I’m mentoring Steve and he needs to write

Through a mentoring program with the nonprofit StartOut, I’m working with a firecracker named Steve.

StartOut is the national nonprofit that creates great leaders by empowering LGBTQ entrepreneurs.

I’m telling you this cat Steve is on fire. He’s pulling together the biggest deals for a big San Francisco tech company. We meet by phone every two weeks and have never met in person. He’s all business and I appreciate that in the exchange. But he is intense.

He’s also full of young me-ness, so I know where he’s coming from. Having been a young star myself, the world doesn’t always welcome you and your big sense of self.

So it was no surprise that he has a nemesis. This asshole takes credit for his work, tries to undermine him and makes it generally unpleasant to work there. Those kind of downer people can really take the wind out of your sails. And you can’t always turn those situations around. If you can, your heart may be out of it by then. So, we’re agreed that he’s moving on.

He’s interviewing at all the usual mega-unicorns and they quickly see a talent they could use. He’s got this covered. Steve is confident, has the numbers to prove his value and I imagine presents well. You should see his polished LinkedIn profile picture.

And still a Google search on him shows little about his expertise. What will his next advocate find out about him beyond a good interview? Why is he exceptional? He has to change that by writing about what he does.

He’s working on a case study on his big win at the company. My challenge for him was to write another story anonymized with more about the process. Why are you the best at this? Break it out into … more

Meditation

Here’s the thing about meditating. With enough practice you can call it in times of anxiety, confusion or overwhelm. It’s that simple. You will immediately find yourself more at peace and give a more balanced amount of energy to that which has you in a knot.

You sit on a pillow, on folded knees or on a chair as upright as you can. I get within a couple of feet of a wall as I meditate with my eyes open and this helps for focus. Breath in through your nose to your abdomen. Breath out through your mouth. Count 10 breaths, start again, then again. That’s one set. Do that three times.

Your mind will wander and you’ll zoom in on a topic and you will obsess on it and lose your count. Start again. The only thing to concentrate on is breathing in and breathing out and your upright posture.

When you find yourself obsessing on a thought. Acknowledge it and let it go. A good metaphor is a that you spot a cloud, acknowledge it, then let it float away.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

For 40 years I’ve gone back to Shunryu Suzuki’s foundational book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“. It’s short chapters progress to a deeper understanding of the concept of zen along with simple how-to’s about sitting in meditation. It will confuse at times and seem to be written in riddles. Not to worry, it will make sense over time.

It’s that easy. Do it every day if you can. Do it somewhere that is not very distracting if you can. Do what you can. I like the middle of a meeting. Go for some hard-core training and try it in a noisy house. … more

60 and Gay in Tech

Below is the video and text of a presentation I gave at Tech Inclusion in San Francisco on October 19, 2017

Today is my epic story and some techniques for surviving as a graying, gay person in tech.

I’ve worked in tech for close to 35 years and alternative newspapers before that. 

I was always interested in changing the status quo through media and associated myself with organizations that I thought at least accepted who I was.

When there was discrimination it was often subtle, but thanks to some early activism I was always reactive first.

Sorry mean people.


I survived with a technique I’ve come to call

“The Humanist + Activist Approach”

Here’s how it works and why it’s more important than ever today.

  1. If you haven’t noticed… blatant harrassment and discrimination is filling the news cycles.
    1. We’re in a dangerous political environment.  Those in power today are turning back the clock on many gains in civil rights. Just yesterday our vile, so called president was joking about lynching gays. Seriously
    2. This thinking is becoming normalized and will bleed into the workplace and discrimination will become even more OK.
  2. This may be hard, but before you react, take time to understand the experiences and point of view of the people you interact with. That’s the Humanist part.
  3. You DO have a right to be at the table without discrimination though. so, Don’t ever back down.- That’s the Activist part.

Humanist Stance

  1. Some Signs
    1. Subtle uneasiness. Always can tell that something is off that you can’t put your finger on it. This is when understanding that person matters.
    2. Still, a lot goes unstated. You can almost hear it “He’s old and doesn’t get it” “Gay people are different” “I’d rather not know about that thing I don’t understand” “we don’t
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Everybody Needs Mentoring

You’ll get further in work and life with a savvy someone nearby

The Mell Brothers invited me to their wonderland of an art studio in Phoenix when I was 19. They were part of a community of open-minded artists that made the otherwise bland city tolerable to a young artist like me. I was eager to meet anybody who would confirm that the path I was taking was all right.
They had an airbrush-work area, which was of special interest to me at the time. They meticulously showed me the various techniques and flourishes possible with the propelled ink that I was trying to master on my own. I’ll never forget that time and while I haven’t picked up an airbrush in a while, I remember how the experience informed the next painting and then the next, and also my ideas of how my life could be molded as a professional doing what I loved.They were very generous with their time. They lent me books on hand-lettering and gave me and my friends supplies to do our thing.
I only hope now that I was considerate of their time; that I produced art that showed promise for their investment in me.They were one chapter in a long list of people who took an interest in me and have given me the threads of influence that I now can see have formed me and my work. They didn’t come knocking on my door. I was really out there — driven and curious to meet anybody who would teach me and help me find my way.

Get a mentor

We’re all around you

If you’re new to the scene, to your vocation or just clarifying your interests, seek out those people who likely could help you in your path and have a level of integrity

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An Annual Review of Ideal Scenarios

From the “Vision” Level

An overview of our property in the Sierra Foothills.

I’m a longtime (over 20 years) user of a set of principles and processes commonly known as GTD or “Getting Things Done.” It keeps me focused and aware of all of the worlds I fly through and the commitments I make. It’s simple and straightforward, just enough to leave my mind free for more creative activities. It works for me.

I had the good fortune of working with the author David Allen when he was refining all of these ideas in the early 90’s. This guy practices what he preaches and is now on a bold new adventure in Amsterdam with his wife and soul sister Kathryn Allen.

The book outlines how to engage with the various levels of life and work. I was inspired by my recent annual review at the “Vision” level.

40,000 level — Vision

3–5 year goals. What it will look, sound and feel like with successful implementation. Long-term outcomes and ideal scenarios.

As is the practice, I keep this list as a quick reference that I check in with regularly to stay on track throughout the year. It manages my urges to be seduced by the new shiny preoccupation of the moment. These visualized goals point UP to the higher levels of my values and purpose. It’s an easy check to see that my planning keeps with what’s ultimately most important.

When I start the exercise, I review where I was at a year ago and think about what has changed. Then I draw my roles and areas of responsibilities which usually triggers some big projects that may not be in my system but are absolutely in motion. It looks like this.

Map It and Track It!

I grab … more

David Allen Interviews Jeff Tidwell

 

“Entrepreneur Jeff Tidwell has been connecting and empowering individuals via the Internet for nearly 30 years. Listen as he and David Allen explore the future of social networking. Discover how emerging technology will affect the way information is presented, processed, and shared, and how this will impact your relationships.”

Bestselling author “Getting Things Done” and productivity expert David Allen gets on the phone with Jeff.  Here’s the interview.