help

365 Challenge: Day 43 – Mentor

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Mentor: an experienced and trusted adviser, to advise or train someone

A few interesting thoughts occurred to me as I sat to draft today’s 365 Daily Challenge. One, I awoke thinking about something entirely different from the daily characteristic. Two, how many traits are there to describe oneself without being redundant, repetitive or superfluous. Ha, aren’t I funny?

Three, it doesn’t have to always be a characteristic, i.e. it could be a noun that offers certain images or feelings which I’m ultimately trying to represent. And so today, I will veer a little bit and offer up a word that means a lot to me. And perhaps it will be a useful mechanism in the future for these daily posts. I have at least a dozen other traits in mind, but some I’m saving for a certain day or time period.

Back to the word “mentor.” I wrote a post about being a mentor on my professional website (https://jamescudney4.com/the-6-key-elements/mentor/), where I keep pertinent information for anyone who may stumble upon me and consider me for a consulting position. It very much applies to today’s post. That said, in this post, I will try not to duplicate what I’ve already noted, but instead indicate why being a mentor is something I already am on some levels, as well as something I would like to expand and showcase in the future.

What I admire about a mentor is his/her genuine interest in sharing the knowledge gained to those in an inner circle. To me, there is a difference between a mentor and a coach, friend, adviser, boss, et al. A mentor, usually long-term, is (1) someone who has amassed an expansive amount of knowledge and experience in certain areas that demonstrate (s)he is qualified to be a mentor and (2) someone who develops intimate relationships and bonds with the individuals being mentored above and beyond a brief exchange of advice.

A mentor is someone you can talk to who has a well-rounded amount of knowledge about you, too. I wouldn’t classify it a mentor relationship when you’re reading someone’s books or attending their seminar to improve your own skills. It’s not having a conversation with your boss about the next step in your career. It’s not feedback from a more established writer to help you get your focus back on a specific chapter or task when they don’t know anything about your work. It’s about continuous conversation, outside of normal “work-related” activities, where you engage in introspective and enlightening discussions about the topic you are being mentored in and decide on a path together, that seems logical, and focused on your future.

An adviser can tell you about things you need to consider for next steps, but that seems more temporary to me. What I like about the mentor relationship is that it seems more permanent. Sometimes life-long, sometimes only a few years; it all depends on circumstances, need and location. The key is a solid foundation, commitment and depth of connection between the two people involved. Both need to want it to work and not in a fleeting manner. It’s picking up a phone and talking about where you are today and where you want to be in 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades. And then reflecting in that future period how it turned out.

I’ve been privileged to have two true mentors in my lifetime thus far. Both came through my professional career in technology. I still consider myself friends with both, even though our lives are more separate now. I often pick up the phone and chat when I want to discuss something important about me, my choices, my decisions, my options, et al. It’s not like calling a friend and asking for advice, although we also do have that kind of a relationship. But when the format is as a mentor, it’s very clear and distinct from casual friendly conversation about “how was the trip,” “what’s new with the family,” “did you see that play?”

I hope to be a mentor one day. I’ve had the beginnings of this develop with a few people, but not enough that I would call myself a true mentor – yet! I’m on that road tho, as it is part of a cycle where I’ve been blessed with the relationship and want to give back in the same way. It also makes me feel better than most anything else in normal, every day life. To know that I can share common thoughts, goals and dreams with someone else, watch the growth and changes, and see the end results is a very rewarding experience.

NO – NOT LIKE THIS EXAMPLE!!!

I read a post last week about being a mentor, and it reminded me I haven’t been focusing on this as much as I should be. Thank you to that blogger (you know who you are if you are reading this!) for the reminder. You’ve put a spindle back up on the stairway guiding me on this journey. And what I should be focusing on is finding a mentor to help me with deciding my next steps as well as ensuring those around me know I’m open to helping someone else in the same way. Now to figure out what it is I’d be good at…

And while I’m working on both of those options… how about you? Any good examples of a mentor relationship you’d like to share?  How does it make you feel when you’ve been successful? Or even when you haven’t been?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

Blog: WordPress Site Feedback (Easy Tools!) – What can you do?

