomplished the first stage of obtaining knowledge to pass along to students. I want to teach new students, especially young people, that the basics are everything. We need a foundation of basics to build our self-esteem and to understand how discipline on the dojo floor creates an avenue for success in all aspects of one’s lives. And the dojo is more than a room to sweat in three times per week, a dojo is safe environment in which to learn and where you can make mistakes in the spirit of continuous improvement.

And I am so grateful that my daughter is happy and healthy and still loves school. We have a special relationship because it has just been the two of us for so long. I see her developing her independence and it makes me proud. But I also see her struggle with the usual teenager drama and I wince when I remember how hard it is to be in high school. All I can do is to try to give her space to be a kid and to make mistakes and to know that I will always have her back.

I looked up what we have to look forward to in the Year of the Wooden Sheep and found this at: http://www.2015chinesehoroscope.net/

“2015 is the year of the wooden sheep (or year of the wooden goat if you’re using other sources).

The Meaning Behind the Year of the Sheep

The Sheep is generally considered a very lucky animal by most Chinese, and this is because the Chinese character for Sheep, which is Yang, sounds very similar to the Chinese pronunciation for luck, which is Xiang. Because of this linguistic similarity, the Chinese horoscope associates Sheep with luck, which is why they consider them lucky animals.

Predictions for 2015

Because the fire cycle is coming to a close, 2015 is believed to conclude many trends that had existed in the past few years. Many of the processes which have unfolded in the past are also believed to be wrapping up, which means that political and economic situations throughout the world are more likely to end. The downside to this, however, is that new troubles may also arise to replace the old problems that are expected to pass away. So the best way to greet 2015 is to expect a lot of changes, both good and bad.

If you’ve had nothing but bad luck in the past few years then 2015 may just offer you the chance to turn your life around. On the other hand, if you’ve experienced nothing but good fortune in the past then you may want to reexamine your priorities and make certain preparations just in case the worse happens. Either way, it’s going to be an exciting year.”

So buckle up and get ready for an exciting year of change, as if that is news to me. I hope to launch my podcast this year, earn my brown belt and do the Catalina Crossing this year. Cheers to the Year of the Sheep!

Births and Deaths – My Ash Wednesday 2015

Ash Wednesday is the one day of the year that brings me to church. I love the sentiment of focusing energy on one of the three things that the Catholic Church emphasizes during Lent, alms. The concept of alms is to humbly help people in need, with monetary donations or volunteering your time and energy in some way. Officially, Ash Wednesday is observed through fasting, abstinence from meat (cow and fowl) and repentance. For Pi’i, Ash Wednesday is about contemplating the past year and being deliberate about how I want to be in the year to come. Living the Aloha Spirit is the goal. The Aloha Spirit is about giving back selflessly, just as I interpret the concept of giving alms. So Ash Wednesday becomes a mash-up of the sparse religious education I received as a child, the values my parents imparted on me and the Aloha Spirit that I have adopted as a part of my life.

“The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the Self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, Aloha, the following unuhi laulâ loa (free translation) may be used:

A – Akahai, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;

L – Lôkahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

O – `Olu`olu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

H – Ha`aha`a, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

A – Ahonui, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.

Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.

Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.

Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.

Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.”   http://www.atchawaii.com/LocalInfo/alohaspirit.html

I say all that because in 2015, my Ash Wednesday took me on an emotional roller coaster of sorts, as I meditated on my 2014 and envisioned what I wanted for the coming year. This week is packed with celebrations. The country observed the legal President’s Day holiday on the heels of the very commercialized Valentine’s Day. Then Ash Wednesday popped up, earlier than I expected. And the day after, we celebrate Lunar New Year, the anniversary of when I launched this blog. On a personal note, this Saturday is my father’s 80th birthday and we will all be together to eat a big meal and share some laughs. These are all pleasant occurrences, filled with giggles and celebrations and tradition. But this year on Ash Wednesday, I also felt sadness for a friend and a family member.

Today, I signed a condolence card for my friend at work. Her mother passed away last weekend. I know her mom has been ill for a while but I am sure she and her family were not prepared for this loss. To make matters worse, her mother lives 2,000 miles away in Ohio. There are no words of comfort that feel sincere, in my opinion, when writing on a Hallmark card. I would prefer to just hug my friend or hold her hand or just sit in silence with her. But I can’t so I wrote words on the Hallmark card to try to convey the sentiment that I feel for her.

