Some intro tips on “networking.”

I found this article from the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. While it’s definitely more dedicated to business/sales types (and not the engaged, others-centered types that I prefer to engage with). Just a quick post, but wanted to share the food for thought!

My favorite content in this article can definitely be found under the “do” sidebar, about half way down the page. It highlights DO’s and DONT’s in these types of situations.

First, it mentions to come prepared with topics to talk about. This is absolutely, positively so true! Especially in a situation where there will be people that you know, people that you don’t, and people that you know ABOUT, it’s important to do your research. Knowing a little bit of background on the other person before you actually meet them can make them feel like a million bucks – and it’s very likely that they will remember you, too!

The third “DO” says “look for opportunities to help others with information or introductions.” One of my many goals when it comes to situations where I don’t know others and others don’t know others is to connect them, too. Quite frankly, if I was super-human I’d love to meaningfully connect with every single person in the room. Unfortunately that’s not possible.

However, over the years I’ve realized that I could also spread the wealth. So if there’s a project on one side of the room that’s booming and an interest on the other side of the room that aligns – I will do everything I can to connect those two people. I love seeing those relationships and opportunities build.

And finally, from a cleanliness/overall “maximizing opportunity for conversation and introduction perspective,” the fourth point mentions that you should “keep at least one hand free of snacks and drinks so you can shake hands.” ESPECIALLY if there are hors d’oeuvres that may make your hands a bit messy. A similar bit for times when you’re sitting down and potentially networking? 2 things actually. 1. Don’t order something edible with you hands – do something like a salad, not to look pretty, but to keep your hands and face much more clean than a burger or a rack of ribs might. And, 2., Don’t take a bite of food into your mouth larger than you won’t be able to finish in just a few seconds. You may eat more “rapidly” but you’ll always be available to answer a question or chime in a funny joke.

To be honest, I’m bad at that one. Especially if the food is great. I’m just chewing and intently nodding some of the time! :)

Anyways, those are my $0.40. Check out the article and if you like it, let me know which pieces stand out to you, too! Thanks for reading!

Leaving a legacy.

When I was accepted to be a student at my alma mater in the winter of 2007, I was the least bit concerned with “leaving a legacy.” I was more concerned with getting out of high school scott-free and being able to have a good time, away, at college, while also earning a degree. I wasn’t thinking about what my job would be after, where I might work on campus, or the relationships that I might have formed over the next few years.

That was almost eight years ago. Eight.

Read more after the jump …

Some staycation advice.

Ironically, I wrote this blog as I prepare to head off on travel for the long Labor Day weekend! BUT I discovered this article online last week, ahead of a fantastic staycation. In case you haven’t been introduced to this wonderful idea, a staycation is exactly like a vacation except you don’t get anywhere; you stay where you are! I think they are INVALUABLE when it comes to recharging, resetting, and even in some instances, still getting some work done (when appropriate and defined!).

As I have gotten older, I have absolutely mastered the art of the staycation. I’ve learned that I don’t NEED to have plans every single weekend and, in fact, staying in has brought me some of the most interesting weekends since I relocated just outside of our nation’s capital.

So when I discovered this article last week, t was a few days before my birthday, my roommate was going to be out of town, and I was taking that as an opportunity to have the condo to myself, do whatever I wanted, dance around the house naked…you get the point.

I actually I ended up doing a handful of items on the list. If you’re in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia area, the items that I would most heavily recommend are:

  • Any of the many brewery, distillery, or winery tours and/or tastings
  • Union Market (and their many pop up shops! Dolcezza is a NOVA favorite of mine for both their coffee AND unique gelato flavors!)
  • Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art
  • The United States Botanic Garden

So, the next time you’re feeling a bit of wanderlust like I am at this very moment, heed the advice you just read! There’s so many great things to do in this region/area, for miles and miles, between the entire DC-Maryland-Virginia trek, that sometimes staying at  home and not worrying about travel, logistics, etc. can be more relaxing than a getaway.