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Now that I’ve been blogging for about 9 months, I’ve realized it’s time to get creative. Although content and graphics are important, so is reader feedback.

I stumbled upon the free tools WordPress offers to help readers provide feedback to bloggers on how they’re doing. And they are very simple and useful.

I’ve incorporated all 3 tools:

(1) Comments & Likes

  • Allow your readers to “Like” each of your posts
  • Provide the ability for them to reply with comments
  • Shows your WP user name / blog

(2) Ratings

  • Create a rating system for readers to provide a numerical reference (e.g. scale of 1 to 5) on how great or poor the post was
  • Private / Blind – no one knows it was you who provided the rating

(3) Polls

  • Add polls to allow readers to provide specific feedback on things like book reviews, film reviews or general blog posts
  • Private / Blind – no one knows it was you who provided the rating

I’ve incorporated all three of these items into every post, allowing the reader to choose what they feel comfortable providing or not providing. I check the results each week to see what everyone is saying. Two key take-a-ways:

(A) You can provide feedback to me on what you like or don’t like, and in turn, I can improve my blog and site. Have fun participating!

(B) You can use these tools on your own site. If you need help building them into your posts, private message me or comment on this post. I’m glad to help anyone out.

Thanks for listening and providing feedback. It’s very helpful and I love connecting with everyone.

About Me

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think.

365 Challenge: Day 41 – Rich

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Rich: having a great deal of money or assets; wealthy

It seems I now wake up with the 365 Daily Challenge as the first thing on my mind. How interesting in both a good and a bad way. Today, I waffled between “rich” and another characteristic, which I will save for another time. I could be rich with love, or rich with friends. Rich with health, or rich with intelligence. But today I want to talk about being rich with money. And before you start thinking I’m bragging… I am not talking about being rich right now. When I first started this challenge, I planned to cover traits or things I had, as well as ones I want. And today is going to be all about wanting to be rich.

I’ve probably stirred up one of two, possibly both, thoughts in you right now. And trust me, I’m feeling the same. “Money is the root of all evil” versus “I need and want all the money in the world.”  Today will be about why I’d want to be rich. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on why it’s bad and how it could lead to problems. Perhaps another day it will be an appropriate blog post. For the next few minutes, it’s all about the good things and not about the consequences or issues that go hand-in-hand with having lots of money.

One of the motivating factors in my life has been to earn as much money as possible, without completely stressing out or killing myself. And for a number of years in my corporate position, I climbed that ladder trying to move higher and higher to get each promotion and add a salary boost. It was great and I often am right in my element in those conditions. But “why” was always on my mind… and as I reflect, I think it’s a fairly simple answer: If I were rich, I wouldn’t worry so much about money and I’d be able to just do the things I want to do without fear of it running out some day.

If I were rich, I’d like to think I’d be the kinda guy who would use it wisely. I wouldn’t throw money around on flashy things. Of course I’d buy that mansion, improve my wardrobe, vacation in amazing locations and eat at really expensive places. But that would be a very small piece of my life. I won’t deny I want those things. And I won’t sit back and say I’d help the rest of the world and give a lot away. Of course that would be part of what I’d do. But how… why… where… that’s why I’d dream of being rich.

As shy of a person as I am, I thrive on helping and connecting with other people in settings where I feel comfortable and safe. If I were rich, I’d pick something every day/week/month (whatever is the right frequency) and execute it myself. I wouldn’t open a foundation to help certain groups of people… well, maybe I would as something someone else runs because it’s a good thing to do… but what I mean to say is that I’d drive the use of the money in ways that allow me to use the time with clear focus and care.

