leadership, personal

Explaining the affirmations – part 3

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve noticed a daily post for the last 5-6 weeks (if you want to see them, go to @realrickarpin on twitter). It started with these:

Today is the day that matters. Today I will treat others w/ kindness, respond w/ patience and mercy, and above all clothe myself w/ love.

I will be a positive leader. Adversity will come, lots of it. But it won’t stop me from encouraging, listening to, and appreciating others.

In my last two posts, I explained why I came to do affirmations, and how I came up with the first two affirmations.

Today I will discuss my third affirmation:

I will build rapport and relationships with others. I will put myself “out there” to the point where I am uncomfortable.

This affirmation is relatively simple, I am an introvert who is sometimes socially awkward. There are a couple of things to unpack there. On the introvert/extrovert issue, I highly recommend you read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. Many folks who know me, especially only casually, don’t believe me when I say I’m an introvert; but I’ve taken the personality profiles and I am. And Susan Cain’s book helps explain the disconnect – being an introvert or an extrovert isn’t strictly about whether you are “social” or “good around people,” rather it is about energy. Introverts get their energy from time alone, in thought. They lose energy quickly when around others. Extroverts are the opposite, they get their energy from those around them. So I can “perform” well in public, for a time. But afterwards I will be drained and just want to “be alone.”

I am also sometimes socially awkward. Luckily these skills can be learned. All I’m talking about here is a combination of not knowing best tactics for engaging in conversations with new people, topics to discuss or avoid, how much time to listen versus talk, where to focus my attention, etc. So sometimes at events I feel like the odd person out of conversations, or I feel like I can’t interject into a small group, or I get distracted instead of focusing only on the person I’m engaging with.

My affirmation simply pushes me to embrace that uncomfortable feeling, because like any skill or discipline, you don’t grow when you are feeling comfortable. Like learning a new technique in golf, for example. So if I put myself in uncomfortable situations, I will get a little better; I won’t change who I am, just show up better in all situations.

I strategically posted this affirmation when I was traveling at a conference, a typical “uncomfortable” situation for me. And you will likely know I’m engaging in similar activities every time you see this affirmation.


leadership, personal

Explaining the affirmations – part 2

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve noticed a daily post for the last 5-6 weeks (if you want to see them, go to @realrickarpin on twitter). It started with this one:

Today is the day that matters. Today I will treat others w/ kindness, respond w/ patience and mercy, and above all clothe myself w/ love.

In my last post, I explained why I came to do affirmations, and how I came up with that first affirmation.

Today I will cover my second affirmation:

I will be a positive leader. Adversity will come, lots of it. But it won’t stop me from encouraging, listening to, and appreciating others.

This affirmation covers a few things I am focusing on.

  1. Positivity. As I referenced in the previous post, the genesis of affirmations for me is negative self-talk. And some lack of resiliency and bounce-back from setbacks. So starting with being positive is important for me. I have to be intentional about this; my natural state is somewhat pessimistic. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I know everyone falls on a spectrum of how they come at things with initial reactions. It’s not good to be always positive or always negative, and in fact responses should be calibrated based on context. But generally speaking, I look for problems, and that initial lens can lead to less than ideal behaviors and interactions. Perspective is a huge piece of this, I have written about that before. I find myself saying the old trite phrase “we’re not curing cancer here” a lot – so that even when I see “problems” I can react better. Good thing I don’t work in healthcare… (haha)
  2. Facing adversity goes along with the reaction to setbacks I referenced above. My affirmation tries to accomplish two things. First, be prepared for adversity, not caught off guard. Assume bad things will happen so you can be prepared to react calmly and with poise. Second, fight through the adversity and don’t let it push me back towards an insular/introverted reaction; rather stay the course and show true leadership/set the example – no matter what happens around us, we will not let go of our core values and behaviors – we encourage each other, we listen to each other, we appreciate each other. If I/we can do that in the worst of times, during adversity, then I/we will build a special team.

I think this affirmation is more universal than my first one, as I think a lot of leaders struggle to show up well when times are tough. It’s often easy to be a “great” leader when things are good, but what happens when financial results aren’t meeting expectations, or a few people quit all at once, or an external event impacts your business? Do we panic, and freeze up? Do we revert to trying to do everything ourselves? Do we start blaming others instead of taking ownership? These are the times we need to be most intentional about our leadership.

leadership, personal

Explaining the affirmations – part 1

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve noticed a daily post for the last 5-6 weeks (if you want to see them, go to @realrickarpin on twitter). It started with this one:

Today is the day that matters. Today I will treat others w/ kindness, respond w/ patience and mercy, and above all clothe myself w/ love.

There are others, and I continue to think about and work on them. I thought I’d take a moment to explain these affirmations.

The genesis of doing affirmations in the first place was a combination of advice from my leadership coach and some events in my leadership journey. My leadership coach helped me identify negative self-talk as an issue. I do a lot of thinking, a trait I get from my mom. I dream at night pretty much constantly, often about work or other events in my life. I ruminate on “losses” or setbacks, something I’ve written about before, most recently here: https://rarpin.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/athletes-and-injuries/

I’m sure many of us who do a lot of thinking and self-talk tend towards the negative side of self-talk. So my coach thought I needed to be intentional to balance things out, hence affirmations.

I also had suffered some leadership setbacks, for example discussed here: https://rarpin.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/squeezing-problems/. So I put the two together and started a daily affirmation to focus on what I want to be (a positive look forward) and what I need to work on to be the leader I want to be.

The first affirmation was inspired at the same time by a message I saw at Central Christian Church, also written about in the post cited above. You can see it here: https://www.centralonline.tv/media/subpage/?sid=78&mid=253&vs=teaching

The idea that you can choose what clothes to wear, and you can clothe yourself in kindness, humility, love. One of my common self-talk items is blame, and excuses. This reminds me that it is my choice. My reaction to what happens around me, I own that.

Tangent – at the same time I was reading the book “Extreme Ownership” which I highly recommend and will write a review of it soon. But it contains a similar concept, as a leader everything is your fault that happens within your team. No excuses, extreme ownership.

The other thing I really wanted to capture was the notion of focusing on what is in front of me. Right in front of me. So not yesterday, for sure. No looking back, if I made mistakes yesterday let’s learn from them and move on. But also not too far ahead, so that I miss the moments that matter. So the word “today” seemed really important to me.

Finally the idea of patience and mercy, I am often too quick and not being empathetic, not thinking of others because I am whizzing through the day. So these words resonated as words that would remind me how to behave for the whole day.

If you don’t suffer from negative self-talk, I salute you and maybe this post isn’t that useful. If you do suffer from negative self-talk, you will have to think through your own call to action, how to frame an affirmation that will help you find balance. Hopefully you can get some great advice like I did, or some divine inspiration by seeing a message that was timely or reading a book that resonates. Best of luck, and stick with it. I will write about my other affirmations in future posts.


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.


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.


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.


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.”