Tag Archives: Chicago

Roam If You Want To

I’m gearing up for six weeks of travel with some family time sprinkled in. I won’t be in my apartment for more than a few days at a time. And I cannot wait.

When I started my job, I knew there would be some travel associated with the role. But I never dreamed it would afford me the opportunity to see so many new places. From when we were kids, my parents encouraged us to try new things and see new places. Luckily, thanks to a rigorous travel schedule, I’ve been to places I’ve never been before like Phoenix, Catalina Island and Chicago.

San Diego

Soaking up the sun in San Diego

I’m about experiences: I’d much rather buy concert tickets than a new outfit. I love to learn, to immerse myself in something different than the every day. Since I’ve graduated college, I’ve vowed to spend money on experiences, especially on new adventures. That’s why I love traveling for work: I get to tack on some personal travel like weekends in San Diego and Charleston.

It’s not just about travel. I try to make the most of living in Philadelphia, a city rich with opportunities to learn and stay curious. Thanks to friends and websites like Eventbrite, I’ve found mini conferences about female empowerment and panel discussions focused on resilience. Each had unique speakers with diverse backgrounds as well as free swag! In fact, the panel discussion on resilience was found through an Eventbrite email. You can find a conference or have your own get together by using Eventbrite’s super cool tool.

Sometimes, spending time with my mom in Florida or grabbing sushi with a girlfriend is the right experience. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose trip to be memorable. Some of the highlights of this year (so far) include nights out dancing with my best friends and singing in the car with my sister.

How you spend your money is entirely up to you. I’d advocate for saving some of your budget for experiences. The new pair of shoes will look phenomenal but memories made with people you love (you included!) will last forever.

Dude, Where’s My Boss?!

When I started my job almost four months ago, I had no idea what to expect or who I’d be reporting to. Quickly I realized the person I’d be working most with (aka my boss) was located in Chicago. So this is fun, I thought. How exactly is going to work?

Coming straight from college, I’ve always interacted in person with my supervisor(s). We would communicate through email, occasionally over the phone and absolutely meet in person at least once a week. So not having my boss in the office was definitely something I wasn’t used to. But, working virtually is a way of life for most people here and in larger companies across the nation.

telecommuting-pro-and-conMost people at my company are telecommuters, which means they work from their home office most of the time. Some people split time between their home and work offices while others come into NYC everyday. It is more of a personal preference and thankfully, my company is flexible in letting employees work from home. Not having my direct supervisor in the office has been an adjustment for me but here’s why it works.

  • Technology: Conference calls and live meetings are an integral part of life here. We have the ability to conference several people into a call at once. Live meeting allows people to share their computer screen’s in order to explain a document to their audience. This visual aid makes training new employees so much easier. We rely heavily on these tools and others to help us feel like we’re all in the same room.
  • Understanding: Most of my team is in Chicago, which is an hour behind me here in Manhattan. We all are conscious of the time difference when scheduling meetings and are very understanding of each other’s schedules. Some of us get to work earlier while others stay later. Being aware of everyone’s schedules and best times of productivity is a key factor is our team’s efficiency.
  • Trust: My boss does not need to see me to know I am doing my work. Similarly, her boss doesn’t need to see her to know she’s working..super hard I might add. Of course, there will be some situations when employees must come into the office. But, on the whole, there is a level of trust between supervisors and their team. Because of this, there is more flexibility in where people work from.

Last week, Spin Sucks published an article about working from home versus working at the office. The article cited pros and cons to each, but studies found it came down to the ability to focus. Whether my boss is sitting behind me or sitting in Chicago, I have to keep myself motivated and focused on the task at hand. Limiting distractions is the biggest factor into staying focused. For more tips, check out the Spin Sucks article here.

I have learned that having a virtual team and office can be just as rewarding and productive as having your team right in front of you. It’s been a great way to improve my communication skills as well. Do you work virtually? Is it a challenge? Let me know!

ny-to-chi

Do You Believe in StrengthsFinder?

Last week in Chicago, my team completed the StrengthsFinder assessment and discussed our results. It was remarkable to see the variety of strengths between the eight of us. We covered almost all of the 34 categories and no two people had more than two strengths the same. This team activity sparked my interest in StrengthsFinder and made me want to share my findings.

StrengthsFinder is an assessment that asks you a series of questions and requires you to respond in an instance. The timing is intentional so that people do not over think their answers. As its name implies, the assessment focuses on a person’s strengths not their weaknesses. Their research found the a strengths-based approach increases a worker’s confidence, direction, hope and kindness towards others. You receive your top five strengths after you finish the assessment.

I’ve done the test in college and completed it again right before Chicago. Shockingly or not, my results were the same as previous times. Below is a brief description of each of my top 5 strengths.

  • Achiever: You must accomplish something every day and have more drive than more people. You have a fire burning inside of you that causes a relentless pursuit of your goals.
  • Developer: You see potential in all people, believing that each is a work in progress. Your goal is always to help people experience success.
  • Restorative: You are energized by solving problems, practical or conceptual. You enjoy bringing things/people back to life.
  • Empathy: You can sense the emotions of those around and are able to see the world from their perspective.
  • Input: You are inquisitive and collect things. You are curious about the world and are interested in continuing to learn about it.

My strengths literally hit the nail on the head. When I read the descriptions and calls to action, I could not believe how accurate they were. Each of my strengths plays a role in my personal and professional life. Knowing them and how they can become weaknesses has been extremely helpful. Any group of people, whether it be a team at work or a set of friends, should take the StrengthsFinder assessment. It helps each person understand themselves and those around them better. The assessment also cites what strengths work best with other strengths. Tips are given on how to work with all 34 types as well.

The StrengthsFinder assessment is only one of many tools to help individuals cultivate their strengths. I found it to be very beneficial and am glad my team discussed the results. Do you have any experience with StrengthsFinder? Did you find it helpful? Share your thoughts!

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