family, leadership, personal

Joint post from Rick and Joyce – Love Languages

Do you know your love language? If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, see here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ As I’ve discussed with my team at work, it is also a great way to talk about recognition and appreciation in the workplace (understanding that some modifications are needed, like “touch” takes on a different meaning).

We know ours. Joyce likes physical touch, followed by words of affirmation. She couldn’t find a category for “stare at me uncomfortably for several minutes while I smile and ham it up” so we will call that a form of touch…or it could be part of quality time, which is her third love language.

Rick’s is acts of service. If Joyce does a chore at home for me, I feel awesome. If someone at work goes above and beyond on a project, I celebrate that and have big thanks waiting for them. I also like gifts, something Joyce has adapted to – even surprising me (I’m very hard to surprise) with a framed picture of me and my Dad in advance of Father’s Day. She used to not even get me a card for holidays, so luckily I’ve apparently broken her of that by occasionally reminding her of my second love language.

Love languages can come in really handy. When Joyce goes too long without food, and starts to get “hangry” I know I can make her feel better by just holding her. Even though I might want do take out the trash because that would make ME feel better, that is the time to put the chores off for a few minutes and just hold and talk to Joyce.

Sometimes Rick gets too focused on tasks and getting things done, especially around the house (bad combination of anal retentive and OCD). Joyce can take immense weight off of him by chipping in and working on the chores with him. And it’s quality time together, which is Rick’s third love language. Words and touch aren’t his thing, but he is getting to like them more by engaging in those languages with Joyce.

Hopefully, you can improve relationships at home and in other areas of your life by exploring the five love languages.

leisure, personal

Restaurant Review – Other Mama

Other Mama is a Japanese/sushi restaurant near Desert Breeze Park (Durango and Twain, near one of my favorite sushi spots, Sen of Japan). It has been open for a couple of years under the direction of Chef Daniel Krohmer. It is one of several relatively new (post-recession-recovery) restaurants in the west/southwest part of town that are making this area somewhat of a mecca for quality cuisine off the Strip; see for example Pier 215, Andre’s Bistro, DW Bistro, Ohjah Noodle House, Komex Fusion. We have seen this trend in waves before in areas like Green Valley/Anthem and along Spring Mountain Road. I look forward to seeing how this one plays out also.

To summarize my review: I’ve heard and read so many good things about Other Mama that I had pretty high expectations. Other Mama met or exceeded all of them. A truly great dining experience.

Now let’s be clear, it’s not overly fancy – in food or décor. It definitely feels like a neighborhood place, but a hip neighborhood place, I felt vibes of Santa Monica or a place like that. We went with a group of six, and I think it’s definitely one of the new style restaurants that is better with a group so you can order more of the largely sharable dishes.

DRINKS:

Beverages are outstanding, with inventive cocktails like the Svetlana, made with horseradish vodka which I had never tried before. Typical beer and wine selection including sake. And a host of Japanese whiskeys which is always a positive.

FOOD:

Raw options were outstanding. The sashimi is very fresh, well presented. Oysters were lovely and were accompanied by unique sauces along with the traditional cocktail sauce and mignonette. Tuna tartare was very nice, served in a mason jar and waffle fries to spread it on. But the highlight for me was the ceviche, also served in a mason jar, alongside light tarot-type chips. Perfectly refreshing, a bit of spice, and mango for sweetness.

Other small dishes were also good. Chicken wings were flavorful and had the right “snap” to them. Chicken fried lobster was perfectly balanced, the light batter not overwhelming the quality lobster. The kimchi fried rice was outstanding, once you got the egg and poke belly properly mixed into the piping hot rice.

The highlight of the meal for me was the New York steak, served sliced with a miso hollandaise sauce on top and accompanied by more waffle fries. It was like a Japanese version of steak frites and it was sublime. The steak was incredibly tender, the fries the exact right thickness, the perfect amount of sauce.

DESSERT:

Japanese cheesecake was different, not sure I loved it but I liked it. Sort of dry and spongy. Then we had an amazing (literally the best brownie I’ve ever had I think) brownie with ice cream. Our final dessert was a scoop of “Miso Honey” ice cream – fantastic, plus the jokes about its name and a link to a certain rap song from the 1990s lasted well beyond the table that night. All of course were well accompanied by the Japanese whiskey.

I highly encourage you to get to Other Mama for a meal. I think you will find it very satisfying the level of quality a neighborhood restaurant can create.

fun, personal, travel

Strip photo from 1991 – what do you see?

strip 1991I recently saw this photo on twitter, thanks to the amazing twitter account of @classiclasvegas. If you haven’t seen it, you should follow it on twitter. Especially if you’ve been in Las Vegas for any length of time. Always showing old photos of Strip resorts, does trivia, just a really great twitter account.

