Well I wanted to continue the tradition again this year and post my Top 15 of 2015. I loved writing the 14 for 2014 last year and this year was just way too great to stop the tradition. It did become too long though to just paste onto Facebook. I hope you’ll still enjoy it though, even with the length, but really it was just a great exercise for me to digest the whole year.
As I started to build this list I also realized that the first 15 things I wrote down were all related to times I spent and things I did just with my immediate family. So, I’ll keep that list more to myself and re-did it to be broader focused.
Here it goes – in no particular order:
New Habits – I feel like this year I really integrated a couple habits I had been trying to add to my daily routines. Of most note is integrating the app ToDoist into managing my life and all the ways I now use that, and how I consistently use it. One way I use it I’ve really gotten a lot out of this year is adding a weekly task on my to do list where I add highlights and things I’m grateful for from the past week. Looking back on that list now and seeing all the things noted down through the weeks is amazing. Two other quick notes I feel like I made progress on are integrating a daily health habit (juicing or going to the gym) and continuing to have a more bias for action mindset. One I’m really looking forward to integrating in ’16 is a daily mindfulness or meditation type of practice habit through an app like Headspace or something else. I even have a mindfulness retreat already scheduled.
Action Camp – While ‘running/designing’ a summer camp has been on my life bucket list for years, it took a 10-minute conversation with my co-conspirator in all things, Steve, to make it happen. Within three hours after that conversation we had secured a camp and sent off a deposit – with no other plan than ‘we would figure it out.’ That commitment set off something that has left a lasting impression on others and me. I really can’t even explain camp itself (and the 4 video editors we’ve tried on fiverrr can’t make a decent highlight video – but I’ll keep trying) but Rachel sums up some thoughts here. Most importantly for me, camp was a great lesson in seizing every opportunity, what can happen when you bring great people together, playing big, how to mix fun and learning, and the greatness that can happen from taking action on that thing that I know I’ve always wanted to do.
TEDxJNJ, IRF, Global Summit, xL and everything Creative Engagement – there’s just too much to talk about because I get to work with the greatest people at the Company and get to work on and design what we think is the best thing we could be doing. I even posted about TEDxJNJ last year, and this year was a whole new level of that and all of the things that have now branched out off of that. More of the story in this TEDxJNJ Story as well as our overall Annual Report. Again humbled by the vision of Steve G.. We even had an amazing team follow us around planning this year’s event and it resulted in this hour-long documentary on the work. Helping to build the Idea Responsibility Framework (IRF) is something that was a real highlight as it was going from nothing to something in a short amount of time that’s now benefited thousands of people and it was just the beginning of the next phase which I’m sure I’ll be writing more about next year.
Burning Man – Scratching yet another thing off the major bucket list was great, but it was also great because it was one of the hardest and amazing experiences of my life. One minute I was run down and crying in the middle of the desert and the next I was riding a bike with my feet off the pedals screaming ‘I love this place.’ Wind and sand pelting you in the face all day at 50MPH is no joke. Seeing the art, the happiness and what people create in the middle of harsh conditions is inspiring. Getting to spend time in extreme places with old and new friends is great. You know it was great when you get home and you can’t talk for like 3 days, I can’t wait to go back.
Dinner Parties – It started with a ‘risk’ themed Jeffersonian Dinner party in Vancouver in Feb. that had us all start with sharing stories of big risks we’ve taken and since then it seems that 2015 was the year of the dinner party. Whether it was having our neighbors over for dinner, going away dinners for colleagues, catching up with Lenzini in Philly, Vanore in Vegas, and even Steak Club I’ve loved grabbing dinner with folks this year and having great food and conversation. Date night sushi dinners were the best though. That first dinner party this year is also where I finally learned how to sabre champagne. That could be a whole item on it’s own since it’s now become an obsession.
Humbling Moments – I love when a story or moment reminds me about my place in the world. This was a particularly important one to me this year. It’s the eve of our biggest event of the year. We’ve been working extremely hard for months planning a great experience and now it’s here. We’ve been on site working for a day or so already, it’s 10pm at night day 2 of 5 and everyone, including me, is pretty damn tired and also feeling pretty good about ourselves because what we’ve created. Then, I get a text and a facebook link to a news story about a great friend Joe. Joe’s a police officer in the town next to the one we’re holding the event in and earlier that day a woman threw a baby off a bridge into the water and Joe got the call on the radio and immediately sprang into action. Within minutes he had spotted the baby 700 yards down river and pulled the baby out and gave it CPR, bringing it back to life. In that moment I stopped what our teams were doing and told them the story. Everyone was energized to go back to work. In those moments where I think what I do is hard, I think of the stories I’ve heard from Joe over the years and the work that he and his fellow officers do. Needless to say, I have an extremely easy job in comparison.
