27 and Still Not Barbie

barbie president

About a month ago I realized my birthday was coming up and I had a mild panic attack. “My birthday goals! I haven’t even been looking at them! I’ve probably failed at everything.” Overall I feel like this year went by really fast. I’m chalking that up to the fact that:

  1. I’ve been really (productively) busy.
  2. I’ve spent a lot of time in airplanes.

When I actually opened up my 26 and ready post to grade myself for the year, I realized I had given myself a relatively un-quantifiable list of goals [here they are, along with my ‘grades’]:

  1. Leave the country [A++].
  2. Visit my #2 in Chicago [D].
  3. Create a product [C-].
  4. Be more observant and connected to my surroundings. Try to see something every day that I’ve never seen before [P].
  5. Say No enough that I can really mean it when I say Yes [A].
  6. Surprise people. Do something that exceeds the expectations of those closest to me [P].

I passed the first goal with flying colors.

The grand ole’ U.S. of A. was without my presence on two distinct occasions over the past year. In December of 2012 I hopped on a flight to Seattle and surprisingly enough the Canadians let me in for a visit. @Tritico and I found this crazy place called the Capilano Suspension Bridge and I took a selfie in front of it so you would all believe that I was really there. Exhibit A:

I stood on a giant suspension bridge in a rainforest in Vancouver (December 2012).

THEN, in June of this year I used the Delta miles I’ve been hoarding for the past year to hop a transatlantic flight to Berlin via Amsterdam. The worst part of the trip was when @Tritico made me ride a rented bike all over Berlin, partially in the rain. He even took this series of pictures of me to prove what an awful time I was having:

I was obviously not as successful on my second goal. My #2 travels almost as much as I do, and he is never home when I happen to be free to visit him. I did make an effort to find a time to visit him though, so I give myself a teensie bit of credit for that. Here’s a picture of him throwing a frisbee at me circa 2005 to make up for my lack of a visit this year.

If I told you about #3, I’d have to kill you. Also, I’d ruin my secret sauce. I would have been further along in this goal, except this. #4 is a wishy washy one; I don’t know quite how to grade myself. Maybe it should be a pass/fail class? I’ll go change that now… Yay, I passed!

#5 is a big fat “A” because I said NO to all kinds of stuff this year, and I’m in the process of saying NO to even more things. Saying NO feels really good, you should try it. This is my NO (see also: “are you crazy?!”) face:

The pictures from this photoautomat are actually really good and have taken up residence on @Tritico’s fridge.

#6 is also a hard one to judge. I threw a surprise party for @Tritico and learned that some people don’t like surprises. Did I surprise you? I’m starting to feel like I’ve been surprising people for so long that people are no longer surprised by me. Is that a thing?

Anyways, that’s all the fun for today.

EXCEPT here are the (noticeably more achievable) goals for the 28th year of my life:

  1. Visit my #2 in Chicago.
  2. Complete “The Daily” list every day (see below).
This is a daily checklist I wrote for myself a few months ago. Right now I actually complete the whole thing about once a week. From here on out, DAILY.

BONUS. 

After a lot of pressure on twitter, @Tritico took me to the Barbie DreamHouse in Berlin. I’m pretty sure I would’ve played with Barbie a lot less when I was younger if I’d realized how tall she is:

See you next year!

26 and Ready

On this day last year I wrote a birthday blog post. It included a list of goals that I referred back to periodically. I didn’t fulfill all of my goals. I could (and have) call(ed) myself a failure.

Here are the goals I posted last year:

  1. Do more yoga & meditation; spend more time tuning myself into my intuition. [C]
  2. Only take on new work that provides an expansive learning opportunity or excites my love of ___ (too many things to list). [C]
  3. Jump out of a plane (with a parachute). [A]
  4. Take another big trip (Asia, South America, Europe, all of the above, I’m not picky). [D]
  5. Karaoke as often as the opportunity presents itself (thanks to advice from Peter Shallard re: public failure). [A-]
  6. Externalize my internal passion, drive, and love in a more open way. Remember that I have nothing to hide. [A+]

I added grades for myself next to each goal. I passed a few classes with flying colors but ended up with an overall goal-GPA of 2.83. Not so great but it could be much worse. Remember that time I got a 7 on a test?

