The Wrinkle in Working to Fight Aging

I really love getting older. This is absolute truth. I also have this theory that working so very hard to fight aging, ages a person. Pfft.

Continue reading “The Wrinkle in Working to Fight Aging”

Releasing the Hunt for the Ghastly Girl

March 20th: my real birthday.

March 20, 2018

I lost my voice today due to a hefty bout of laryngitis. I mostly reveled in being silenced on this very important day and I’m pretty sure my kids enjoyed my silence more than I did! Continue reading “Releasing the Hunt for the Ghastly Girl”

Fire, Snuffed Out? (with Flare)

I don’t believe our fire ever really gets snuffed out.

I think our fiery spirits sometimes need a nap and move into the embers stage, but we continue to burn. Continue reading “Fire, Snuffed Out? (with Flare)”

The Fable of the “Safe,” Boring Label

Please forgive the obnoxious length of this post. It’s 4:00am and I stole most of it from an article I published in June, 2016, on LinkedIn. At this wee hour, it seems applicable to where my head is right now.

I’ve been engaged in recruiting for ORT America’s Annual MeetingEVERY SINGLE TIME I utter the words, “Annual Meeting,” I feel like this: CLICK ON CARTOON SOUND EFFECTS for accurate representation of my opinion regarding the title/label, “Annual Meeting.” 

If I had my druthers, I’d never call anything I’m deeply passionate about, or other people are supposed to be inspired by, “Annual Meeting.” I’d call it:ANN MEET BLOG

As you’ll see below, I am not a fan of labels. I’ve also started writing shorter articles, but I hope this lengthy post (that I’d shorten if it wasn’t 4:38 AM), relays to you what I really think of uttering the words, “Annual Meeting.”


I really dislike labels. When someone asks what I do, or who I am, I almost always dislike my answers. My responses are usually, “I’m a fundraiser,” or, “I’m divorced,” or “I’m J and C’s Mom.” When I ask who you are and what you do, I hope for more than two or three words. As it stands in our society, labels and an individual’s outer image are inextricably connected and hold a hefty weight. How we choose to label ourselves and put ourselves out there, leaves a mark, but is it accurate? I don’t think so.

I recently attended my first strictly Orthodox Bar Mitzvah for a friend’s son. A few weeks ago, my friend suggested that I wear a long skirt to the service, as I’d be more comfortable being dressed like the other women, in accordance with Orthodox Jewish culture and tradition. She was very kind, but as she advised me, I could feel myself rebelling against the idea of following such rules.

On the morning of the Bar Mitzvah, I dressed modestly, but chose wide leg slacks, rather than a skirt. To be honest, I looked like a twin sister of Bea Arthur as the character, “Maude.” I didn’t love my outfit, or even like it, but I sort of appeared, Jewish-ish, (whatever that is), even though I wore pants.

Maude
I kind of looked like this.

As I walked into the women’s section of the shul, a nice woman asked if I wanted a prayer book, and so, I took one. I asked if I should wear a head covering. The woman responded, “You’re wearing pants.” When I heard her utter those words, I knew I’d made the wrong wardrobe decision. She continued, “Are you married?” I told her I was not. She then asked, “Are you Jewish?” When I exclaimed, “Yes, I’m Jewish,” she told me I didn’t have to wear a head covering because I’m not married. She also told me not to feel badly about the pants debacle and that next time, I should wear a skirt. She was lovely.

I started thinking of labels and of the image I’d put out there that morning, but what I hadn’t shared with her. Had I been honest, I’d have told her, “I’m rebellious against wearing a long skirt, but it’s really no big deal, and I should have had more respect for you and your house of worship. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” I could have said, “I was raised Jewish, and feel most Jewish when I pray with my feet, but you may not think I’m Jewish because I don’t have 100% Jewish genes and we may disagree on specific political and religious issues.”