The photo is an aerial shot of the Strip, largely the west side of the Strip, from just north of The Mirage. Of course, the Mirage had just opened a couple of years earlier.

My challenge to you – find/list/share the things you find of interest in this photo. There are many obvious ones and some not so obvious. I’ll get you started with some easy ones:

  • There is a golf course where Bellagio, CityCenter, Monte Carlo and T-Mobile Arena are now. That’s the old Dunes golf course.
  • In the very bottom of the photo, there is just a parking lot for The Mirage, where TI (Treasure Island) stands now. I remember parking in that vast lot (which extended past the photo all the way to Spring Mountain Road).

What else do you see? There is so much more!!

family, personal

Three months

It’s been three months since my Dad passed away. I keep believing more and more what a saint he was. My Mom is really struggling, and is frankly hard to deal with – prefers being alone to being with people; hadn’t invested time in relationships with others so doesn’t really have a support system; is pretty stubborn. Which isn’t making it any easier to try to get her to move to Vegas and get the help she needs.

She doesn’t want anyone’s help normally, and she doesn’t think she needs any help now because her ailment isn’t outwardly physical. She probably wouldn’t want much help for a broken leg but would at least relent to a doctor’s care and an x-ray and a cast. Her brain isn’t telling her anything is wrong with itself (why would it) and she can’t remember that she can’t remember…

This has certainly given me the opportunity to self-reflect. It is funny (and not funny) seeing the traits I have that were passed down from her and reflecting on the traits were passed down from my Dad. I am not happy about this idea of not liking help, and I know I’ve suffered from it my whole life. “Letting go” and letting others do things and letting things just happen without being planned – these are not my comfortable places. But similar to some recent posts on leadership behaviors, I am encouraged by the fact that I’ve at least grown through my life; I don’t have to plan every trip anymore, I like surprise gifts, I rely on others to plan events that I used to do all by myself. Things like friends, Joyce, church all help calm me and give me perspective that is focused outwards.

Of course now I’m looking at someone who is going “backwards” in this phase of her life, and all I can seem to do is pray that doesn’t happen to me. My Dad seemed to get more sociable throughout his life, to the point where he was the glue in the neighborhood at the end. I’d like to experience that pattern, not the other way around. He was never the most willing to ask for help, but I saw him “let go” later in life, letting us and others do things for him.

Eventually, I’m going to need to figure out my Mom’s situation. I feel like I’ve not spent enough time mourning my Dad’s death in the last three months because I’ve used all that mental energy on trying to figure out my Mom. I’m hoping I can at least continue focusing on the good things about my Dad, as there were a lot. I want to learn from him: even though he’s not here to teach me anymore he has a lot of lessons to impart just from my memories.

I gave my mom the biggest hug ever this morning when I left to come home. It was more for me than her, she won’t remember it. But I was hoping to give her just a bit more energy and life, because you never know when things will turn around and that energy and life will come in handy. I read a great tweet the other day from Joel Osteen: “You may be facing situations that look like they’ll never change. You don’t see a way. Don’t worry. God has a way.”

leadership, personal

Squeezing Problems

I saw and heard a great message last week in church, about the paradox when we try harder to “fix” our problems, they don’t get fixed and can get worse.

My pastor used a bar of soap as a prop. He related the soap to our problems, and the harder you try to squeeze the soap (control the problem), the harder it is to hold the soap. The problem gets worse, not better.

If you are wondering the religious connection, the message is to hold your problems loosely in the palm of your hand, hold them up to God and say, “God, I give this to you, it’s bigger than me and I trust you to work in my life.” Randomly I saw a tweet that captured the idea in the past week since I heard the message: “Try to stop stressing, overthinking, trying to control. Know that He has got this, he’s got you, release the grip and breathe.”

If you don’t prefer the religious connotation, I think you can easily relate to the idea of understanding that there is a bigger world out there than ourselves and the things we can reasonably influence, and things aren’t always in our control, so we sometimes have to let things take their course, do our best in the situation, and let come what may. We might describe either the religious or non-religious approach to this as “having perspective.”

I have always been a problem fixer, and don’t like to feel like there isn’t a plan – in other words, I prefer controlled situations. This makes me squeeze the bar of soap.

