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All I Really Need to Know I learned from… Dr. Seuss

15 Feb

Putting on my child sized thinking cap!

That Dr. Seuss, what a character!   Shoot- he wasn’t even a real doctor…and he certainly wasn’t some highfalutin business consultant.

Nope, Dr. Seuss is best known as a children’s book writer who had a flair for the imaginative and nonsensical: the man who gave readers fantasy lands filled with characters like a Grinch [who learns that Christmas is more than gifts], the [eco-conscious] Lorax, and [a book loving] Cat who wears a Hat.

Hmm… maybe Dr. Seuss’ world wasn’t so nonsensical after all.  He was, after all, able to get his viewpoint across on some pretty complex/pressing issues.  The imaginative/fanciful part was in his approach- he was able to break down the complex issues in such a way that even the smallest child could both delight in the story and comprehend, on a basic level, that there is more to Christmas than presents, that we need to protect our natural resources, and that reading can be fun.  But the real magic, in my opinion? Seuss didn’t trivialize the issues with his approach- the messages in the books also resonated with the adults reading the children the stories.  (I’m reminded of some present day Pixar films that approach issues in the same way- Wall-E anyone?)

Maybe it’s just my overly idealistic nature, but I think Dr. Seuss was on to something- what if we approached business problems [or really any problem] through the eyes of an innocent child?  Could we perhaps gain some clarity/insight into how to best tackle business problems if we were forced to take a step back and simplify these problems/our resulting solutions to such a level that a 5 yr old could understand?

A few Dr. Suess-isms I really love, and wish were more widely practiced in the business world:

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!”

What kind of crazy person thinks left? Or really says what they mean all the time?  A child. Children aren’t afraid to imagine, [think outside of the box in business jargon] say what’s really on their minds, [uninhibited brainstorming for grownups] or question others when they don’t understand or have a different opinion [daring groupthink and the popular opinion at the office].

But when was the last time you thought left at the office?  What if we forced ourselves to think like children- with uninhibited creativity and curiosity?   What’s the worst that could happen?  We have to explain to our co-workers why we proposed something a little different?

Here’s where thinking with the simplicity of a child could really come in handy– we could break down the reasoning behind the new/different idea to a very basic level– which will do two things: ensure that we know the intricacies of what we’re proposing inside and out, and ensure that our co-workers have the best possible chance of understanding our proposal.

And really, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Rejection?  As long as you approach the situation, and all parties involved with respect, there’s still a silver lining to rejection.  You opened yourself up to new possibilities- and the more you’re willing to ‘think left’ the more you’ll be able to come up with new/different ideas that are actually workable.

And I say this from experience.  If you’ve read any of my other posts (or even just my bio), you’ll know I’m a researcher.  But I write about my ideas for advertising, namely for television shows- promoting a show through a group buying platform, asking fans to create their own show promos with Xtranormal, and redefining what it means to be a member of a ‘street team.’  Have any of these ideas come to fruition? NO.  But have I ‘thought left‘ and proposed them to anyone who will listen? YES. Have I learned from these experiences and have my pitches become better? I’d like to think YES.

And drumroll please… will I soon be tweeting/blogging/shouting from the rooftops about an upcoming promotion that can be partially attributed to me? YES 🙂

Share your  ‘think left’ moments!

**Showing my love for the ‘We Love Bloggers Contest‘- show yours- what have you learned from children?**

Life After Oprah/Here’s To a New Decade

3 Jan

And no, I’m not referencing the end of the talk show.

Given that it’s a new year and a new decade, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflecting about my life over the past 10 years.   And the one moment I keep coming back to- and one that I will never forget- is my 15 minutes of fame on the Oprah Winfrey show:

Basking in Oprah's glow and loving my new dark hair.

Summer, 2004.  Twin sis and I are about to head off to college, (me- Wake Forest University, her- Washington and Lee University) and we’re slowly realizing that for the first time in our lives, we’ll be individuals.  We won’t be known as ‘the twins’- we’ll be known as ourselves. Crazy exciting.  And as if that wasn’t exciting enough- twin sis has decided to go by her middle name rather than her first name.  Wow.  We’ll still look alike, sure- but we won’t even be known by our traditional ‘AJ‘ when we come home from school!