Well, it’s been quite obvious: August 2015 was not quite a banner month for me in terms of blogging. I’m really sorry about that! Things have 100% absolutely picked up around the office, and a lot of the new responsibilities that I’ve gained have to do with spending time on the computer. You can imagine that the very last thing someone wants to do after spending their 8+ hour work day on the computer – is spend even more time on the computer! So, unfortunately, e-mails have backed up and blogs have been backed-up. But, on the bright side, I have many posts waiting in the queue, just to be proofread and then hit “send.” So, check those out soon!

Anyways, I write this particular blog post becuase my birthday is tomorrow!


What a quick year it’s been! I began this year floating in the middle of the ocean, on my way to Bermuda, disconnected from much of society on a cruise. That would be very indicative of how the rest of my year would go. I spent many days here and here as disconnected as I could possibly be, for example, going without my phone for 24 hours at a time! Was it hectic and stressful to get back to 40+ e-mails, 20+ text messages, 3 missed phone calls, and limitless Facebook notifications? Absolutely. Heck, there are still some FB notifications that I had every intention of replying to from my LAST birthday. Obviously those are gone now – and it does still irk me a little bit – but not nearly as much as it would have a year ago.

Not relying as much on technology and social media for communication has become a big plus in my life. I’ve continued, as I’ve always been, to maintain connections with those family members and friends that are close to me. Whether it’s calling home to the parents most Sundays, calling my best friends back home just to say what’s up, frequent trips to Blacksburg to see friends there…I try very hard, spend a lot of time, and put a ton of effort into making sure those relationships maintain. I’ve written about that before here on the blog, and I hope that I continue to write about that for years to come. But it hasn’t been as focused like “oh man, I must reply to EVERY Facebook post!”

To continue reflecting on the year – I spent the first half of it living at home with mom and dad and that was one of the best, most humble decisions I’ve made in a long time. While I lived there, I never did unpack those boxes though. I was determined to not stick around long, but I also was determined to not settle on a job offer. I was fortunate to receive a few (yes, read a FEW, not a LOT, haha) between graduation in May and the fall, but nothing really…stuck. My dream job offer came through at the end of September, and I started working in early October when I get back from San Francisco.

If you would have asked me back in October if it was my dream job offer, I would not have said yes. I was nervous as heck. I was nervous as all get out that it was not as close to higher education (which was my master’s discipline) as I wanted it to be, and that I wouldn’t be able to grow as much as I wanted. Little did I know that this position would be 110% perfect for being able to have a day job and a passion job – and continuing to serve and work through this very blog –, and grow that involvement and advocacy into our Nation’s Capital.

That’s where I spent most of the rest of the year, here in Northern Virginia/D.C.. BUT, we all know that I have wanderlust, so after Bermuda and San Francisco, I then embarked on many trips to Richmond and Blacksburg Virginia, but then I also took HESONWHEELS to Austin, Texas for 2 weeks, and then we visited Chicago for a weekend in the summer. Combine that with moving in February, and I STILL haven’t even quite unpacked the boxes that didn’t get unpacked when I lived with my parents! All the essentials are here at my new condo but it definitely still looks like I moved in last month. I’m working on it!

That’s the biggest development of the year, though. Finally living “on my own.” For the first time (while yes, I do have a roommate) in my entire life, I’m paying for my groceries, my gas, my car insurance, my phone bill, my rent, my credit card bill, etc. etc. etc. insert all other annoying adult grown-up bills here…completely on my own. It was immediately petrifying. As many people my age I was worried I would just…mess up and run out of money or something. Having spent an extra two years in college pursuing my Master’s, too, I subconsciously was worried that I was behind the curve with many of my friends.

