Thursday, April 30, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Consider the appealing prospect of pampering yourself and a wide range of thoughts or mental images will emerge – potentially very different for all of us. Now that I have more time, I am discovering deeply satisfying pleasures in pampering myself in these simple ways:
· Taking a leisurely bubble bath instead of a shower
· Reading a few chapters of a novel before going to bed
· Exploring a new software package
· Splurging on olive oil and coriander-scented dishwashing liquid
· Savoring fresh raspberries with my Greek yogurt at breakfast
· Washing up with lavender and chamomile-scented foaming hand wash
· Napping with a golf tournament on TV (those commentators have such soothing voices)
· Shopping from my sofa by looking through the latest catalogs
· Reading books that help me explore myself
· Sending greeting cards to family and friends
· Going out for an extended lunch, accompanied by good wine
· Treating my feet to a luxurious softening crème as I slip into bed
· Calling a friend out of the blue just to chat
· Cooking an elaborate new dish for a meal
· Chatting casually with a neighbor
· Taking a walk in the park or on the beach
· Writing this blog
Be kind and take time to pamper yourself – not only will you be happier, but so will those around you!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
For months, we have gloried in our ability to relax and enjoy ourselves. We are healthier and happier than we have been in a long time, because we are not working and have more time to spend taking care of ourselves and each other.
But in the midst of the relative isolation of a Chicago winter, I began to reach out to friends and former colleagues by networking online. I’m frankly surprised by the joy and satisfaction I’m experiencing as a result of this contact. Connecting with close friends in a different way, finding lost friends and catching up, reconnecting with former colleagues whose careers have taken fascinating paths, and making new acquaintances based on mutual interests – all of these things are now easier as a result of social and professional networking on the internet. Personally, I am tuned in on Facebook and LinkedIn. The more I put into these channels, the more I seem to get back in return.
For example, let me tell you about this week:
On Monday, I had a delightful and stimulating lunch with an admired colleague I worked with 20 years ago at Hilton. She now works for a strategic meeting, incentive and event production agency headquartered in Chicago. We reconnected via LinkedIn just a few weeks ago (because of a mutual connection). She showed me examples of some of the work her company does, and we talked about the possibility of me doing some freelance writing for them on proposals. We have decided to meet for lunch on a monthly basis so we can share stories and ideas. I’m thrilled!
Wednesday, I headed to Evanston to meet a Northwestern student for whom I have been providing some pro bono Marketing consulting. He has an eco-friendly office supply company, and is looking for ways to grow his business. On Monday, he distributed a press release I wrote on his behalf, and is currently hoping for responses that will result in some exposure in the local media (including WGN TV). Our relationship also came from meeting up through a Northwestern group on LinkedIn.
After meeting with my new entrepreneurial friend, I moved on to a Career Day sponsored by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism – an opportunity extended to me via email as an NU Alum. I was a bit of an anomaly in the crowd of attendees (because of my…ahem…experience), but I made two great new contacts. One is a producer at WGN TV, who is now interested in the story about our eco-friendly entrepreneur. The other is a “Creative Web Director” for a company who uses freelance writers to develop content for web sites. With my love for writing, this is something I’m interested in exploring. It was a great visit to campus – and I got to see the purple and white crocuses blooming in full force on my walk from the el station to the student center by Lake Michigan.
What a stimulating week I’ve had! Being retired doesn’t mean I’m lying on the couch watching Oprah. To me, it means I have the freedom to explore my passions and to live the next chapter of my life.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Let’s look at the other side of the coin, and separate the emotional storm generated by re-organization from the need that drove this transformation in the first place.
Just like individuals, corporations should always be striving to improve. The Hilton brands have been good at making changes to stay current with changing markets and customer needs. For example, Hampton recreated itself just a few years ago with the Make It Hampton initiative, and Embassy Suites redesigned their hotel design to make development of their all-suite product more affordable for owners, thus boosting their pipeline.
There were unquestionably some aspects of HHC’s corporate operations that needed to be re-evaluated and overhauled for the better. The brands have proven that drastic change is hard, but can result in a stronger path forward. Hilton’s IT organization was not immune to the need for change. If we Hilton team members and alumni are honest with ourselves and each other, we know that change was needed. There are organizational, staffing, and cost issues festering that need to be addressed. There is always room for evaluation and improvement. Executed properly, it’s healthy.
But change is hard. When jobs are eliminated, the faces of those affected are real to us, and we question the decisions made. My fervent hope is that our friends and colleagues will move on to find rewarding replacements to their lost jobs, perhaps changing their lives for the better. We probably all hope that the company being transformed comes out the other side of this successfully. Time will tell.
Even though I am retired from Hilton, I’m finding it impossible to disassociate myself from what’s going on. I care deeply about my friends and what they are experiencing. Oddly, I feel something like survivor’s guilt that I successfully bailed before all this happened. I truly hope that the Hilton of the future will be better than ever and a great place of opportunity for its team members. At the same time, I am grieving the loss of the daily camaraderie of long-time colleagues and the familiarity of “the good old days”. So I will shake my head in sorrow and learn to look forward instead.