Becoming an HR Person – Starting a new role in a new function (my fourth major function in my years at JNJ) was exciting, but it got even better as the year went on and we got to build all types of new programs (like our xL program for changemakers around the company) and redefine what we wanted to work on in our group. Sometimes taking the leap into a new function, place, role is exactly what you need.
Getting Back to Global Travel – In my first couple years at JNJ I got to travel internationally a bit then starting doing more and more vacations overseas. I haven’t really done so in a while and didn’t realize that I missed it. Getting to do it for work this year to some really far off places reminded me that 1) I do love getting to see new places and 2) I do really miss home after the first couple days. I hope some travel continues, but not necessarily at this pace and length. I am trying to figure out some new places for next year though so that’s exciting. As Mark Twain said “travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness” and it’s been a mind opening year.
Kindergarten – Z man starting kindergarten meant getting to see his prev. school’s graduation pic (which was pretty freaky because he looked so grown up), him getting to now take the bus (which lead to getting to know the neighbors more), and him starting in a new school he’ll be in for a while. It’s so much fun to watch the kids grow up.
Paddleboarding – For the first 20 or so times I went paddleboarding this summer I fell every time, all the time. Then it just clicked (equipment change) and by the last half of summer I could stand up the whole time. Even when I was falling there was something perfect about being out in the ocean, far enough away from the breaking waves of the shore, in the early morning when no one is on the beach. The feeling of being a part of nature, while also feeling incredibly small compared to the ocean is enlivening. Also feeling like I was doing something healthy inspired me to focus more on my health since the middle of summer, which has led to some good results.
Captain Penny of BizTravLandia – there is nothing more soul wrenching than long travel for work and leaving your family behind. I’m not one who is good at getting the standard family gifts too when I travel so I was elated when I came up with (hopefully) a better alternative. After finding some cool, heavy iron, antique looking keys in a flea market in Antwerp I thought about mailing them to the kids with a note from an imaginary Treasure Hunter named Captain Penny who was trying to find the lost treasure of BizTravLandia. She needed the kids help to keep the keys safe from the bad guys trying to steal the treasure. The kids seemed into it (not as much as me probably) when the box arrived a week or so after I got home and we read her note aloud. On my subsequent trips I went to look for things that could be part of this mythical treasure hunt and wrote letters as Captain Penny explaining them to the kids. I’m hoping to keep this going for at least a bit longer on new trips and it’s really made me feel connected to them when I’m away. Thankfully they’re still young enough to not get that it’s just me.
Arts & Crafts – they keep the kids busy, they’re exceptionally cheap at stores like AC Moore and seeing how the kids have evolved in making arts & crafts and seeing their creativity expand is amazing. More importantly, arts & crafts is also how Z man found a new best friend this year and seeing how they love playing together is a very cool thing to witness as well.
Working with my hands not on a keyboard or touchscreen – Compared to the last few, I feel like this year I also got back to doing more things that let me work with my hands in a different way. Got some DIY type projects done around the house (although lots more on the slate for ’16), built a couple cool things with/for the kids, rigged up a fix for my air ducts, and even cooked out over an open fire with the kids a couple times in the backyard. I can answer 1,000 emails and go to 100 meetings in a day and feel a sense of completion, but not a sense of completion like cooking something on a fire I built or sawing and drilling wood to make something that takes up physical space.
Fun – I pretty much have fun with everything but there’s been some really great things this year to call out like: Vegas with Team Eric, Pie Face, the drum corps at DEB and getting them to come play at work, getting a pizza delivered to a moving Amtrak train, the Ratz restaurant sing-along, the anticipation of waiting for Star Wars, my high school reunion, making the basement even more fun and just hanging there at home. A really special fun one was one of the greatest thank you’s I’ve ever received. Another fun project was turning five years of every day blog posts on the kids site into coffee table books. There’s something awesome about seeing five years of posts in physical form. Most of all, the shore this year was outstanding!
More Art – I feel like I deepened my appreciation for the arts this year. I know how powerful it is to expose yourself (and kids) to the arts (general term for all types of art) and so I’m excited that this happened more this year. More plays and performances with the kids, an art immersion at Burning Man, meeting an amazing artist I just got to know at Summit at Sea, getting to see various other amazing performances, and making progress on some ideas that will come to fruition in the future. I even have a recurring task on ToDoist that poses the question “how can I get exposed to the arts even more.”
There’s so much more and many I missed, but this is already a book. But hey, it should be a book – it’s about an entire year and when you focus on the positive and good there is plenty of positive and good stuff to talk about. I can’t wait till next year and hope to read your list very soon. Let’s make awesome stuff together in 2016.