And then enter life changing moment: the call from Oprah.  Twin sis and I are huge Oprah fans- I’m talking the crazy fans who apply to be on the show- and low and behold, that summer there was a ‘makeover’ show looking for candidates.   Twin sis, the gifted writer of the family, wrote into Oprah with our story– twins separated for the first time, individuals at school but still lookalikes when together.  And wonders of wonders, the folks at Oprah picked our story– and the rest, as they say, is history.  She became a blond, and I became a brunette.  And.we. got.to.meet.Oprah. (not even embarrassed to admit it, I cried.  Love that lady.)  Sure, we still look alike- but as sisters, not as twin sisters!  (Read more about my 15 mins of fame here)

But life after Oprah? Can anything else compare to meeting your #1 idol? Well folks, if you’re not the sentimental/sappy type you might want to skip ahead- I’m a hopeless romantic and also hopelessly idealistic.  This is a lethal combination– I find joy in even the smallest things in life and I believe that anything (with some hard work) is possible.  While every moment of the past 10 years certainly hasn’t been television worthy like my Oprah appearance, there have been plenty of other amazing life changing moments.  And I can only believe that as long as I can hold onto my romantic/idealistic view of life, life can only get better and better…right?

So here they are- the past decade boiled down to 9 other life changing moments, followed by 10 aspirations for the next 10 years of my life (that may even just topple my Oprah moment).

The best of the past 10 years:

1. Got my driver’s license at the ripe ol’ age of 15, the state of SC says you’re ready to get behind the wheel.  Shiver.  And I was so ‘ready’ I failed the test 3 times before I finally got that coveted piece of plastic.  Lesson learned: Some things in life are hard, but if you really want it, you just got to keep trying. And trying. And trying…

2. Landed my first job- This southern belle traded in her pearls, rolled up her sleeves, and took a job on a farm. And loved it. In fact, I loved it so much I worked my way up to farm manager (ahem, in charge of a staff of 3, 21 calves, 1 pig, countless chicken and goats, picking vegetables to supply the connected summer camp, and supervise the camp children when they came to help out).  I don’t think there is anything much harder or more gratifying than manual labor.  You know when you’ve done a good job, and that feels damn good.

3. Studied abroad in Vienna, Austria- study abroad 101: you should probably speak the language of the country you’re going to live in for 4 months.  Oops.  Without ever have taken a single German course, I hopped on a plane to Vienna and never looked back.  Like I said, I’m idealistic- I not only survived the experience, I thrived.  Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and be ok with making a fool of yourself.

4. Graduated from college- Magna Cum Laude, Wake Forest University, top 25 University. Business major, history minor. Proud, proud moment.

5. Entered the ‘working’ world- No one likes their first job… except for me.  I am still (very happily) employed by my first post-graduate job.  Got incredibly lucky and have had amazing bosses who are also great mentors.  And with their help, and through lots of hard work I’ve been promoted twice.

6. Payed my first rent check and cell phone bill- Hello reality, it was nice to meet you.  Became financially independent, and I still find that fact exhilarating.

7. Ran my 1st half marathon- 13.1 miles in Annapolis, finish time of 1 hr, 54 minutes.  Ran the 1/2 marathon with Team-In-Training, 2 great friends, and more support from family/friends/co-workers than I could ever have imagined.  Equally proud of raising over $2,000 for cancer research and for running further than I ever have before.

8. Moved to NYC– that’s a check off the bucket list!  I have always dreamed of living in NYC, and now that I’m here, I feel like I’m living in a dream.  After living in the city a year and a half, I still find New York magical- and I hope I always do.

9. Turned 25- For some reason, I always thought that when I turned ’25’ I would have life completely figured out.  Well, I turned 25 and had the cliche ‘quarter life crisis’ when I realized I didn’t have a clue what I wanted in life.  So instead of cry about it, I created justallie.com to help me explore my various interests.

And now, drumroll please, the 10 things I most want will accomplish in the next decade:

1. Live and work abroad- I want to have a more global perspective for my work, and I think the best way to learn is to completely immerse myself in a foreign culture.  Where do I want to go… more like where do I not want to go? I would love to live in multiple places- the more I’m exposed to, the more well-rounded I think I can be.

2. Become a home owner- Sure, if I stay in New York it will probably be a tiny shoebox of a walk up apartment.  But it will be mine.  And I’m dying to say ‘my home.’ (and let’s be honest- to decorate in any way I want)

3. Strengthen my voice- Ok, so this one is a bit selfish.  I want to be really good at what I do- so good that I have the opportunity to help others.  I’ve been lucky to have great mentors so far, and I can only hope that I can one day be one as well.

4. Get a dog- I’m dying for a dog.  I mean dying.  Proof? My mom got me an electronic dog for Christmas.  I know I can’t have a dog right now- my apartment isn’t big enough, I have absolutely zero green space for the little guy, and I don’t have enough time to devote myself to a new puppy.  But one day (maybe when I own that home) soon I hope to be able to have one!

5. Live by myself- I love the girls of 137, but eventually I want to live sans-roommates.  Maybe this goal will be a stepping stone before I become a homeowner!

6. Run the NYC marathon- I will not move away from NYC before I run this marathon.  I’ve been denied from the lottery once, so this goal is within a 3 year reach.  Woo hoo!