Okay, okay. I know most people don’t want to hear these lengthy, honest answers, but when I label myself, “Jewish,” there are assumptions and perceptions, but how do we correct these inaccuracies? How many of us are inquisitive enough to ask more questions?

I admit, I’m inquisitive to a fault, and perhaps that’s one of the most accurate labels I wear. My interest in people is what propels me to love them so much. While I’m not usually so rebellious as to not wear a skirt in shul, I don’t think the nice woman at the entrance of the women’s section labeled me as “A rebellious, stubborn woman who should have had more respect.” This would have been an accurate label on that day. Instead, she knew I was “Jewish, unmarried, and made a mistake.”

I find labels most prevalent in business, and they’re chock full of rules, expectations and “shoulds.” I don’t really subscribe to that type of thinking, but I go along with the image and label that is expected of me, depending on the occasion.

My resumé is diverse and usually makes for an interesting conversation. I have followed an atypical career path. Today, when I present as “Fundraiser,” or tomorrow, when I present as “Trainer,” or in a few weeks when I’m an, “Emcee,” how do these labels and images encompass all that we really are, and especially at our core? Aren’t we interested in going deeper?

What if we stopped submitting resumés, and started submitting, “Truthés?” Here’s what one of mine might look like:

Pamela Klier-Weidner. People Lover and Inquisitive Seeker

Legally, my name is Pamela Klier, but I kept, the Weidner, because I didn’t want to confuse my kids by having a different last name after my divorce

Objective: To listen, demonstrate love and tolerance, communicate the truth, guide people, and allow the cream to rise

Truthful Stuff:

  • Lover of people and the direction/s they really want to go (which is the basis for everything, I think)
  • Inquisitive (that too, but also have a sense that if you aren’t comfy, I’ll shut up and respect your comfort level)
  • Super fun (if we aren’t having fun, why are we doing it?)
  • Perfectionist (not proud of this, but truth is truth)
  • Periodically stubborn (don’t love this about me either, and sometimes I’m right to be stubborn. Other times, not so much)
  • Creative risk-taker (this usually pays off, or at least it has historically)
  • Non drinker or drugger (no judgment: if you can do that without impending doom, fine)
  • Weak at accepting compliments
  • Compliment giver, and almost always means them
  • Very generous which is periodically caught up in people pleasing, but this is improving
  • Not entirely at peace with physical appearance, especially when it’s humid and coif is out of control. Working on accepting physical appearance, and working harder on it not mattering as much

Yep. I would consider hiring someone who gave me a “Truthé,” in a hot minute.

I realize and respect that labels, stereotypes and images present a level of safety for us and that the appearance of and/or acceptance of “Truthés” is not likely to exist, except in my own head, and now, in this post.

So… if you seek to help repair this world through education while we engage in creative and collaborative idea sharing, please join me at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Chicago on March 18th, 2018. In fact, come on March 17th at Pinstripes, for our “DAY BEFORE THE ORT Day of Collaborative, Visionary Genius.”  I’d be delighted to play a friendly game of bocce ball with you, as we get our creative ideas prepped and flowing before the next day. (I am pretty good at bocce ball. You’ve been warned.)

I love ORT. I love the 138 year history, its stories, the students, families and communities who have needed, benefited from, or still need ORT educational programs.

We need at least another 138 years. We need you.

STA
Shelly Dreifuss – (one of my favorite humans), will receive the ORT America President’s Award. 1871’s COO, Tom Alexander,  Keynote Speaker – (Genius who has more impact in three words that long-winded humans who write blog posts that are waaay too long, and finally, our Featured Speaker, Alina Gerlovin Spaulding, who is a rock star in philanthropic and impact giving

REGISTER RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW! 

Acing the Test of Great Leadership

*DISCLAIMER: I may be wrong.

*OTHER DISCLAIMER: I may not be wrong.

*OTHER OTHER DISCLAIMER: It doesn’t matter.