I’d buy a collection of books, set up a travel schedule and bring them to key places across the country/world where I could read and interact with children in need, sick folks in hospitals or even those who simply can’t afford to buy books. I’d want it to be an intimate experience where I know I’m helping and can see the benefits for someone else. Of course I could do this now, every so often, thru a volunteer experience, but to be able to do this every week in different parts of the world would mean I couldn’t be working, hence I’d need to be rich to not have to worry about all that other stuff (bills, expenses, etc.) Being able to use money for a good reason without just giving it away or paying someone’s medical bills (all good things to do) has a separate value that feels exceptional to me. Imagine knowing a group of children have never read Peter Pan or Charlotte’s Web… and you bring together 3 or 4 people who put together a little play, dress up, read to the kids, talk about the author, explain the lessons, apply them to each of lives… show them what a farm is, connect it to how farms produce food for us, bring in a sample of vegetables they’ve never had or seen…

I’d setup a small learning center where every month we’d have a new topic and invite people in free of charge to learn about key things in our lives. Everything from history to languages to survival guides. With real life people who know all about the topic, lived it or had connections to it. Things people need to see and do, that you can’t get from a museum or reading online on your own. Create the connection between speaker and listener in an educational and fun way. Do something more than just volunteer for an hour or give the basics and walk away. Mentor. Teach. Coach. Bond.

I’m sounding a bit like Pollyanna… but I often look around me and think… we’re doing this in small increments, but it’s not enough. And yes, I do volunteer now on occasion and practice this in much smaller ways. It needs to be bigger and more robust. But I’m not rich and can’t just take a chance on a new career like that… I’m not that big of a risk-taker. But if money were no object, I believe I’d be able to live in a way that would help so many people directly… not by handing out money or loans that often never go to the right places… but by doing things with my time to change the world.

And that’s why I’d want to be rich. Yes, I’d enjoy the frills that come with it, but I promise it wouldn’t be my focus. There is a career in here somewhere. Perhaps I need to become more entrepreneurial. Or take a risk somewhere with a security blanket. Any rich people out there wanna help out? 😛

Would you want to be rich? Tell me why or why not…

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 39 – Frustrated

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Frustrated:  feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something

I usually take about 5 minutes to think of the characteristic or word I want to blog about each day. Today, it was an immediate word… no thinking… no reflecting… just appeared in my head. Then I thought… nah, I’m just exaggerating, I’m not really frustrated these days. But… I think I am.

Frustration occurs over so many things in our lives. Inability to meet our goals, delays, disappointment, worrying, etc. The form of frustration I feel today, and lately, is over response time when it comes to trying to move things forward. Though I’m not always perfect when it comes to responding, I am always timely on something important, especially when I know the recipient is expecting feedback or an update from me.

I have a few areas of frustration right now. One is my job search. For those that don’t know, or haven’t read any of the specifics on my sites, I left a corporate technology position last summer after working with the same family of companies for about 17 years. I needed a break, things were changing, and I thought it was time to look for something new and to focus on some writing. I fully expected to have a long period of time off, but along that path, I found people weren’t as responsive as I have always been.

When I was a hiring manager, I worked closely with our HR department to ensure all candidates got some level of a response. And once I interviewed you, you always got a follow-up, even when you didn’t get the job. Sometimes I wrote it, sometimes it was the generic HR response, sometimes HR called to explain why. Now that I’m on the other end, I expect the same treatment. Perhaps that’s too much, as we know I’ve said my expectations are often too high… remember that post… Ha!

But in all sincerity, this system is really in need of improvement. Hundreds of people thrust resumes and credentials… somehow a handful get picked out… even when you know people at the company, it just doesn’t feel optimal. And so I’m feeling quite frustrated that I want to get back to work, I have many skills, I have a lot of roles I can fill, but I can’t see to find that right angle or hook.

Part of it may be my fault as I’ve split my focus these days on writing and technology, so I’m half in and half out of both worlds. But there should be flexibility for that, right? So while I’m not necessary complaining here, I am just expressing frustration at an inability to make a situation easier — not just for me, but in general.

