I am My Program Members

Final grades for the quarter and the first year of the BASAM program are due Monday morning 9 am. I have set aside the entire weekend, starting Friday morning to review all the work that must be reviewed by the bewitching hour.

So far I have :

  • Cleaned out my fridge
  • Done my laundry
  • Put away my laundry
  • Ironed a shirt and sewed a button
  • Walked my dog
  • Posted on Instagram and Facebook about how much work I have to do
  • Checked out how much progress other faculty members are making in grading
  • Written a macro to reduce the potential for inadvertent bias by randomizing the grading order
  • Compiled my to do list
  • Visited my parents
  • Talked to a friend
  • Balanced my checking account
  • Brainstormed curriculum for 2021
  • Made a grading playlist
  • Taken a pre-grading nap
  • Started this post

Sound familiar? Anything missing (other than the grading)? Funny no matter what role we play, we never lose our world class procrastination skills. I relate so well when I hear the BASAM program member stories of why work didn’t get done.

I also share my own techniques for putting my head down and getting what needs to be done done. For the record, I’m down from 76 ungraded pieces as of 9 pm Friday night to around 40. See you on the other side and while I’m grading, why don’t you let me know your favorite way to procrastinate? I’ve turned off my iPhone notifications so I won’t peek until grades are in!

Bursting with Pride

This evening, I had the honor to attend Skagit Valley College’s annual scholarship event, where eight members of the BAS-AM program received awards in recognition of their achievements and their potential. The picture below features four of the eight recipients. There are no words that can adequately capture how much respect, admiration and pride I have for these folks, for other four who we missed at the photo opp,and, for every member of the BAS-AM program.

A hearty thank you to the Skagit Valley College Foundation and to all whose contributions made the scholarships possible.

Speaking Up in Meetings

In our Human Resources for Managers class today we practiced tough workplace conversations that we can expect to have as managers. We role played being the manager and the employee and then debriefed on the conversations.

During the class debrief, I witnessed a top five personal program highlight. People who so far have held back from expressing their thoughts, opinions and experiences during class discussions shared their voice. One by one, they made perceptive, insightful contributions that prompted us all to consider new dimensions and approaches. Our conversation was enriched thanks to their contributions and on behalf of the entire class, I thank them (they and the other program members know who they are).

I then started thinking about all the reasons we can hold back from speaking, which took me to this Harvard Business Review piece on the balance between speaking up and holding. Wonder if any of the the article strike a chord? Would love to hear your thoughts and the pivot that caused a shift in your willingness to share.

June 4 1990

29 years ago today, the bright eyed and bushy tailed person you see in the picture, who had graduated from her bachelor degree just one week prior, set foot in the lobby of 120 Park Avenue, NY, NY.

Little did I know that I was setting off on the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that took me to travels to 80+ countries and homes on three. An adventure where I made enduring friendships, formed over countless learning experiences from late nights in the office getting ready for the “nth” long range plan presentation; writing the business weekly highlights; through commiserating; and, finding the learning in the things that didn’t go as planned and the exhilaration where they did.

As I think back over the last almost three decades, the words of the immortal Frank Sinatra come to mind “regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, too few too mention”. You see, I have arrived at the conclusion that every experience, good, bad, ugly, was all in preparation for the work I am blessed to do today – guiding a group of talented, dedicated Skagit Valley College BAS-AM participants on their own adventures and learning experiences. I realize how fortunate I am that even on days where the higher ed bureaucracy seems endless and the mountains of grading appear insurmountable (I’m two weeks behind, with two weeks in the quarter to go!), I’m living my iki-gai, the life stage that Japanese culture describes as the intersection between passion, mission, profession and vocation.

And, I realize that this wouldn’t be possible without the friendship, mentorship and faith from an immeasurable number of people but most especially my parents, my sister, and the BAS-AM Class of 2018-20, who laid a bet that the bumpiness of being inaugural class would pay off. Thank you for your trust in me. I won’t let you down.

Self-Care: Banish White Rabbit

These wise words appeared on one of my social media feeds this morning. With the end to the Spring quarter rapidly approaching and stress levels ever increasing , it felt like a serendipitous reminder that self-care in whatever form is needed must be a “have to do”, never a “nice to do.

When things get hectic, as happens for so many of us, the first thing to fall of my “must do” list are the routines such as gym sessions, walks, no screen time, that I have carefully cultivated in less busy periods. I become like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: I’m late, I’m late. And, while I get all my work done, it’s often at a significant personal cost to my well being, which takes endless time and energy to repair. I see the White Rabbit syndrome all around me, friends, family, colleagues, those with whom I’m learning.

Reading these words this morning was a much needed poke that I have to find a way to escape the White Rabbit syndrome by prioritizing self-care. So, I’m committing to one self-care action a day for the rest of 2019, with self-care to be defined however feels right that morning. I’m naming this personal accountability challenge “Banish White Rabbit”. If get tempted to allow the White Rabbit to become disruptive, I’ll be reminding myself of the alternative, less desirable outcome.

And now, I’m wondering if any one else, particularly BAS-AM program members, are interested in joining me on the mission to “Banish White Rabbit”? The support would be most welcome.

