There are lots of things to think about.

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More on My brand as I retire, happily.

My brand:  I have three words so far:  information, introvert, variety.  One thing that I realize  as I continue to explore retirement is that I search for more self knowledge.

The word "brand"

The word “brand” (Photo credit: robgiampietro)

This search for self knowledge is my first step for this first year of my retirement.  I haven’t jumped in to a lot of travel, something that I want to do in the future.

What is my Vision of travel, next year or the year after? I see myself sitting in a cafe, or on a plaza near a cafe.  It is out of doors.  I am reading and sipping wine or more likely coffee.  (Wine sounds better, but lets face it, I want to be awake for this experience.)

So I am sipping coffee, perhaps in Santiago Chile, perhaps in a town in France (it could be Chartres or maybe some place in Provence). It is sunny and comfortable.  I have public transportation available.

Hey!  I think I found my next brand word (see my post What is your Brand?).  It would be Urban.

To me Urban means a city, a lot of cultural opportunities (museums, concerts, book stores, little use of cars, lots of public transportation).  I realize that being urban has been a really driving force for me all of my life.  I haven’t often lived in the center of a city, but I have always wanted to do that, and I usually lived close enough to a city that I could get there without too much trouble.  So I am an Urban soul.

One thing I have been doing is watching the series Mad Men either through DVDs, or on my computer. (These are available through Amazon for instant viewing or buying.)  I have had a lot of catching up to do since I did not watch much television when I was working,

Now I am at the beginning of Season 5.  In one of the early episodes, Pete Campbell and his wife are attending a party given in an apartment in Manhattan.  The Campbells have recently moved to the suburbs, requiring a long train commute for Pete.  He has said in a past episode that he loves being in the city on a holiday weekend, when he has all of the possibilities open to him and no interference.

At the party his wife remarked that she could hear the street noise even in the apartment.  I watched this happy, dreamy longing look come over Pete Campbell’s face at the thought of the noise and the action in the city.  I know how he felt!  I feel the same way.  To be in the middle of things, to have the possibility to have the best available:  that is what the city means to me.  (I hope you get back to it, Pete.)

I know why I am an urban person, and why my dreams of my future travel are usually to cities, or to towns close to cities.  I was raised in New York City, although most of my childhood was spent in Staten Island, part of the city, but certainly not in the middle of things.  Plusses: easy and plentiful adn frequent public transportation. Negatives: distance to Manhattan.

Staten Island Ferry terminal, Lower Manhattan ...

Staten Island Ferry terminal, Lower Manhattan Français : Terminal du ferry de Staten Island, à Lower Manhattan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to Manhattan as often as I could, and I loved the museums, especially the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the big Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum. The stores were all large and plentiful, and in parts of New York, unusual.  (My third Brand Word is Variety).  I think living in New York reinforced for me that the world had so many possibilities.

Now I live in a suburb of St. Paul, MN.  I don’t have good public transportation into the cities of St. Paul or Minneapolis, but it is improving. Both cities are easy to get to, and it is easy to find parking.  These are wonderful cities for the culture, restaurants, variety, and good quality.  So in many ways my brand is being honored.

To catch up on other posts:  I have finished the book Quiet by Susan Cain and I will say more about that in another post.  I recommend it, especially for anyone who is an introvert (more people than we think), or who lives with and/or loves an introvert.  I am also reading a book on water issues, very good.  And Agatha Christie continues to keep me entertained, with the first Miss Marple book:  Murder At the Vicarage. Agatha continues to have that wry sense of humor while she has a straight face and gently pokes fun at the self importance of her characters.

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What is your brand?

Last weekend, I was at a graduation ceremony for my niece who received her MBA.  This was a really good event, with a respectful admiration for all of their graduates.  I was interested in the comments of the commencement speaker, Mr. Harry Campbell.  Mr Campbell has worked for years as a brand manager for Proctor and Gamble among other executive positions.  He has recently published a book called Get-Real Leadership.

At the graduation, Mr. Campbell spoke about Self branding.  He raised the issue of what it means to be a brand, and asked us to identify our own brand.

What does a brand mean?  A brand is a product with a strong identification.  When a brand is seen we know what it is.  When we buy Kleenex, we know what we are getting.   A brand is reliable: Kleenex is Kleenex, it doesn’t change from one box to the next, although the packaging may change.  A good brand builds confidence.  A good brand stands behind its name.

So, the challenge that Harry Campbell gave to the graduates and to the audience was: “What is your brand?”  Can you describe your brand, your identity, what it is that makes you you day after day?  When people see you or know you, what are they getting?  Who are you?  in 7 words.

Yes, describe yourself in seven words.  What is your brand?

I found this challenge to be instantly interesting.  We move around through our lives, thinking we are reacting to the many things that happen to us, and responding to the people and animals and other things that we encounter, but how often do we take the time to decide who we are, and to simplify that identification so that we can describe ourselves with seven strong words?  How do we choose seven strong words that describe our brand?

