The Business Of Being Awesome

For the last few months now, I’ve been working with a great team of classmates at MIT Sloan on a podcast called The Business of Being Awesome. Erica and Lily started the podcast last year, and after being featured on episode 8 (below) of the first season, I wanted to be more involved.

I’ve been helping with strategy for the podcast, and then miscellaneous marketing efforts. It’s been a really fun team to be involved with, I’ve gotten some good press, and I even got to write a fun blog post about online dating. I’ve stolen the copy of this from the website, and put it below.

https://soundcloud.com/bizobapodcast/episode-8-the-necessary-evil-of-networking-bizoba

A love affair with online dating

I would deem 2011 the year “Kate Dates.” I went on at least 40 dates that year, purely for the enjoyment. There is something about finding someone who at the very least agrees with you on some political issues and probably a lot more. My website of choice was OkCupid. I chose it because it was free and I was still in college; I kept going back because I loved it.

My profile was amazing, and I took good care of it. Anytime that year I went to a new, good movie, it was instantly added to my “favorites” list. Granted, it probably wouldn’t make my top 10 cut long-term, but I liked to stay relevant.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.27.18 AM

Not all my dates were good. I remember one guy who intrigued me because he was in medical school. He was seriously the worst of them all.

One guy confided in me that he had been married while on our third date… this didn’t sit well with me. Been there, done that.

Another guy really liked playing games and we had fun going to the Chatterbox in Saint Paul, where with food and drinks you could play any game (including video!) that you wanted. When he leaned in for that kiss though, I felt more like he was my brother and knew that was the end.

There is one date in particular that sticks out in my mind. I went out with this guy because he liked math and basically said he was a math professor “I work for the math department at the University of Minnesota.” You’d think that by date number 36 I’d be a little jaded, and maybe I was, but I still loved getting to know someone new. On the date, it was clear this guy was looking for something serious. Bless his heart, but I felt bad telling him “I’m just here to have fun, nothing serious…” Needless to say, it was one of the most enjoyable dates I had been on and I was looking forward to another.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.28.37 AM

The next day, I went to Colorado where, lo and behold, OkCupid also has a presence. I quickly updated my location so I could meet a guy or two while the friend I was staying with had to work. This was the first time I met an actual married man, who was actually in an open relationship. It was interesting from an interview perspective: I had tons of questions about logistics, trust, intimacy, and the fact that they had children together. His wife’s boyfriend was around the house a lot and had met their children – this was a bit too much for me, but was definitely an eye-opening conversation.

Today, I’m engaged to the math professor [not a math professor] and couldn’t be happier. Yet, because of our relationship (rather than in spite of), I still love exploring the world of online dating.

Last year, I took a course titled Analytics Edge at MIT where, get this, we explored how analytics can give companies a competitive edge. One of the companies we did a case study on was eHarmony. We also discussed other social networks, specifically Hinge and how it leverages your existing network to connect you with 3rd degree connections. So fascinating!

Of course, I had to create a profile on Hinge, just to see how it worked. I remember the text I sent to Joe:

Me: “Hey, I joined Hinge fyi… #research”

I would hate for a coworker of his to stumble upon my profile and mention it to him and have him not know about it. We are all about communication.

This past weekend, his little sister was in town. She is currently single, and to be honest, I haven’t approved of her former boyfriends either. Wanting her to find a good match, I suggested we create her a profile. I chose Tinder, probably just because that’s what I think the kids are into these days. We also did Coffee Meets Bagel, so give me some credit.

Another friend of mine is also looking to find someone (coincidentally, it is the friend I visited in Colorado!). I’ve consulted with him on his dating profile, and am still trying to convince him to give me full rains. Think about it: if I had access to his account and his calendar, I could literally schedule dates I felt were a good match. I would obviously send him notes on our conversations beforehand, so he wouldn’t be caught off guard on something. The other side of me cringes at the idea of a relationship being founded on lies though… so I haven’t actually done this.

If anyone out there wants a consultant to help them with their online dating, I am your woman. I won’t actually independently chat with them, nor meet them for a first date, but other than that, count me it.

