|I have a question, but I'm concerned that once I ask it, you'll tell me it will make a good post for our website.|
|And, what is wrong with that?|
|Sometimes I simply want to ask a question – not have to document the conversation.|
|Says the former straight-A student who, to this day, takes copious notes?|
|Yes, but at business meetings or when we're on business calls. Or when I'm talking with medical experts. Or maybe when … Never mind. I get your point. But not with my sister!|
|But, you keep telling me our telephone conversations would make great podcasts, so how is basically creating a transcript of them any different?|
|They would make great podcasts. Especially since most people could relate to my frustration of turning to you for answers, but instead getting questions. Lots of questions.|
|You're right. Sometimes I get sarcastic remarks. Or you connecting dots that I think are unconnectable. I never know what to expect!|
|Actually, you do. You know that you will get sarcastic – and pragmatic. Just like I know I will get warm and fuzzy. The good news is consistency and dependability are valuable traits. Regardless, what was the question you originally wanted to ask?|
|I was wondering why do I feel like we're as busy as we've ever been, yet at the same time, we're as unclear about where we're going as we've ever been?|
|That is an "almost" accurate description. Sometimes you know where you want to end up but need to figure out the best way to get there. Right now, we are busy keeping all options open.|
|Well, that would explain why our daily posts are a mixture of real-life topics interspersed with our "commentary" on current events. And until we started doing them, I didn't realize that we'd touch on so many subjects, although I'm not surprised that you and I always seem to see things differently.|
|That is an understatement. But, the challenge is we have so much existing content, and are constantly producing more, that is of interest to broader demographics than I ever expected. Layer on top, we are in an ever-changing marketplace hungry for content.|
|That's been our problem ever since Neiman Marcus launched our self-published book, which at the time we thought could be the basis of a sitcom. But then the detours started, and we kept "throwing stuff against the wall" to see what would stick, and it seems everything did.|
|The hardest thing for me was to let Red & Black grow organically, riding along as we traveled down different roads when part of me wanted to grab the steering wheel and drive it in a specific direction.|
|You and your car analogies. But I've been shocked that you've been so patient. It seems very out of character, especially as you sign many of your emails "throttle on" and that's the last thing we're able to do.|
|When you race, you are either on the throttle or the brake. You "pick a pedal" and stick to it. The purpose of braking is to slow the car down to steer through a corner (change directions), and you "throttle on" once the car is pointed in the right direction. So, that is basically what I am saying when I sign an email that way. But, right now we are coasting along.|
|So keeping with your analogy, is the fact we hired an industry expert to help us identify the road to take to build the Red & Black brand as well as pitch potential partners (whether a publisher, an agency, a content provider, or even a consumer product company) like getting a new race car driver?|
|Exactly. But, in this case, we are replacing an amateur (I know my limitations) with a professional because he successfully developed entertainment franchises for Disney and Hasbro. The fact he sees the potential for Red & Black to be a "franchise" is one thing, but having the experience and industry contacts to help make it happen takes it to a new level.|
|It's funny. At first, I was confused when he used the term "franchise" as that term makes me think of buying a McDonald's, not building a brand or "franchise" like Power Rangers. But I guess every industry has its own terminology. Meanwhile, there's not much we can do right now except to let him get to work, have patience, and continue to "coast" …|
|And, look forward to the day we can say, "Throttle on."|
Want to read other columns? Here's a list.
When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.
Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.
Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.
But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,
Soft skills are transferable – between your personal life and the workplace (and from industry to industry). If you recognize that interpersonal relations have existed since Adam and Eve (or “caveman” days), and technical skills are constantly changing and there is no way to predict the careers of the future … it is easy to see why soft skills will always be needed.
It's funny, but now that Red’s familiar with soft skills, she not only recognizes them in day-to-day living but sees the impact they have (and the problems caused when they’re lacking). Our new website may not have SOFT SKILLS as a major section, but since it’s one of Black's passion projects, it will have a special place.
Until then, here are some of our favorite posts showing how soft skills affect us on a daily basis (OK, the Ferrari one about negotiating skills may not affect many people, but the message will):
- COLLEGE & SOFT SKILLS: My son’s going off to college but doesn’t know what he wants to study …
- COMMUNICATION: How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points?
- CUSTOMER SERVICE: RED & BLACK … May I Help You?
- LEADERSHIP: RED & BLACK … Leaders All Around Us
- MOM SKILLS: Translating Mom Responsibilities
- PERSUASION SKILLS: The Fact Is … Don’t Use Facts
- NEGOTIATING SKILLS: A Perfect Day For A Convertible. And For Chutzpah.
- PROBLEM-SOLVING: One Person’s Problem … Is Another’s Challenge?!
- SPOT THE SOFT SKILLS: Selfish, Shallow … And Svelte?
Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,
Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.
Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.
September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)
So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.
And while not a homework assignment, we figure if you’re still reading, you might be interested in some of our favorite “lifelong learning” posts (many of which helped Red learn about learning in a whole new way).
For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.
You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)
But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.
When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.
But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)
- Black’s Time Management “Secret” ... Is Worth Repeating (Time Management)
- It's happened again ... I can’t see my desk there’s so much paper on it. Help! (Piles of Paper)
- How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points? (Communication)
- Expect Reality, Not Perfection (Relationships)
- Don’t Confuse Time Alone With Time Away! (Stress)
P.S. – Wondering why we haven’t mentioned money? Well, stay tuned, as we’ll have a post dedicated to DOLLARS & SENSE in early November as we get closer to the holidays. (FYI, our subscribers get sneak peeks before we post online.)