That brings me to another death that our extended family has experienced recently and added a funeral to our week of celebrations. My extended family, a second cousin, experienced the most horrific thing a mother could possibly experience. She came home from work in the early evening to discover that her teenaged daughter had committed suicide. The details aren’t important as to how it happened, the only thing that matters is that her daughter is gone. I don’t know her daughter really well and I haven’t spent much time with this cousin since I’ve moved away from the Central Coast. But I am a mother of a teenaged daughter and our girls are only a few weeks apart in age and I know they had played together during numerous family reunions and baptisms and parties. And I can’t stop thinking about how much it must hurt.

The teenage years are incredible difficult. Peer pressure, hormones, Asian mothers, all impart incredible amounts of stress and uncertainty and confusion for a teen. I am sure that this young woman also had some sort of additional emotional challenges to deal with, as if being a teenager isn’t hard enough. Perhaps she needed medication but stopped taking it. Maybe she had a therapist that she couldn’t connect to or feel comfortable enough to truly share. Who knows what triggered this young woman to do what she did. I just hurt at the loss of her young life and I ache for the pain her mother must be feeling.

Thankfully, the second card I signed at work was for a baby shower. Another friend who I worked with six years ago is finally pregnant. She and her husband dated long distance for a couple of years before they moved in together. We used to go to lunch and I would outline my dating adventures while she would listen and laugh. For some reason, my friends found my dating life to be more entertaining than reality TV. I am happy to have a reminder that life goes on, despite the pain that others are experiencing. And as the season of Lent begins, I am holding my daughter a little closer and taking a more deliberate approach to living the Aloha Spirit. I also am giving up booze and baked goods. If I fall off the Lenten wagon, expect a big financial donation to a non-profit to come. The happy news of my friend and her husband expecting a baby brought me back to the Aloha Spirit, “the coordination of mind and heart within each person…Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.”

Hello Texas, My Site Visit February 14 – 16, 2015

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After working in the Plano temporary office for three days, I flew home Friday night to pick up my Valentine’s Day date. Yes, I had to fly back to LAX at 6:50pm on a Friday night so I could board a flight at 9:15am on Saturday morning. Not the most efficient process, in my mind, but rules are rules.

February 14, 2015 Happy Valentine’s Day! The welcome video showed greetings in a variety of languages. I was on the shuttle with a woman who works at my affiliate and she brought her husband and precocious young daughter. The others who boarded the shuttle are not familiar to me, they flew in on a different airline so I wasn’t sure even sure whether they worked in CA, NY or KY. We didn’t say more than a polite “hello” to one another, maybe I should have been more welcoming in my greeting? Oh well. Too late now.

The announcement about the company’s move dropped ten months ago and since then, I’ve had a lot of time to mull it over. Personally, my boyfriend and I have discussed options about moving in together. His attitude about where we would live has been especially reassuring. He realizes that it would be easy for a straight white dude to move to Texas and if I decide to go, he would move there with me. Having that support has helped me a lot by alleviating the pressure of wondering what my geographical location will do to my relationship. My mom and I talked about the move, as well. I explained that the financial incentive to move is extremely generous and essentially, it could help cover my daughter’s college expenses. My daughter will be graduating from high school the year that my company moves and she is committed to continuing her education and I am committed to funding it for her. The thought of moving farther away from my parents as they continue to grow older hurts my heart so I am not sure if I can do it yet. But I am considering it a lot more seriously than I did ten months ago, On the professional side, I’ve been working on initiatives related to the move and I see the care that our company is taking to help employees make this transition. My position in the company provides access to a lot of the decision-making and I am impressed at how much effort our company is making to bring everyone to Plano. No one will be laid off, everyone who wants to move will be offered a position. There is a luxury automaker that recently announced their intentions to move their HQ location. In this process, they placed their employees are in one of three categories: We want you to move, If you move you might have a job and We don’t want you anymore, “bu-bye”. My company is not taking that approach and for that, I am grateful. It would be no question in my mind to leave a company like that, even though I am confident that my job would not be in the “bu-bye” category.

