Have You Used Your Selfie Face Today?

This is part of the series “How to Have the Life Your Facebook Friends Think You Have” because why shouldn’t real life be as good as what we post to social media? This is also the basis of a talk that can be delivered as a keynote at your conference, or an interactive session. Guaranteed to get your group laughing and learning about work, life, and Faking Balance.

My closest friends and I get together once a year or so to conduct a Life Audit, which, if you have the chance, is a wonderful exercise, either with a group or on your own. You spend a few hours assessing and organizing all those things spinning around in your head, all those things you’d like to accomplish if you could only find the time, money, or grit to just get it done already. You look at long and short terms goals, as well habits you’d like to create. A Life Audit a great way to get focused and intentional. Playing with Sharpies and Post-It Notes is just a bonus.

The first time we got together, one friend identified smiling as a habit she wanted to practice. Awww, I thought. Poor thing. She’s unhappy. So she’s not smiling.

I didn’t get it.

Not until I ran across this quote (yes, I’m a sucker for quotes) attributed to Mother Theresa.

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~Mother Theresa

Well, duh. My friend wasn’t concerned about her personal happiness level at a given moment. She wanted to smile more, for other people. So simple. Such a noble pursuit.

And we do it every day for social media. Right?

12107195_10207912848444795_2690224884660270082_n

We are living in a selfie culture. Each smile flashed onto your Facebook profile meant to show the world how great a time you’re having. Posed, poised, taken, re-taken, and edited to reflect your momentary bliss and overall celebratory nature.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We owe huge gratitude to social social media for teaching us which angles and expressions make for the most attractive and engaging images. Now, what if we used this new expertise for a slightly different purpose?

What adventures can a smile spark?

What would happen right now if you walked up to your spouse, your mother, your teenager, your boss– and flashed them your very best selfie smile? Your smile on steroids, infused with all your charm just for them in that real world feed of your actual day?

Sure, they might freak out the first time, but after that I guarantee you good things will happen.

Do try it, and report back! I’m dying to know what adventures your smile can spark.

Want a fun speaker that encourages your group to use their selfie faces with the people in the room? I have limited dates to speak to women’s groups in 2016. Contact me today to schedule this program!


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs

Image Sources: portrait by Jeremy Scott

Frame the Shot

This is part of the series “How to Have the Life Your Facebook Friends Think You Have” because why shouldn’t real life be as good as what we post to social media? This is also the basis of a talk that can be delivered as a keynote at your conference, or an interactive session. Guaranteed to get your group laughing and learning about work, life, and Faking Balance.

 

My two favorite quotes about perfectionism are delightfully contradictory.

“Perfect is the enemy of the good.”

This one is attributed to Voltaire, but the idea was around long before he took credit for it. Too many of us are so paralyzed with the fear of creating or doing something imperfect, that we procrastinate doing anything at all. Too bad really, because so many things are good and so few things are perfect. And in my experience those perfect things are rarely made by puny humans. (Except, of course, whomever invented chocolate with salt in it.)

The other one that all of us virtuous Type A personalities know is from Jim Collins:

“Good is the enemy of great.”

Damn it, this one’s true too.

We can be so lazy.

So how to we balance our striving for great and also accept when something really is good enough?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Not only do we need to practice selective memory, we’d also be happier if we learned to frame up the shots of our own lives.

One girl’s spring picnic with the most adorable dogs in the world…

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 10.06.12 AM

Is another’s fast food on the side of the highway…

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 10.15.09 AM

Maybe, you hold out for the city park instead of a median, but in a pinch, any patch of grass will do.

You can absolutely find the fun and the “fine living” in just about any situation. It just depends on how you frame the situation.

Want a fun speaker that encourages your group to frame the shots in their memories as well as they frame the shots in their Facebook feeds? I have limited dates to speak to women’s groups in 2016. Contact me today to schedule this program. 


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs

Image Sources: portrait by Jeremy Scott, I found those side-of-the-highway images here and would love to track down their rightful owner (possibly the Jon Henshaw referenced in the post? 

Curate Wisely

This is part of the series “How to Have the Life Your Facebook Friends Think You Have” because why shouldn’t real life be as good as what we post to social media? This is also the basis of a talk that can be delivered as a keynote at your conference, or an interactive session. Guaranteed to get your group laughing and learning about work, life, and Faking Balance.

Jack Kerouac said, “Be in love with your life, every minute of it.”

Total crap.

It’s just not a practical standard.

There’s a local business I frequent that uses the tag line, “Never settle for good enough.”

Please.

How do they know when anything is done?

