Keeping it Real (current): I’m back

im back 2Hello everyone! I am back. I wasn’t sure I would be, but based on comments this week at the Privacy, Security, Risk conference in Austin by IAPP – some people have missed me. I’m so sorry.

I thought blogs were out of style (Should I do YouTube or podcast?), but apparently, a couple of people do like to read what I write.

So here we are.

Today, I had the honor to moderate a panel of fantastic professionals – all women. All so very fabulous. The session was on Leadership and Privacy – and beyond featuring Agnes Bundy Scanlan (Treliant Risk Advisors), Liisa Thomas (Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton), and Katie Licup (Discover).  The session was centered around these women and what they have learned in their practices over the years. Seriously – Agnes hired Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of IAPP, 16 years ago when she was the first chair of IAPP.  Liisa had some great advice that she had received in law school from one of her favorite professors who told her to always shoot for the best job and the right pay. If she doesn’t, she is jeopardizing everyone else. And given that her professor himself aimed for the best job and made it…. President of the U.S. (Barack Obama) – she takes that advice to heart. So do I.

Other great programs. Surrounded by privacy peeps. The world doesn’t get much better. Well, until I went to eat Cooper’s BBQ. WOW. and gluten free. I was in brisket heaven.

So I will write. or I will video. or I will cast?  If either of you are reading this, let me know your thoughts.

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“I think I’m Doing Too Much”

I think I’m doing too much. My family had never heard me say those words. Never. And I don’t just mean my kids – my mom, everyone/no one. Those who know me might recognize that I am a hyper-personality, high spirited, too “damn” perky – pick your descriptor. I have always been busy. I started work at maybe 13, 14 years old. I know in one job, I lied about my age….could never get away with that now!

I never cared much for grades, so it is not that I was one of those over-achieving students. I wanted the knowledge, not the external recognition. Given that I generally scored in the top half percent of the top 1% of all those standardized tests, I was classified as a classic underachiever. You laugh now.

But I became too busy. Personally and professionally. privacy lawyer, silicon valley global med tech company check. BCRs (controller and processor – first ever dual application) check. HIPAA check. Emerging tech check. lawyer check. executive check. consulting check. blogging check. start writing a book (check, but leave unchecked that I finished it) – same with PhD  in dissertation phase for 3 years now. Check check check. Happily married finally. 2 amazing, accomplished daughters. Leadership roles in global professional organizations. volunteering with non-profits. great friends. good books. loving pets. awesome home. 150+ pairs of shoes. Mrs. Scottsdale America. Speaking on a variety of subjects to different audiences. teaching law classes. Mercedes AMG. money in savings. off most lupus meds. I even lost 30 pounds. checking all over the place. BUT….

– I was busy, but things were getting accomplished. Yet for the first time in my life – I was overwhelmed. I mean, hell – I survived things that killed others. I know I am lucky – and I give the praise to the God I trust and worship. But I was overwhelmed. Even my adult ADD wasn’t saving me this time.

I have learned that when you need to slow down, you either do it or you’re forced to do it. 

So I have slowed down. I am able to take stock of my goals and my 5 – 10 – 15 year plan. I kinda sorta had a plan, and executed it immaculately despite myself. I know what it important for me professionally and personally – and everything else. everything. is nonessential to my life.

Face the hard decisions. And face them head on with determination and consideration. Be brutally honest with yourself about what matters – and what is simply busy work, or chasing a dream that you thought you should have, or doing things that are expected of someone in your field. Focus on what matters. And yes, professional goals matter too. We spend most of our waking hours working (which can suck if you don’t do what you love), so don’t knock having professional goals and dreams.

Some of us may not be in a position to be choosy, but if it is at all possible – take a step towards being in a place to choose. One step at a time. My goal, growing up poor in Mississippi was 1) be able to walk into a superstop (quickie mart, 7/11, whatever the local corner store is) and buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first and 2) go on a great vacation every year. #1 I can do. #2 – my definition of a great vacation seems to be morphing.

I’m still young (I tell people I am 74 and looks dayum good for my age), but I am 47 years old. I am young and in a field (privacy law) that is growing leaps and bounds. I know and love some amazing people, both personally and professionally, and I work for some phenomenal people/companies that I respect and hope to continue those relationships.

And I still need to finish that dissertation. this year.

