Get ready for a road trip!

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013

After another stimulating morning of Malinchak magic and a networking lunch, we headed to LAX to board a Southwest Airlines light to El Paso, TX. I worked on some TRK Communications Consulting deliverables at the airport before departing. We landed in El Paso about 8 p.m.  From the air, the night-lights of Juarez, Mexico, are amazingly dense, compared to those of El Paso, across the river.  We arrived via hotel shuttle at the La Quinta by about 9 p.m. The airport and hotel seem very familiar, as it was barely a month ago when we were last here, at the end of Leg 2 of our 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure.

Road trip begins in the morning!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Opportunities abound

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013

The day started with a 5:30 a.m. walk in reasonably warm, fresh L.A. sunshine. Then I participated in a 7 a.m. conference call to review a proforma with two contacts from a franchise that I am considering investing in with a friend and former work colleague. I’m loving the concept; just need to figure out if the return on investment is worth the hours I know will be involved. It’s an exciting opportunity that I could get passionate about, and I need to balance that excitement with objective consideration of how this fits with the lifestyle I want.

Shortly after 8 a.m., I joined my sweetheart (SH) for a day of brainstorming and mutual support with about 75 members in the mastermind group. It’s a diverse group, in every way – age, ethnicity, career paths, geographic locations, business concepts, maturity of business cycles, etc. Very, very cool to give and get ideas for business challenges and ideas. It’s fun and rewarding to share this experience with SH; we complement each other as business partners, as well as life partners!

We enjoyed dinner and an “in-kind” exchange with “the world’s leading authority on personality feng shui.” I provided copy editing for her new brochure, and she provided personality and environmental feng shui insights to us.

How cool is that?!

Love, Tomboy Tam

The adventure continues

Monday, Feb 25, 2013

After packing in a full Monday of TRK Communications consulting work for my current client, I began a week of adventure when I boarded a Southwest flight about 4:30 p.m. to Los Angeles to attend a James Malinchak mastermind meeting.  My sweetheart (SH) and I joined this group after attending Malinchak’s bootcamp back in December, where we were inspired with many marketing and business building ideas.

I love Southwest Airlines! The didn’t charge me for making a change to my departure date, the flight loads quickly, the staff is super friendly and fun, and they departed and arrived on time!

My connection in Denver was uneventful, in spite of the heavy snow they had there yesterday. SH left early this morning, and had a slight delay here before arriving in L.A. to take the amazing 103 year old Uncle Walter to lunch.

I met up with SH at the Westin near the L.A. airport about 9 p.m. Looking forward to a day and a half of exciting business building work before we launch the road trip segment of this week’s adventure!

What new beginnings are exciting you these days?

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 1, Leg 2, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Day 1 of this motorcycle adventure started January 17, and actually entailed trains, planes and automobiles and a “side trip” to Los Angeles to pop in for a quick visit with 103-year-old Uncle Walter. My sweetheart (SH) and I left my place in downtown Minneapolis shortly before 5 a.m. and walked quickly in 5 degree temps (probably below zero wind-chill) to the light rail station. The train took us to the Humphrey Terminal where we boarded the 7:55 a.m. Sun Country flight to LAX.

I used the flight time to finish some deliverables for a current communications consulting client and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise views from the airplane window. After an early arrival at LAX, we rented a car and headed to Redondo Beach where we had brunch at one of our favorite places – Redondo Beach Cafe. Who would expect a hockey-crazy diner in Redondo Beach CA?!

Then we headed to The Coffee Bean in Redondo Beach in our favorite neighborhood. They have a lot more seating and outlets for all our electronics than nearby Starbucks, where we often hang out – next to Trader Joe’s. After emailing my work in to the client and attending a conference call, we jumped into into the car to pick up Walter. We had a lovely afternoon with him, before heading back to the airport to catch our Delta flight to Phoenix, where the motorcycle part of the motorcycle adventure will begin. We dropped into bed at the Best Western where we have stayed a couple times before at about midnight.

