Category: Mojo

Mister Bug – the Video

The Mister Bug adventure has just about wrapped up. Last Spring I posted the demo of the song I submitted to the Eventide Arts Songwriting Contest. Much to my surprise, it won. Many thanks to the good folks at Eventide and my friends and family who came out and supported us at the performance. Here’s a video with me and my All-Star Jam Band – Kris Hill on guitar, Andrew Rapo on keyboard and Alex Lariviere on ukulele. Not bad for rehearsing once.

What’s next for Mister Bug? Well, the song was originally written as a picture book manuscript and I’m thinking of turning it into a storybook app for the iPad using Demibooks Composer. Anyone with experience using that software want to chat?

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to add “award winning songwriter” to my resume. *cough*

Mister Bug, the Musical

Here’s the demo track of Mister Bug recorded today with Andy Rapo. It’s a bit rough, but not bad considering how quickly we did it. Andy is a whiz in the home studio and has a pretty nice set up. That’s me singing and playing ukulele (in case you were wondering).

Mister Bug started out as a poem (trivia – my first rhyming poem) based on a comment from my three-and-half-foot muse about a bug he saw on the ceiling. After some great comments from my crit group, I expanded it to fit a picture book format. Then, last year I started thinking about song writing and this version kind of came together.

I still think it’s got pretty good picture book potential *cough* agents, editors *cough*

I “debuted” it in January at my first VCFA residency by coercing a room full of children’s writers to sing along on the chorus. It didn’t take a whole lot of arm-twisting, they’re a game bunch. Now this version is going out to a local songwriting contest, and I’m living the not-quite-a-Wiggle-dream.

I wonder if Laurie Berkner would like it?

We Gather Together

Originally published in Nov 2007 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

Thanksgiving, another chance to overeat, visit with the family and give 40,000 grocery items to a local food pantry. I had a lot of help with that last one. Read on to learn more.

For seven years, Cape Cod has practiced a new Thanksgiving tradition. One created from passion and respect, and carried out by a squadron of volunteers with truly charitable goals. One that brings hundreds of people together as a community and displays the power of little gifts that collectively make a big difference. As a bonus, it’s also a healthy way to start a day associated with bloated waistlines and food comas.

The We Gather Together 5K was started in 2001 by Rich Havens and his Time Out! Productions team. The entry fee for the race is $5 and a bag of groceries that go to the Sandwich Food Panty (and affiliates). What a great idea. This year I finally got the chance to ask Rich about the origins of the race.

It all started with his parents. He discovered that they had been making regular donations to their local food pantry, but that age and illness made it difficult to continue that practice. Then, the big idea struck. He took their passion for charity and combined it with his expertise in managing racing events. Add in a community of volunteers and you have some magical, THRIVE-alicous alchemy.

Passion + Expertise + Teamwork = Awesome Achievements

New England weather is never a sure thing and this race has faced some severe conditions. The people committed to this effort as organizers, volunteers, runners and walkers have faced rain, cold rain, freezing rain and single digit temperatures (luckily without rain). Yesterday we had it easy and enjoyed blue skies with 60 degree weather. (Somwhere Al Gore is readying another powerpoint presentation on this phenomena).

As I looked around at the crowd I was struck by the good will and comraderie on display. I saw reunions with visiting friends from far off places, couples with new babies in strollers walking the course, serious racers attempting PRs, neighbor cheering neighbor and strangers greeting new faces with laughs and smiles.

Above it all I saw a tractor trailer truck overflowing with food for those in need and a community goaded into action. I saw small sacrifices turned into great bounty. I saw Thanksgiving in action.

Bringing It Home

The We Gather Together 5K shows how it can be done on a large scale. How can we bring it home to work for us? Successful achievments don’t have to be big. Maybe our family’s Thanksgiving dinner is a good example. We all have a passion for a good meal. We don’t all have expertise in preparing one. We can use teamwork to make it come together.

Whoever hosts cooks the turkey (hey, they just don’t travel well). The rest of us split up the side dishes (I’m an expert potato masher). Anyone unable to do the cooking helps set the table and clean up. This year my brother-in-law showed new flashes of brilliance in turkey carving (hurray for the Food Channel!), so now we have a designated expert.

Simple, right? Bring on the leftovers! I think I’ll try a tasty, turkey smoothy (with a booster shot of cranberry sauce).


Related Links

Time Out! Productions

FreeRice.com – for each word you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to end world hunger.


Quote of the Week

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s a ritual sacrifice, with pie.”