Since I’ve been to the temporary office a handful of times for work already, my goal was to see Plano through my daughter’s eyes. When I first talked to her about my company moving, she was adamant about not wanting to move to Texas. Honestly, my initial reaction was the same. I never imagined voluntarily leaving the California lifestyle unless it was to live the Hawai’i lifestyle full-time. We wanted to have a “real life” experience in the area so we went to the local mall to see a movie. Truthfully, this was my first experience outside of the temporary office or work-sanctioned dinner so I had no idea what to expect. I was curious to discover what traffic would be like in the area on the weekend. Unfortunately, it was Valentine’s Day AND “Fifty Shades of Gray” is out so the theater was crazy busy with the usual groups of rowdy teenagers and numerous pairs of couples on dates. It made me giggle to see how dressed up some of the people were at the movie theater, I assumed because of Valentine’s Day. I really hope that typical attire for a Friday night movie isn’t cleavage out to there and hooker heels for women. My tank top, yoga pants and slippers don’t meet that dress code at all.

My daughter wanted to see “Kingsman – The Secret Service”. I was excited to see this movie because it looked like a lot of fun. I gave “Kingsman” a B-/C+ because I love Colin Firth in everything he does. Mark Hamill makes an appearance early in the film, much to my delight. He will always have a soft spot in my heart because of the impact that “Star Wars” had on me as a child. The action and fight scenes in the movie were very fun to watch and of course, my daughter swooned over the young lead actor. Unfortunately, there was a point in the movie when the “Obama” president had his head blown up and the audience applauded and cheered. That quickly reminded me that I was not in California anymore.

On Sunday, we joined the bus tour that would take us to Uptown/Downtown Dallas. Highlights of the tour were:

  • The Arbor Hills Nature preserve in Plano, TX. This is a 200-acre park featuring vast areas of natural beauty for walking, jogging, hiking, orienteering, and other outdoor activity.  It just struck me that there would be a preserve to go to if I moved to Texas, rather than just having a beach and the mountains all around me in California. That become a HUGE a shift in lifestyle and mindset.
  • I learned a little bit about the culture of shopping in North Texas, which seemed to be HUGE. We drive past the Shops at Willow Bay, and were warned that most malls don’t open until noon on Sundays. But our tour guide and most other people I’ve met in North Texas always pointed out the shopping centers and outlet malls. They are a respite from the heat and shopping seems like a competitive sport to many people I’ve met in Texas. Designer attire, luxury vehicles and impeccable hairstyles/grooming seemed to dominate my initial impressions of the people I met on my first expedition to North Texas.
  • In addition to most of the stores opening at noon on Sunday, liquor stores are closed on Sundays. However, but you can purchase beer and wine after noon in the grocery store, just FYI.
  • We zoomed by a bunch of locales:
    • A West Plano mixed living area in Willow Bend area, near the Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center. We held some meetings with the CEOs of the local hospitals in this center on our visit in August. This recreation center looked state of the art, with a huge swimming pool that looked extremely inviting because of the 100 degree weather.
    • The tour guide mentioned Lake Texoma that is north of Plano but I know nothing more about it.
    • Apparently I should eat at Lockhart’s downtown Plano for BBQ
    • In-N-Out Burger has a presence there but Wataburger is the official burger place of Texas.
    • East Plano is the older part of Plano and the homes have bigger lots and the population is more ethnically diverse.
    • Collin County Community College has campuses in Plano, McKinney and Frisco.
    • We drove by Highland Park and University Park which apparently has very expensive real estate and a great school district.
    • White Rock Lake in Dallas has non-motorized boating and I would assume Dragon Boat teams because they have crew rowing in their photographs. Also, I saw disc golf, which my boyfriend would probably enjoy.
    • Uptown Dallas was the place I wanted to see most. Lower Greenville/”M Streets” is known as a very popular place to live because it is 2 miles from White Rock Lake and near bars and restaurants.
    • Lakewood area also sounds like an active and fun neighborhood. Knox/Henderson is the northern edge of Uptown and there are entrances to the Katy Trail, a biking/walking trail that takes you right into downtown Dallas (very popular & it has completely revitalized this area).
    • Uptown is very popular with young people and empty-nesters. I like to think of myself as a “Young Empty-Nester.”
    • McKinney Ave is in the heart of Dallas.
    • We drove through West Village in Oak Lawn and saw that you can take a free trolley (M Line Trolley goes to Uptown & Dallas Arts District. Free parking! West Village is luxury apartments above and walking/shopping/movie theaters below. Turtle Creek is high rise living with Azaleas blooming, Lee Park is in Turtle Creek (the tour guide kept saying how pretty this area is in the Spring.)
    • Klyde Warren Park connects Uptown and Downtown Dallas on Woodall Rodgers highway

We saw a lot of Dallas on the bus tour. It made me think I could live in Dallas for at least a couple of years, as I would be considered a “young empty nester.’  Doesn’t that concept of being an “empty nester” make me sound like I will have one foot in the grave? Damn. I’m thinking that living in Uptown will afford me opportunity to live a single person lifestyle, hitting the hip bars and shaking my booty on the dance floor. Empty nester sounds more like a boring old lady wearing support hose with blue hair than a woman with eight piercings, two tattoos and cute little bangs.