It was a grueling, but rewarding, 20 hour day – work, family time, enjoying a beautiful, warm environment (mid-70s) and the anticipation of a great long weekend of fun on bikes in relatively warm weather in JANUARY! First time these Minnesotans will ride motorcycles in January! Hang with me over the weekend, and I’ll share our route and some of the planning that results in an affordable adventure. I am so grateful to have the work flexibility, fun partner and modest budget to do it!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dear employer: it’s time for your performance review!

It’s a good time for me to make a list of the things I want to receive from my employer or client. I am developing new communications consulting clients and simultaneously exploring a few select “permanent” employment opportunities. Such a list will help my new manager or client and me evaluate whether we are a good fit for each other. Here is my first draft.

What I want to receive from my employer and manager

Reward me with generous, competitive compensation that reflect the type, level and complexity of the work I do and the value I add. Even if the economic environment has impacted your compensation curve, be creative and involve me in negotiation to arrive at a compensation structure that meets both our needs.

Support my career development. Give me increasingly higher visibility projects and more responsibility. Suggest “extra-curricular” activities inside or outside the company that will help me develop. Support my professional association involvement and education. Keep your eyes open for possible advancement opportunities for me elsewhere in the company. Give me formal and informal feedback frequently – no surprises at annual review time! Ask my internal and external customers for input on my performance. Offer me earned raises, promotions and titles before I ask for them.

Walk the talk of trust and integrity. The company’s vision and values establish high standards for ethical behavior, business practices and respect for team members. Company leaders and managers walk the company talk. Believe that I will represent you and our group with integrity. Allow me to work without micromanagement. Give me the credit I deserve for my work, even when I’m not in the room. Recognize me formally and informally for small and large accomplishments.

Offer and expect flexibility – trust me to manage my time and deliverables honestly. Don’t require rigid start and stop times or hours. Support me working from home or other remote location when the job can be accomplished successfully from there.

Respect my personal time. In other words, don’t send me email messages at night and on weekends, as it establishes a culture of never disconnecting from work. Or at least don’t expect me to answer your messages at those times. Support me in taking all the paid time off that I’ve earned. Manage our workload such that work weeks that are more than 40-45 hours are the exception, not the rule.

Nurture a friendly, healthy, FUN culture by caring about my needs, at work and to some extent, my personal life. Communicate as early and as much as you can about company and leadership strategies and changes. Make an effort to ask me how my kids are doing, how I spent my vacation and what sports teams I cheer for. Encourage me to take a lunch break, work out and eat well by setting the model for that behavior. Connect me with my teammates and partners within and outside our group. Lead a little bit of goofing off and laughter to relieve stress, reset perspectives and improve productivity.

In my past experience, interview time or evaluation time is primarily about my skills, experience, scope of responsibilities and how well I performed them. Through my personal growth, I’ve learned that to be a truly outstanding employee, I have to be a happy one. And to be happy, I need my career to support my lifestyle, not the opposite.

  • What is (or will be) on your list of what you want to receive from your employer?
  • Can you see yourself talking to your manager or an interviewer about your list? Why or why not?
  • Do you think I’m crazy to have such a list, when so many people are still desperate for a job – any job? 

Thanks for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Living to eat doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Food is not one of my defined categories for this blog. The reality is, I love food so much, that I consider it inherent in all aspects of life:

Relationships – I love to cook for my loved ones.

Personal growth – Food has been a consistent source of comfort through all stages of my growth. And I’ve consistently improved my choices throughout that same time!

Health & wellness – I’ve enjoyed evolving my diet to satisfy my foodie fetishes, while honoring my commitment to being healthy and fit, and living a long life.

Spirituality – Food feeds my soul, as well as my body. I have glimpsed heaven while enjoying sublime flavors.

Career – What beloved manager has not motivated teamwork and employee engagement on the backs of pizza lunches and Friday bagels? Even my food offerings at work evolved through my personal growth to fruit and salad options.

Lifestyle – Adventure, exploration, friends and fun: all relevant to cooking, dining out and trying new foods and restaurants.