This will take some thought, lots of ideas will come to mind, many will be discarded.  100 words to describe me would be easy.  But 7?  Which 7 are the best?  Mr. Campbell suggested that we think this through ourselves, then ask some of the people who know us well to identify our brand.  He did warn us that when we get the results from other people there will be one work that we will hate, and one word that we will want to deny.  “That’s not me!  That person doesn’t know what he/she is talking about!  Where did that idea even come from? OMG!!”  

So to the challenge.  Once a student was taking a make up exam and she took it in my home, in the dining room.  She looked around and stated that I was about information.  It immediately sounded right to me and since then I have always identified myself as a person who is about information.  So that is one part of my brand.  I am an introvert and that may be part of my brand as well.  I like variety and I include variety in my reading, and my music, and my activities.

I don’t think I have gone very far, I need to do a lot more work on this.  But it is a good challenge.  Let me know if any of you are working on something like this yourselves.

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A happy introvert

Good morning,  I have kept busy with reading, walking, going to some movies, and music.

More thoughts on self discovery:  I am reading a book called Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  This is a book which considers the role of introverted persons in various roles in our lives.  This has struck a chord in me because I have always been an introvert and admittedly a somewhat extreme one, and especially when I was younger, a shy introvert.

Reading a book

Reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since we live in a society which supports and celebrates a lot of socialization and busyness, introverts can have a hard time fitting in. I have recently accepted the comfort of my own personality, and I have enjoyed it.  Those of you who are readers and writers may also have experienced this same struggle:  Am I OK?  Why can’t I just read a book this afternoon? Why does everyone go to parties?  and I don’t really want to.  I think amusement parks are tedious  and noisy.  I was a mystery to my parents, who liked my good marks in school, but also wanted me to be more social and especially, to have more boy friends.

So it is a good feeling to read a book which 1: validates the experience of not fitting in, and second: celebrates the real contributions and strengths of introverts.

Today I have been reading the section where Susan discusses the difficulty that introverts have in very social religious practices, such as the very successful evangelical church, the Saddleback Church.  She discusses the work of a man named Adam McHugh, an evangelical minister, who struggles with the sense of being “not right” and wonders if God is pleased with him as he is.  He is now accepting himself as a religious introvert, and is speaking up about the need for more solitude and contemplation in religious practice.  His book is called Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.  I haven’t read the book, if you have read it or if you do read it, I would love to receive a comment on it.

I don’t want you to think that I only read serious books.  I have almost finished Agatha Christie‘s book “The Secret of Chimneys.”  Lots of fun.  I am trying to read Christie in order, alternating her books with other fiction.

(OK, I admit it I am a little obsessive, as well.)

I also have gone to some good movies, not usually the blockbuster types.  I recommend Moonrise Kingdom which has had excellent reviews but is not widely released, and Woody Allen‘s  latest movie: To Rome With Love.

This was not well reviewed, and not well liked, but was a really funny spoof of a lot of social relationships like success, hollywood relationships, and even opera. Have fun with these.

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Problems in the airline industry.

United Airlines

United Airlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just finished reading the book Attention All Passengers: The Truth about the Airline Industry, by William McGee.

Mr. McGee has good credentials: he is the former editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter.  In 2012 the U. S. secretary of transportation appointed him as a consumer advocate to the Future of aviation Advisory Committee.  He has spent almost seven years in airline flight operations management, and he is an FAA licensed flight dispatcher.

The problems evident in the airline industry are the same problems that are characteristic of much of American industry:  Excessive attention to profit, high executive compensation along with too little attention to quality production, safety, and good relations with employees and customers.

Many concerns will be familiar to any one who has flown on commercial airlines recently: crowding, little seat space, inadequate storage space in overhead bins, problems with the loss of luggage, delays, and cancelled flights.  The comfort and sometimes even the safety of passengers is overlooked.

Outsourcing of flights, reservations, and even maintenance increases frustration and decreases safety.  While the major airlines publicize their safety records (and have no doubt, flying is the safest way to travel), and claim that they have had no crashes in 10 years, the truth is they outsource many flights to regional airlines where the record is not as clean.  Passengers may not know that they are not flying on a major airline, the ticket, the plane, and the staff may all look like the major airline, but they are not.  Pilots and flight attendants in the regional airlines may be seriously underpaid, unable to support themselves, commuting long distances, and grabbing some sleep when they can.  (Second jobs in order to meet expenses, to say nothing about meeting the school loan bills are often essential).  These employees are then responsible for the comfort and safety of hundreds of passengers.

Outsourcing of maintenance of the planes is the scariest of the stories that William McGee has to tell.  It is truly frightening to realize that so much maintenance is done overseas.  The mechanics may not be licensed, and an entire staff may be supervised by only one licensed mechanic.  The FAA oversight is limited by distance, inadequate funding, and by a strong culture of inappropriate friendship with the airline executives.

This has been sad for me in part because I have a family member who works for the airlines.  I also hate to see the deterioration of an industry which we once were so proud of.

I recommend this book, obviously it is a disturbing one. People who are interested in flight, in aviation,a nd in American business, will find it enlightening.