Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The biggest company picnic ever


It's been uncharacteristically quiet from me. However, fear not, I haven't lost my capability to yell and opine about life. The roar just moved to a different location. For the past four days, it was Emmitsburg, MD, at Mt. St. Mary's University. I was *this close* to making an iPhone video of me walking up to the huge statue of Mary and saying "YOU are not my mother!" a la that kids book. (You know, that one where the bird falls out of his nest, and tries to find his mom, and runs into a variety of things that aren't.)

A good buddy and former student of mine named Hunter called me up a few months ago at one in the morning, and delivered a great sales pitch. He asked me if I'd like to help out at this youth leadership camp called HOBY - Hugh O'Brien Youth. (The Hugh played Wyatt Earp on TV back in the day.) Anyways, to make a long story short, I got to help facilitate the event, and work with a team of eight talented high school sophomores as they were put through an intensive weekend of motivational speakers, panelists, and information. All in all, there were two hundred kids at the event, plus a lot of staff members. It was CRAZY!

My team number was 16, so we picked an Abe Lincoln theme. I went wayyy overboard, as is usual. I grew a lame chinstrap beard, got funky cool top hats for everyone, and even photoshoped myself on a five dollar bill in place of Abe. The motto: Team Lincoln - there IS an I in this team! Check out this great picture of me and Hunter!

I had a junior facilitator, and she was great. I don't know who put poor Andrea on my team, as she was reasonable, calm, collected, and well dressed. But she was great, and the kids were great, and the team was EPIC!

It was an honor to be a part of it, and I'm still recovering. There were a few stories, lessons, and laughs that I had, and that I'd like to share with you. This is what I learned:

1. If you'd like to save yourself some embarrassment: Before you dance clumsily to Billie Jean with one of your female co-workers, ask if she's a dance instructor so you don't make a fool of yourself in front of a professional. Ah well...But if you'd just like to have fun, don't worry about it!

2. Travis M., a way cool dude from Google, said one of the coolest things on the subject of leadership. "Learn to be a good follower." He stated that there are many situations, especially as one starts to achieve real success, where it's as vital to be able to sit down and listen as it is to stand up and speak. Hey fellow guitar players - I think we could all learn from that!

3. It seems like the coolest, most successful people are secure enough in their accomplishments that they don't have to tell the whole world. My favorite speakers followed this trend. Unfortunately, I didn't. I'll be adjusting. I've heard that Stevie Ray Vaughan was pretty down to earth. I bet if I met him on the street, I would say "Oh, I'm Josh, and I have a one-man rock show, and I'm leading the revolution." It would take me weeks to get my foot out of my mouth!

4. People seem to converse at the age and level that you initiate the conversation. Too bad I talk like a ten year old! Hey Apple! Hey! Hey! Hey Apple! Haha, in all seriousness, talk to people like adults, and they'll answer like 'em.

5. Goal setting is something you can practice! This made a big impression on me. Hunter gave this riveting talk on - you're not going to believe it - goal setting. How could it have been cool? Trust me, when a speaker connects with the audience on the level that he did, he could have been telling us why he thinks foreign investments are a better choice than municipal bonds. And then, in addition to the connection, he presented some darn good information.

The thing that struck me was - as obsessed as I am with career success and world domination, I don't have a series of clear, explainable short and intermediate term goals. He said that one can, and should, practice setting goals. It's a skill, and can be refined. The stats are overwhelmingly in favor of writing things down!

What are some of your musical goals?

6. Anyone who claims to have the answers is a moron. Unfortunately, once or seven times, I verged on the moronic side, but I guess the growth process starts with realization of something that needs to be changed, right? Uhhh, but I don't claim to know, 'cause remember the main point!

The weekend was rockin', exhausting, and most educational. It was like the biggest company picnic ever, because I think we'll all be working for these kids very, very soon. I was honored to be a part of it, and I, for one, am going to start writing down my goals!

- Josh

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