Anyways, there are other things I failed at this year besides those goals. I failed at keeping up with some of my oldest and dearest friends. I failed at fulfilling some of my volunteer and work commitments. I failed at keeping my bedroom clean.

Perhaps my most consistent and biggest failure has been my lack of timely and clear communication. I’m going to email you back, I promise. [That’s probably a lie.]

But in as many ways as I’ve failed this year, I’ve succeeded.

Very recently, I jumped out of an airplane with 6 of the coolest guys I know.

I’ve made amazing new friendships. I’ve been momma-bird-fed by #roomierebecca. I’ve cried over more breakfasts than I can count with @heyitsmegan, @tritico, and @irishcajun [#breakfastclub]. I sang and danced almost every day. I told more people that I love them. Because I do.

I’ve gotten on stage in front of big and small crowds alike for everything from moderating panels to telling stories for a comedy show. I became Editor In Chief of Silicon Bayou News. I read more books than was probably healthy. I traveled to New York, Boston, Denver, Washington D.C., and St. Louis.

Nothing to Hide

The most important part of my goal list for last year was the last part of the last goal. “Remember that I have nothing to hide.” For me, this is where I succeeded enough to call the whole year a win. I told stories I was scared to tell. I talked to close friends in a more open way about my hopes, dreams, and fears. And I started Molly in a Minute.

Doing daily video posts felt like a huge step out onto a shaky limb. It was just risky enough and just crazy enough and I’m still surprised every time someone watches one of my wild rants.

A barrier has been removed between me and the rest of the world thanks to #mollyinaminute. I’m more real on those videos than I could ever be on twitter or in a written blog. For that one minute every day I have nothing to hide. 

Without further ado, here are a few publicly stated goals for the 27th year of my life: 

  1. Leave the country. [Rollover from last year. Italy, anyone? New Zealand? Thailand?]
  2. Visit my #2 in Chicago.
  3. Create a product. [From a conversation with @tdavidson that has been bouncing around in my head for months.]
  4. Be more observant and connected to my surroundings. Try to see something every day that I’ve never seen before.
  5. Say No enough that I can really mean it when I say Yes.
  6. Surprise people. Do something that exceeds the expectations of those closest to me.

Here’s to another year of you and me. I’m ready.

The App That Ruined My Life

It all started when I was driving to Ohio to visit family for Christmas in 2011. I usually drive solo and pass the hours singing at the top of my lungs to my Sugarland album collection. On this particular trip, I wasn’t traveling alone. My companion suggested that we listen to an audio book. After much debate he downloaded The Hunger Games and we started listening.

My intentions were to:

  1. Hate “The Hunger Games.”
  2. Hate audio books.

I was wrong on both counts. I hate being wrong.

Upon arriving in Ohio and after putting my traveling companion on a plane back to New Orleans I was faced with a serious dilemma: an unfinished series. I bit the bullet, signed up for Audible, and promptly downloaded the second book in The Hunger Games series. And then of course, the third.

Slow Build

My family complained about me hiding in the guest room and constantly walking around in headphones but I didn’t care- a book is a mission. I finished the series somewhere in Mississippi during my drive back to New Orleans. I listened to music the rest of the way home but it wasn’t the same. I was ruined.

After I got back home & back to my routine I forgot about Audible for a few weeks. Then I decided to finally tackle Atlas Shrugged. I read about 75% of the way through the traditional paper book before I got frustrated. It’s a beast of a novel and Ayn Rand is a wordy writer, no matter what you may think of her world views.

To take some of the stress off of my eyes and some of the weight out of my handbag, I turned back to Audible. I listened in my car, on the bus, while putting on my makeup, and while keeping up with mindless work. I finished in two days what would’ve taken me over a week of actually reading in my limited free time.

