As the song says, "They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, they say there's always magic in the air on Broadway" … and now it's all coming back!
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although we live in Texas, we're originally from New York, and as different as we are, one thing we have in common is a love of Broadway, so we're excited about the re-opening of Broadway, even if for very different reasons.
For Red, the re-opening of Broadway's a return to better times, and even if she doesn't get to New York soon, it reminds her of falling in love with the theater – from Shakespeare to musicals, dramas to comedies – and why she majored in it at college. Yet her introduction to Broadway, which was less than 30 miles from where we grew up on Long Island, started thousands of miles away in London. At the time, Black was attending (not sure "studying" would be an accurate description) London Business School for the final semester of her M.B.A., and as Red's 16th birthday gift had her visit for a few weeks.
On one of Red's first nights in London, Black took her to the West End to see "The Crucifer of Blood" at the Haymarket (its "proper" name is the Theatre Royal Haymarket and to this day remains Red's favorite theater) starring Keith Michell. Red had avidly watched him years prior as he portrayed Henry VIII in the Masterpiece Theater series, and that night, she watched him play Sherlock Holmes on stage and,
I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Watching a live performance was magical and inspiring, and I felt like it brought all of us in the audience together. There's something very powerful about the theater "experience", and although there'll be various safety precautions, I'm excited Broadway's coming back. And I'd love to see Six, the acclaimed British musical about the six wives of Henry VIII, which was hours from its first-night opening when theaters closed.
Black remembers the first Broadway show she ever saw, Finian's Rainbow, when she was about 10-years-old. She hated it because she thought the storyline was far-fetched, and people didn't just break out in song for no apparent reason. (Obviously, she's always been pragmatic.)
Years later, Black was pursuing her M.B.A. at New York University, took an accounting class from one of the Shubert Organization founders, and was introduced to the business side of theater and immediately took an active interest. First in the history of what made Broadway, Broadway, and then she started going to the Broadway "hits" to understand what the market wanted. Looking at how Broadway continually seemed to reinvent itself to survive (there's a soon-to-be-released documentary, "On Broadway"), although it will face daunting financial odds.
And now that reinvention will include the recently signed "New Deal" where the theater industry itself (theater owners, producers, creatives, casting directors, even union leaders) has committed to reforms that will ensure equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. Of course, Black can't help but point out the elephant in the room (or is it the elephant on stage?),
Broadway has long been known as "The Great White Way," and although it was because of all the electric white lights on the theatre marquees and billboards, there is a "politically incorrect" connotation to that phrase. However, the Broadway that closed in March 2020 will be very different when it reopens … and hopefully will be the beginning of a strong season and a bright future.
Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.
Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).
When Red learned that June was Effective Communications Month, she had to laugh, as the first thought that popped into her head was,
Oh, Black will have a field day with this given my tendency to blah-blah-blah. Plus, I don't know how many times she's told me that whatever point I'm trying to make often gets lost in my "sea of words". Of course, when she's told me this in person, I get the added emphasis of seeing her roll her eyes. At least, it's not what I call "The Look", which is a step beyond the rolling of her eyes when you can only imagine what she's thinking, but you know it's not good. But, I digress, which, I guess, is part of my communication "challenge".
The fact Red's warm and fuzzy, and likes to couch her words (whether spoken or written) so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, and to provide full explanations to avoid misunderstanding, is a good thing but is still only half the equation. Communication requires both the sending – and the receiving – of a message. But if the other party isn't listening, it falls on … well, deaf ears. Which often means you repeat yourself (oh, and we all know how our tone of voice changes when we're saying something for the millionth time), and although it may initially have been said with good intentions, ends up being seen as nagging.
Black, on the other hand, has never been accused of being quiet or shy, and given her extremely pragmatic business-like personality, has a much more direct communication style. Some of which Red recognizes can be useful,
I've often said that you write, talk, and probably even dream in bullet points. And while I might think of them as "abrupt" at times, there's no question that they provide a very clear and succinct way of communicating. Which is why I preface some of my longer emails that cover lots of topics and explanations, with, "I'm borrowing some of Black's beloved bullet points …"
So, what's the most effective method? Well, you can spend hours on the internet reading countless articles about the benefits of effective communications, the various types of communications (not everything is verbal and written – think about things like body language and facial expressions), and ways to improve communication skills, but Black tends to look at things slightly backward …
The reality is that we each have our own style of communicating, but we need to remember that communication is a two-way street, and the objective is connecting with other people, and sharing thoughts and ideas. Sometimes the best way to get our point across is to work backward and think how the other person will receive what we want to express. And then listening, truly listening, to their feedback.
Most workaholics can rationalize working all the time. At least to themselves.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: “Gizmos” already blurred the lines between the workweek and the weekend, but the WFH (working from home) “revolution” caused by the pandemic has destroyed the line; except for people like Black, who have always treated every day as a workday.
So, is being a workaholic a bad thing? Well, we both agree that having two days where we (hopefully) get time to do what we enjoy is exactly what weekends are all about. And while Black will admit that she doesn’t love every aspect of her work life, there’s nothing she rather be doing. (And points out to Red that could also be said of parenting.) Regardless, Red has always found Black’s total love of work a bit perplexing, and she’s definitely not the only one who has used the phrase “she needs to get a life” when describing her sister. Black, of course, sees it very differently,
Whether it’s just a regular weekend or, even better, a long holiday weekend, I look forward to the “time off” to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. From the outside, others might see it as “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy.
Red knows better than to argue with Black and wasn’t surprised that she could make being a workaholic sound like a good thing. But since Black lives alone and never had children (although she always finds time for Red’s girls), our priorities and ideas about a “wonderful weekend” are very different,
While it often seems like my weekends are as busy as my weekdays because I’m catching up on all the personal things I don’t have the time to do during the week, it makes me appreciate the “time off” even more – whether escaping to a movie (ok, my passion is popcorn), going for a Dunkin coffee (it brings back memories of growing up in New York), reading, or climbing into bed to watch some old episodes of Downton Abbey.
So, while Black may roll her eyes at what Red chooses to do with her quiet time, she'd be the first to point out we all have very different ways of spending our weekends, but we should all do whatever makes us happy. Wouldn’t you agree?
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.