The Incredibles 2.

I have been waiting no less than 10 years for this day.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not that big on movies. And I’m not the most well-versed on pretty much Disney anything. But with this one … I cannot WAIT!

Where there’s a Y there’s an us.

Earlier this week I was on a call for one of the Board of Directors that I serve on, for the YMCA at Virginia Tech. Even though I don’t live in Blacksburg and haven’t for quite some time, I maintain this service role becuase VT and the surrounding community of Blacksburg is truly my home; as they often say, home is where the heart is.

For this meeting, a rep from Y-USA came and shared some of the Y’s refreshed national goals with us that will really help positively impact our work and align our campus-Y mission with Y-USA.

Along with their messages came this fantastic and really well-made video that is an appeal and ask for folks in our communities to help support the Y in any way they can.

I wanted to share it here with you; I think it’s really moving. 

“The Y fills the gaps and bridges our divides. A place where we can become us again…
Where there’s a Y there’s an us.”

 

So darn grateful.

This post actually took the form of a very, very long private Facebook post earlier. Nonetheless, I wanted to share it a little bit more widely. Thus, here we are.


I’m not even sure where this status is gonna go, but the TL;DR is: give praise where praise is due. Recognize people, positively. It’s Actively Caring, in a nut shell.

About a year ago, I left an absolutely SCATHING review on an online receipt survey (YES, I do those. I believe in survey karma) about a local restaurant that was not meeting my expectations. Their regional manager reached out, and apologized profusely for their poor service.

Now, a year latter, I’ve recognized that this same business is one that I frequent at least monthly, really enjoy, and has provided amazing service, great food, and even better hospitality. Last night, it moved me to e-mail that same regional manager more then 1 year later and let him know how much things have changed. This morning, they offered me to come and in pick up “a little something special.” I didn’t do it for anything special, I simply wanted to give praise where praise was due.

Anyone who knows me *VERY* well knows that I am very critical – BOTH ways. Most only see the positive side of that criticality, but trust me that it goes both ways. If you’re doing poorly I’ll call you out, but if you’re doing great, I’ll love on you so, so much and give many, many thanks.

Another example are the folks that I rent my cars from for business. I just gave them a call and said “Hey this is Justin Gr…” and even before I got my last name out, they were like “HEY BUDDY! We’ve got your car with your hand controls waiting here for you! Want a pick up from home in the morning? We’ll see you then!” It was like talking to an old friend, not a business. That same office I once ordered pizzas for, for lunch on one of my favorite employee’s last day at that branch (who I later ran into at the same company’s branch at Dulles. Beautifully, small world). And all of this even in a place as big as the Northern Virginia/D.C. region. It’s not like I live in a small town anymore, but it sure does feel like it.

Pro-social and positive, public recognition and commendation is REAL people. Meeting 1 new person everyday and helping 1 new person when I can is an amazing feeling. Not only will people remember you for both the positive and the negative moments, but it can truly help make someone’s day. It can help them improve, it can help them grow, it can help them feel great about the work they’re doing; and it can do the same for you, too. It’s just like how I always write “thank you” on the bank of a receipt for a server or waitress after a meal.

Remember, life is all about what you have done for other people.

The little things.

Today isn’t even over yet and I already can realize that it has been a practice in “the little things.”

We all know them – the little things. The things that can make your day absolutely awesome and fantastic, but aren’t magnificent, huge, or world-shifting. 2 of them happened to me today.

First.

First was on the elevator in the office this morning. You know the moment. You step into that case of an elevator and before you know it you’re ascending or descending, crushed next to a bunch of likely strangers.

This morning, the strangers on the elevator knew each other, each presenting as males on a work team headed to a meeting. They ask each other where their meeting is actually inside of the building, and neither new. One pulls out his cell phone – whups, it’s the wrong one. And then he finds the other.

When he finally locates the calendar appointment on his work cell phone, they identify the meeting room and announce it aloud. I work on floor 4. Their meeting is on floor 3.

I don’t the third floor quite as well, but I do know that the numbering convention around the building is identical between all 7 floors. And that numbering conversation, while consistent, is CONFUSING. I took a moment to speak up, knowing the building well, and offer them some advice.

“When you stop off of the elevator, turn left. All of the 600 rooms are on that wall of the building.”

One of the two men replies, “Finally! Someone who is willing to help!”