Anya, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who’s Poem is That in the SCBWI Bulletin?

Oh, it’s mine! Sweet. Yes, this is a bit of brag, but it’s my first piece in print (and paid!) so I’ll beg your indulgence.

I think of this as a “writer’s poem” because it’s something we all feel at one time or another. Those blank pages hold nightmares, friends, and the only way to banish them is with our words. Good, bad or indifferent. Once they’re on the page we can rework and polish them. Until we write them down all we have is the unblinking eye of blankness staring us down. So, you know, write, write, write. And then revise, revise, revise (like I should have done with this paragraph).

Also, kind of psyched that I’m very likely the first person to have a poem in SCBWI Bulletin that has the words “crappy” and “corpus callosum”. That’s some serious mojo, right?

Draft Dodger, copyright Jim Hill, 2011, all rights reserved
Sound familiar?

 

A Funny Story About Monkeys and Pants

I’ve had a lot of fun showing off giving out my new card to just about anyone that shows the tiniest bit of interest in what I do. But more than a few folks have asked why the monkey is wearing pants. Well, there’s a funny story that goes with that particular character design, so pull up a chair and set a spell.

A few months ago my three year old son started calling almost all of his stuffed animals “her”, “she” or giving them girl names. Now, I don’t have a problem with that, I’m more Alan Alda than Charlton Heston, and if he wants to explore gender issues with his toys, so be it. But I was curious, so I decided to ask him when the time was right.

Later that week we were going through the bedtime routine; read two stories, one last trip to the potty, back to bed for snuggling (awwww….). He decided he wanted the little elephant that I called Eubie but he insisted was Ellie. Great, thinks I, here’s my chance.

“Isaac, why do you think so many of your stuffed animals are girls?”

He picked up the elephant, turned it around so the back end was facing me and, with the sincerity that only a child can muster said,

“Look, Daddy, no bulbs.”

Yep, Isaac had gleaned that fact the boys have “bulbs” and girls do not (gosh they grow up so fast).

And that’s why the monkey wears pants. No snot nosed kid is going to tell me that Little Mister Monkey is really Little Miss Monkey ’cause he’s got no junk. And I’m not about to start drawing anatomically correct animals for kids. Besides, who wants to do that research? (Never google anything about animal genitals, I beg you).

I'm all boy. Take my word on it.
I say we believe him.

 

Awarding Experience

Originally published in Feb 2008 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

Last Sunday brought us that annual festival of glam, the Oscars. What a night! The red carpet, the low cut dresses, the botox and Jon Stewart. I felt like a celebrity myself, safely ensconced on my couch, dribbling nacho cheese down my chin and giggling like a school girl at the Hollywood insiders. Unfortunately, my swag bag only held diapers and a clean outfit for my son. Hey, Clooney, where’s my sparkly cell phone?

Still, I love the Oscars. I love the pageantry, the excess and the self-congratultory nature of it all (I even love the movies). But most of all I love the idea of getting together with the people in your life and celebrating excellence (this is a THRIVE! newsletter after all).

So let’s consider how we might have our own Oscar victory. Let’s look back at the last year and consider our achivements. What did we do that would garner a nomination from our peers and ourselves? What action did we pursue to separate ourselves from the ordinary? Where did we take a stand? Where did we make a difference?

The Oscars have specific categories, and you can too. After all, your life isn’t a movie. Here are some categories for you to try on (like a designer tux), and if it seems a little “High School Yearbook” just roll with it (besides, you wish you were 18 again anyway).

  • Best Athletic Performance (personal and team categories)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Friendship
  • Excellence in IRA Funding
  • Best Supporting Team Player
  • Most Organized
  • Brightest Creative Spark
  • Excellence in New Parenting
  • Most Inspired Job Performance
  • Best Powerpoint Presentation
  • Most Likely To Be There in a Crisis

Well, you may just have to make up your own, but take your time with this exercise and appreciate your year.

And the Award Goes To

Congratulations, you’re an Oscar winner! Now pat yourself on the back and give yourself the trophy, but don’t hit the after-party just yet. We have a little more work to do.

My favorite part of the Oscar’s isn’t seeing who gets the award, but who they thank and how they handle the moment. Well, this is your moment. You’ve won the award. Who are you going to thank and why?

We’d all like to think we can do it all alone, but the reality is that great achievement is fueled from the outside as well inside. Someone in your life helped make it happen for you and now is the time to appreicate them.

If you set a PR in that last race you might consider thanking your training partners that log those early morning miles with you.

