On the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, on the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Recently I heard a Millennial state that her generation now outnumbers Baby Boomers in the workforce. “The Boomer generation is dying,” she added. Really? As a member of that generation and someone who just competed (and won my age group) in my first Sprint Triathlon I take exception to that statement. Dying? I pondered my recent mile swim, six mile bike ride and four mile run (and that was just training over three days!) Immersion Interactive, an agency specializing in the 50+ consumer, says Boomers are the most health conscious generation ever. We’re eating healthy and competing in  sports. (Been to a 5K lately and looked at the huge age spread of participants? I met a fabulous 85 year old woman competing at two recent 5K’s who’s my new hero! I want to be active like her when I get to be that age.)

Now that my first Triathlon is over, I reflected on what I learned from this competition. These tips translate well from sport to business to life.

1. Encourage others along the way – I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear the experienced cyclists encouraging me as I peddled my way up the course’s steep hills. Biking is not my strong suit at all (I was still figuring out which gears to use and when) but a kind word here and there from the experts kept me going.

2. Transitions are inevitable – Life is about transitions. We move from one family formation to another (my husband and I are now parents of a teenager. Before long we’ll be “empty nesters.”) We change jobs and careers. In Triathlon, while speed of transition is key, it’s also an opportunity to take a breath and look forward to the change that lies ahead.

3. Play to your strengths – I swam collegiately for Cornell. So you can guess which sport is my strength. Five years ago I took up running. When it comes to biking, however, I’m a complete newbie.  Sure, I will work to improve my weakness but I know where I have my greatest degree of confidence and strength. It felt great to hit the first leg of the race,(swimming) at a sprint pace.

4. Stay positive and visualize – At one point in the run we were confronted with the steepest hill I had ever seen in a 5K. There had been a guy near me throughout the entire race.  We’d encouraged each other all along the way. This was our big chance. “We’re at the beach… it’s flat” we said aloud pretending between gasps. “We can almost see the finish line,” we said, huffing and puffing up the seemingly never ending hill. It worked. The visualization and positive support got us through that hill. After the race we introduced ourselves and fist bumped. Just an hour before, we were complete strangers. Now we’d been through athletic torment together and survived!

#1 in my Age Group

Won my Age Group

5. Set a Goal and then go for it – I wrote down my time goal in my personal prayer journal and in my running journal at least three times. It gave me something to focus on. What did I need to do in order to achieve those goals for each sport? When I was training I knew what the end game was. I was delighted when my final time was actually three minutes faster than my goal time.

6. Celebrate your victories – Whether or not you walk away with a top place medal, you celebrate when you reach a major milestone, like finishing the race! That in itself is worth celebrating. What victory have you had (small or large) that you and your team can celebrate today?

Which of these tips resonates with you for sport or for business?

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

I’m so looking forward to The Social Network movie I can already taste and smell that theater-buttered popcorn! The movie trailer including the hauntingly beautiful sound track (a choir performing Radiohead’s 1993 hit Creep) immediately captured my attention when I first saw and heard it. Love the theme, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” The shots of Harvard bring back memories of my time at Cornell in the 80’s. We used to visit Harvard Square when we swam against them.  The Harvard-Cornell hockey game rivalry is legendary.

The Cornell-Harvard game is always SRO

Somehow the crimson, the clubs and the party scenes all look just the way I remember them. Jesse Eisenberg appears to be a great choice to play Facebook’s leading man, Mark Zuckerberg. From what I glean from the trailer, Facebook was a way to fit in and be cool for its founder. And who doesn’t want to be cool in college?

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The Journey to Ithaca

Published on July 5, 2010 by in social media, twitter


The Journey to Ithaca holds a double meaning for MarketingMel

Thanks to the magic of twitter (Chris began following me and I returned the favor), I was fortunate today to stumble across Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity blog. Chris just happened to have posted one of my favorite poems of all time about the Journey to Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy. I love what both Chris and the poet have to say about the journey sometimes being as important as the destination. Since I graduated from Cornell (in Ithaca, New York) I saw the double entendre when my brother presented the poem to my husband and me as a framed wedding gift some 15 years ago. I hope you will enjoy the read and thanks Chris for sharing. It was the highlight of my day.

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Out of work

Out of work

This blog, a chronicle of the pain of my recent job loss, has particularly resonated with my fellow Cornell alums on LinkedIn. I posted it on the Cornell alumni LinkedIn group and I receive daily notices from other Cornellians who have recently gone through the same stages of grief.  Since they have been posting to LinkedIn and not directly to this blog I thought I would share some of their comments (while keeping their identities private)  here.

I was laid off a few weeks ago and am having a difficult time finding a job! I am either over or under qualified for most jobs out there and companies are not willing to take the risk to hire me in either scenario.

Hi, I was laid off for the first time about a month ago. Interesting experience, indeed.

I was laid off last fall from a position as Senior Graphic Designer.

My company laid me off and the entire Construction and Development Dept (Shopping Center Development) in Dec 09.

I was laid off two weeks ago from my director job at a business consulting firm. Companies that we were doing business with or trying to develop new business with stopped spending and my firm had to let many people go.

Its been 7 months since being laid off from a SVP Marketing position with no prospects to date for replacing anywhere near the income or role.

I was laid off 5 weeks ago and it is starting to get rough to deal with now. Too much time on my hands and no prospects coming through. It’s nice to have a place to vent.

All of these were written by Cornell alumni.  We were the kids who were tops in our class when we showed up for college in Ithaca, NY only to find ourselves surrounded by lots of other high school superstars. Generally I have found that Cornell alums go onto great success. That is perhaps why these posts are resonating so with me.  This economy makes no discrimination. The line worker at GM. The commercial real estate developer with an Ivy League degree. We’re all in this together.

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