7. Own a Vespa- I’m obsessed with vespas, and one day I will own one and use it as my primary means of transportation.  I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m even willing to go back to ‘driving school’ for a vespa.  Especially something like this little baby here. (preferably in powder blue)

8. Learn photography- I really want to learn how to better capture life’s beautiful moments.  At the risk of sounding cliche, a [good] picture really is worth a thousands words… mine right now are worth about $2 since they always turn out so badly!

9. Always be a student- I never want to lose my curiosity… about everything.  I always want to be some kind of student and always keep learning (I’m a true nerd at heart).  I’m currently taking classes at NYU… let’s see where those take me!

10. Never become complacent- I always want to challenge myself.  The day when I become a smug know it all is the day I will consider myself to have failed.

So there you have it- my aspirations for the next 10 years of my life.  Some will be more easily attained than others, some are a little silly, some will only come after lots and lots of hard work, but all of them are as equally important to me on the verge of a new decade.

See ya’ later Oprah, I’ve got a lot to look forward to/accomplish in the next 10 years!

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

Merry Christmas!

‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need, I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree… make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is [for all your Christmas wishes to come true]!’


Love,

Allie

How do you spell love? B-u-t-t-e-r

27 Nov

When it comes to cooking and baking, I like to live by the motto, ‘more is always more.’

Forget the recipe- if you really love something (like I love vanilla) a little extra pinch or two isn’t going to ruin your recipe.  Now I wouldn’t go completely overboard on anything and everything, but I think a ‘liberal’ amount rather than a perfectly measured amount of that one ingredient you really love (an extra handful of chocolate chips, a dash more nutmeg or cinnamon, a splash more of vanilla…) will only make you love what you’re making that much more!

And let’s be honest, whoever said ‘less is more’ was a fool when it comes to to the good things in life- more is always more… which leads me to a confession.  I have another great love in baking/cooking– butter.  Blame it on my southern heritage and the south’s collective love of all things delicious and fattening, but I just love the taste of butter.  And gladly, I’m not alone in my butter love.  My entire family (even the dog- we once caught him eating an entire stick of butter we had left to soften on the counter) loves butter.  We’re generally pretty health conscious and don’t go slathering everything in sight with butter, but the holidays are a time to indulge.  So naturally, almost everything in our Thanksgiving feast includes- yep, you guessed it- heaping amounts of butter.

The three Walker children showcase our favorite butter-filled Thanksgiving recipes- enjoy!

Proud of my first turkey!

Roasted Turkey:

(recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa here)

– 1 13 lb. turkey

– salt, pepper, and thyme

– 1 onion, quartered

– 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

– 4 celery stalks, cut in half

– 1 stick of butter (Barefoot Contessa only called for 1/2 a stick… she doesn’t know what she’s missing!)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Find someone less squeamish than you to take the innards out of the turkey.  (still working up to that…)

2.  Give the turkey a nice bath- inside and out.  After he is clean, pat dry.

3.  Put the turkey in a large roasting pan.  We used a disposable pan for less cleanup- put a little water in the bottom of the pan and then cover with tinfoil.  This will help keep the turkey nice and moist.

4.  Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the turkey.  Throw in a little thyme as well.  I just used judgment here- the turkey certainly doesn’t need an entire bottle of salt, pepper, and thyme, but just a pinch isn’t going to do it, either.

5.  Stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, and celery.

6.  Melt the butter, and brush the turkey with the butter.  Sprinkle on a bit more salt and pepper.  Here’s what I think made the turkey- when I had thourughly brushed the turkey all over with the butter, there was plenty still left, so I just poured the remainder all over the turkey– mmm mmm good.

7.  Place turkey in oven and bake at 350 for 3 hours and 15 min.  I brushed the turkey with the butter drippings (that collect in the bottom of the pan) every 20 minutes– and man was he golden brown, moist, and delicious when he was done!

Lawson, the #1 family biscuit maker

Now it may come as a surprise, but my baby brother is the best biscuit maker in the family.  He’s been known to wake up on Saturdays and make biscuits for his college roommates, and I think his biscuit making skills helped him to win the heart of his current girlfriend.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a good lookin’ boy who can cook?

Company Biscuits:

(recipe from Shem Creek)

– 1/2 cup sour cream

– 1 stick butter, softened

– 1 cup self-rising flour, sifted

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Combine, roll out and pat dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/2 inch thick.

3. Cut with small floured cutter (we like smaller biscuits and have found that using a jigger to cut the dough makes the perfect size)

4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Our eating suggestions: take two and butter ’em while they’re hot!

Elliott- very excited about her favorite peas

Even our vegetables have butter in them over the holidays.  Like I said, ‘more is more’- if you’re going to indulge, make sure you fully commit!