The key to a having a great life–the life your Facebook friends think you have, the life where you are happy, active, and flying your freak flag in an attractive and not too freakish way, where you have all the friends and all the fun– the key to all this is curation.

Curation of your own memories, of what you spend time reviewing in the feed of your own imagination.

I don’t believe social media has not taught us anything new.

In 1944 Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters told us to “Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”

Today, we call that curation, and our newfound cultural obsession with sharing every detail the attractive details of our private lives has provided us plenty of opportunities to practice.

I recently went on a girls’ weekend. Here are the faces we showed to the world while enjoying a leisurely brunch:

12711242_10208999156556054_3454269284000343614_o

What we didn’t share:

  • The half empty off-brand shampoo bottle at the rental. (I’m trying, Airbnb, I really am.)
  • Mild to moderate disagreements about how to spend our time.
  • Searching for an ATM.
  • Searching for a parking spot.
  • Searching for our Uber driver.
  • Third world bathroom adventures at a “dancing establishment” which shall remain nameless, to protect the innocent (and those of us too advanced in age to be spotted there).
  • Mild to moderate foot pain from not packing the appropriate shoes.
  • Guilt about everything waiting for us at home, aka that line in between my eyes.

Not to mention our breezy Sunday morning walk, past shot-out store windows and fragrant men who were clearly in between homes.

I asked that we document this less glamorous moment of our journey.

10155047_10153403634472006_8347636933662775630_n

But of course, we smiled for the shot.

I assure you, these faces were arranged in a different way the moment before.

I love these women. I love that we got away from our daily routines and spent time together, making memories and enjoying each other’s company. I love that they alerted me before I went out in public that I had two pair of glasses on my head, and that I chose to keep both.

I was not in love with every moment of the weekend. (I didn’t even love the breakfast burrito.)

But I don’t have to remember all the moments that weren’t any fun. I get to remember all the moments that were. That’s curation.

Want to learn how to curate our real life memories as much as you curate our Facebook feed? I have limited dates to speak to women’s groups in 2016. Contact me today to schedule this program. 


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs

Image Sources: Lela Davidson, Jeremy Scott

Stay on the Bus

City bus in Daejeon

I recently learned about the Helsinki bus terminal theory. It’s Finnish photographer Arno Minkkinen’s advice (he’s kind of a big deal) about attaining success in a creative career. The theory compares a body of creative work to the bus lines in Helsinki.

All the busses leaving the city travel a similar route through the city. Only after traveling a ways, stopping and starting again, do the busses branch off onto their unique paths. Artists are like these busses, Minkkinen contends, all traveling similar routes, learning from established forms, imitating our heroes even, until finally, after slogging along for a while, do we start to perceive and travel our unique route.

Stay on the bus.

Minkkinen says too many of us get frustrated when our work fails to be unique, or special, or deeply satisfying, early on in our pursuit of our craft of choice. But we don’t realize that everyone else is on the same bus route, so to speak, that we’ve all got to pass through the same terrain to get out of the city. So instead of staying on the bus, riding out our creative commute to get to the good stuff, we get off the bus, head back to the station, and get on a different bus, in search of our true journey, only to find ourselves on a similar route again.

Stay on the bus.

Some artists do this over and over, Minkkinen says, always starting something new, never getting past the same familiar ground that has been covered by countless others. He advises us to stay on our busses. We have to keep moving past the things we create that are similar to what others create, past our teachers and those we admire, past the easy, the obvious. We have to keep at our craft until we get to what is really ours and ours alone to create.

Only by traveling through the mundane and not so original, do we break free into our true journey.

Stay on the bus.

I like this theory.

Here’s the thing: Riding a bus in the city is the worst. Utter hell, on wheels. The diesel fumes, the people of various states of grooming, that weird sticky summer seat situation that makes you wonder why you’d ever allow any portion of your bare thighs to come in contact with a public surface.

So take precautions. Take one of those weird Michael Jackson face masks, an extra pair of earbuds, and for god’s sake, wear pants. Do what you have to do to endure that city bus ride. Do not be afraid that you got on the wrong bus. If you did, you’ll know. When you get out there past the city limits you’ll see where you are. You can get off and Uber back. It’s not a big deal. It’s not so scary.

It’s just art, kids.

Kindergarteners do it every day.

Stay on the bus.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Got Confidence? Quotes That Might Help

confidence quotes

Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with giving us one of our most enduring quotes about confidence:

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

It’s true that all else equal, confidence can be the difference between success and failure, moving forward and staying stuck, or sending of hundreds of submissions only to receive what feels like thousands of rejections. Confidence is the difference between hot pink and beige.

“Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.”

This one is good to remember when you’re wondering if you need to speak up for the sake of speaking up, or if you (and everyone else) are better served keeping your mouth shut. Not that I would know anything about that.

“Confidence isn’t about ‘I know they will like me.’ It’s ‘I’ll be okay if they don’t.'”

I heard the author Claire Cook speak once at a luncheon. She told us, “I really, really, really want you to like me. But if you don’t, that’s okay too.” It’s okay to want to be liked, even to an excessive degree. What’s dangerous is a need to be liked. And since I am still slightly focused on Madonna, here’s another one of her quotes, which to me is very much related:

“Power is being told you’re not loved and not being destroyed by it.”

And finally, because I do love a good fried fish,

“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you.” Zig Ziglar

Go forth and be confident, friends. Think big.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs

I’m Not the Best at Anything, Just Like Madonna

not the best

I’m obsessed with Madonna lately because I got to see her in concert this month. I’ve been a casual fan, at best, over the years, but I’ve always admired Madonna. I’ve actually lived by a quote of hers since 1991. These words have shaped me, encouraged me, set a path for me to follow. The quote represents a quarter century of influence.

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I work the hardest.”

What amazing advice. What a freeing outlook. Who cares about raw talent? Take what you’ve got and run with it. Take advantage of every opportunity to do all that you can to pursue your dreams. This was my mandate, direct from Madonna to this young Madonna-wannabe.

Except, she never said that, exactly.

For 25 years, a Millennial’s entire lifetime, the time it takes to grow a damn fine tree, I’ve had the quote all wrong.

Typical me.

The actual quote goes like this:

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons, in being provocative. In being political.”

Oh.

That’s very different.

Fortunately we did not have the internet in the dark ages of the turn of the 90s. If we had, I could have Googled Madonna’s exact words and then used some app to make a snazzy image with a fishnet background and a crucifix centered over the text. I would have posted this on Instagram and declared to the world that this was the quote I’d live by for the year. Or 25, as it turned out.

Instead, I heard what I needed to hear.

I heard that it wasn’t critical to be the very best at anything. Success was for anyone who worked for it. Here was Madonna, dominating American pop music, and she believed she was not the best singer and dancer. She told me that I didn’t have to have ridiculous talent to make pursuing my dreams worthwhile. (Ridiculous goals still required.) She told me there was room enough for all of us to be successful, not just the super talented ones.

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons, in being provocative. In being political.”

All those years I thought the quote was about working hard for things, wanting them so badly you figured out how to make them happen.

As I interpret Madonna’s words now, they seem to be about defining success for yourself, and I wonder if this new and improved (old and accurate) quote will mean as much to me over the next 25 years.

At the concert, just before performing an acoustic version of “Who’s That Girl?” Madonna said something to the effect of still being a “confused soul,” except she used a much more fun and colorful word for soul. She asked if we aren’t, all of us, always just trying to figure out who we are? I wish I’d written it down, but I was too busy being moved.

Also, I’m not good with quotes, apparently.

Maybe I got this one wrong too. Maybe Madge was talking about drag queens or the Illuminati. I don’t know. But I’m fine if I heard it wrong. It made me feel better. Not because Madonna was admitting she didn’t have it all figured out, I’m pretty sure none of us do, but because she had the courage to stand on a stage and say it out loud. You might say she has nothing to lose, but I’d argue she’s got plenty.

I was never the best analyst or the girl who knew every IRS code. But I was damn good at those jobs. I’m certainly not the best writer or speaker, but what a boring world we’d have if only the best used their voices. And we’d be crushed if only the best stepped up to lead, or to parent. So I try, I do, I fail, I repeat.

I don’t have to be the best anything. Pressure’s off.

Express yourself.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs.

 

 

 

Image Source: Lela Davidson

Attention Book Clubs: Choose a Funny Book and Invite Me Over

Choosing a funny book for book club is the best way to ensure you will be the most popular hostess in your book club. And what better way to improve your social standing? Smarts AND smirks. There are plenty of reasons to choose a funny book for book club. I wrote three whole books to help you do just that. Why? Well…

  • Do you ever wonder how a spreadsheet might aid in the conception of a child?
  • Have you been banned from a dog park?
  • Is frozen lasagna integral to your idea of work-life balance?

You might need to read my books.

And invite me to your book club meeting. It’ll be fun, I promise.


