A Particularly Special Guy’s Night

By Angela Noel

December 1, 2016

One night, a couple of guys went to McDonald’s for dinner. Already, it was a special event.

The younger of the two went to the restroom, emerging just in time for their chicken nuggets and Big Mac to arrive. On his way back to the table, his hands still wet from washing, he noticed something. Continue reading “A Particularly Special Guy’s Night”

Everyday Awesome: A #Blessed Project

by Angela Noel

November 24, 2016

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”- John F. Kennedy

It’s harder than you would think to talk about yourself for an hour or two. We’ve all been on job interviews, but being asked to tell your personal story, to expose the core of who you are and what you care most about is quite different. The nine individuals in 2016 who’ve embodied the spirit of the You are Awesome blog, inspiring creativity, passion, and adventure in real life, have shown tremendous courage in allowing me to profile them.

They’ve been open and vulnerable, trusting and honest. They aren’t celebrities, but they deserve to be celebrated. Their stories, and other posts over these seven months, have been viewed almost 7,000 times. Friends, family, and strangers feel the magic of their contributions because these nine dared greatly in sharing their lives.

I’m grateful for many things this Thanksgiving. But this post is dedicated to the people who entrusted me with their lives in this very unique way. Continue reading “Everyday Awesome: A #Blessed Project”

Music Review: M French’s Winding Road

By Angela Noel

November 17, 2016

Matthew French, whom you may remember from my very first blog post, recently released his second album, Winding Road. He asked me to listen to it, not because I’m a musician or qualified to critique his music the way a writer for Rolling Stone would, but because he was curious about how it would make me feel.

I think that’s the key to Matt’s music, actually. He’s not writing songs for those people OUT THERE. He’s writing for a few friends, who might be listening to his music sitting cross-legged on the carpet drinking wine from a mismatched set of tumblers someone found at a garage sale. In other words, me. And maybe you. Continue reading “Music Review: M French’s Winding Road”

Why I Won’t Be Starting Over

Guest Post by Annie Reierson

November 10, 2016

There are a lot of different terms we use when experience significant changes in our lives: Starting over, Moving on, A new chapter, Begin again, Go back to the drawing board.

However, there is something about these terms that seems amiss. They suggest that all the experiences and interactions that I had before were insignificant. To me, “starting over” says that I just scrapped everything, as if somehow my past experiences didn’t bring me to the place where I stand today. But, that’s not what it really feels like to experience change. Continue reading “Why I Won’t Be Starting Over”

What Makes Us Perfect

By Angela Noel

November 3, 2016

Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world . . . You see we are like blocks of stone out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what makes us perfect.“-  from the movie Shadowlands

Jayme Sisel ran her first marathon in 2007 and her first half-Ironman that same year. “One was for me, the other one was for my mom. I forget which was which.”

Pushing herself to her physical limit — lungs burning, feet pounding — gets all the bad energy out and lets the good stuff in. Running was Jayme’s solace when her mother lay dying of cancer. Continue reading “What Makes Us Perfect”

The Makings of an Innovation Commando

by Angela Noel

October 27, 2016

Galileo Galilei disrupted the status quo, challenging the beliefs of some of the most powerful people of the day — including more than one Pope. Considering Galileo lived during the time of the inquisition, ticking off the Vatican was kind of a big deal.

Along with pushing scientific boundaries, he developed mathematical instruments to either sell to the military or for uses in engineering. Solving problems and posing theories using observation, data, hard work, communication, rhetorical argument, and grit made Galileo a successful entrepreneur. Running afoul of the prevailing authorities of the day, the Catholic Church, made his story into a cautionary tale for all those who would speak truth to power.

Dipanjan Chatterjee could be the intellectual descendant of Galileo. He and others like him, hired by corporations to be an EiR or Entrepreneur in Residence, must find the courage to speak truth to their “corporate overlords” without losing their heads. They must bring new products and processes into systems fundamentally designed to reject anything that challenges the comfortable stability of the past in order to drive progress. Though the modern day Inquisitor is less likely to wear a robe, and more likely to shop at Brooks Brothers, EiRs face many of the same troubles Galileo did 400 years ago.

For example, Pope Urban VIII initially liked Galileo, supporting his ideas overall while asking him to go easy on the whole “earth revolves around the sun” thing. Unfortunately for Galileo, when his resulting book came out, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Pope found reason to be offended, hauling Galileo to Rome to defend himself. Dipanjan, as far as I know, hasn’t been called on the carpet by a religious official, but he continually faces the Sisyphean task of attempting to convince huge corporations to try something new without losing his job or his mind.

Luckily, he’s been preparing for this job all his life.

Continue reading “The Makings of an Innovation Commando”

Book Review: Indian Boyhood

By Angela Noel

October 20, 2016

Charles Eastman was a complicated man. I had never heard of him until my son and I visited the Baaken Museum on the banks of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. I wandered outside of the museum, as Jackson built an electrical circuit, and read the placards placed at regular intervals on the terrace. Looking out over restored wetlands on the museum property connected to the lake by a snaking track of road, I learned that Mr. Eastman had lived near the lake as a child and later wrote a book about his early life as a member of the Santee Dakota tribe.

Intrigued by the opportunity to read about my adopted Minneapolis home through the eyes of a young boy raised in a Native tradition, I downloaded the (Free!) book Indian Boyhood, published in 1902, that afternoon.

I devoured it. Continue reading “Book Review: Indian Boyhood”

Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever

A Love Letter by Julia Zhang

October 13, 2016

I was a two-year-old preparing for the most important role of my life: Best Big Sister Ever. My parents told me it was my job to take good care of my little sister because she would look up to me, which is a big responsibility.

I relished responsibility. I loved to show off how great I was at doing jobs for my parents, like fetching my dad’s sandals for him, or helping my mom break the ends off string beans . . . taking care of a little sister was just another job that I could get pats on the head and praise for. I read stories with my mom like this one extolling the virtues of sharing, and practiced taking care of a baby with my dolls. As much as I rehearsed for my role, when baby Jenny came into the world, I was wholly unprepared for one thing – how much I would absolutely adore her. Continue reading “Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever”

Four Ways to Give a Child the World

by Angela Noel

October 6, 2016

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”- Abraham Lincoln

Becoming a mother isn’t, in my opinion, a biological or a legal event. It’s a choice made with every action. Mothers build us, piece by piece. The tools they use differ. No two mothering methods are the same. Every mother would express what she wants for her children differently. But underlying all these differences remains a simple fact: Our mothers want the best for us. 

Often our biggest fans and sometimes our worst critics, mothers tell us truth even when we don’t want to hear it. They are the masters of the teachable moment. For example, my mother warned me that riding a Big Wheel in my favorite dress wouldn’t turn out well. When I shredded it under my plastic tires, just as she’d predicted, she didn’t scold me. Instead, she talked to me about cause and effect, how our actions have consequences and why. Many other such moments populated my childhood. Here are four gifts my mother gave me:

Continue reading “Four Ways to Give a Child the World”

Book Club Love

by Angela Noel

September 29, 2016

I recently attended a class on unconscious bias at work. The facilitator asked participants to think about this question: When was the last time you deliberately disrupted your routine? She gave us a few minutes to share our responses with others sitting nearby. Almost immediately, I knew my reply. Continue reading “Book Club Love”