So being too busy was my come to Jesus moment. And I survived it with some hits to the pocket book, ego, health, and personal matters. Maybe that is what it took. I do not ever want to say or feel those words again. I want to be in deliberate control of my life. Live with purpose.

 

You have arrived: how does one define success?

I once had a navigation system that when I reached my programmed destination, it would say “You have arrived.” I would circle the block just to hear that over and over.

success

In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Is there ever a point where an individual who has accomplished much thinks “this is enough” and stops trying to accomplish more?

As a hospice nurse, I worked with many patients who faced their last months, weeks, days and were able to look back over their lives and say they did well, they were happy with the totality of their lives if not some particular details. Outside that environment, it seems to be rare.

How do you define success?

Some undeniably successful people define it in this article:

  • Success is more than wealth and power – it is wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, and giving according to Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Press.
  • Maya Angelou believes it is about enjoying what you do.
  • Deepak Chopra says success means constantly growing.

Oprah provides this article of the ten signs of success – or rather, that your life is on the right track. It includes such things as:

  • Your reputation precedes you;
  • Having a deep connection to those you love – like picking up the phone to call each other at the same time; and
  • To not be burnt out.

That’s all well and fine, but this is not about recognizing if you are doing the right thing or have become successful as measured by wealth, title, accomplishments, awards, or recognition. It’s about knowing when is enough enough? When should it be enough?

This study by Princeton University in 2010 says that the pivotal salary is $75,000 annually.

The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.

The Wall Street Journal helpfully converted that salary for cost of living in different locations.

So, once you make $75,000, then that is enough? And enough for what? Do we strive for a meaningful job, to help other people, for future stability, to have good health, to ensure your family has food, shelter, and the other necessities of life? At what point can you determine that all your needs are met – be it the basic necessities, the desired luxuries, or satisfaction in one’s actions?

Let’s return to the original question: In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Where is the point where you can honestly feel that you have accomplished what you wanted in your career and stop clawing to reach the top – and who defines the top?

For each individual, this is an intensely personal decision. I do believe that for most people, career gain tends to wain and gives way to some level of altruism. Some people may never view a career in an ambitious manner. They take pride in what they are doing and are happy  doing that for as long as necessary – a job is a way to earn the funds required to live in our world as well as fulfill some need of which there is a value assigned.

My grandfather James D. Fairchild never seemed to be ambitious. He delivered gas in rural Mississippi most of his life. There never seemed be his goal to advance to management. He spent his days delivering gas to people’s homes – for their residential gas tanks (propane). He knew everyone. Everyone knew him. I don’t recall him bragging on any accomplishments, winning awards, or getting big promotions or titles. He was proud of the service he provided. And he was valued by customers and the company. In fact, the company – when ready to shut down – refused to close its doors until the last member of family retired. It’s a Southern thing.

My younger self had a goal – to be able to walk into a convenience store to buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first. I have accomplished that.

My other goal was to live somewhere other than Mississippi. I accomplished that.

Then I developed professional goals – to do something i enjoyed. To be intellectually challenged. To help others. And to travel internationally. Most I have accomplished. One I have not – not really. I don’t think Costa Rica truly counts.

So is this enough? And if something is enough, do you stop? One lady informed me that her professional goal was to take a start-up to IPO. And she did that. She was still not in a position to retire, so she looked for something she enjoyed doing and stopped focusing on professional ambition.

It is a reality that even if most of us accomplish our career goals, that we are not independently wealthy enough to stop working. Some may have independently wealthy as their professional goal, but for most of us, it is not realistic.

Some of us would never stop working even if we acquired status of being ridiculously wealthy. Maybe our career goals then change and we work to be busy, help others, improve the world in some fashion – or maybe to indulge personal passions such as traveling, writing, or designing homes.

Some people have no drive to accomplish something professionally. They are content and fulfilled in their lives – and their job is a means to an end in which they take pride in doing. They may be the happier people.

If you are using professional recognition and success to serve as personal validation, you may never reach enough. You must learn to value yourself as a person.

If work is your escape from your personal life, you also may never reach enough; but you may not care. Your drivers are different.

The rest of us (not in the three groups above), the point the we reach enough is driven by who we are, what we are looking for, what we need and/or want, and how we balance the rest of our lives. “Enough” may never be reached.

Set specific career goals and anything beyond those – you’re gravy.