Learn Through Frequent First Time Experiences

There is something about the first experience that we don’t forget. Whether it is the first trophy, kiss, gymnastics competition, 'The First Time', or when we first learn what it feels like to be hurt - from peers, co-workers, someone we love… it shapes who we are as individuals…  The first time we experience something, we are the most vulnerable; hopefully open to learn and embrace the opportunities the world has to offer.

I personally love to try new things, embrace challenges, meet new friends, and welcome opportunities to learn and grow. Here are two recent events that remind me of the significance of first experiences.

Being Vulnerable

During a recent business trip to California, I watched ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ starring Audrey Hepburn - a personal fashion icon of mine. I am refreshed by her carefree attitude, authenticity, and positive outlook on life. She and her neighbor take a day of adventure in NYC to experience a day of ‘firsts’ - being vulnerable to both new things and about one another.  Wondering why I don’t do this more frequently, I texted my boyfriend the idea as soon as I landed…

To my surprise, Friday of that week, he planned an evening of first experiences for me in NYC; running 5 miles of interval training on a Friday evening (I typically like to run in the mornings…), walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (I had only biked), dinner at a new restaurant, and the top of the Empire State Building. I truly felt like a little kid in a candy store with the world to explore and learn - and luckily the world is a big place.

 Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Tough or Rewarding - It Is Your Choice

I signed up for my first Tough Mudder a few weeks ago for Saturday, August 15th. I didn’t really know the details until I watched videos a few days later… I just expected some mud, monkey bars, ropes; however, the Electroshock Therapy 2.0 particularly worried me a bit. I was secretly hoping I would nail the Funkey Monkey 2.0 with my background as a certified child monkey.

 As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

Fast forward to past our team carpool from Brooklyn, Def Leppard jam on the school bus ride to the location, and coordinated ‘warm-up area’, it was finally our turn to be TOUGH! When we arrived at the start line, we were told to kneel down for a pep talk from Sean Corvelle, the MIC guy for Tough Mudder. During his speech, he emphasized the power of teamwork and positivity, shared Tough Mudder stories, and highlighted the importance of trying new things. 

 I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

Sean said, "Try to do something for the first time at least once a week."

Done! The Tough Mudder was not only a great first experience, I am now inspired to try take Sean’s advice.

Whether the first experience is tough or rewarding, I encourage you to be open and think positively. You have the choice to create your own adventure, learn from each challenge, and create endless opportunities for yourself and others.

I look forward to sharing new first experiences with you all. I would love to hear about your first experiences.

Yours Truly

The Pukka Panda


A Challenge Is Your Opportunity To Create A Winning Solution

I don’t accept no for an answer. There is always a way to find a solution to achieve the desired objective. Think differently. Ask the next question. While It may not be the easiest path, there is a a way to get where you need.

Fortunately, my life is filled with family, friends, and business leaders that have taught me you can achieve anything with the right approach. I am always up for a challenge, which is well known to those people… especially my mother when challenging me to cross the adult rings at the lake at age 6, to climb a tree, or recently to swing on a vine in Puerto Rico.

When there is a challenge to overcome...

I recently watched ‘Moneyball’ - a great story of challenges and the motivation to win. In ‘Moneyball’, they are challenged by the lowest budget for baseball. How do you win with no budget to buy the best players? After losing their top player, Billy, the General Manager pleads for additional money as his first approach. Being told ‘no’, he tries his next option to buy a sub-par player from another team. When Billy hears ‘no’ again influenced by a recent Yale Economics graduate, he takes the opportunity to dig deeper with this individual and learn more about why he won’t give up this player. Sold on this new method using analytics to redefine what makes a winning player, there is an opportunity to get the right team of players to win the game.

It is not about one player, it’s about the team...

Billy is motivated to create a winning team and hires the Yale graduate to help him find those players. While Billy is motivated, his initial method to execute on the new analytic approach is a failure - the team loses 15+ straight games with the three new players, while giving him a bad name. Billy was determined, yet was trying to win with a strategy in a vacuum of two people, without properly communicating the tactics to the rest of the team.

And leading through personal connection and individual motivation.

After a tarnished reputation from failure to deliver using the new technique, it hits Billy personally when his daughter expresses her fear of him losing his job and moving away. At that point, there was something that hit home and he became a leader.

Before, he was unattached to the players on the team - not riding on the plane with them or visiting them in the locker room. There was no personal connection. He was not being a leader.

Billy took the time to meet with each person individually, to understand them, to learn what they needed to feel motivated. Sure enough, the team wins the next 20 straight games to beat the record.

In the end, they did not win the World Series; however, Billy grew as an individual and learned what was important. He was offered the highest General Manager position and refused it to stay with his team. It wasn’t about the money, it was about how he felt - accomplished - appreciated. In the story, he made a difference in the game with other teams adopting the strategy in future years.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of ‘no’, use it as an opportunity to help provide an alternative solution or think differently to achieve the objective. I would love to hear your story about creating an opportunity out of a challenge.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

Being Vulnerable Can Be A Challenge - Embrace The Challenge

Challenge Yourself To Be Yourself

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make,” “Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.
— Brene Brown: Daring Greatly

It was a challenge for me to ‘Dare Greatly’ and start this blog. I was afraid of putting myself out there for the world to see. After months of following other blogs and comparing myself, it was even harder to take the leap. I am not as skinny as the other style bloggers; however, that is not the focus and message. The content includes positive inspiration, authentic business, and customer experience - with my personal style on the side. At the same time, it was a learning experience and discovery process that was necessary. Being myself is the only thing I know. Sharing with the world differs from my comfort with vulnerability in business, among friends, or other small groups of people. Looking forward to sharing this challenge with you. Continue to learn, grow, and challenge yourself to be yourself!

Brene Brown’s book ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead’ was a great source to learn about the power of vulnerability. Woohoo! A simple win for me to live, love, and lead. Vulnerability comes natural to me - it makes sense. Perhaps it goes along with the inability to keep a poker face. Or that you are the best at being yourself.

Why not call out your known weaknesses or share an embarrassing story, like the time you walked into a screen door at your own house or your skirt blows up in the middle of a busy NYC street. Connecting at a personal level is critical for trust. Vulnerability and trust among family and friends comes natural to most of us. They have seen us at our best and worst. We have each others shoulders for times we need to cry or need a hug.

Extending that vulnerability into business situations is not always so simple. If this is not natural to you, try it. Take the challenge. Even though you are not likely to cry on their shoulder, you can speak open and honestly about your opinions. Genuinely praise colleagues for work well done or admit to weaknesses so you have the opportunity to learn. When you establish trust with your team and organization, it benefits customers and all areas of the business. Hidden agendas and lack of transparency harms the culture and ultimately hits your bottom line. Embrace vulnerability to truly connect with people.

What are your thoughts on being vulnerable? 

To learn more about shame and vulnerability, read Brene Brown’s book or watch her popular TED Talk.

Yours Truly

THEPUKKAPANDA

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