Thursday, September 27, 2012

Will.I.Am says I'm Dope, Cocktails on a Clipper and the Dopest week ever in NYC

This week has been an amazing time in NYC. Landed from Mexico City and headed straight to Pier 17 for a distillery tasting on a vintage clipper ship. Gilt City sure knows how to please em'. Brooklyn shined as always and the folks at Clipper City featured spirits from local distillers Brooklyn Gin, Industry City, and King's County Distillery. My fave was the gin, it had a herby/fruity flavor that was the perfect end to the summer. Each spirit was paired with a dessert and also was made into a cocktail...note the statue of liberty photo through our eyes below.

Try keeping your skirt down in these winds!

The  history of really - this guy was the Prohibition oracle

Lower Manhattan

Friday morning, the bf took advantage of another online deal, this time from the good people at Living Social. Quick stop at the local street eatery for some morning sustenance and we were on our way to Hunter Mountain, a 2 hour drive from NYC. I must say, Living Social makes some good hires, Carly, Monica, and Alex had more personality in their pinky toes than some people do in their entire bodies. Appropriately we watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off as we headed up the Thruway. I highly recommend ziplining!!! The staff at New York Zipline Adventures were funny but also super comforting. Puma aka Dan, and Frank aka PhotoBomb did their best to make sure we were safe and had a good time. I sweated a small soft drink before the first line, but after that, human animal sounds (cows and Tarzan :/)  and comforting hugs from my bf held me down. On the last run, I even let go and laid backwards in mid air...look ma, no hands!
Getting ready for my first run!

Frank "Photo Bomb" - Our trusty guide lol

After two days of revelrie it was time to get down to business. Clinton Global Initiative proved to be everything I needed it to be and more. The sheer energy in the lobby was unbeleivable. To get so many decision makers under one roof is a testament to Clinton's legacy. My crowning moment was definitely meeting Will.I.Am. Some of you might remember me writing about how Will.I.Am recorded "Mona Lisa Smile" at the Lourve in June. I was amazed at how he did it and the fact that I learned of this on my flight home from my inaugural Paris voyage. I was already a huge BEP fan, but my love for him increased infinitely after hearing his story. Low and behold three months later I meet him at CGI. His "people" were not having it, and I had to patiently wait to try and say a few words but I had to share that thing you know we're speaking in Spanish talking about Afripolitans and some more stuff. That was clearly a "life" moment.

As a New Yorker who's lived away from home for so long, I forgot how much magic happens in the place that birthed me. It might be just the right time to go back.

Signing off from Hong Kong.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stop Emailing and Pick Up The Phone

My job is to build relationships. It's fulfilling because it allows me to do what I love best - talk about what I know - and helps an organization that I believe has a huge role to play in global development.

50% of my work happens at meetings, events, and conferences. I meet people, talk to them about food security, agriculture, and research and hope that the dialogue continues to a place where we generate support or partnership for the critical work CIMMYT does.

After spirited sessions, a bevy of PowerPoint, and the ever important card exchange we all go our separate ways. What do we do then? We email. We email thank you, we send courtesy updates, and become computer drones. The glowing screen and fonts serve as pseudo – relationship conduits giving the illusion that we are connecting in a real way.

Last night, I felt like Bill Clinton was speaking to me. I listened to his wonky policy speech and thought….maybe I need to talk to people more about the science behind my work. Maybe they do want to hear what we really do instead of a dumbed down version that I think they’re more comfortable with. Granted…I’ve still got to sprinkle in some sexy to make it palpable but what he did was brilliant, something to aspire to when you’re explaining complicated but critical information.

This morning, still high off of my surprise connection from politics to work – I did something revolutionary – I called people. I called them and asked how they were doing, we shared laughs, I gave updates on our work with passion in my voice and you know what…things happened! The needle moved forward, and the enthusiasm of our first meeting was revived. The person I spoke with said “I really am so thankful you called, it was so good to be free from typing that email”.

Our global society forces us to email more frequently as a matter of necessity but I challenge each of us to take time out once a week and pick up the phone. It’ll take you further.