5 reasons to love Minneapolis

After living in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis - St. Paul for over 15 years, and in Minneapolis for over 10, I wanted to share some of the great things about living in this area, specifically Minneapolis.  Here goes, here are my top 5 reasons to love Minneapolis: 1.  Minneapolis has an amazing food scene that has nothing to do with chain restaurants.   My wife and I love to eat at new places.  Minneapolis always has new places popping up with great chefs and there is almost no way you can get to all the places, so you never run out of great places to try!  Some of our recent favorites include Nico's Taco and Tequila bar, Amore Victoria, Sea Salt Eatery, Shuang Cheng, to name a few.  I travel a good amount for work and so many cities are dominated by chain restaurants and that is just not the case in Minneapolis.  (Thankfully) 2.  Minneapolis has an amazing art, music and theatre scene that is unparalleled for a city of this size. Any of these points deserve their own post, but the art scene here really blows me away.  From museums, to theaters, to orchestras and more Minneapolis has it.  Again, comparing Minneapolis to other medium sized metros, there is no lack of things to go and experience in the art and music world.  I just wished I lived here in Uptown when Nirvana used to play at the Uptown Bar back in the early 90's.  (Both Nirvana and the Uptown Bar no longer exist sadly.) 3.  Minneapolis consistently goes back and forth with Portland for being the most bike friendly city. I am so glad RT Rybak was mayor of Minneapolis.  RT made sure we had the best bike trail system anywhere.  There were a lot of other community advocates who helped build the system as well, but we can go hundreds of miles on our bikes here around amazing lakes and parks and never leave the trails!  It is something you really have to experience for yourself to truly appreciate.  I am so glad I invested in a road bike and can get out and see the city and region. 4.  Minneapolis almost always ranks as the top, or a top, fittest city in the United States. This follows #3, people in Minneapolis take care of themselves.  You will see so many runners, bikers, and more in this city than almost anywhere else I...
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I always used my strengthsfinder themes; not always for good

I read somewhere recently you should write, "The parts of your story you least want to tell, are the parts people most need to hear."  - Jeff Goins. So, here goes. I do realize that someday my son may read these blogs and then ask me, "Dad, what was the deal with......." I realize some of you may say, "Wow, really?" I doubt I will add as many intros and caveats in the future, but here goes. The whole story needs to be told, the good and the bad and how I used my strengthsfinder themes and personality from a young age to have influence in good and bad ways. Social Media Perfection The trend in social media is for all of us to focus only how we want to be seen.  So, sometimes viewing someone's facebook profile or twitter feed, you might think they never have an off day.  Look, I confess to not like putting out pictures of myself that are less than glamorous.  We all do it.  We self edit to try and put out the best possible version of ourselves. I want to step outside of that box more than I usually do and tell you a few stories from my high school days.  The stories my wife rolls her eyes at and wonders how I am still alive in some cases. My StrengthsFinder Themes My strengths have always allowed me to organize, execute, lead, delegate, market, sell and produce gatherings and events.  In high school these talents were used to have parties when my parents were at our summer home in Wisconsin for the weekend.  (Mom, I know you know this story already, so....)  I went to high school in LaGrange, Illinois at Lyons Township High School.  "LT," was a school of about 4,000 students divided into two campuses, north and south, south being for freshman and sophomores and north for juniors and seniors. It started at south campus, but my ability to pull off events, 'parties,' was refined during my time as a junior, (for the first and second time), and as a senior.  The marketplace tells you all the feedback you need in order to be successful and having parties at my house gave me a lot of feedback from people who attended the parties, to how I had to clean up, and how I might make a profit. High School Dropout My first junior year of high...
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5 Signs You Are Stuck in the Wrong Job