After the tour, we had dinner at Whiskey Cake with my dear friend Melissa and her mama. I’ve known Mel since before my daughter was born and her mama even attended one of my daughter’s birthday parties in Los Angeles. It was so nice to be with friends who live in the area. And Mel has such a positive energy, I love spending time with her.

My daughter is open to coming back to Plano with me for another visit. She wants to go horseback riding for the first time and she wants to visit the local colleges and universities. I also have a lead on a hula school in Dallas and hope to find a Shorin Ryu dojo in the area that I feel connected to enough to train with their sensei. Hopefully, my boyfriend will also join me on a trip in the next several months. The decision to move for my company is a big one that impacts my future and every aspect of my life. It is comforting to know that I am not making it alone. Texas life is definitely not California living.

LAX to SFO to LAX to JFK to LAX to CVG to LAX to DFW to LAX to DFW to LAX Jan 30-Feb 16

Business travel always seemed to be exciting to me. Getting on a plane, staying in swanky hotels, attending fancy business affairs to hear inspirational speakers, it all sounded like fun. Although I’m an introvert, I enjoy meeting new people and seeking out new connections. Connections may be minor, like we both work in Diversity or we both like Star Wars. Or I may meet someone sitting in the hotel bar who has an affinity for whiskey and we discuss the benefits of peat or smoke or oak flavors. And many times, I make connections that lead to friendships that last beyond LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Social networks grow out of a variety of channels and the ideal connection lead to real life, real time human connections.

Networking was not a skill I learned at a young age. But networking is critical to success in corporate America. Once I discovered that promotions and coveted assignments often went to people less qualified than me, I realized that I needed to develop a new skill and learn how to flex the networking muscle. There weren’t Crossfit WODs to teach me how to network, I just took baby steps towards becoming more comfortable with it. It really helps that I honestly believe that everyone has an important story to tell with a lesson for me to learn. Some lessons are life-changing while others show me examples of who I do not want to become. And my daughter is an extrovert with a capital “E” so watching her curious and fearless nature with people provided me an excellent example.

But now when I attend a swanky work dinner or fundraiser, I set a goal to meet two or three new people. These people may be important connections for my company. Doing this under the guise of “it’s part of my job” has benefitted me both professionally and personally. When I was being considered for the promotion to Director of Diversity, my internal network was thin compared to the other candidate. However, I had
mentioned in passing to a few people in my network that I was up for a new position at work and thought they would wish luck, nothing more. To my surprise, letters of recommendation from presidents and CEOs of non-profits and thought-leading companies in Diversity filled my email in-box. That felt good. Reading their opinions and thoughts about who I am as a subject matter expert, diversity advocate and a professional provided a boost to my ego. I kept thinking how I knew I was the most qualified candidate for the position, what was the debate over? It came down to the other candidate’s internal network vs. my external network. My external network proved my credibility and knowledge base. Now, my external network leads to speaking engagements and invitations to join committees and nominations for external board of director roles. So having a week or two of back to back business trips is a part of my career.
Tonight is an awards dinner event by a diversity business consortium who recognizes financial services companies doing innovative and ground-breaking work in diversity. I look forward to seeing friends and gleaning ideas for how to continue
to advance the field of diversity. Tomorrow I’m providing diversity education for a group of our business partners who provide communications support to my company. Before I jump back on a plane, we will work on a new presentation that will set the tone for how our company sees the value and contributions of diversity and inclusion as we move all of our HQ locations to Plano, TX. In my mind, this presentation is mission critical to this transition and developing the culture and work environment for the company’s future.

So I need to buy shoes appropriate to wear during slush storms and a proper winter coat for these trips. But I love my career so very much that I will tolerate jet lag and wet feet to do it and travel LAX to JFK to LAX today and tomorrow.

This business travel marathon is sandwiched in between personal trips, as well. It started with Walker Stalker Con San Francisco #WSCSF, which was also my daughter’s 17th birthday. I will write about that next. So many feels about this past weekend, like a good introvert, I’m still processing all that happened.