I feel lucky that I have recognized this in the past and have adapted. I have been able to move past certain constraints and issues, have been able to “let go” of certain things. But as life goes, there are always new challenges ahead that you have to overcome, new issues to address. Some examples:

  • Have you ever played golf with someone who throws their clubs, or curses themselves out when they don’t hit a good shot. That was me 20 years ago. Then I somehow realized that all that action and energy wasn’t going to fix the problem. I learned to have perspective, a view of the situation bigger than the situation itself. Putting things into perspective always seems easy when you aren’t in the situation (imagine a poker hand where two other people are playing and it seems obvious to you what both players have). But when you are in it, it becomes more difficult. In this case, I was able to realize that I would never be a professional golfer and I was missing the best parts – precious time in fresh air and precious time with my friends.
  • I recall a time several years ago when I was starting out in a new job role that had a lot of interaction with other departments. Our company culture also wasn’t as mature as it is now, and I saw folks putting other departments down to gain advantages, and I followed that behavior; demeaning other departments in public settings/meetings where they weren’t there. Once a mentor pointed the behavior out and we discussed it, I made a commitment to never do that again and I believe to this day I have not. I also made it a team effort, setting the expectation for my entire team that we would be the “bigger” person. The perspective was again obvious later – we get much more out of life (and in this case work) when we put our effort into building others up; it takes a long-term perspective, because in the near term maybe our team didn’t get as many resources or were viewed less positively by senior management. But in the long run, we built better relationships and achieved more of our objectives by building bridges.

A common theme again about having perspective. I read an article recently about Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Among other great leadership attributes and behaviors, Steve always tries to have a bigger perspective than the “thing” itself. He puts his job and his “industry” into a larger perspective, understanding how lucky he is by considering others’ situations and realizing that as important as some make the NBA out to be, it is infinitesimal compared to other aspects of life.

Today, I am dealing with things I haven’t dealt with before. A parent passes away unexpectedly. My other parent is losing her brain health seemingly before my eyes, and I am not sure what to do. It has affected my personal relationships – I have yelled at my wife twice in the last few months (and for petty things); something I literally hadn’t done once in our four years together. We have talked about it, and it is clear why I did it, and it is also clear the solution – don’t squeeze the soap. Be willing to accept that I can’t “fix” my mom’s brain, or bring my dad back to take care of her. Understand that life is going to take its own course. I can do the best I can but the situation is bigger than me. There is a bigger life at play (perspective) of which my wife is an absolute critical part. So let her help you and bring her closer, don’t isolate myself and push her away by reacting negatively to little things.

I haven’t been the leader I want to be at work either. Ironically, given the magnitude of personal issues one might assume that I would be much more “forgiving” and relaxed about issues at work. Phrases like “we’re not curing cancer” and “this isn’t rocket science’ come to mind. You might think I would have been able to find perspective. So a minor delay on a project should be met with a soft reaction, given how insignificant that is compared to losing a loved one. Unfortunately, human nature is difficult to fight, and if a bar of soap in your personal life squirts away, it can be common to squeeze a different bar of soap – in other words, we take out our frustrations and sorrows on others, in this case those at work.

Part of the perspective here is time – as I come to grips with the personal issues, my leadership behavior would likely modulate back to a “center.” Part of the perspective is leaning on those who want to help instead of pushing them away or hiding from them – trying to “fix my problems” on my own – see above re: wife. Part of the perspective is that those who I am hurting are going through issues of their own, and instead of taking my frustration out on them, I should embrace them and we could support each other. Then I could actually let go of the little things we all mess up sometimes, given they pale in comparison to “real” life problems.

So I am working on getting my perspective straight. I believe in myself to get the right perspective given my past examples. I believe in the last week I’ve done well in several key areas for me (supportive tone, ask questions instead of giving answers, respecting input). I want to build trust in those around me to know that I have that perspective. I want to bring them closer not push them away. If I continue to learn not to squeeze the soap, I will be more at peace with myself. Then my energy and passion can lift others up, not bring them down.

I’ve written before about talking to each other, working together on leadership development. I will be seeking a lot of guidance to accomplish the above changes and will be asking many folks for some forgiveness, some support, some straight talk, some regular feedback. This is how it gets done if you want to be a better person. It starts today, and the same thing will be true for every today to come.

personal

The Best Golf Courses I Have Played

There are lots of rating systems out there, and they obviously change each year as new courses open, etc. So I won’t reference specific ratings, but just mention that these courses generally are ranked in or near the top 100 in the US or similar rankings.

Pinehurst #2 and #8

Totally difference courses, design style, one old and one new, etc. But I group them because Pinehurst as a whole is just an amazing place. The resort and town are so cool, great service and amenities. I have never felt so comfortable. And it’s incredibly reasonably priced for a high0end golf resort experience.