It’s not all that different from trying to get published. You dream up the idea. You write the book. You get good feedback. And then when you try to find the agent, sometimes you never even hear back. I totally understand that an agent may have 500 query letters to read each week, and that’s an impossible task.

I’m just saying what my frustrations are out loud, knowing I’m not trying to make a difference or even look for sympathy. I’m just expressing what I’m feeling today on this 39th day of the challenge. I’m sure by the end of the day, I’ll be back to “Both will happen… you’re not in a rush… enjoy your day and wait for the next step to occur naturally.” I’m a pretty even-tempered guy, so this is just a slight bump in the meter of my expressions this week.

I tend to get like this over a lot of things. I remember before I met my significant other… dating was a nightmare. It’s not all that different… you try try try… nothing comes along… you get frustrated… and then it happens. What is it people say? “Don’t watch the kettle while it’s boiling?” I think I just totally said that wrong, but I’m not going back to fix it. “Water doesn’t boil while you’re watching it?” LOL  Eh… hopefully you’re laughing at me over this.

All this said…somewhere in my next step, whatever it is, I hope I improve these things… perhaps find a way to create better opportunities or connections. But, in full 360 view, I do need to look at myself. Am I doing everything I can to be successful? Am I creating the right moments to help this along? Am I under the impression “It will happen because I am a good person.”

Yeah, but so are millions of other people. It’s not a matter of who is the luckiest or who works the hardest. Sometimes it’s just the right time and the right place. And so, frustrations will always creep about because you have an expectation. And unless you are absolutely perfect at controlling your feelings and emotions, or just the happiest person on the planet, you will feel disappointment. And I guess it’s about pushing yourself to keep on trucking along. And that’s what we need to do.

Hmmm… random rant today. Little organization around it. Just wrote without thinking or correcting any grammar or punctuation. Let’s go back and see how I did. :}

That looks about right! Not every post can be perfect. See I am learning… and not so frustrated anymore.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 1 – Dedication

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Dedication: an act of commitment to a goal or way of life

Dedication is an important characteristic to achieving success. I want to be successful in all that I choose to do. I have goals and I want to reach them; therefore, dedication is necessary.

In the past, I have been quite dedicated at several of my jobs. I usually worked 60+ hour weeks in order to achieve my goals. Some may say I wasn’t organizing my day properly if I couldn’t achieve everything in a normal 40 hour week. I do not agree with this statement as it is too defined; subjectivity is important to consider each of the levers being pulled that alter the course of my day. It was my choice to work more than necessary as I wanted to continue optimizing and moving towards my end goals.

Could (or should) I have called it quits at 6pm to properly balance my day? Would it have been more advantageous to have a mental break from formal work in order to be more successful the following day? Perhaps…

I lack dedication in some areas of my life. Everything is always in order, as I’m very particular and organized; however, I often find myself devoting more time to some things than others, without a fully balanced equilibrium in place. I want to be healthy, in good shape and fit. So I work out often. But I often eat an entire sleeve of cookies (Girl Scout cookies this week that a nameless someone brought home against my wishes… mmm thin mints… plus the new smores!) in one sitting followed by a bowl of ice cream and several glasses of wine. Do I interpret this as lack of dedication to achieving a goal of becoming more physically fit?

I’m more inclined to say it doesn’t really impact my level of dedication on the whole or average. If it’s important to me, and has a long-lasting impact, I follow through on the dedication. But if it’s minor and has little impact, I’m willing to let it go (unless it also conflicts with another strong belief — like not letting someone down). That said, if I let myself eat the cookies and drink the wine every night, I’d need to change my level of dedication. Or decide I’m dedicated to weight gain. No. Not for me.

So what does this mean to me? I believe in dedication. I respect dedication. I want to be emblematic of dedication unless it is something I should be dedicated to but find myself steering in the wrong direction. Then I allow myself to accept that I am not being dedicated.

