Archive for the ‘Editorial Thoughts’ Category

Study Wine, Study, Whine

Monday, October 14th, 2019

I’m slightly past the halfway point in my Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 certification course. It’s been quite an interesting journey so far. On so many levels.

First, there’s the studying part of the program. Before you start the course they explain quite clearly that there’s a lot of studying required to pass the exam. Because this is a certification I want to obtain, I am studying diligently. In the nine weeks since the course began, I think I’ve taken three days off from studying. Otherwise you’ll find me blocking an hour every day to read, make maps, create flashcards, and quiz myself.

Second, there’s the retention of the aforementioned information. There’s sooo much to learn. Just when I think that I have mastered a region, say Bordeaux, there’s another region added to the list. Every week is this roller coaster of knowledge. On any given day I might feel 80% secure in my retention of data. Then the next day I begin a new section, and I feel 20% secure, as I have so much to learn. That’s where the whine part happens. I don’t truly whine, but I may have been heard to say that I don’t know nearly enough. Perhaps even in a whiny-ish voice.

Third, there’s the long-term plan for me. I honestly don’t know how I’ll work this newfound wine knowledge into my career, but I definitely want to make it happen. Now isn’t the time to ponder that; there’s too much else to be doing (see the two paragraphs above). However, as I go through this course, I want to fully absorb all that I’m learning. I want this information to become part of my brain’s database. Thus, as I study I’m trying to make this wine knowledge part of my being and not just material learned for an exam.

Fourth, I am working on wine tasting. The instructors assure us that it isn’t the most difficult part of the exam, but I worry. On the positive side I do think I’ve improved; I know how to taste and search for floral notes, herbal aromas, and secondary and tertiary flavors. However, I still find it tricky to determine certain things, such as is that wine medium bodied? Medium+? Thus, I’ll keep practicing.

Fifth, people don’t necessarily understand what I’m doing. They all assume it’s fun, fun, fun! Yay, you get to drink wine! I mean, I did just mention that I need to keep practicing wine tasting. Unfortunately drinking wine and tasting wine are two totally different things. Plus, there’s more to this course than tasting/drinking wine. There are the multiple hours I spend studying, but that’s probably like most jobs. From the outside you see the fun stuff. It’s not until you’re in the thick of it that you see all of the effort required.

As I enter week ten of this course, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn something new, to fulfill a passion, to possibly expand my career. Earning a certification such as this isn’t meant to be an easy, check the box sort of thing. The work will be worth the end result.

Why Do I Defer?

Monday, September 30th, 2019

A month ago I met with two team members, Josh and Lee Ann, to discuss a startup event we were planning. The first half of the event would be meetings for investors and startups; the second half would be a reception and fireside chat. As it was our third year of organizing, the format was established, and the bulk of the work was finding people for all of the spots, which included the host for the fireside chat.

Josh suggested that the host should be a woman from the New Hampshire startup ecosystem, as the guest would be male. Equal representation always works for me, so I agreed with that sentiment. Josh then suggested that I should be the host.

What did I do then? In typical me fashion, I stammered and suggested another woman. Josh asked if I was sure, I nodded, and then Josh said he’d email her later to see if she wanted to host. We finished the rest of our planning, and we all headed our own ways.

As I walked home, I contemplated my decision. Why would I think that I couldn’t host this talk? Although I initially have a few butterflies when speaking publicly, I overcome them quite quickly and actually enjoy being in front of a crowd.

By the time I was at my home office, I was pretty unhappy with myself. After a few more minutes of contemplation, I emailed my colleagues and let them know that I had changed my mind, IF they hadn’t emailed the other suggested woman. I definitely wouldn’t take it from someone else. Delightfully, Josh emailed within minutes that he hadn’t asked anyone else, and he thought I’d be wonderful.

Fast forward to September 26th, the day of the event, Speed Venture Summit. When it was time for the fireside chat, there wasn’t a single butterfly or bit of nervousness to be found. I was calm, prepped, and excited to interview Will Herman. Will was the perfect guest, answering all of my questions thoroughly and thoughtfully.

After the chat was done and the event was ending, I am humbled to say that a number of people approached me to praise the interview I’d run. They thought my style and questions were well done and captivating. And to think, six weeks earlier I didn’t know if I should do this.

So, why was my instinct to defer? The simple answer is that my first thought is that I’m not good enough. I assume that there must be someone more talented who could do the job. I’m not very good with praise. My second thought is that I am afraid of seeming conceited and overly assured of my talents.

This is something that I’m aware of and try to override. Accepting this host role was a huge step for me. The next time an opportunity like this approaches, I’ll remember this event. Hopefully, the feedback from my hosting will be echoing in my ears, and I will remember that I am good enough.

Adding Another Title

Monday, September 16th, 2019

As I was thinking about this post, I debated whether I consider myself as having another hat or just another title. It’s somewhere in between, like I have a hat-le. I’ll explain.

There’s a local, weekly paper in central New Hampshire, The Hippo. It covers all things fun- local events, music, theater, food, and more. I have been reading this paper every week for years. It’s a nice way to find fun things for the weekend. Plus, they have puzzles, and I do love completing crossword and sudoku puzzles. (Yep, definitely am a geeky sort of person)

Of course, as a food person, I also read the food section in its entirety. I enjoy the chef interview, weekly food highlights, and recipe column. This summer I noticed that the weekly recipe disappeared. Since it was summer, I assumed that the writer was on vacation. After several weeks, I decided to send an email and check on the status of the recipe column. I also offered my services.

Imagine my surprise when I received a reply asking to schedule a phone call and discuss the possibility of me (ME!!) writing the recipe column. The call went well, and I am now the new recipe columnist at The Hippo. With that in mind, it does sound like a new hat, but there’s a slight twist.

