Monday, March 26, 2018

Fan Mail

I don’t know about YOU, but I find it both very touching and mildly embarrassing when people let you know, either in person, or in writing that they think you are a very special person to them and they value you highly. It does not happen to me very often, but recently there was an interesting concentration of such incidents. One of my best friends seized the occasion of my birthday to write some very personal lines and thank me for being a great friend to her over the years. It made me very happy to read that indeed. Even more recently, somebody whom I had always, personally, considered to be more of a “casual friend” surprised me with a card to let me know I was “the best thing that happened to me these past months” and that same day actually also asked me if I had “always been this cool and uncomplicated”. Being me, I kind of made a joke out of it and asked if she wanted to get my autograph. I told her that a lovely ex-colleague (who is a generation younger than me) once said out of the blue “You know what, if you ever decide to write a self-help book, I would totally buy it.” It has become a joke among the two of us and she always tells me that her friends know me as “that cool (ex) colleague of yours”. Won’t lie, I feel quite flattered, even more so to be considered “cool” and a source of inspiration to somebody in their late twenties. My friend - the one with the lovely card - nodded, when I told her and said “I would totally buy that too!”, which made me laugh. Perhaps I should write a self-help book?! Not that I am familiar with that genre in the least, nor consider my own life a shining example in any way. Not married, no kids, no penthouse in a trendy location. Quite possibly a complete and utter failure in the eyes of many people, but very happy both with what I have and what I have become over the years.
Such “fangirl” behaviour is like a warm hug and compensation for the fact that not all outpours of love and friendship are sincere and long-lived and sometimes those people who seem most smitten with you at first reveal themselves to be fair-weather friends. Yep, speaking from experience here. Be that as it may, I’ll definitely make sure to let the amazing people in my life know that they are amazing more often!

Monday, March 19, 2018

It's the Little Things...

Remember when I did this "exercise" for a full year, writing a weekly post on things that made me happy the previous week? Well, while I don't formally do this anymore, i,e, take the time to write it down, I still sometimes reflect on those little or big things. Like this past week, when I devoured an old-school "offline" paperback book, one of 5 books I had received for my birthday, enjoyed my Russian language lesson with the same funny and charismatic teacher I had the first time I took lessons with Berlitz (we were assigned another - horrible - teacher at first, but then thankfully got her as a replacement), or hung out with some lovely people on the weekend. One of them was an ex-colleague from the Firm (honorary president of my "fanclub"), the other a colleague (the one who keeps me sane) from my current one.  Well, that only took nine months! Ever since starting at Household Name, I had acutely felt the void that "hanging out with colleagues" had left. Sure, I still occasionally met colleagues from my two past jobs, but I had not yet bonded enough with the current ones that I would socialise with them after hours. Some people might actually be very happy about this situation, but for me it was a bit strange after all these years of working with friends who also happened to be colleagues. (We went to see the Keith Haring exhibition - hence the picture).

Monday, March 12, 2018


Last week I was in Salzburg on business. The purpose of my trip was to join an external trainer holding workshops at the Salzburg city branch of Household Name. The topic of the workshop was "strengths-based leadership", the audience people-managers. In order to make the round of introductions more interesting and already put attendees in the right mindset of focusing on strengths, the trainer wrote 3 questions on the flipchart. "What is my name and function?" "Why am I here?" "What am I - at least a little - good at?". Now the same format of workshop has been held at the Vienna office several times and the first time I read these instructions, I found it very strange to have included this modifier "at least a little". I mean, who can't name at least one thing they are good at immediately, be it a private or a work-related fact. Then I thought about it and realised that 10 years of working for an American company completely made me change my mind and become much "braggier" than I was before. When you are constantly asked to reflect on and talk about all the "amaaaazing" things you did on a daily basis, it becomes second nature at some point. Even for Austrians or other Central European whose mentality almost forbids them to do so, for fear of being thought arrogant and boastful. By including that modifying "at least a little bit" you make it easier for those who struggle to talk about what they are good at. 
The workshop also includes a session where you split up in smaller groups and talk about, among other things, something that made you proud of the previous week. It's always interesting to see who talks about something from their private life and who picks something job-related. Myself, I am "at least a little bit" proud of pretty spontaneously posting my first ever article on LinkedIn last week, which I guess is a bit of both business and pleasure.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Go Royal or Go Home

Unlike me, Mademoiselle is pretty clued up on European high aristocracy. This is mainly due to the fact that she grew up stealthily reading the glossy magazines her parents had subcriptions for to keep patients in her father's (a doctor) waiting room entertained. Thus, an interest in miscellaneous royalties was planted into her early in life. In summer 2015, Chiquita and I spent a few lovely days in Stockholm. When I mentioned to Mademoiselle that we were going there, she said "Hey, isn't this when Prince Carl Philip is getting married?" My reply was something like "There is a Prince, too?" as I was only aware of the two Swedish princesses. Turned out there was indeed and he was getting married the very weekend we were there. Thankfully, the Swedes seemed pretty chilled about the whole affair and it was all very low-key as far as royal weddings go.
This past Saturday, we were on a train to Salzburg, leafing through a January issue of UK Hello! magazine that a friend had given me in Sofia the weekend before. Half of it was about Princes William and Harry, including the latter's wedding. "Wait a moment", Mademoiselle said, "Could it be that the wedding is right on the weekend when we'll be in London in May?". I quickly consulted the internet and found that, yep, this was indeed the case. Something tells me that being in town when Harry and Meghan are getting hitched will be slightly crazier and security will be extra tight. On the bright side, it might be a good time to visit museums and shopping precints while everyone else is glued to the TV screen or lining the streets of Windsor. We shall see...
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