Where do I go from here? Perhaps I should only allow myself to stray from dedication when it is a conscious acknowledgement of it happening. Don’t let myself eat the whole sleeve of cookies unless I’ve also worked out that day! Ah success…

Yeah, right, not that simple! 🙂

Dedication is about more than staying focused. It’s about understanding the end goal and directing (or re-directing) the path to get there.  Worry less about the individual cookies and more about the most expedient course to the completion of the goal or task. (Eat the whole box once in a single sitting… you know, so it’s done and gone and no more temptation???)

No. Apply dedication on those things that are important to you. Apply wisdom and knowledge for the rest. Balance my food intake. Allow some cheat nights. Allow some plain old-fashioned healthy nights. Enjoy my food but don’t be gluttonous.

But I should pick something I believe I am strong at when it comes to the use of the word dedication… so that when I say I am dedicated, I am clear on why I am certain (1) I am dedicated and (2) I want to improve my dedication.

My dedication:

  • 365 days of reflection and discovery by choosing characteristics I have or want to have as part of who I am:
    • Accept that on a few occasions I will miss a post, but I will make up for it the next day.
    • Acknowledge that I need to invest value in each post and not let them be trivial.
  • I’ve dedicated myself to reading 78 books this year on Goodreads.
    • I already expect to increase it to 104 (2 per week) in the near future.
    • If I increase it, I must dedicate myself to achieving the new goal.

Seeking Beta Reader – Fiction / Family Drama Novel

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Hi –

Calling all friendlies! I appreciate you checking out this posting. I have completed an initial draft of my first novel tentatively titled “Watching a Glass Shatter” and am in my second round of editing. I am considering looking for a professional editor to review and provide input, but I’d first like to get some feedback from a group of strong beta readers. Are you interested?

The novel is approximately 350 pages (100k words) and I would classify it as fiction / women’s fiction given this is a story about how Olivia Glass deals with her husband Ben’s car accident and untimely death – a drama about family relationships. In his will, Ben leaves behind a letter for his wife Olivia where he confesses that one of their 5 sons is not actually their son. Upon reading this letter and waiting for the family attorney to locate a woman who holds all the answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to spend time with them before she learns which one of her children is not her biological child.

The novel also tells the story from each of her five son’s perspectives and the secrets Olivia learns about each of them during their visit. As Olivia begins to realize how far removed she’s been from what she thought was a perfect family, the lawyer locates the missing woman who can answer the question of which son was switched at birth. After a powerful journey, Olivia prepares to tell the family what she’s learned but circumstances get in the way changing the choices she has to make.

I have been surrounded by strong and emotional women all of my life and feel that I can write a novel in this genre given the relationships I’ve developed over the years. I majored in English and have been writing in my day job (non-fiction) for nearly 20 years. I’ve also written a few other books, short stories and poems, but have been too busy working a day job to try to get anything published. I am now focusing on entering the publishing world with a goal to launch 1 or 2 novels in 2017.

I’m looking for passionate readers who love stories about families, relationships and journeys, who don’t mind laughing and crying in the same book and who will provide real and honest feedback. I’d like to know where it falls apart, where it really grabs you and what you think the most important changes should be in the story. You won’t need to check for spelling, grammar, consistency or punctuation. I know there’s a few errors I’ve likely missed, but this is in good shape for someone to read. The story may not work, the descriptions may seem off, etc. but that’s where you come in — a true reader’s feedback on the story, readability and overall appeal.

Please message me on here to further discuss. You can learn more about me on my profile here or my personal webpage where you will see my own book reviews, samples of stories I’ve written and the first two chapters of “Watching a Glass Shatter.” Hopefully this will give you a taste of what I am capable of and you will be interested in providing a few hours to read my book in the hopes of enjoying your read and providing me with some good direction for where to focus next.

https://thisismytruthnow.com

Many thanks to everyone who read this posting, especially those who are interested in reading through a second draft in November once I finish this next round of edits. Thank you.

-jjciv