The #2 course is fabulous because it’s the kind of difficult course I like, not tricked up just hard. I played with one ball the entire round there once, and shot 100. Never out of play, just challenging. Fazio’s #8 is classic Fazio, feels just like Shadow Creek to me, each hole feels luxurious with swooping curves and great foliage.

Torrey Pines South Course

Played most recently, and I loved it. Similar to Pinehurst #2, nothing tricky, it’s right there in front of you but good luck hitting in the narrow fairways and the greens are full of subtle breaks. Can’t beat the views.

PGA West Stadium Course

Kind of the opposite, this course is really tricked up but that’s what made it famous. And at least on each hole there is a way to play it safely. Great photo ops for sure.

PGA West Nicklaus Course

For some reason you don’t see this course ranked in most overall rankings, but I love it, probably like it better than the stadium course. Devilish table-top fairways will grind you down through the day.

La Quinta Resort Mountain Course

Finishing off the Palm Springs route, this is one of the older courses at La Quinta, but it’s a great solid test of golf. The resort at La Quinta is really well done also, huge spa, grass tennis courts, and great villa-style rooms.

Cabo del Sol Ocean Course

A great course, with several holes right on the water (watch out for folks walking the beach). But this one for me is a winner due to the best on course amenity I’ve ever seen – a taco stand at the bend of the dogleg on the 11th hole.

Shadow Creek

A rare treat if you can get in, it could be the perfect golf course. Tom Fazio is pure genius when you give him an unlimited budget! Picturesque doesn’t even begin to describe it, and the course is always in pristine shape.

Cascata

Totally different than Shadow Creek, this one uses the mountains and desert with lots of elevation changes and great views. Lucky for me that I work at MGM Resorts that owns Shadow Creek an it’s rated higher than Caesars-owned Cascata. 🙂

Old Sandwich

Played this with some of our MGM Resorts sponsored golfers. I’d never really played with pros before so that was a treat and the course is unbelievable. As is the tie-breaker green after 18, and the skip shot on the way back to the over-the-top clubhouse.

Merion

Got to play for my friend’s 40th birthday weekend. Fun track, narrow and really small greens. No cell phones allowed and better take your hat off in the clubhouse. The soup is worth taking your hat off for.

I’m surprised the three courses at Pauite in Las Vegas don’t get rated – three Pete Dye courses that are everything you can handle with the constant winds. Also there are several fantastic golf courses in St. George, Utah.

I’ve also played these course that the pros play: TPC Scottsdale, TPC Las Vegas, Innisbrook Copperhead, the old Desert Inn.

Courses I should really have played and will hopefully get added: Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Spanish Bay; Bandon Dunes; Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV; Wynn Las Vegas; Troon North (though I’ve played the Boulders and loved it).

personal

Health advice for me (and you)

I recently did an annual physical. First advice for any of you that don’t do that – START. I don’t know about you, but I have already had way too many stories in my life where folks I care about have had medical issues that weren’t caught early enough (or could have been caught earlier) and weren’t “typical” issues for their age. You just don’t know until they start poking around inside that body of yours.

I am lucky enough to go to a place where they do lots of consultations along with the physical tests. I got some great tips for me, yours would of course be unique to you. But I feel like a couple might be widely relevant and were “a-ha” moments for me.

Relaxation

I have tried – and failed – multiple times to implement meditation in my life. I feel like I would be a poster child for its benefits if I could just get into the habit. The wellness coach at my physical gave me (and made me practice) a simple breathing ritual which she didn’t even call meditation. I really liked it, as it was reminiscent of breathing I learned in yoga. Basically laying on your back, with progressively deeper breaths while lying down focusing on nothing but the depth of the breaths. Only other thoughts are to relax face muscles and to have your back muscles “sink” into the bed/couch.

I am going to give this another shot to make it a habit.

Eating

Simple tips for me – eat Greek yogurt as a snack, have a piece of fruit with every meal or snack, eat fish 3-4 times per week, focusing on the meals I eat out to get a double benefit (less steak, more fish basically).

Biggest tip was to plan for my snacks. Pre-portion them, always have them available. This way, I don’t “panic” if I have to work late and just start eating anything within arm’s reach. So there is yogurt and berries in my work fridge now…

Exercise

Change your “routine” once a month or so, so it doesn’t become a routine. Even within an area like cardio training, mix interval training in with steady jogging. Do your chest routine for maximum weights and muscle development one week and then do conditioning (less weight more reps) the next.

I also learned that we should all be doing those leg curls where you lie down prone to work your hamstrings, because our hamstrings just never get enough exercise.

Hopefully these are useful for you as much as for me.