Originally posted on The Business of Being Awesome on April 1, 2016.

Advertisements

Friends: a value

At Sloan, we don’t have official classes during January. It is called the Independent Activities Period (IAP) and is time for students to travel, do externships, or participate in a short term class. I’m in a class for this week called: Conflict Management & Assertive Communication. It has actually been really interesting and has prompted a lot of self-reflection.

One activity I did was called “values.” We were given a handout with maybe 50 different values and we each had to self-select the 5 we individually valued most. I selected, in alphabetical order, Fame, Friends, Humor, Self-Acceptance and Wealth. I was a little hesitant to select this specific set because Fame + Wealth seems incompatible with Self-Acceptance. Yet, just because I love me for who I am doesn’t mean I don’t want others to do the same, right?

Next, the trainer asked “How do others know these are your values?” My eyes went straight to “Friends” and I realized: They probably don’t.

I’ve never had a plethora of friends. In fact, for a majority of my life I would say I had none. Growing up, I related better with adults. So, if I can count my adult friends then I am fine, but in all honesty it was difficult to be my true self around them too.

I had what I thought was my first “best friend’ in 6th grade. Then one day we got curious and kissed and she never spoke to me again. In 7th grade I had a close friend who ended up hating me by the end of the year because she thought I was a lesbian and by 8th grade I had a new bff. Then I switched schools because that’s what happens and in high school I got along better with guys. I had one good high school friend but even by senior year we spent less and less time together.

Once I got to Macalester I was like “holy shit, I finally found my people” and had 7 good friends that I would always hang out with. Over the years some of them drifted away (read: we didn’t click and things got awkward). And then there were just Devin, Drew, and Mollie, which would be all I ever needed if they all lived in the same state (or at least not California, Minnesota and North Carolina).

Post-college was hard. It’s also when I started this blog because I realized I needed some way to get what was inside of me out and a deep friendship wasn’t available necessarily. I think I rub people the wrong way. My humor can be hard to read, and I’m not good at making people feel overly welcome if I don’t like them. Maybe I’m too judgy, which I do try to work on.

I’m also an introvert and am very anxious in large group situations, which is what makes business school kind of funny. A recent article in the Huffington Post spelled me out to a T, and also made me feel a lot more comfortable with the fact that I’m not rolling in friends. tldr: I withdraw in large crowds, small talk stresses me while deeper conversations are great, phone conversations are hard and I basically shut down when I’ve had enough of people. I think it was actually secretly written about me.

So, now that I’ve uprooted my entire life to move across the country to go to a school that revolves around networking, how am I doing? I feel extremely alone. I miss people understanding me and I miss having a deep connection. But I also acknowledge that as an adult, best friends don’t just fall from trees and real relationships can take some time. I’ve got one thing going on right now but I don’t want to be overly eager and jinx it.

So even now, as I reflect on my current friendships and how bad I am at keeping up with people across the country, I still see these connections as being ever so important. It was just a lot easier when we lived together and it makes me want to be rich enough so I can buy a huge piece of land and have all my friends live next door. Wisteria Lane doesn’t look too bad right now.

Truth About Love: P!nk

Oh my gee, oh my gee. Pink is so amazing. Seriously, best concert I’ve ever been to.

I’ve known about this Truth About Love Tour since it was first announced about a year ago. I tried to get floor tickets the morning they went on sale, but I don’t think they were selling those at the time, so I skipped it. Instead, I asked for the tickets for Christmas!

I didn’t get them. Which is okay, I got lots of other great things. But I still had this nagging desire to see her because when I was in 6th grade I saw her for the Missundaztood Tour, and she blew my socks off then too. So, this morning I woke up and I’m all like “damn, I’m going!” I went onto Stubhub and found a general admission pit ticket for less than an arm and a leg (but not by much).