Then came another roadtrip to Ohio. I knew an audiobook would make the time go faster so I downloaded an old favorite – Pride and Prejudice. I wasn’t overjoyed with the quality of the narrator but I love the story and style of Jane Austen so much that I let it slide. The audio was only 11 hours and I finished it as I pulled into the driveway at the end of my trip.

In the meantime I had been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones series. I loved the show but was getting some flack from my fellow fantasy readers for not having read any of the books. I figured since I had 15 hours on the road home, I could give the first book a shot. This is when my life, in the words of the Fresh Prince, “got twist turned upside down.”

The Addiction

From May 14th to July 9th I listened to 13 days, 15 hours, and 22 minutes of audio.

Let that sink in a little.

During a 57 day period, I spent 23.966666% of my time listening to Game of Thrones. Or more accurately, listening to A Song of Ice and Fire. But nobody calls it that anymore.

Everywhere I went I was accompanied by earbuds. Outside of my immediately necessary obligations of work, procuring food and shelter, and speaking with people who refused to acknowledge that I was wearing earbuds, my life was Game of Thrones.

When I got on a plane I would sit in my window seat, put my earbud in for the ear that was closest to the window, run the cord under my sweater, and cover my ear with my hair. Using this method I didn’t even have to stop listening for take-off and landing. I DO always use airplane mode; I’m not a total rule breaker.

I streamed from the minute I woke up (pause for shower) to the minute I got to work. I then resumed streaming from the minute I left work until the minute I went to bed. Sometimes I had to rewind a little in the morning because I was so tired I didn’t remember what happened in the story right before I fell asleep.

Arya Stark is my favorite character in the series. She's left handed and also known as Arya Underfoot, Arya Horseface, Arry, Nan, Salty, Cat, and Beth at various points in the series.

I spent one particularly tumultuous point in the books crying on a bus in New Orleans. I spent many nights in hotel rooms saying, “WHY?!” when things in the story didn’t go my way.

I’m pretty sure I spent more time listening to, contemplating, and dreaming about Game of Thrones than any drug addict does about his next hit. I can’t be sure because I’ve never been a drug addict. I’ve only been addicted to books.

The End (I hope)

I finished the 5th and most recently published book in the Game of Thrones series on July 9th, 2012. George R. R. Martin is currently working on the 6th book. For my sake I hope he takes his time.

In the meantime, I’m back to finishing all of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels and throwing in the occasional psychology book.  In real, paper book form. A book addict like me just can’t handle the IV-injection that is Audible.

Week 1 wrap up and the WHY behind #mollyinaminute

Some History

I’ve been thinking a lot about video content in the past couple of months. A few years ago I started watching Diggnation (a weekly webcast featuring Digg founder Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht) and segued that experience into watching Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss’ later webcast, The Random Show.

I also watched a lot of TED Talks and then (lightning!) discovered the magic of Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is an excellent example of someone who used the power of video to transform his business, his life, and eventually the lives of countless others. In 2006, he started Wine Library TV, a regular video blog about wine. This made sense because he was the co-owner of a wine retailer called Wine Library and had spent years learning about and buying wine for the store.

Along with his general business prowess, his experiments in video and social media created tidal waves of growth for the company. Like the cool dude he is, Gary picked up a lot of lessons along the way and has since shared them through his books, by speaking at conferences, and now through his own non-wine-related video posts.

Gary’s success in business is inspiring, but what is most inspiring to me is his ability to show his passion, share his ideas, and cause real change through this medium.

I’m not Gary, but we do have a few things in common. I created this fancy venn diagram to prove it:

Figure 1: Molly Oehmichen vs. Gary Vaynerchuk

I might’ve missed a few important things, but you get the general idea. When Gary Vaynerchuk started Wine Library TV, he was pretty much a nobody. Today, Gary is a tried and true influencer in social media, technology, customer service, and of course, wine.