Because I already create and write at my own blog, Think Tasty, I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to do this twice a week. Thus, an agreement was struck. I create one recipe each week. It publishes at The Hippo on week one and then publishes on Think Tasty on week two. The column that goes with each publication is original, but the recipe is the same. Which is why it feels more like a hat-le than a full hat or just a title.

Either way it’s kind of exciting to see my name in print, along with having a new column. If you live in New Hampshire, be sure to grab a copy of The Hippo and look for column, Try This At Home. If you’re not in the area, go online and read it there. Then do what the column title suggests, and give the recipe a try.

Making Aftercare a Club Effort

Monday, September 9th, 2019

The most exciting two minutes in sports.

If I were to ask most people what they know about horse racing, that would be what they would reference. Horse racing is the Kentucky Derby. That would have been the answer I gave about fifteen years ago. Since then I’ve learned about racing, specifically Thoroughbred, at almost all of its levels. From the $5k claimers to the G1 races, there’s a lot to love about horse racing.

Yet, there’s even more to this sport. Like a human athlete, there is a timespan in which most horses run. Sure, there are a few Tom Bradys who run successfully until they’re nine or ten, but for others retirement comes at a younger age. Even for those “old” horses, there still is retirement in the future. This doesn’t get talked about all that often. What do horses do after their racing days end?

Many horses, like ours at Wasabi Ventures Stables, enter an off track thoroughbred (OTTB) program. Here, each horse is evaluated for soundness, mindset, and more to determine what he or she needs. There are a number of options for these horses. Some may learn a new sport, such as barrel racing, jumping, or becoming a polo pony. Others may transition to more of a pet status and be used for trail rides. Some also just need quiet and live on a sanctuary.

When our horses are done with their racing careers, WVS works with the local retirement program to assess and rehome the horse. As part of the process, WVS makes a donation to help with the costs of the horse’s transition.

In my role as Community Evangelist at WVS, I have learned what a caring, committed club we have. This level of engagement plus my love of animals are what inspired me to create and build my role as Director of Aftercare. In this role not only will I ensure that our horses are placed in safe, new homes, I also want to involve our club in supporting this mission.

Last week I launched this new initiative to raise additional funds for accredited thoroughbred retirement programs with which we work. There will be several options, including donations and product sales. You can learn more by reading this article.

What I’m hoping is that our community rallies around these efforts. I’ve found our club to be generous and supportive of both horse racing and retirement. Although I already know how amazing our club is, I think this aftercare effort could make our club one of a kind. In all the research I’ve done (and I may have missed something), I haven’t found another that supports aftercare in the way I envision that we will.

Here’s to providing safe retirements for all horses!

Taking Time Off

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

I usually publish my Editorially Thoughts column on Mondays, but this week was Labor Day. Who’s reading random blogs on a holiday? Not many is the answer I’m sure. I thought about giving myself the week off, but as I just returned to writing this column on a weekly basis, I decided it was better to stay in the habit and publish a couple days later.

With the long weekend in mind I am focusing on the aspect of time off. When that concept pops into mind, quite often we think of binging a tv show, hanging out with friends, and/or sleeping in late. But wait! There’s another aspect to time off that’s central to my life- fitness.

I know I’ve written about my workout regimen several times, so I’ll skip that. What I do want to share is my appreciation of yoga. Although it’s something I fit into my schedule only a couple times a month, it is an activity that I enjoy and appreciate, as it gives me time away.

Now, in all honesty, I do spend a decent amount of time in class trying to convince my brain to stay focused on yoga and nothing else. Typically my brain likes to review to-do lists, rehash daily events, and plan my calendar, but I try again and again to get back in the moment.

Although the mental part is difficult, the physical part is easier. It’s not easier in that I’m crazy flexible, it’s just easier for me to push my body to new limits. Can I stretch a little further? Hold a pose a little longer?

Last week, we had a smaller class, so the instructor suggested we use yoga boards. It was the best yoga class I’ve ever attended. Having to keep balanced while moving through a variety of poses, I could feel my muscles working just a little bit harder. Maybe focusing on balance even kept my brain focused better.

Yoga may not be the answer for you. It could be softball, hiking, or some other physical endeavor. Whatever it is, find something that keeps you physically active and away from your work. It really is a fine sort of time off once you find the activity that excites you.

A Shift in Gears

Monday, August 26th, 2019

Isn’t it funny how life can make you contradict yourself at the snap of your fingers? Not even a month ago, I wrote about my role as the Program Director at Wasabi Ventures Academy and that it plays a smaller role in my current work schedule. That still is an accurate statement, but it does need tweaking.

Shortly after I wrote and published that blog post, I received an email offering me a role as a judge at the Startup Showcase for IgniteU’s summer program. (You can check out this summer’s companies here.) Having worked with the people who run the program for a few years, I was glad to judge, especially as I’d be nearby in Saratoga that week.

Since I would be in Troy for the event, I decided to make a day of it, scheduling meetings with other collaborators and startup founders. All of these meetings sparked some interest and the potential for future conversations. Net-net, I’ll be in the capital region and upstate New York the first week of September for more meetings.

Of course, as these things go, initial conversations can be months ahead of any actual work or contracts, but there’s the possibility of new opportunities for me. As I contemplated this, I reread the WV Academy blog post. I closed it by stating that I’d be focusing on what’s next for me rather than startups. However, what’s next for me just may involve startups or the startup community. The day I spent in meetings and the evening I spent at the startup event were engaging and interesting. The day reminded me that I enjoy this line of work, and if it can fit in my schedule, along with Think Tasty, WV Stables, and my wine studies, why not wear that hat a bit more often?

I look forward to seeing what the coming weeks and months hold in regards to my academy work. When there’s something new and newsworthy, I’ll be sure to share it.