After happy hour, I went and stood in line beginning at like, 6:15p. Doors opened at 6:30 but the show didn’t start until 8p. When I went to Taylor Swift the other month, there was no food or drink allowed in the pit so I thought this would be the same and was prepared to just sit there and read my Kindle for an hour or two. But then I got in and everyone was super friendly and I met some great people. These great people, beyond providing stimulating conversation (one was a cop!) also saved my spot for me when I needed to get a bottle of water.

My intention was to get the bottle of water and mix myself a vodka-water with the flask in my purse. But, then I realized that if I were singing and dancing a lot I may become dehydrated and want water. So, I bought a bottle of water and then a vodka-water cocktail. This provided the best of both worlds because then not only was I able to continuously refill that bottle with flask+water, but it kept my thirsty-water safe. You guys, I went to college.

Anyway, seriously, best concert ever. And I think it was made even better by the fact that I went alone. I love Joe to pieces and have enjoyed every concert I’ve been to with him, but we’ve also been together for 2.5 years and I’ve forgotten how much I fucking love my independence. And then the whole show was about Love and how you have to love yourself before you can love others and I was just like, oh em gee: that is so true. Therefore, I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend a few months in Nepal, but more on that later.

Do you think I was close enough?

photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

Vanity

It happens in every relationship. Things are going so smoothly and you think nothing will get in the way. And then something happens and it is just so crushing… you start to second guess everything, wonder if this is it, the straw the breaks the camel’s back and everything is over.

Joe and I had one of these events today. We were shopping at Ikea for shelves for pictures. I found a cute idea on pinterest of just having a few of shelves so you aren’t putting tons of holes in the walls. We found just what we were looking for which was lucky.

End Result
End Result

We also found some things we weren’t looking for though… like, a painting. It was pretty cheap, $129 for a fairly large canvas picture. We started seriously talking about it, and he was a tad weary about buying art at this point in our lives. I then remembered the other super awesome idea I had about getting a picture of me on a couch printed, to put above the couch. Get it? It’s ironic.

I said we could skip the canvas art because that’s where I wanted my portrait to go. He looked at me like I just said the craziest thing he ever heard. I was pretty serious in my statement, so obviously I was taken aback by his hesitation. Long and short of it is, Joe thinks that is incredibly vain to have a larger than life picture of yourself hanging in your living room. He thinks people will think poorly of me. He then brought up Alex Rodriguez, who apparently has paintings of himself. I’m definitely not suggesting anyone actually paint it, let alone put half my body on a horse.

Anyway, we decided that I’m not there yet, and got the one from Ikea.

End Result
End Result

It’s a little expensive to get a mega picture of yourself on a canvas and what if I make the wrong decision on which picture? Joe is also putting his foot down on it being in a main room, which is where he and I just don’t see eye to eye. I agreed to get others’ opinions on it… so, what do you guys think? Would this be awesome or vain above the couch? I think it fits my personality of confidence

Courtesy of Greatbigcanvas.com
Courtesy of Greatbigcanvas.com

The talk

But not that talk…

A few weeks ago, most likely after attending a wedding, Joe and I discussed our own future wedding plans. I stuck to my guns: 6/9/2018 and no sooner. He smiled and said “just let me know if anything changes.”

Well, maybe something has changed. As joyous as a 6/9 wedding date would be, I was reconsidering waiting 5 more years. Granted, 29 is a great age to get married, if he and I are still together (big IF!) (jk, I love him to death). There are probably two reasons for me wanting to wheel it in a little sooner – one, everyone is having babies and babies are super cute and I want one. But, having read one article 8 years ago about marriages lasting if they wait 5 years after marriage before having children, I’m committed to meeting that minimum. Two – I don’t know and I hate admitting this, but weddings are beautiful and I kind of just want that. Well, the wedding itself, but also having Joe be my husband. I mean, just kidding, I’m open to anyone being my husband.

I brought this up while making dinner tonight. “Joe, my timeline has shifted a bit and I’m not longer as gung-ho about the 6/9 date..” He played surprised for a reasonable amount of time and then said “you know… first, I wasn’t going to ever let you choose the date like that and figured I’d have some say when it came down to it. Second, I sensed your timeline was changing when I brought this up last time. So, let’s just say it’ll happen when we are both ready.”