Sometimes influencers are born, but more often than not they make themselves. I wasn’t born much of anything, but I plan to use every opportunity available to make something of myself.

So What?

So a few months ago, video started looking like an attractive option to reach a new, broader audience. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about or that I could really speak to any one particular subject. I went back and forth with the idea for so long that I knew I had to start doing *something* with it or it would drive me insane.

From that idea, #mollyinaminute was born. It’s basically a daily vlog (video blog) where I talk about whatever is on my mind when I happen to hit record.

Goals (evolving)

  1. Get into the habit of posting something every day.
  2. Get comfortable recording video of myself.
  3. Get comfortable recording video of myself in front of people I don’t know.
  4. Interact with people I usually talk to on twitter in new ways.
  5. Learn more about personal interactions on the web, analytics, and content management.
  6. Speak concisely (a minute is short)!

So, without further ado, here are the first seven episodes (first full week’s worth) of #mollyinaminute videos. Follow along by following me on twitter, using hashtag #mollyinaminute, or following my YouTube channel. And send questions, comments, ideas, and random thoughts to mollyinaminute at gmail dot com.

Episode 1: Monday, June 18th

Episode 2: Tuesday, June 19th

Episode 3: Wednesday, June 20th

Episode 4: Thursday, June 21st

Episode 5: Friday, June 22nd

Episode 6: Saturday, June 23rd

Episode 7: Sunday, June 24th

Perfection is the Anti-Innovation and 4 Other Things I Learned From Pottery

I’ve spent 10 years learning, practicing, and (more frequently) totally failing at making pottery. With mud up to my elbows and another mess in the trash bucket, I jotted down these five transferable lessons.

Learn from a master

Finding a mentor can be a daunting task. If you can’t find a “master” to work under, find someone who knows a little more than you. If you can’t find someone who knows a little more, find someone who is creative, ambitious, and willing to learn alongside you.

Don’t let someone else tell you what to do. Ask them to tell you what they do. Then, watch what they actually do and note the differences. Practice what they do, feel out how well their methods work for you, and adjust them until you find your own personal sweet spot for success.

Breathe

Breathe a little more. Breathe a little deeper. Release bad energy before it seeps into everything you do.

A "teapot" I created in 2005

Push hard, but not too hard

When working on a pottery wheel, creating a beautiful bowl requires pushing the sides away from the center. This is a slow, patience-testing process. It takes strength to mold the piece to your desired shape, but if you push just a little bit too hard the whole thing will fall apart.

In a similar way, people mold to the dominant ideas and personalities around them. Feel people out, test boundaries, pay attention to nuances in speech, body language, and behavior. Give a little push, point the conversation and their work in a direction that suits you. Just remember not to push too hard, otherwise you might both trip up and land flat on your faces.

Make a plan, but be prepared to give it up

  1. Draw out your vision on paper. Make as many variations to it as you can. Add wings, glitter, and funky eyeballs to get those cerebral juices flowing.
  2. Test it out in theory. Turn it upside down, backwards, and inside out in your head. Note your assumptions and possible points of failure.
  3. Test it out IRL. If you do the same thing more than three times and it doesn’t work, something is wrong with your assumptions, your execution, or your idea itself.
  4. Don’t beat a dead horse. Pat yourself on the back for trying something new and move on.

Perfection is the anti-innovation

There are a lot of ideas floating around in the world about “perfection.” In this context, perfection is creating exactly what one sets out to create. Innovation is also a product of creation. By creating fast, frequently, and passionately levels of both perfection and innovation can be achieved, but not at the same time. Perfection requires deliberate, pre-determined actions and practice. Innovation requires freedom to fail and adjust your sails when the wind changes.

Picasso created many beautiful, perfect paintings. He also created the Guernica, and was arguably one of the most innovative artists of the 19th century. Follow directions and color in the lines for perfection. For innovation, accept any and every outcome as a new definition of perfection.

What life lessons have you learned from your hobbies?