What I Learned From A Night Out & A List Of Great Questions


I had an awesome night out recently...

I went out with a group of my coworkers who I knew to varying extents in my as of that moment, short stint working with them at my new job. Our plans for the night had hit a wall so we all decided to just hang out at a local draft house to chat and relax after a long week. When there was a natural lull in the conversation, I noted how I love great questions and have collected a list over time. This peaked my colleagues' interest and I started rattling off some of the questions to the group. After a few questions (and maybe a few drinks) we were sharing stories and experiences from our lives and bonding over the deep dialogue we were having.

I learned some profound things from evening that I feel like can be helpful to others, especially my colleagues out in the wide world of student affairs. I learned the importance of people feeling safe, the value in self-disclosure, and the power of great questions.

Throughout the course of the evening, I made sure to really listen to the people in my group. They were sharing very personal anecdotes at times so I wanted to really hear them and appreciate their bravery being vulnerable with the group. We all got meta at times where we felt like I was being a group therapist but many of the skills I learned in my counseling courses during graduate school are just great tips for life when listening to people and encourage genuine emotional connections. No one would have been into my gauntlet of questions for us all to get know each other better if they hadn't felt safe in the group. Everyone bought in and helped create a safe environment, even in a public place like a bar, which was an important foundation to build off of for the entirety of the discussion.

Being an unofficial leader of the discussion as the keeper of the questions, I had an important role in the discourse. While people felt safe through my active listening and appreciation of their vulnerability, taking it all one step further was my own self-disclosure. I didn't fancy myself better than anyone else there and would often give my own answers first, if not second. I have a strong feeling the steam of the conversation would run out pretty quick if I was never sharing anything about myself

Lastly, the engine of this fascinating chat I had was my questions. I felt out the vibes of the group and kept my questions to more positive ones that asked about interesting concepts like what would be your desired superpower, your personal motto, the best vacation you ever had, and what profession you'd like to attempt other than your own. People shared as much or as little as they wanted and weren't made to share anything too vitriolic. The questions were some of my own creation, submissions from others, and some from the famous list used on Inside the Actor's Studio. Great questions get people thinking and sharing beyond topics relegated for "small talk". My all-time favorite question was the inspiration for one of my favorite blog posts, and simply asks "what do you geek out about?". I've gotten a wide array of answers to this question and it never fails to get a great conversation going since people are talking about what they love.

I always like to gleam grandiose life lessons from even the most mundane things. This night is a simple example of how personal conversations can create deep connections and allow for great positive change. People learned new things about people they thought they knew and appreciated each other not only for sharing, but for the new things they learned about one another. I hope for more fun nights like this in the future and I hope you can have some of your own too.

If you have any awesome questions you'd like to submit, leave a comment or tweet at me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Perspectives on Productivity and Procrastination

procrastination So I've been wanting to write on this for a while now, as I've been trying to "hack" my life in terms of productivity. It's a topic I'm very interested in since I always have this desire to do more or at the very least, do what I need to do more efficiently.

I read an article recently entitled "The 80/20 Rule and Listening to Your Inner Procrastinator" which had some very intriguing insights into the idea of productivity. It is from Entrepreneur so it has a bit of that focus but the points it makes are still poignant and valid.

My personal favorite is the idea of flipping your to-do list. You always are going to have that one thing you just don't want to do for the day, and you'll do everything else to rip off that metaphorical bandage. You might go do your dishes, vacuum your entire apartment, all instead of doing what needs to be done. The author recommends flipping it, doing the worst thing first and gliding through the rest of the day. Even if you don't get everything else done, you got a big, nasty behemoth of procrastination out of the way.

Also, I've noted recently my admiration for the Lumosity app for fun brain games. I usually play them on my iPhone when I wake up but I've noticed a difference in my scores on an important variable; whether or not I've eaten breakfast yet. This simple change is a lesson we should all take in about the most important meal of the day (there is some argument here whether or not it is the MOST important, but that might be another blog post). Getting the day off to the right start, eating well, and getting enough rest to begin with are all important aspects to how productive we'll be throughout the day. If you eat a bunch of sugary confections and a gallon of coffee every morning because you need it to wake up since you didn't sleep enough the night before, the day is already spiraling out of control! Break the cycle; get to bed early, detox off the bad breakfast foods (or start eating anything at all), and go all beast mode on your to-do list!

CiSA 2013: A Lesson on Personal Growth


On this past Sunday, I put on an event called the 2013 Careers in Student Affairs (Un)Conference  [CiSA for short] here at Rutgers University. I had been planning it for the entire calendar year amidst all the other things I’ve been up to so it was amazing to have it finally have it happen.

The journey to the actual fruition of this event has been an interesting one, with my original feelings on it all being very negative, since it was not what I had thought I’d be doing with my year. It just fell into my lap since no one else wanted to take it on. Although it was hard to swallow at first, it came to be something I could be excited about once I made it my own.

Making it my own took some time to plan out, with many details that had to come about from scratch, and it was hard since I am not a particularly detail-oriented. It was a very educational experience in making a large-scale event happening and fulfilling the experience it is you have envisioned. I know it will be something I can talk about in the gauntlet of interviews I have coming up about all the challenges and successes I went through.

My biggest takeaway that I feel like I can talk about now is getting over this paralysis I was getting into planning the event. I was so concerned with the event being perfect and how many people were going to come but after some pep talks and inspirational podcasts, I was excited to just get it out into the world to help people rather than be just an idea in my head. Also, when you think about it, it doesn’t matter how many people come since the people that came got something from it and that’s the most important thing.

I am very glad to have had this special experience and to have met so many awesome student affairs people in the process. Stay tuned for CiSA 2014!