I’d love to visit your book club!

book club meeting

Need a fun visitor for your next meeting? Invite me to join via Skype, Google Hangout, or whatever fancy tech you know how to work. I will bring my own wine and the stories behind the stories. You didn’t think I shared everything in the books, did you? Hit me up and let’s get your book club meeting on the calendar!

3 Ingredients for Accomplishing Any Ridiculous Goal

I am conflicted about ridiculous goals. I believe in them, and I admire people who set them, but I admit to erring on the side of achievable goals. They make me feel better, especially when I cross them off my list. But ridiculous goals are definitely where the money is, where the excitement is, where the fun is.

I have some experience with ridiculous goals. How else could I have transitioned from Certified Public Accountant to best-selling author? (New York Times, I’ll get you yet.) How else could I lead a hyper-talented editorial team to create the #1 country music and lifestyle media property in the whole wide world? How else could I be the primary laundry caretaker for two teenagers, a husband, and a dog?

Ridiculous goals. That’s how.

Ridiculous or practical, the mechanics of accomplishing any goal are the same. And they are not complicated. If you can follow a recipe, you can achieve your goals. You would have to be living under a rock for the last 30 years to have missed the over-abundance of literature (do we call it literature?) on the subject of setting and achieving goals. It’s simple: Set a date, break big dreams into small steps, take action, measure, repeat.

It’s the take action part that most people miss, but that’s another topic for another day.

But before you make the list (or spreadsheet), before you have dates in the calendar, you need some basic ingredients. There are only three: Vision, Skills, and Network.

Those working together will get absolutely anything done.

Vision

This one is tricky, and there are two pieces. First, what do you really want? What is the end goal? Second, and I think more important, is the vision we have of ourselves. Are you the person who will accomplish this particular big thing? Are you the person who will rise above the challenges and circumstances? Are you the person who will persevere when the shit gets tough?

Skills

Let’s assume you know what you want and you’ve convinced yourself you’re the one to do it. Despite your fancy spreadsheets (or humble lists), your committed intention, and your dutiful action, if you do not possess the skills to accomplish your goal, you won’t get very far. Invest in your skills, Invest in understanding what skills are require to get a particular thing done, and then invest in acquiring them. Whether or not you achieve your goal, the skills you build in the process are yours to keep. Warren Buffet famously counsels that this is the best investment anyone can make:

Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. You can have all kinds of things happen. But if you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold.

 

Network

Never underestimate the power of groups, and never give up just because you don’t have the right network, YET. Some of us are born into certain networks, or we acquire them by school, work, or social association. Most of us have to artfully assemble the right people to help us reach our goals.

This year I encouraged my daughter to participate in local year-long fundraising program for a national charity. I wanted her to participate in the program so she would learn to combine the three key ingredients: Vision, Skills, and Network.

I wanted her to see herself as the kind of person who commits and follows through, who steps out into a challenge, an uncomfortable task, an unknown situation, with grace and confidence.

I wanted her to develop the planning and scheduling skills she would need to complete the programs. But mostly, I wanted her to learn how to ask for money, because as I see it, that’s an incredibly valuable skill.

I wanted my daughter to nurture a network with the other girls from different schools and towns.

I’m pretty sure she’s just in it for the dress she will wear to the ball at the end.

That’s okay. A girl’s got to have a goal.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs.

In Celebration of Awkward

Awkward Lela Davidson

My sweet friend Sarah did not post this picture after I spoke at the NWA Technology Summit in November. Instead, she came up to me giggling and asked to take another picture.

“It makes you look really short,” she said. “Like, you-don’t-have-a-torso short.”

I mean, CLEARLY I’m bending over. But, yes. Awkward.

The thing is, that image was the least awkward part of the day. You can tell by the look on my face that I’m happy here with my friend. I feel good, which was not the default of the day.

I beat myself up badly before, during, and after I speak to a group. It doesn’t matter how many people talk to me afterward. It doesn’t matter how many encouraging notes I receive. I literally lost sleep the night after this talk, going over the parts of it where I stumbled, or said something maybe I shouldn’t have.

And don’t get me started on the drama of trying to get dressed for this event. Because it was super Chamber of Commerce, but also super tech. So what– graphic tee, jeans and a blazer? White House Black Market take me away.

Posing like the queen of the munchkin parade was low on the list of things that bothered me that day. My glasses look cute in this shot. Is there anything more important?

This all happened way back a million years ago in November. A few days later I got a reminder that I was not alone in my awkwardness.

That same week two of my heroes were super awkward.

First, Sheryl Sandberg was practically heckled when she encouraged the alpha males at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to lean in to supporting women as peers.