Today I offer one of my recent favorite recipes – Tomboy Tam’s un-omelet (not really an omelet because I throw most of it in the pan together instead of folding the contents into the embrace of cooked eggs – fussy, precise cooking is not a tomboy trait!):

Serves 1, about 250 calories per serving, 14 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein

Ingredients (I use organic ingredients whenever possible):

  • 1 t oil (go with a healthy one – olive, avocado, etc) or spray oil
  • 2 T chopped onion
  • 2 T chopped green and/or red pepper
  • ½ C chopped mushrooms
  • ¾ C chopped baby spinach (I just cut it up a bit with a scissors when I add it to the pan)
  • ½ of a medium-sized tomato, chopped
  • 1/8 C feta cheese crumbles (as I am fond of saying, “feta makes everything betta!”)
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I added the tomatoes after cooking in this photo, which is an easy alternative to adding them to the pan to cook with the eggs.

Whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper. Put oil into a small non-stick pan and heat over medium burner. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry a minute or less before adding mushrooms. After about another minute of stir-frying, add the chopped spinach and tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds and then add the eggs. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Check after three to five minutes for doneness. When the eggs are set and it’s a little puffy, it’s done. Don’t overcook. Remove from pan and put on plate. Add the feta cheese and avocado and fold over – or not. Eat and enjoy!

I’ve added slightly blanched asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces or other veggies, depending on what I have on hand. You can add or replace the avocado with some chopped deli ham or a slice of fried, crumbled bacon without completely ruining the health value. Obviously, adjust the ingredients as needed for any special needs, such as replacing the one whole egg with another egg white are watching your cholesterol. Personally, I like the veggies tender-crisp so I keep the sautéing prior to adding the eggs to a minimum.

I enjoyed this as a real omelet with a dear friend for brunch at Wilde Roast on St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis recently and loved it so much I recreated it at home and have been eating it a couple times a week ever since. And by the way, Wilde Roast has gluten free bread! I keep fresh chopped onion and peppers in the frig so it’s quick and easy to prepare.

  • What are your go-to healthy favorites? 
  • What is your relationship with food?

Thanks for sharing!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Conquering disappointment with gratitude

The celebration dinner I had in mind for last night became a consolation dinner. After the four very positive and progressively deep interviews he had, my dinner companion got the news late yesterday that the company offered the position to another candidate. Ouch!

The disappointment, back-story and experience of this particular candidate is familiar to many thousands of talented, deserving people across the country every day. I doubt the 12.1 million unemployed counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics even includes those who graduated from college during the tempest of the most depressed and depressing economic times this country has experienced in generations – or possibly ever! I have personally experienced the full spectrum of emotions related to “displacement” while at or near the pinnacle of my corporate career and a comfortable lifestyle – not just once, but twice during the past few years.

So what is there to be grateful about, given all that bad news?

What if instead of accepting the mindset of being unemployed, I embraced the excitement and possibilities of being an entrepreneur, parent, grandparent, and volunteer? What if I replaced the term “career networking” in my vocabulary with the mindset of reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and making new ones? Instead of channeling my energy on feeling angry, frustrated or depressed, I laser focused on gratitude, trust and attracting opportunities?

If you have just finished shopping for your dinner at the local food shelf, and my views sound impossibly, insultingly and incredibly naïve, I apologize. And I will dare to say that these words are even more relevant to you.

Although I’ve never suffered the deep bruises of rock bottom hope- and homelessness that some have, I have had significant economic and emotional low points in my lifetime. I’ve been the beneficiary of public assistance and have rooted for coins in jackets and sofas to meet basic needs. I’ve mourned the untimely and unfair loss of jobs and loved ones. I’ve struggled at times to define who I am and what path I am meant to walk. And today, I am counted among the 12.1 million unemployed.

And yet, throughout my life and today I believe – actually expect – that there are always better days ahead, where my own efforts, ideas and skills intersect with my faith that the Universe will deliver everything I need. Not always when and how I expect or prefer (how about Friday, via UPS, with a pink bow!), but always in different and sometimes better ways and times than I could even imagine. I’ll share some examples with you in the coming days.

I’m keeping a daily list of my successes and things I’m grateful for. I review that list when I need encouragement and reminders. I also recommend watching Louie Schwartzberg’s Happiness Revealed project video – maybe daily for a while!

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are your techniques for conquering disappointment with gratitude?

Thank you for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam