Five Things

We’re in the midst of crafting our personal narratives in the Year 4 BASAM program, and that has had me thinking about how my narrative needs a refresh. Then I came across this fabulous piece my good friend from college Perrin McCormick posted on her Limkedin page – 5 things people would tell you about her. So I’m borrowing shamelessly from Perrin to ask my program people what they would say about me – which was I’ll then use to update my pitch

Go …

Happy Diwali

Light, love and laughter to all

As my program members know, the land of my birth is India. I haven’t lived there since I was seven yet thanks to the upbringing, the ties to my cultural roots are strong.

Today, many of the 1.4 billion Indians who live around the world (almost 18% of the global population) celebrate Diwali. I’ll leave its origins and reasons for others to cover. Suffice to say, Diwali celebrates universal truths of the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. For many, many reasons and memories, it is my most favorite day in the year and so I want to wish all BASAM followers the sentiments of festival – may light, love and laughter grace all corners of your home and heart!

BASAM Guest Speaker Mount Vernon School District Superintendent

On October 25, the BASAM program was honored to have Dr Carl Bruner, Superintendent of the Mount Vernon school district as a speaker in SOC420, a course that examines the intersection of social capital, bias, power and equity and career development. Dr Bruner led the class, drawing from the life story of Dr Donna Beegle, who escaped the pernicious cycle of generational poverty, thanks to a combination of factors including her tenacity and her mentors.

I know I speak for all program members when I say the discussion was thought provoking and inspiring. It will leave a positive, enduring legacy on our hearts, minds and behaviors as workplace leaders and as community members. Thank you Dr Bruner from all of us.

We’re Enough

Once in a while, we experience a moment when a piece of music grips our very core. Over the summer, I came across Broken and it’s Beautiful by Kelly Clarkson that resulted in this core gripping moment for me. The line that sticks with me is the one that goes “I’m phenomenal and I’m enough”. As a society, it seems we are quick to find fault with each other, with our circumstances and with ourselves, leading us to a frenetic quest for perfection and the invariable disappointment when we don’t reach it every single time.

In the Skagit Valley College program, we devote time and energy exploring our auto-ethnographies- how the confluence of our life experiences and environments shape our outlooks on society, our approaches to our work, our careers, our families and how they impact how we see ourselves. This week, we started the conversation in the Foundation of Applied Management course that the folks in the third year of their bachelor degree are doing. The Year 4’s unraveled new dimensions to the conversation in the Social Capital course in which they are enrolled.

As I listened to the discussions in both classes, all that kept playing through my mind were Clarkson’s words. With my eyes and ears, I saw the tenacity, the resolve, the power, self-belief that every member of the program has, whether they’re aware of it yet or not. And I realized why I love the Clarkson song so much – it’s because it reminds me of the journeys that each of us in the program are on and the honor and empowerment I feel to be part of it. We listened to the song in the Year 4 class and I’ll share that talking about the song and what it and the people in the program represent was a tear filled moment for me.

The final share on this is that words of the song came alive to me again over the weekend when I was thinking of a recent reunion I had with a friend from decades ago. Our time together and the pride they showed in me and my work left me with the confidence that yes, I’m broken, it’s beautiful , it’s phenomenal, and I’m enough.

And so I say to all BASAM people – we’re enough.

Great perspectives on comfort zones

This article from the Harvard Business Review describes a school of thought I’ve long believed – if it’s easy, it suggests I can already do it, which leads me to wonder how much am I actually learning. Linked to this is another life long philosophy : if we only did what’s been done before, Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the moon!

Fall Quarter 2019: Faculty & Staff

As we get ready for our Week 2 class meeting (in T minus less than 12 hours), I’ve been thinking a lot about the program faculty and staff with whom I have the honor of working this quarter.

In our group, we have an economist, a geologist, an environmental evangelist, a former Navy fighter pilot, a soccer coach turned financial guru, a geographer who is now a dramatist, a counseling expert, a reformed corporate type and a college president. What a phenomenal kaleidoscope of experiences, perspectives and world views and how lucky we all are to learn with the fine BASAM program participants at Skagit Valley College!


One of the things that’s always puzzled me is that we don’t seem to spend enough time learning how to breathe. Breathing is something we all need to do to stay alive yet we take it for granted that it’s something we can all perform at the expert level without much coaching. I was so thrilled to come across this article, which talks about how the US Navy Seals are taught breathing so they can perform at their peak under pressure. Try these hints and let me know what you think … if it works for the Seals, could it work for you?

This morning I made a wish

It’s the morning of the first day of the 2019-20 year for the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Applied Science program. Today, eight faculty members, including SVC President Dr. Tom Keegan who is teaching in the program, will launch 52 program members on Year 3 and 4 of their bachelor degree.

That 52 people have entrusted their quest for a bachelor degree with our program is humbling and an honor beyond words. It’s also a journey into the unknown, much like my hero Neil Armstrong made 50 years ago, when he and the crew of Apollo 11 set off for the moon.

So, I went outside at dawn o’clock and as I often do when facing a big moment, I gave a giant wave to the man on the moon (at least I waved in the approximate direction of the moon – it’s Western Washington, there’s cloud cover). I asked him to help with fine winds, smooth seas and smooth sailing for program participants, faculty and their families.

We’ve got this BASAM people – let’s get going on the adventure. Just 264 trips around the moon until our group graduates!


I’m an expert thinker, I’ve been told that often and in every imaginable context.

I think a lot, I think fast, I think often. I never stop thinking; my brain whirs at supersonic speed. It’s exhilarating and it’s exhausting. So, I was intrigued by this piece from Medium offering perspective on how to get a strength, that because it’s been carried to an extreme, is now a weakness. It sounds odd to think about your thinking, which is what the author says to do but I’m giving it a shot this week. Anyone else been told they think too much? Want to join me in this experiment? Check out the

Only One Chance to Make a First Impression

Some years ago, I spent two years working in a Marketing role in in the company at which I worked. We were working on a new brand launch and reviewing the marketing campaign that were going to be used to introduce this innovative, cutting edge product to consumers.

Although he was silent through the material review, from his body language those who knew him well could sense that the President was not happy with the materials that were being considered. At the end of the discussion, he stood up to leave, and from the meeting room door, looked back at the group and said “remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression”.

Those words stay with me fifteen years later. They come to mind in all sorts of contexts – meetings, interviews, program briefing sessions, entering a doctor’s office, talking to a new cashier at the grocery store. When I read this article by Harvard University psychology researcher Amy Cuddy, it reminded me of the words of my former colleague. I wonder how many of us think about the impressions we make and take and how these might impact the effectiveness of our interactions, personal and professional. Thanks to my former colleague, this is a topic we’re always talking about in the Skagit Valley College BAS in Applied Management program.