And then I hate that. Because I hate the power being ripped from my hands and I like being the one always in control. But I also want to be surprised and it is that terrible space of like, you really want a surprise party but you are so damn excited for your birthday and no one else seems to be so you are all sad but then also super curious as to why no one cared and then you end up ruining your own party.

The Cliché Experience: BlogHer13

I had a good time at BlogHer. I wouldn’t consider it life changing, but I wouldn’t call it a worthless experience. First and foremost, BlogHer is very different from any tech conference I’ve been to. Essentially the male to female ratio flipped and it was like: bam – all these people I don’t typically interact with. I knew this going in though, prepared for it, and was truly excited about it.

But then I remembered why I tend to get along with men better than women. No, why I get along with techies better than fashion and mommy bloggers (and I mean no disrespect here!). I’m self conscious more than anyone would probably expect. I have this lovely veneer of confidence that usually sustains me, but I need to have something to keep it up. It’s like the “fake it till you make it” saying, where, when everyone is talking about certain topics I literally have nothing to add more than a nod. So then I’m like “dang, I wish I could just sit here and look cute” but in reality I know everyone is looking at me like “omg, why are you even here.”

Another insecurity that surfaced at BlogHer? My loneliness, my strong desire to have a best friend with none to call my own. I truly enjoy the company of other women and am jealous of those that have just an über strong connection with someone nearby.

Then came in Google Glass. Anyone and everyone asked me about them. Remember in my last post when I said I liked the attention? Yeah, it turns out I only like that in small doses. It wasn’t bad when people were excited about it and wanted to try it on or something, I definitely welcomed that. What I hated was the “what is that on your face?” inquires. One, because that isn’t very nice to say and two because I don’t know how to talk to people that have lived in a cave for the last 6 months. And I’m an introvert and kind of just wanted to wander in peace.

It wasn’t all “woe-is-me” though. The sessions that I went to were really engaging and informative; the keynote speakers were inspiring and made me laugh. It was a really well organized event that ran smoothly from start to finish. I connected with a lot of passionate women who I will remain in touch with. And, because they are the ones that really made my BlogHer experience, they shall get special mention below (there were others too, but I lost their cards or didn’t get them maybe). Right now though, I’m just truly looking forward to a hug from Joe and quality time with my friends from college.

Thoughts in daylight

In an effort to curb my depression, Joe and I have a rule that there is to be no TV watching unless it is dark out. The one exception is if we are at a rooftop bar and baseball is on.

So, when I got home today, I was like “ahh.. I just want to sit down and watch some terrible Gossip Girl. Oh crap. It’s still light out.” Then I began rationalizing that maybe it is just a rule we enact once we are in our new condo. Which is my way of telling the world our offer was accepted and we are buying a condo!

Anyway, it is already 6:30 and it is still light out which seriously makes me a happy camper. I doubled my medication in November when things were starting to get bad… just waking up in the morning was a trial. And it really helped. Except now I’ve gone back to normal because it is getting light out and I’m just so excited for summer.

Anyway, I’m going a little crazy about condo planning stuff, and, if you are like me and totes love pinterest, I invite you to check out my “dream home” board because its got all my most favorite things. Include sinks that don’t aerate  because in reality, who wants that? http://pinterest.com/katekate20/dream-house/

Moving on up?

Joe and I found our place. And by “found” I mean, feel totally in love with and now can’t wait for it to come on the market so that we can swoop it up. First, we went to a similar unit on a higher floor. It was alright. I liked it just fine, but there was so much green. The light was great, I count picture us living there.

Then we went down a floor to a smaller place. No sunlight, less storage, overall, not as awesome. So, the final stop was a unit just a couple floors below the first. I absolutely fell in love with it. It has all the awesome upgrades that the first lacked, it was painted a better color than green, and overall just fit.

I really don’t know what is next though. Because it still isn’t technically on the market, I’m not sure what the process is. Also, this is the first time either of us have gone through the home buying process so it is all very new and a tad intimidating.