*OTHER OTHER OTHER DISCLAIMER, or, DISCLAIMER CUBED: Great leaders only ace the leadership test if they do NOT seek credit for acing the test.

Without appearing old and crusty, I’ve been around. I’ve learned a thing or two about a thing or two. Perhaps more than most people, I have walked through a diverse and wonderfully colorful career path.

I have adored some career choices more than others. To date, (and no, I don’t enjoy dating, but that’s a different article), I am wholly in love with and immersed in learning from the good, the bad and the ugly of pretty much everything.

For whatever reason, and I will mention some of what I believe are the reasons, I have often evolved into a leader, even though this is something I have fought against for much of my life.

While I have sometimes felt pressured to accept a leadership position or be fired, I think I am starting to understand what I believe are extremely valuable (essential) qualities of very strong leadership. Here goes: (Also, don’t forget my disclaimers, okay?)

  • A great leader does not need to take credit or receive much in the way of applause
  • A great leader never considers a brilliant idea stolen, and nor does she/he become offended, when a colleague claims idea as her/his own, but rather views it as a positive that collaborative systems are working well
  • A great leader meets people exactly where they are and implements actions based on realistic factors (I struggle with the second part of this one!)
  • A great leader, while always seeing a holistic view, creates and develops accessible systems in order to raise up all individuals and the organization as a whole
  • A great leader takes calculated risks and accepts the heat when they don’t fly
  • A great leader is appropriately transparent and accountable, internally and externally
  • A great leader elevates others and recognizes that this estimable action improves the leader as a leader!
  • A great leader knows that the very best ideas and systems are successful only through collaboration
  • A great leader has a healthy sense of boundaries, but NEVER buys into hierarchy
  • A great leader celebrates victories but does not claim victory as her/his own
  • A great leader takes it on the chin for the greater good of the team and proceeds to shift the group, into a positive direction
  • A great leader is either organized, or wise enough to locate all aspects of organization in order to run things well
  • A great leader has vision, compassion and clarity
  • A great leader needs help and asks for it
  • A great leader plays to strengths and helps stretch weaker muscles, in her/himself and others
  • A great leader values and fosters professional development for all
  • A great leader almost always finds the calm within a storm
  • A great leader is realistic and accepting about her/his own weaknesses and is selectively and strategically transparent about them, in order to elevate the collective group and organization
  • A great leader celebrates being a part of something far bigger than her/himself. (A great leader is right-sized)
  • A great leader is strategic and tactical or, is surrounded by others who are strategic and tactical (which is an excellent strategy.)
  • A great leader implements and follows an accessible, realistic organizational strategic plan
  • A great leader is hungry to learn from others and invariably, does
  • A great leader is responsible and enthusiastic about mentoring other great leaders
  • A great leader is many times, not located at the top of an organizational chart, and doesn’t really care

Whoa. There’s more, but I’m exhausted.

I have observed outstanding leadership on a few occasions, but not as often as I’d like to. Egos and/or arduous work to hide a leader’s weaknesses, lack of systems creation and/or implementation gets in the way. Many times, leaders who are labeled as leaders, can feel burdened by or anxious about their title, so they define and focus on what they think a leader is supposed to look like, rather than keeping her/his eyes on what’s really essential.

I am interested in learning from great leaders and also from the not so great leaders. In fact, I really love and embrace both facets of professional growth as they are invaluable lessons on what to do and what not to do.

Maybe that’s why I might be a leader at my core, as much as I prefer standing behind other leaders.

Either way, I’m being led to the next right move.

Depression Has Nothing to do with Rights

I never wonder if I, or anyone else has “the right to be depressed.” I think the very idea seems way off. Throughout my life, I have heard others validate or invalidate individuals (and sometimes, me), on whether enduring depression is acceptable,“ridiculous,” or to be expected. It seems to me, these opinions appear to be based almost solely on measurable logistics. For example,  Continue reading “Depression Has Nothing to do with Rights”