Monthly Archives: June 2014

Seize Your Senior Summer


IMAGE_016Tips for relaxing without being a slacker.

So, you’re graduating from high school and, as much as you might like to take the summer off to rest up for college, you can’t really afford to slack off like that.  You want to lay a good foundation this summer to build toward a successful first year on campus.  What follows is a quick list of seven essentials to help you make that happen.

Before we begin, let’s assume you will socialize and have fun with your friends before heading off to school, so I won’t cover that here.  However, with summer jobs, things can get busy, so be sure not to fall into an all-work-and-no-play groove, earning cash for college, only to look up in August and realize you haven’t seen your friends.  Go ahead and see your friends.  Have some fun.  Live a little…

But try these Seven Steps to Seize your Senior Summer, too….

1. Rest

No one thinks well when tired.  For each of the following items you’ll need to be well rested, clear headed, lucid and capable of deep thought and reflection (You know, like most of your Monday mornings over the past year).  Oh, and you’ll need to write (type?) this stuff down.  Sure, the best thinking starts in your head, but it germinates on the page where you can look at your ideas, they can stare back at you, and you both can improve together.

2. Reflect

Think back on HS as a means of knowing thyself.  What were your successes? Failures?  What do you wish you could do over?  Consider what were you good at in terms of “being a student” (i.e.. we’re you good at taking notes?  Good planning and studying?  Did you use time wisely?).  What were you good at socially?  Did you make friends quickly, or was it a slow build?  Did you keep good friends?  Why?  How?  Think back to your freshmen and sophomore years.  That’s when you were just starting out in a new place, which you are about to do all over again. Consider what went well that first and second year, what approaches you’d like to repeat when you go off to college, and what you’d do differently.

3. The June Question

Speaking of starting college, most of your focus will be on getting a good start in September, but summertime gives you a great opportunity to think about the following June.  That’s right, June!  By then you will have finished your first year with all the academic and social experiences that come with it.  Before you begin the school year, however, it’s a good idea to imagine what you’d like to be able to say in June about how it went.  Would you like to look back on your first year and say you got a 3.5 GPA? Made one good friend?  Joined a club?   These are your hopes, and these hopes should become your goals for year one.   (Reminder: Write these down.  They will come in handy in a moment.)

4. Roommate questionnaire

Surely, one of your hopes/goals is to have a good roommate experience.   That will be your ‘home life’ and if it’s not good, the rest of your life will follow suit.  Think about it.  If you’re not getting along with your roommate, it’ll be tough to focus on school day in and day out. So after you’ve completed the roommate questionnaire they gave you from school, try this one at to help you identify only the ‘deal-breakers’.

For the rest of the non-deal-breaker issues, you and your roommate(s) are just going to have to be tolerant of each other.  It helps to recognize that if you were too alike, things would be boring.  So embrace your idiosyncrasies and weird habits.  It’ll keep life interesting, and you’ll have better stories to tell.

5. EMO (Not the music and skinny jeans.  It’s your ‘Effectiveness M.O.’)

When you’re done addressing your life with others, you can then focus on your life with you.  In order to achieve all your hopes/goals, you’ll need a plan.  You will want a rich life filled with great learning and great new campus fun, and in order to fit it in, you need to plan well.  What kind of planner would you like to use?  Your school will probably give you one to write in when you get to orientation, and that should be a good one.  Maybe you want to use an online calendar synched with your phone.  Whatever it is, summertime is a great time to build a template for planning.  If you know your class times, load ’em in.  If you want to exercise, get that in your planner. Studying regularly during the week means more social time on weekends.  Plan for it!  Want a club or campus activity? Add a couple of hours in the middle of the week.  Beginning to put a plan in place now makes for better news in June.  And remember to WRITE IT DOWN (or type it in).

Oh yeah, and don’t let your family touch it.  It’s YOUR planner, not theirs. Welcome to life on your own (aka owning your life).

6. One Day of You

Before you leave, this is the best gift you can give your parents.  Sure, you’ve probably seen too much of each other, but its been mostly centered on you and your college-related stuff.  The purpose of this day is to give them a great day with you on their terms where you can just enjoy each other and set the tone fore a great relationship when you part company.

7.  Shadow

I’m betting that some sort of internship experience should be part of your collegiate years.  Prior to that formal experience, it’s a great idea to get some informal career shadowing in and, believe it or not, this summer is a great time to start.   Sit for a half hour and make a list of all the interesting professional adults you know.  Your parents, aunts or uncles.  Your friend’s dad or older sister.  Your doctor or favorite teacher.  Everyone you can think of.  Take the top two you’re most interested in, contact them, and ask if you could shadow them for a day over winter break. This is a wonderful way to dip your toes into lots of career possibility waters to see what you might like or dislike.