Totes excited to see where it leads though…

I sent Joe a text. It is regarding the fact that the unit we looked at was a two bedroom rather than the one bedroom we had been considering. Then he wrote back. This is why I’m excited to buy a condo with him.

IMG_0709

51 questions

Santa left Joe and I two books. The first was about mini golden doodles, which is perfect because if Joe and I get a dog, that is the kind we want to get. The second book was titled “51 Things to Know Before Getting Engaged.” It isn’t a book about getting engaged. Well, it is, but just because Santa left us a book about getting engaged doesn’t mean we are going to.

The structure of the book is 51 chapters, which each contain a question, to discuss with your significant other. It has some of those big questions that people sometimes ignore or think don’t apply to them. Clearly none of them apply to Joe and I either, because we aren’t getting engaged, but we just think of it as a thought exercise.

So, in order to painfully force ourselves through the book, for no other reason than because Santa left it for us, we read a chapter each Sunday night. The key here is that it really draws out the process so no one gets any silly ideas about actually getting engaged because really, unless we make it through every question, one shouldn’t even think of that.

Some of the questions are dull. The first was what’s one thing you find annoying about your partner? When Joe read it aloud a gave a little chuckle and began listing the things. I don’t remember them off the top of my head now, but I’m sure they were along the lines of A) him wearing tents B) not always being assertive enough and C) not being able to hold his liquor. Then he told me my things. If I remember correctly they were A) I’m just so perfect sometimes it hurts and B) I’m always right which gives him no opportunity to be so.

The question from this past weekend was different though. It resonated quite a bit with me, facing one of the issues I consider a barrier to me thinking of marriage. The chapter was about how people expect their relationship to be like those in the movies, magical and shit. My interpretation of the image Hollywood sets fourth is that marriage is dull and sexless. Couples get bogged down with life and begin ignoring each other or just not caring. They never seem truly in love and act as if they just put up with each other because of their legal commitment to each other. [Except for Lily and Marshall because they are awesome.]

Well, if that’s what marriage is, that’s not what I want. I want happiness and excitement and someone that treats me like a princess. I want a guy that doesn’t always forget the milk [laugh track!] or sit in front of the TV watching sports and playing video games. The sentiment of the chapter was that marriage isn’t like TV though. Just like it isn’t the fairytale some expect, it also doesn’t have to be a horror either.

So, I dunno, if someone held a gun to my head and was like “you have to get married!” I wouldn’t absolutely choose the bullet.

Come as you are

I have a mentor in my life that I very much look up to. She was my first manager after college, and even though we only worked together for a short time, we have remained in contact. It can be hard to describe what makes certain people just click, but with her, its her ease. She is so approachable and you know that she has your (well, my) best interest in mind. I can say or ask anything, and that’s always okay.

She is also extremely driven. I see a lot of me in her, in that even though she has a very successful career, she still pursues interests academically. She is working on getting her Ph.D while working full time, raising two children, and being involved in local organizations. I think she also has really good taste in cars.

Anyway, this mentorship relationship works because while I am so impressed with who she is, she see’s so much in me. This evening, she and I were wrapping up a board meeting and she nearly got teary eyed talking about how excited she is for my future. When I sometimes forget it myself, it is really nice and reassuring to know that other people believe in me too.

One lesson that really sticks out from her though, is that her philosophy is “come as you are.” Whether you are working on her team or with her on a board, she doesn’t want to shape anyone into being something they are not. When she first tapped me to be on this nonprofit advisory board I was all like “umm… okay… but, I don’t know anything about nonprofit boards and I don’t know anyone who can give a lot of money and I’m not really sure what I will bring to the table…” but she didn’t care. She knew that I had a lot to offer and even though it wasn’t in the form of money or to people with money, it was valuable to the organization.

Further, I get a sense that it is okay to be me. I came into this board not knowing what I would do, and even though it has taken a few months, I’m finally beginning to see my role. I love networking and meeting with people and collaborating any way possible. So, yes, I have a lot of random connections throughout the cities and yes, I will leverage them to help everyone out. And yes, I will just come as I am.