From their badges, I could tell that they didn’t work in our building daily, but had maybe frequented int he past for meetings. And I was right. And I hope that little piece of advice made their day. They sure did seem thankful for it!

We exchanged greetings, they headed on to their meeting, and I headed on to my office. It was great.

SECOND.

I was walking past my neighborhood grocery story, a must-do for me on the way home from the train station. Really, it’s almost impossible to get home without walking in front of or behind the grocery store that is planted between my home and the station.

As I walked by the station, I hear my someone shout out my first name. “Hey, Justin!”

I keep rolling for just a moment but when I realize that this voice is likely shouting at me, I turn around. It’s an old neighbor of mine!

And mind you, in the super-densely populated never-ending suburb of Washington, D.C. that is Northern Virginia this is a rarity, to even see a neighbor that you know much less an OLD neighbor that you know.

The thing is, I can’t even recall this man’s exact name, but I know that we used to live in the same building. I met him and his wife and their two kids numerous times. I learned today that he has since moved to a new home in Tyson’s, to more land and more space – a common move for people who start out owning property in my condo building.

It’s something small – running into a neighbor – but it just doesn’t happen the way it does in a small or more rural town (which I love). It was amazing to have that happen today – and to reconnect with this man who I have such fond memories of but had not seen for 8 – 10 months.

It was awesome.

Both little things were awesome.

Today…was awesome.

I hope your day was, too.

For other little things, check out one of my favorite blogs that can easily and quickly remind you of the little things in life – Just Little Things.

Thanks for reading.

Virginia Tech NCR Commencement.

This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to address our newest graduates of Virginia Tech – now alumni – at their commenecement ceremony. This was, in particular, for those graduating from our programs that are here in the “National Capital Region,” as we call it – which is pretty much Washington D.C. and the never-ending suburbs around it.

We have more than 50,000 living alumni in the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia region – and I do not think we are being boastful when we say we have one of the best alumni chapters, the D.C. Hokies!

If you have any interest in checking out the thoughts that I shared with our Class of 2017, check it out below! Incase the link doesn’t auto-correct, my remarks begin at 1:40:52 and end at 1:54:15. The rest of the graduation is pretty sweet, too. :)

I’m predicting the beginning.

Prime Day. I’m here to tell you…

It’s. a. trap. 

They know what they’re doing. And, yes, they got me.

Amazon Prime is a savior in this first-world of mine. I always say “Own your privilege,” and “Privilege itself isn’t bad, it’s what you do with it.” Well, when it comes to the beauty that is 2-hour delivery, same day delivery if ordered by noon, dozens of audiobooks, Alexa, and the list goes on … and otherwise 2-day delivery on 99% of their massive world-wide inventory … I own my privilege.

This is not an ad for Amazon, but for the “un-indoctrinated”, Amazon Prime is a special membership to the popular consumption website (LOL), Amazon, where you gain access to dozens of special features and items as perks of your annual membership. It costs $99/year. Luckily, I got in back in November 2014 when life was simpler and things were cheaper. Anywhoodledoodle…

On to the real story here.

A pivotal part of my life is my morning routine. I shower almost exclusively in the morning, and waking up, getting the music or the NPR going, and other duties all take place in the bathroom. Showering, wound care, getting dressed, etc.

For years, since college, I’ve used a speaker in my bathroom. I always forget to plug in my cell phone at night so when I wake up I tend to plug it in, launch some acoustics, and then when I go into the bathroom I turn on my bluetooth water-proof shower speaker, and viola – they connect and the day begins.

So. Genius!

But when the Prime Day sales came around earlier this week I couldn’t help but think…

Man, wouldn’t it be nice to have Alexa in my bathroom?

The weather. Music. NPR. NPR ONE! Flash briefings. Uber hailing. My calendar. Grocery lists. Jeopardy and other trivia games. Hokie Helper. News Headlines. The next D.C. Metro train arrival. A bluetooth speaker to play anything I want, from my iPhone, otherwise. Never to be charged, always to be plugged in, always listening for and to be controlled by my voice. Always listening.

We all know about my accepted relationship with big brother – and that was the only con for me.

So, lo and behold:

I bought an Echo Dot for my bathroom. And only my bathroom.
And I predict that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

And it turns out I’m not the only one with this bright idea! I learned recently that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has Alexa in his bathroom, too! So, sure, maybe we are crazy together but hey – great minds think alike?