If you landed a big account at work think about the team around you that got you in the room.

If you wrote the most inspirational newsletter of 2007, think about the baristas that kept you hopped up on low fat lattes while you did it.

And so, we come to the end of this broadcast. I’d like to thank Gil Cates, Jon Stewart and Regis Philbin for their excellent work tonight. Most of all, thanks to you for reading and writing in. Hopefully Goals Gone Wild can inspire you to your own Oscar-worthy performances.


Related Links

How to Get Your Product Placed Into Celebrity Gift Bags
George Clooney: The Last Movie Star
What’s a barista?


Quote of the Week

“Films and life are like clay, waiting for us to mold it. And when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of principle that seems to me is at work with everyone. God bless that principle. God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it.”
– Shirley MacLaine , 1983 Academy Awards

“Acting for me has always been and always will be a team sport. I cannot work at all unless I feel a spirit of unity around me.”
– Alan Arkin , Best Supporting Actor 2007

photo credit adarshupadhyay

Ship Shape

Originally published in May 2008 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

We’re finally heading into Memorial Day weekend. Spring has been cold, windy and rainy here on Cape Cod, but it looks like the proverbial tide is finally turning. Businesses are re-opening for the tourists and boat owners are prepping their boats for another season on the water.

One of the off-season tasks for boat owners is scraping, cleaning and painting the hull to keep it free from barnacles. Barnacles are tiny arthropods that stick to rocks, whales and boats. Not too big a problem for the rocks and whales, but it is a big problem for boats. Over time the accretion of barnacles can decrease the efficiency of the boat moving through water. Basically, they slow your boat down, as much as 40 percent if there’s a large enough colony. That is, quite literally, a drag.

So what does that have to do with your personal success efforts, you might ask?

Well, as it turns out, our hulls can collect barnacles too (metaphorically speaking). For me, they show up on my To-Do list. They’re the tasks that never get done, but keep getting carried over (and over and over). They drag me down emotionally and mentally. It’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when every week you see the same tasks lining up against you.

Are they particularly difficult? Nope, they often just have that “low priority” feel that the tasks with deadlines always push aside. My barnacles are the household chores that I don’t really enjoy or look too difficult. They do require a fair amount of time, and that’s the one thing there is never enough of. So what to do?

Ignoring them isn’t helping me sleep at night. Seeing them on the list is driving me batty. Looks like its time to take the list into dry-dock and break out the scrapers.

What I suggest doing is frequent list examination. Are you carrying over too many barnacles? Ask yourself why. If they’re on the list week-after-week what’s really going on?

  1. Low Priority – maybe the item needs to be dealt with but they aren’t mission critical. Well, turn up the heat! My wife discovered that planning parties at our home makes me get off my duff and do some of these things. (She’s so clever). I don’t like to see the “deferred maintenance” tasks that need doing, but over time I block out the visual evidence. By giving me a deadline (the party), they become priority items. Well played, honey.
  2. Low Interest – Sure, something needs to be done, but you really don’t care about it. Time to get tough with yourself and find the discipline to deal with it. Try tying it to a particularly nice reward. Cleaned out the garage? You get to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls (Hey, I’m a nerd, it was a treat).
  3. Looks Too Difficult – If a task has been sitting there staring at you from the dark with glowing red eyes turn on the lights by inviting a few friends over or calling in an expert. I try to balance the value of my time doing the project vs. paying an expert. Often with the home repair issues there’s higher value in hiring an expert while I continue to produce billable hours at my job. Friends only cost me pizza, beer and karma points. I’ll be there when they need a hand. True story.

On the water, the best defense against barnacles is a clean hull, freshly painted with a copper based paint. On our lists, the best defense is a proactive strategy for ridding ourselves of the little things that drag us down.

Barnacles are a drag. Who needs that? We’re trying to live awesome, THRIVE!-tastic lives, right? Try clearing a few barnacles from your list this week and I bet you’ll find the world a brighter, sunnier place.

I’m off to scrape some barnacles from my list. What kind of pizza and beer do you want?

Quotes of the Week

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
– Mark Twain

“Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.”
– Mark Twain

photo credit hkuchera

Come Up for Air

Originally published in June 2005 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

Last week our local news media covered the story of an endangered right whale entangled in fishing gear off the coast of Cape Cod. The Coast Guard was called, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies raced to the scene, New England Aquarium sent a ship and two NOAA planes circled the area.

Unfortunately they didn’t find the whale, known as whale 1167 to researchers. (We’ll call him Jack.)