Plan to shadow people a few times during each break (including summers).  During each visit, be sure to ask for additional names of potential professionals to shadow in the future.  That way, it’s a self-perpetuating system, and all you need to do is set up appointments, show up, and say thank you (and write thank you notes).  Combine these ‘skimming the surface’ shadowing experiences with your more intensive internship experiences, and you’ll have the perfect melding of breadth and depth, providing great career perspective when graduation time rolls around.

Graduation time?!  Yep.  Just like high school, it’ll be here before you know it.


Father’s Day is Hannah’s Day


Today is Father’s Day, and I lost my daughter to cancer a little over two months ago.  I have no idea how to deal with this.  It’s been one big guessing game cloaked in a pall of pain.  To complicate matters, I’ve released a book designed to help young people, but its modest success floats in the wake of not being able to help heal my own daughter.  So my roles as teacher and father continue to merge and confound me as I aim to help but often fall short.

What follows is simply a father’s attempt to help.  It’s a piece I found that I’d written to my daughter, Hannah, a couple of years ago when a relationship with a boy went south.  It’s my attempt on one particular day to help my daughter heal and grow, and the teacher in me hopes there’s a nugget in there somewhere that can help other young people down the road.

(From the sound of it, I had apparently wanted to sit and chat, but she wasn’t ready for that, so she asked me to write it down…. So, I did.)

Happy Father’s (Hannah’s) Day!


Advice from Dad…

Hi Hannah-

You wanted me to write this down, but for expedience, I’m going to type…..

First, I love you very much, and I’m very proud of you in the way you conduct yourself at school and in your relationships with friends.  I know you’re not going to be perfect, but I can tell that you try to be respectful of others’ feelings, and that will serve you well in life.  At the same time, I think you have become strong enough that you are not ‘a doormat’, allowing people to walk all over you whenever they please.  That should also serve you well.  Being tough enough to withstand the bad behavior of others while maintaining your own moral compass and dignity is a wonderful personality trait to nurture, and I can tell you’re working hard and doing a good job of it.

When it comes to relationships in the teen years, I think it’s important to recognize that you’re all going through tumultuous times with body changes, emotions, trying to fit in at school as well as social settings, and trying to find your way in the world.  These are difficult waters to navigate, and I think you’ve done a wonderful job of it so far.  Again, I’m sure you’re not perfect, but give yourself a break and recognize that, as long as your heart is in the right place, you’ll end up in a good place.

On the specific occasion of ‘the boyfriend break-up’ I wanted to share some thoughts.  I hope they’ll offer some help, but you can take ‘em or leave ‘em.  Here goes….

  • Relationships are grounded in trust, but teen relationships can be so tenuous (look it up) and laden (look it up) with emotions that little missteps can result in significant reactions.  To complicate matters, most teens are highly social and communicative, and one person’s business becomes everyone’s business almost instantaneously.  And, often, teen friends want to appear to have your best interest at heart, when they often just like to create drama (as long as it’s not THEIR drama).  This can make it very hard to make decisions and to know how to behave.  I think the best plan is to always be grounded in your own moral compass of respect for others without compromising respect for yourself and your own goals and dreams.  In your current situation, I’m guessing it was hard to have your relationship with XXXXXX become everybody’s business and to have everyone chiming in with their thoughts on the matter.  In the end, take some quiet time to reflect on what you think is best, speak to XXXXXX about it, and then move on.  You can listen to others and respect their advice and input (my own included), but in the end, you must make these decisions for yourself.  Remember, your family is ALWAYS here for you to help or listen if you need us.
  • As an aside, I think FACEBOOK is one of the worst places to ‘deal with’ these issues.  Private relationships should be dealt with privately, and it’s best to do so in person, face to face.  If people want to chat about ‘the drama’ online, it’s a good idea to simply post “We’re working through this on our own.  I appreciate your thoughts, and I’ll let you know how things go.”  This way, you can deal with the situation, give it time to work itself out, and not burn any bridges or say anything online that you can’t take back.  You can’t ‘un-ring a bell’ or put ‘toothpaste back into the tube’, as they say, and once you say something online, it’s out there forever.
  • I’ve watched a lot of high schoolers try to navigate these relationship waters, and I tend to think that less drama and cooler heads make for happier people.  I think it’s best to listen to everyone’s advice, then find your quiet place to think things through, and do what you think is right in the end.  While it’s easiest to live in a world of black and white, where rules and penalties are clear cut and easily meted out (look it up), I’ve come to realize that the teen years (and much of adult life, too) are in a world of GREY.  So, it’s a bit harder to say what’s right and wrong and what the repercussions should be.  Again, this is why we must try to develop and inform our own moral compass as a guide.   Teenagers make lots of mistakes, and when they become adults, most would hate to be judged on the mistakes they’ve made in their teen years.  So, oftentimes I find that teens would be best served with an old adage to live by:  “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  This reminds us that teens are going to make their share of mistakes because they’re all trying to navigate such difficult waters, so maybe an air of forgiveness would help.  If someone messes up, and it hurts you, it might be okay to recognize it as a teenager messing up, and find a way to talk through the issues and forgive, with the understanding that a ‘second chance’ is a blessing, and future behavior can change.  If, however, the same mistake is repeated, then the ‘fool’ is the person who allows him or herself to be the victim of harmful behavior again and again, and new consequences should come into play.  So, maybe a good, private discussion would be in order with XXXXXX, so that you can both decide how you can move forward, as friends or otherwise.
  • Because you are a teen, trying to find your way, you are going to make mistakes, too.  My best advice is to ‘own’ them, acknowledge them, apologize for them, and learn from them to make yourself a better person.  This is the best way to get to a place in life where you can follow the next bit of advice I typically offer my students about how to live their lives:


In order to do this, you must find your own happiness, but not at the expense of others, and you must try to leave the world a bit better than how you found it.  You see, you can go through life doing no harm, but you may not ACTIVELY seek to do good either.  I think it’s better to tackle both and, at the same time, not lose sight of finding your own bliss, that special thing that makes you happy.

So, PLEASE try everything.  Take a taste of what life has to offer, from school to sports to books to charities to music to love to travel to adventure upon adventure (and, of course, singing in the shower)!!!  By trying lots of stuff, you’ll begin to find a path that leads to your own happiness.  Then, you can go about the business of leaving the world in better shape.

I think you’re off to a REALLY good start!!!!

Friday Feature: Former Student Alex Farnsworth


Hey, if I got named to a “40 under 40” list, could I ride in a private jet, too?  Wait, I’m over forty….  Meet my former student Alex Farnsworth, who was happy to lose sight of the shore!

Alex Farnsworth

What do you do for work?

I am currently the Director of Marketing at a luxury boutique hotel, beach club and country club in Delray Beach, FL called The Seagate Hotel & Spa.

Staying hydrated!

Staying hydrated!

One of my greatest accomplishments has been the completion of my MBA program from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. I had the pleasure of meeting students from all around the world, which added great value to my education. With this experience I gained tremendous confidence in my ability to communicate, influence and connect with individuals exhibiting different interests, beliefs and backgrounds.

My undergraduate degree (at State University of New York at Geneseo) and graduate education, coupled with my valuable, two-year internship at Constellation Brands, Inc., led to my current position as Director of Marketing at The Seagate Hotel & Spa. As Director of Marketing, I have learned how to manage people, processes and projects. My experience has taught me how to embrace and overcome obstacles and challenge old practices. I have learned how to marry enthusiasm with structured processes and traceable results. The autonomous management style at The Seagate has allowed me to thrive in a newly created position.

At The Seagate, I oversee and manage all of the marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, sponsorships and brand management for The Seagate Hotel & Spa, The Seagate Beach Club, The Seagate County Club, the Seagate Spa, the Atlantic Grille and the two boutiques within the hotel (Aqua Resortwear and etc. café & gifts) and the soon to be Seagate Yacht Club.

Constellation's private jet reenacting scene from The Bachelorette.

Constellation’s private jet reenacting scene from The Bachelorette.

I was hired for the position in October of 2011 and I started work on December 5, 2011, after completing my MBA in November as well as my nearly two year digital marketing internship at Constellation Brands, Inc., the 2nd largest premium wine company in the world, headquartered in Victor, NY – just 5 minutes from where I grew up. I concentrated in Marketing and International Business and my undergraduate degree is in business and psychology.  When I was offered this newly created position at The Seagate, I was on “cloud 9.” I had secured my “dream job” out of college. If I had defined what my dream job would be upon graduation, this position would have fit that description to a “T.” I am incredibly grateful for where I am. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m making my own story and finding my independence/self …Although, I guess that happens when you move to a state that’s 1,369 miles from everything that you’ve ever known.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is meeting world-renowned travel writers and photographers and treating them to dinner at one of our distinctive dining venues (preferably the upper-level dining room at The Seagate’s private beach club, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean – depicted here).

“I’ll have Le Big Mac & Royale with Cheese”

Other favorite parts: there are never two days that are the same – each day is a new adventure and my job is constantly changing, as marketing is continuously changing. I’ve had the opportunity to explore new digital marketing opportunities and prove how powerful and cost-effective social media, blogging and other inbound marketing techniques can be.

In 2012, Delray Beach was voted “the most fun small town in America” by USA Today and Rand McNally – so needless to say, another huge perk is working in “America’s most fun small town” on Delray Beach’s famed Atlantic Avenue!

What do you do for fun/enrichment?