Curried Peas

(recipe from 100 Years of Florence Cooking)

–  3 cans green peas

– 1/2 to 3/4 cup crushed salted peanuts

– 1 stick butter

– 1 teaspoon curry powder (or more to taste)

Directions:

1. Melt butter in saucepan

2.  Add curry, peas (liquid drained), and nuts.

3.  Stir gently and heat until thoroughly hot.  Enjoy!

So there you have it- butter, butter, and more butter.  And some pretty easy recipes to try, too! Happy Holidays!

Just my luck…

5 Nov

So as luck would have it, the day after I decide to take the plunge and start this little blog, my powercord caught on fire.

Now I’ll admit- I have the flair for the dramatic, but my powercord really was flaming and smoking. How in the world does that happen? Well let’s start at the beginning…

My alma mater, Wake Forest University, ‘gives’ (read: included in tuition) each student a laptop- one as a freshman and one as a junior. Since the university is so generously ‘giving’ out these computers, they aren’t top of the line, snazzy, or beautiful machines. Just your basic computer with all the functions a college kid would need. The computer you receive junior year is yours to keep- a novel idea from the university- but the long and the short of it is, these computers don’t tend to last very long after graduation. Don’t get me wrong, most of the computers still work- maybe with a cracked screen or with a few missing keys- but virtually everyone I know quickly opted to upgrade for a newer, fancier version.

But not me. My 2007 computer is still with me, and will be until it flat out dies. I just honestly can’t justify buying a new computer. When I think of what I use my computer for, this old clunker is just as good as a snazzy new one.

My typical daily activities include:
1. Check email (hopefully not work)
2. Work in excel/powerpoint (oops checked work email)
3. Update twitter/browse facebook
4. Read NY magazine for restaurant suggestions, browse the newest collections in Anthropologie, keep up to date with NY Times/CNN/Wall Street Journal

Do I need some fancy machine to do this? No. And when I think about it, I can do almost everything I can on my computer on my smartphone (still working on the excel/powerpoint part). With my overly capable smartphone and my old (but still functioning) clunker of a computer, I just can’t justify shelling out for a fancy new laptop.

Which leads us back to the powercord incident. My computer has been through quite a bit since 2007, and it’s beginning to show its age. It overheats, emits a weird grinding noise from the clogged fan, and can only live on battery life for a mere 20 minutes.

And then the whammy, a flaming powercord. To be honest, I should have seen it coming. I’m no electrical engineer, but when a wire became exposed a year ago I decided to fix it myself rather than pay for a new cord. Having no electrical tape on hand, (what go out and pay for something???) I wrapped the cord with scotch tape, which surprisingly held up for quite some time.  But then that little engineering feat failed to charge my computer so a friend generously gave me her powercord… which she had also scotched tape (hmm maybe Wake Forest should offer some engineering courses).  Well it was bound to fail at some point, I just didn’t quite realize it would go out with such flair…

I’m beginning to lose my battle with this computer, having given in and purchased a brand new powercord today. But I’m not giving in yet- my goal is to make it to my 5 yr reunion with this same clunker!

Just a Little More Info about Just Allie…

30 Oct

So how to fully explain why I’m Just Allie?  Well, let me try to sum it up very succinctly: I’m just a little different.  In fact, my life reads a little like a list of contradictions:

I’m a twin, but I’m an individual.

There was a time in my life where my twin sister and I were  identified by initials drawn onto our feet.  Our next door neighbors called us ‘AJ’ so they would always get our names right (Allie and Jane).  And our parents dressed us in monogrammed clothing until we were old enough to protest.  Having someone who looks exactly like you makes it… a bit tougher to stand out as an individual.  So I’ve always had to try a little bit harder to make sure I was unique.

I’m a southern belle (white gloved debutante and all) turned hard workin’ city girl.

Yes, it’s true, I prefer sun dresses, pastels, and pearls over the typical all-black New York City uniform.  I’m on a mission to prove that nice girls can get the corner office- don’t misinterpret my sweetness as a sign of weakness- in fact, I see it as a strength.  Most people don’t even see me coming. (bless their little hearts)

I’m a data loving, number crunching research nerd who considers herself a pretty creative thinker.

Shivers, she’s a researcher.  I’m an ad-sales senior analyst for a cable channel (if you’ve done any kind of snooping at all you know which channel), and I’m genuinely fascinated by the work.  I have the opportunity to connect our brand with your brand, and since I work for a smaller channel, it’s often quite a challenge to convince advertisers that our channel really is a positive buy.  (Whew, thank goodness we all know most sales are done on relationships and not really on research…)  But can a researcher be a creative thinker?  You’ll have to keep reading JustAllie to find out!

No that isn't a wedding dress, it's a debutante dress... With twin sis after my 1st half marathon (Allie on left)... Still proudly wearing sundresses in NYC

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