Just when you think it can’t get better, it does

What an exciting day it was today for all of us in the BAS-AM program. First, we learned that not one but two of our members received scholarships from the Skagit Women in Business organization. Then, we heard that one of us had received an amazing job opportunity and another had an interview later in the day. Next, we heard that one of the members of the 2019-21 program was just appointed as Skagit Valley College’s new Veteran Affairs Specialist. And then we heard of at least two folks who received scholarships from the Skagit Valley College Foundation. And crowning it all, we heard that we’d be expecting our first BAS-AM baby in Winter 2020.

Can’t wait to see what other great things this group of people will achieve!

Working with No Motivation

As we approach the final stretch of the quarter and the year, the energy levels in the BAS-AM program are palpably low. It’s been a challenging ten months filled with arduous work. Yet, the “ho hums” are so often interspersed with moments of joy from news of job offers, completing a Math pre-req, and scholarship offers to name but a few, that the ho hums quickly go away.

Now, with the finish line so close in sight and prospects of a summer break, our stamina and our will to keep going to keep going becomes ever important. So it was timely to come across this article from Medium discussing how to keep going even when you don’t want too. Take a read at the tips and let me know what you think. Worth a shot?


Today, the Skagit Valley College BAS-AM program was proud and honored to host Katie Johnson, Assistant Director of the Western Washington University MBA program. Katie talked about the benefits of an MBA degree and the various types of programs there are. She also described Western’s MBA curriculum and the application process to their program. It was surreal to witness her describe the opportunities that are now a possibility for a SVC BAS–AM graduate.

Never Too Young Nor Too Old To Learn

I recently came across this fascinating article from Fast Company entitled Thirty is the New Fifty”.  The article talks about an increasingly common rite of passage, the day you find yourself working for someone younger than you. Given the country’s demographic profile and technological trends, this upending of historic, age-based hierarchies and power structures is the new reality.

It happened to me for the first time two years ago and while there was the initial shock of realizing I was old enough to be older than someone (if you follow my drift), this evaporated almost instantly. Instead, I feel blessed that I’m working for my favorite type of boss – the one that gives you all the rope to hang yourself but is right by your side to cut it down just before it’s too late. As I read this piece, I realized that not only was I fortunate to be working with Darren Greeno, Executive Dean of Workforce at Skagit Valley College but I was also blessed to see many of the best practices of inter-generational cooperation, friendship and community described in the article truly alive in the BAS-AM program.

The age range in the program goes from “just turned 21 and celebrated in Las Vegas” to folks with more life experience. Daily, I watch how the program participants embrace the points raised in this article – those with “digital dexterity” support those who are relative novices. And folks with more life experience coach newer workforce entrants on things such as interview techniques, navigating the art of balance and coping with imbalance. I’ve had program participants coach me on the finer points of bands whose names I can’t pronounce, smile indulgently when I refer to flash drives as floppy discs, teach me the vocabulary I need for street credibility and listen intently when we enter into discussions on lessons learned from actual workplace experiences. It is a wonderful thing when the sum of the parts become greater than the whole. It is also a wonderful thing when you experience yet another way the BAS-AM program is enabling all of us to be effective participants in the workforce and life long learners who seize every opportunity for growth.

#learningthroughlife #skagitbasam #skagit #skagitvalleycollege #iambasam #applied-management

Golf, Driving in Seattle Traffic and Accounting for Managers

A beautiful Saturday morning in Washington and I am getting ready to play my first holes of golf of the season. I will share that while I am an enthusiastic golfer, I am decidedly in the “not very good” category. I love golf but the stigma of being “not very good” has evolved into a real fear that keeps me from playing as often as I might and in fact, almost led to me cancelling my game today.

As I thought about this fear, it took me back to another conversation about fear that I had two years ago with a friend. I told him that although I have driven in several countries, driving in Seattle gave me real fear, so much so that I avoided going to Seattle if I had to drive. He suggested to me that the best way to get over fear was to do more of the thing that caused the fear. Those words made me pause and then the next day with gritted teeth, to embrace the fear of driving in Seattle by doing it again, and again, and again. Now, driving in Seattle no longer gives me fear.

As I remembered those experiences, I thought about the Accounting for Managers course, which I am currently teaching in the Skagit Valley College Bachelor of Applied Management program. So many of us have had unfortunate experiences in learning about and working with numbers and these experiences have led to real fear about numbers. I saw this fear on the faces of many Friday afternoon as we talked about income statements and compound annual growth rates. I had told my program members that we needed to embrace a “we can do it” mindset about numbers. I witnessed my program members rise to the challenge, tacking the income statement activities with effort and commitment.

As I get ready for my game this afternoon, I realized that if I ever want to get over my fear of golfing, I need to play again, and again, and again, until the fear of “being not very good” no longer matters. I have been taking baby steps in this direction but I need to make a giant leap and make a genuine and wholehearted commitment to a mindset of “I can do it”.

Thank you to my BAS-AM program members and to my wise friend for showing me the way. Can’t wait to see where else we travel by conquering the fears that hold us back. I’m curious : have you ever let the fear of being “not very good” hold you back?