Ouch. Those boys tried to bring her down a peg, that was clear, so much so that their cadet leader scolded them afterward for their poor treatment of their guest. But who can blame them? It’s their job to bring her down a peg, right?

Maybe Sheryl lost sleep, too. And maybe she obsessed over that dress. (Such a great dress.) Or maybe that part is just my issue. Bottom line, Sheryl was not smooth. She was real. And therefore vulnerable.

“Look,” she told CNN. “I could have gone to a million places where they would have loved me. But, I didn’t.” Later she added, “Societal change and cultural change is not always comfortable.”

We’ve got a long way to go, baby.

The same week a friend sent a clip of Madonna’s performance in Stockholm. It was the day after the attacks in Paris. Madge gives a heartfelt monologue about how we need to shine light in the face of all this darkness, to be the light.

Damn, is she awkward. Just absolutely not smooth.

Aren’t we all so lucky that these two amazing women, my teachers, my role models (don’t act like Borderline didn’t change lives) can show us their awkwardness? Because if they in their power and privilege can’t be awkward, how can we feel okay with looking like a circus attraction once in a while? But they can, so I will.

Won’t you join me?


Books Make Great Gifts!

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.

 

Image: Sarah Hood

Do You Have a Super Hero?

Here is the mug a dear friend gave me a few years ago. This friend took a chance on my writing when she started her magazine. We have since started and run a successful business together. Over coffee and slide decks, we dream of future ventures. When she gave me the mug, a Christmas gift I think, she said, “You are a Wonder Woman to me, Lela.”

super hero

Every time I use this mug I remember those words and they encourage me.

I know, it’s just a mug. But I’m a mug person. I still have the mug I received from my very first real(ish) job. My Bellingham National Bank mug is 25 years old. I haven’t managed to break it yet. That one reminds me of the super powers it took to overcome my circumstances at the time (unhealthy relationship, ill-advised “break” from college, questionable 1990s fashion choices, etc.), and make the decisions I needed to make in order to own my own life. And the friends I made at that job. The mug reminds me of them too.

But back to Wonder Woman, because this post is about super heroes. I want to identify with a super hero, so that in my darker moments I’ll have one more tool to make me feel that ‘I can do this thing!’ energy we all need sometimes to power through. Wonder Woman is worthy, and what a sweet compliment from my friend. But I’m not so sure Wonder Woman is the one for me. Just minutes ago she was covered in crusted chocolate, the result of an unfortunate microwave hot cocoa incident. Seems like she would know better, or do better, or jet off in her invisible plane to a land where cocoa never runneth over. Not me.

I have plenty of real life heroes, women (and men) I know who accomplish amazing things or exhibit the qualities I wish I possessed. It’s important to have these people to look up to, but these real life heroes are not super heroes. They are role models. No matter how lovely, they are still human. They still fail. While they deserve our admiration, we can’t hold real people to super standards.

But a superhero, she can take it.

Business coach Erika Lyremark talks about creating “compact super heroes,” different personalities you can fit in your pocket. Each with unique super powers to get you through any situation. I like that idea, too. You create the heroes you need for a given situation. Still, I want the one. My special super girl.

What I don’t want is the busty, half-naked comic book femme fatale, leaping across rooftops and fighting crime. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she doesn’t feel like me. Check out Wonder Woman. She is fierce. She is an Amazon.

I am an awkward, say-the-wrong-thing, tiny girl. I like to do yoga and read personal essays. My super power is spreadsheets, which is just not very dramatic, or literary, or conducive to cool costumes. A few months ago I got really excited about a cleaning cloth. Not my best moment. But on this side of 45, I can own all that. And thank goodness, right? Because I must now qualify as middle-aged despite my determination to live to 100. And ladies of a certain age, while we don’t have to grow up (oh, but, never!) we do have to give something back. We do have to be comfortable in our own un-super skin.

So I’m thinking Dorothy Gale. You know, the girl who travelled all the way to Oz to find out her powers were inside her all the time. And do not even try to tell me she is not a super hero. She leads a motley crew through an unknown land, and helps each of them find what they desperately desire. She doesn’t put up with any crap from flying monkeys or bad witches or the man behind the curtain. That’s the kind of power I’d like to tap each day.

And I love sparkly shoes. And pig tails.

Dorothy it is.

Maybe someday I’ll grow up to be Glinda the Good Witch.

But not yet. I still have a lot of traveling to do.

You know what super heroes are extra good for? Helping you fake your balance when everything threatens to tip you right over. 

Also great for that, encouraging words from my latest book: Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life.


Books Make Great Gifts!

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.

 

Image: Lela Davidson