In my spare (vacation) time, I love to go boating with family and friends in my hometown (Canandaigua NY). Every summer I go home to visit family 2-3 times, since June – September is considered our “off-season” at the hotel. We have huge family parties at our cottage on Canandaigua Lake. We cookout, go boating, and spend the majority of our time on the water. I also love to travel! Fortunately, one of my best friends lives in San Francisco and I was able to visit her this past fall to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39, etc. We also went to their favorite winery in Sonoma (Scribe Winery) and a few wineries in Napa Valley as well. The pictures below are from a trip that two of my best high school girlfriends took to New Hampshire. The lake was so calm and serene. I honestly felt like an Olympian (not really though) when we would waterski, kneeboard, wakeboard, etc.

Never stray too far from the water.



How did you prepare for your life/career so far?

The most beneficial endeavor that I took part in to prepare me for the “real world/real work world”, was my 1 year, 8 month internship at Constellation Brands, which was not a requirement of my undergraduate or graduate degree. It was a complete exploratory/learning experience to help me figure out what I was interested in and what career path I wanted to pursue.  I didn’t fully realize how beneficial it was until I obtained my first “real full-time job” at The Seagate. Looking back, I realize how much I learned from that experience and even though I was simultaneously working on my graduate degree, the strategies, communication skills and leadership characteristics that I developed during that time period were invaluable. The internship made my graduate degree that much more beneficial and rewarding. I learned the soft skills that complement the technical skills, verbiage, theories, etc. that you learn in school.

At Robert Mondavi Winery w/Margrit Mondavi

With Margrit Mondavi at Robert Mondavi Winery

When I flew down to Florida from New York for the weekend to interview for this position at The Seagate, I had three of my best Marketing reports bound with a laminated cover to present at the interview with the management team. I had multiple copies of my resume, which highlighted my major internship achievements (Tip: be specific! For example, I listed this: “By creating and managing the company’s social media channels, we were able to reduce our advertising & marketing budget by $25,000 in the first year.”

My mantra during this time in my life was: “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” I always felt like my life was lacking spontaneity, excitement and adventures!  When I decided to move to Delray Beach, FL for this job opportunity, I didn’t know anyone. I was a plane-ride away from home and all of my family (or a 24 hour car ride). This was definitely an adventurous move for me AND one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I truly believe that risk taking is key to a fulfilling life. Opening yourself up to adventure/vulnerability and getting outside of your comfort zone is such a powerful way for you to grow and “find yourself” (easier said than done, I know)! I think that you’ll be surprised at the happiness, satisfaction, confidence and feelings of self-worth that result from doing this.


What are you proud of?

I was hired to fulfill a newly created position at The Seagate. The management team knew they wanted to hire someone with a marketing/communications background to manage their public relations and advertising agencies. Since it was such a new position that wasn’t clearly defined, I decided to document all of my major achievements/completed projects throughout the year so that they 1) knew what I had done and 2) recognized the value that I (hopefully) added to the sales team. The document was only 24 short pages (laminated and bound at Office Depot). Ha!J My General Manager thought I was crazy AND I ended up getting promoted to Director of Marketing (my previous title was “Marketing Manager”), so it was all worth it in the end. Around my two-year anniversary at The Seagate, I was featured in a “40 under 40” article, which was kind of exciting because I was able to share our successes with in-bound marketing including blogging and social media and demonstrate how it’s a revenue-generating channel for us (and a pretty powerful branding tool).

40 under 40

What advice can you give younger people as they prepare for the adult world?

Definitely do an internship whether it’s paid or unpaid. It will help you prepare for the “real world” by allowing you to learn and practice the soft skills that you don’t always learn in college (negotiating, oral/written communication skills, presenting, goal setting, etc.) It will also make you a more attractive candidate during the interview process. You have an opportunity to prove yourself (to the organization that you’re interning with and to yourself). You also have the ability to practice everything that you learn in school and master it. Lastly, and probably the most important piece of it all, is that you discover what you’re passionate about and even more importantly, you discover what you’re not interested in. Patience is key.  Don’t be part of the so-called, “Gen Y – Entitled Generation” – work hard, learn continuously and always find ways to better yourself. As my father has always said, “knowledge is power.” Your efforts will be recognized and if they’re not, it may be time to move on. J “Be content always and satisfied never” – said one of the wisest and most magnificent men that I’ve ever known, my Grandfather.

Update: Former Student Yasmeen

Hey fishes, I can see your house from here!

Hey fishes, I can see your house from here!


If you recall Yasmeen Smalley’s feature, she was doing an internship at the New England Aquarium.

Well, she’s now on her way to the National Park Service to help create a 3D map of Yellowstone Lake!

You can read more about her travels and see a recent video on her blog, Seeing is Believing.

Have fun, Yasmeen, and keep us posted.