80% of you reading this either hate your job or, at best, neutral on what you do for your employment.  You may or may not think about this very often, but if you pause and reflect, do you disagree?  How do you know if you are stuck in the wrong job?  As someone who has managed lots of people over the years I want to share my five signs that you are stuck in the wrong job.  Here goes: 1.  You are a salaried employee but act like an hourly employee You are paid to get the job done, but you count the hours every week and make sure that you do not go over 40 hours.  If your mindset is that you only get paid for 40 hours and then you can just go your merry way, you are off.  Look, I am all about being efficient but the point of being a salaried employee is that your organization has trusted you to get the job done and you agreed to a salary to get that job done.  Over the years I have heard people who are stuck in jobs that they have outgrown, or were never a good fit for anyway, become jaded at their employer because of a job they are choosing to stay in. If you once were a highly engaged salaried employee and at some point you started acting hourly, look yourself in the mirror and be honest about why this happened and what you can do about it - you may be stuck in the wrong job. 2.  The first thing you do when you get to work is go to get coffee and then proceed to catch up with other people at work for 20-30 minutes before you do any actual work. This goes back to the first point - if the majority of your day you are finding ways to not do your job, or do the minimum to get by - you are stuck in the wrong job.  Side note, if your 20 - 30 minutes of catching up and drinking coffee is followed by checking Facebook for another 20 - 30 minutes you either have a really interesting work ethic or you are stuck in the wrong job, or maybe both. Understand:  Getting along with your co-workers and investing in their lives is important, but should not take up the...
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Black Walnut Trees and Generosity: Are you Generous?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Black Walnut Tree[/caption] Are you generous?  Is that something you think about often?  I do from time to time and usually come to the conclusion that I could be more generous.  It hit me yesterday when tipping the pizza guy, the bill was $23 and I decided to give him a $5 tip.  Hey, he was dressed like a superhero and was giving me hot pizza, it was the least I could do.  (We order from Galactic Pizza where they drive electric cars and dress up like superheroes.)  I felt good after giving him that tip.  It made me happy.  Generosity is one of the main keys to happiness.  The more you do it, the better you will feel.  During the past few weeks I heard an amazing story about how a loving family used Black Walnut trees to give generously to support the dreams of their children.  I needed to share the story with all of you. Black Walnut Trees & Supporting Dreams I work as a consultant doing strengths based organizational development.  I use the Clifton StrengthsFinder with clients to help them understand who they are, how they fit in a team, and how they can help build a strengths based culture where they work.  During the introductions at a recent client engagement we asked who people are, what their job is and an event or person that has helped shape their life.  The first two questions are easy, but the third question sometimes throws people off because they have a choice to get vulnerable and share something that is more than what is on their name tag. During that recent engagement a man shared that an event that had shaped him was a trip after his college graduation where he was able to spend time in Africa on a safari.  My ears immediately perked up because that is a lifelong dream of mine to see and explore Africa.  This man described the trip and how important it was to his journey, and who he is today.  The story of the trip alone was enough to keep me interested, but when he said how the trip was paid for, it stuck in my mind so much that I needed to share it with you. How did he, the son of a farmer from northern Minnesota, afford an African safari trip over multiple weeks?  His...
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5 ways to be happy

Happy. Such an elusive place for many of us to be.  The body of research on what makes people happy is growing at a fast and exciting rate. There is now research on what makes us happy! We can learn a lot of ways to be happy simply by following what is going on in the latest happiness and well being research.  Here are a few things I have gleaned over time from others and from personal experience on ways to be happy. What are some of those ways to be happy? 1.  Earn between $50,000 and $75,000 "It seems the sweet spot is somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000. If you make under $50,000, you might be stressed about your financial situation. If you make over $75,000, the additional returns on working longer hours might not be worth it anymore. But it’s nice to know that a $75,000 salary isn’t necessary to be happy. It’s just a perk." - Alden Wicker Money can buy you happiness but it has a diminishing return after a certain level, in the study Alden Wicker looked at over $75,000 did not yield a lot in the way of happiness. I would add that your happiness may increase depending on how much you love your job and how much you are engaged at work.  I know plenty of people who make over $50,000 per year and are not engaged at work, and are not that happy in general.  So, how can you find a job that allows you do what you are talented at and what you are passionate about? 2.  Be Generous:  Help other people and causes out From the Happiness Project people:  "For our happiness, how we spend our money is as important, if not more important, than the amount of money that we make. Giving to others releases endorphins, activating the parts of our brains that are associated trust, pleasure, and social connection. Being altruistic and spending money on others leads to higher levels of happiness. Happiness, in turn, increases the chance that we’ll be altruistic in the future, creating a positive feedback loop of generosity and happiness." The happiest people I know are also the most generous people I know.  They give without expecting anything in return, over and over again.  I used to work with a colleague named John.  John is a radical giver.  He gives to everyone in one way shape or form, and I even...
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