This story struck a chord with me and made me think about the way many of us let unfinished business (and missed goals) entangle us and drag us under. Sometimes we’re tied up for years. A sense of failure gets in our heads and we get down on ourselves. Worst of all, these entanglements can force us to lower our sights and make us give up on our dreams. And that’s the last thing any of us should do.

So what can we do? How do we get back in the game? What can we learn from Jack’s story?

Whether we realize it or not there are often teams of people waiting for the chance to help. All we have to do is come up for air and let them know we’re ready.

So how do we come up for air? If you have something hanging over your head, face up to it. Find a way to talk about it. Find a way to deal with it. Ask for help with it.

If you’re anything like me, when things aren’t going well you tend to hide from the folks that can help. Important safety tip, Egon, don’t hide! Friends, family, colleagues and coaches, heck, maybe even the Coast Guard, are standing by – on watch – ready to jump in and help you succeed.

You know how I know? Because I know you look for ways to help people. We love to help others succeed! It feels great when we see them win.

We all need a helping hand at one point or another. When we’re so willing to lend one, doesn’t it make sense to ask for one every once in awhile?

If you’re facing a tough situation, be sure to reach out. Asking for help may be exactly what you need to get back on track.

Trust me: you’ll be glad you did.

photo credit Na Pali Riders

I’m With the Brand

Originally published in April 2008 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of goal-oriented artists as the first speaker in an 8-week series, “What’s Your Story?”. I was asked to talk about building a personal brand, and, being a THRIVE! guy, felt compelled to make it sassy. Thus, the title of my talk “Brand Spanking You – Discover Your Personal Brand And Smack It Into Shape”.

The idea for them, and now for you, is to introduce the concept of a personal brand. You might think that brands are only for big businesses or corporations. Wrong. We live in a branded society. Brand-think has entered the mainstream and we’re all infected by it. Heck, without even knowing it, you already have a brand to your colleagues, family and friends. The trick is controlling your brand.

The first step is understanding the brand concept. A brand is not a logo. A brand is the sum total of your experience with someone, something or some company. It’s the warm feeling you get remembering Gramma’s toll house cookies and the squeamish feeling you get dropping your car off for repair at the auto dealer. And everything in between.

Gramma doesn’t usually have a brand problem (unless she’s a cheek pincher), but the auto dealer does. We may love the car (so what if my Hummer gets 8 mpg), but the dealer isn’t the automaker. That’s why smart dealers work so hard to manage your experience. Free coffee, donuts, and wifi are now the standard. Nicely appointed waiting rooms with comfy chairs and cable TV make it as painless as possible.

Now think about the experience you offer to everyone you interact with during the day. Was it toll-house-cookie good, or auto-repair bad? Did you manage their experience or just flip them off on the way to work? (I’m talking to you, Schultz.)

One way to approach your brand is to think of it as You, Perfected™. It used to be that you could only be perfect on paper (hello, resume), but now you can project the idealized you as your brand. The hard part will be living up to your image, but as THRIVE! readers you’re used to lofty goals and wild success. Game on!

Join the Be Team

Sure, the A-team has Mr. T and Face, but the Be Team revolves around you (without Mike Post’s awesome theme song). Here’s how you do it:

Be Bold – Think hard about the image of You, Perfected™ and then take the steps to be that ideal you in real life. Think about your strengths (and weaknesses), your influences, your audience and your mission. Look for the overlap and the areas that reinforce each other. Take time to brainstorm this by writing them down; hopefully you will see a theme. Here’s a worksheet that you might find helpful.PDF.

Be Honest – OK, now the serious reflection begins. It’s great to have big goals (I like big goals, and I cannot lie), but it’s important to ground them in reality. If there’s a huge discrepancy in any of those four areas your personal brand (and ultimately, you) will suffer for it.

Be Consistent – This might be the hardest one of all. If you put it out there, you have to live up to it. That’s also why you have to nail the “Be Honest” section. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Not to your colleagues, your boss, friends or family. Sure, sometimes we all drop the ball. A solid peronal brand can help you recover when you do.

So that’s it, you may now build your personal brand. I know, this may sound a little over-the-top for most people, but, hey, you’re a success seeker. Your personal brand is just another tool for you to use when creating goals, managing your efforts and THRIVE!-ing it out.

Related Links

Brandspanking You – Worksheet [PDF]
A-Team Theme
LeaLea on Self-Branding
Tom Peter’s Brand You 50
Toll House Cookies Recipe

Quotes of the Week

“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.”
– Tom Peters