Having it all? If I have it ALL, what is left to strive for?

All of this talk lately of women having it all made me feel compelled to share my thoughts on it.

My first thought is, what is ALL anyway? And if I have it ALL, what is left to strive for?

For me ALL means happy, healthy and safe children. It’s a good marriage to a good man. It’s a career that makes me use my brain every day. It’s not feeling guilty about having time for myself and time to volunteer to help others. All includes having enough money in the bank that I always have groceries but not so much that I get lazy. It’s a bonus to every now and then hear a “thanks”, an “I’m proud of you” and even a “you look nice today”. So, I guess based on this, I do have it ALL.

But for me the key to ALL is a definition that is a moving target.

Today’s happy child is not tomorrow’s happy child. I have to put effort into my role as parent every single day, and my kids are, for all intents and purposes, adults. This is far from a complaint, this parenting part of my life has been great. I am preparing myself for the pending empty nest and mourning the loss of my hands-on time as a parent. My relationship with my kids is evolving, it must continue to grow as they do, and as I grow as a person.

My marriage can only be as good as the effort we each put into it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be with the right person; the person that will share the work to have it ALL. I couldn’t possibly have it all without an equal partner. Equal in housework (mostly). Equal in parenting. Equally valued for our careers. And there’s the mutual love, respect and passion we have for each other. I am a better partner because I know myself better and expect more of myself, I know it’s ok to have high expectations of him too.

It took me until I was in my 30s before I realized how much I enjoyed engaging my brain every single day. Right now that looks like technology, but if something equally engaging came along I’d look into it. With my youngest kid about to graduate I keep getting asked about retiring. I can’t think about that, what would I possibly do?

You get the idea. What ALL is to me and what ALL is to you would, should, be different. Maybe you don’t WANT the kids. Maybe you like being single (I don’t, I really like the guy I have. He’s smart, he’s cute, he respects me, he challenges me.). Maybe you work with your hands more than I do. Maybe something else in your life is such a drain that the thought of volunteering exhausts you.

But really, at the end of the day, do you want it all? Anyone that has is all has worked their ass off to get there and will likely never be satisfied, that’s how they got where they are in the first place.

Convergence 2013- a “how-to” from a veteran

I have been to many tech conferences.  This will be my 8th (I think maybe, not sure) Convergence.  I know every year there are folks that are new and folks that are not new and didn’t have a good time last time they attended.  Here’s my “How to have a good conference” advice.

  1. Wear good shoes.  ‘Nuf said.
  2. Pick sessions in advance.  But not all of your sessions.  Learning something on Monday might trigger an interest in a topic you can see on Wednesday.  (session catalog).  Sure I’d suggest you attend my sessions, but only if they work for you.
  3. Plan for loads of time in the expo hall.  You cannot spend enough time here.  This is where round one of networking happens.  Spend more time listening here.
  4. Plan to attend the evening events, aka “the parties”.  There are many.  If you’re a drinker, have a drink or two.  DO NOT BE THAT ONE DRUNK GUY (or girl) dancing on the stage with the band or puking in the corner.  This is round two of networking, spend equal time talking and listening here.  When people are a little more relaxed, sell yourself (or company or product, etc.).
  5. It’s not ALL business.  I enjoy seeing friends I have made, and meeting new ones.  It is ok to talk about your life and not just CRM or the weather.
  6. Learn some etiquette on how to approach someone you know online only. Big difference between “Hey, I follow your posts on twitter, it’s great to finally meet you”  and “I follow you”.
  7. Conference food.  It may or may not be your thing.  I will typically make sure to have a good breakfast and a conference hall lunch.  Then there’s dinner.  This one is tough with the parties I mentioned above.  Especially if you want to have a drink or two.  Each party will typically have finger foods.  Pick carefully, some good proteins and a handful of carbs.  Food in New Orleans is good, break the rules and sneak out for a meal one day/night.
  8. Listen more than you talk, this conference is full of smart people.  Yes, that includes you, but you are 1 in 11,000 people, learn from those around you. 
  9. When you tell someone you will follow-up with a call or email after the event, DO IT.