So far, so good though. My kid life (having two older siblings to shadow) mirrored my adult life. I was able to watch many of my friends go ahead of me and do those things, at which point I could then get advice from them on what to do and what not to do, etc. and that worked out beautifully. Like I said though let’s not jinx it – so far so good. :)

What else here? Moving … bills … new job … HESONWHEELS … traveling. Charlotte is very healthy! This is also the first year in EIGHT years that I made a concentrated plan to be a single man, from a romantic relationship. From junior year of high school all the way through college and graduate school, I was attached to a serious relationship in one form of another. Great years of my life that taught me much, don’t get me wrong – no matter how young! But, especially after moving into the city, it was so assuredly refreshing to be single and just me a man, his dog, and sometimes his roommate. Grateful, and loved. It’s so refreshing to be able to go to a happy hour or just hang out with friends and worry solely about yourself and not have expectations from others. A bit selfish? Absolutely. But I admit that. I’m really focused right now…and in the past year I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that.

Otherwise, and anyone reading this will say “duh,” I’ve been focused on building HESONWHEELS and doing more social advocacy, while continuing to support diversity initiatives and student groups at Virginia Tech. Tech is my home – I’m back in Blacksburg on average at least once per month – and I would have it no other way. Do I wish there was a shuttle that would take me so that I don’t have to drive? Absolutely. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to routinely get back to the place that I truly do call home.

I really think that’s it. In the vein of making this more than 1,000 words…I just wanted something I could go back and say “Well. THAT’S where I was at that time, at that birthday.”

That’s where I am, my friends. Thanks for reading. Here’s to another year.

And p.s. – if you have a free moment, please check out this survey in honor of said birthday. THANK YOU!

100% Accessible Taxis.

To follow up on my accessibility + travel adventures (yes, the Chicago blog is STILL a work in progress!) I wanted to share this article. It highlights Montgomery County’s intention to, by 2025, have 100% of their taxicab fleet accessible to those with mobility impairments.

With how much I travel and get around, and have been increasingly leaving my personal vehicle behind, the guarantee of having an accessible mode of transportation no matter where you are is a BIG DEAL.

Montgomery County is aiming to develop a plan to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs that have lifts or ramps, with a goal of having 100 percent accessible taxicabs within 10 years.

One of the most ridiculously true passages, I think, in the entire article is the paragraph where it says, “Accessible taxis can provide backup transportation when Metro elevators are broken, or late at night when public transportation, including paratransit, is no longer running,” she said. “Accessible transportation ensures that each and every one of us, and those we care about, can remain active should we find ourselves living with a temporary or permanent disability.”

It’s also authorizing accessible vehicle licneses to driver-owned coopearatives to encourage them to do the same.

Finally, shout out to Roger Berliner, a council member who seems to be spearheading this bil!

Pixar’s Inside Out.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go do it. Now. It’s the greatest movie I have seen, hands down, all year.

Like Jimmy V said, “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”

In this case, that’s a heck of a movie.

Now, mind you, I only watch a handful of movies every year. But watching Inside Out did for me what few other movies do – it held my attention all the way through. I have an admittedly short attention span and have a hard time getting into characters in such shorts amount of time. This begets my preference for episodic television shows where the character development can last over the course of, practically, years (can you say ‘Jack Bauer‘?).

It’s most interesting because you spend most of your time watching this movie in the head of the main character, Riley. As the adolescents  handles a move, as an only child, from the mid-west to the American west coast, she has many emotions and feelings – and that’s where the other main characters (pictured below) come into play. There’s Joy and Sad and Fear and Anger and they all work together in Riley’s “control station” (a.k.a. brain) to effect how she reacts to various situations.

Simply put: this movie is a beautiful, thoughtful, yet animated portrayal of emotion. It’s deep. It’s almost as if they consulted many psychologists to make sure they got it “just right.” There are references to so many terms that I learned in school, like REM sleep, that you wouldn’t normally see in a kid’s a movie – but they make so much sense and play a very intricate part in understanding the greater, more deep parts of the story as an adult.

I laughed, I teared up, I thought…and I continue to think…about how great of a movie this. Go check it out if you have the time.