Andes to the Amazon

Incredibly readable travelogue with tales from my kind of adventure– bushwacking through countries without hotel reservations, camping on beaches, bicycling across South America. Bruce and Tess jump headfirst into their surroundings and experience local life as authentically as possible.
The book covers journeys during a 20 year span from 1976 through 1997, all in the Mexico, Central and South America region. Their first trip to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico entails 3rd class trains and buses, camping in hammocks on the beach, visiting the Mayan ruins during off peak times (early morning, late afternoon) when they had the sites to themselves. Their second trip finds them in Guatamala, visiting Tikal and climbing volcanoes.
The fourth trip is a 3 month bicycle trip through Central America, with a month in Costa Rica, a month in Nicaragua/Honduras, and a month in Guatamala. Costa Rica adventures hit all the places I remember– the Osa Penninsula, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde cloud forest, Arenal volcano, Tamarindo. The Nicaragua and Honduras chapter was in marked contrast to idyllic Costa Rica– bombed out cars from the constant war zone, poverty, highlands Indian culture, local markets, monarch butterfly migration, learning tortilla-making, visiting their charity case, and manic bus rides.
The fifth trip is to Ecuador and Peru– first a stop in the Galapagos Islands where they charter a boat to take them around all the various islands. Then they fly to Quito before climbing Cotopaxi Volcano, in Ecuador, going through glaciers and snowfields. Then they get on their bikes and travel throughout Ecuador, Peru and the Amazon basin, opting to eat food from locals along the way instead of packing a camping stove. Many side trips to catch sight of rare birds, insects, and trips to nature lodges.
The final trips are in Baja, Mexico. These trips were too short for my preference.
Exhausting and invigorating to read.

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It’s Not What You Say… It’s What You Do

Enjoyable read with good ideas.
Building blocks:
1. Clear Direction: clear expectations that are SMART (specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time-bound). Guidlines for expectations: divide big ideas into small bites, get feedback, be hands-on, not what you say but what you do (follow through yourself). Negotiate boss’s expectations if unclear- get them engaged and listen.
2. The Right People: hire attitude over experience.
The 5 traits of personality:
* Conscientiousness: inclination to be responsible, careful, organized, perservering, dilligent
* Openness: broad-minded, curious, insightful, original
* Agreeableness: forgiving, kind, courteous, and supportive
* Extroversion: outgoing, gregarious, sociable, ambitious
* Emotional Stability: measured, calm, appropriate, secure, rational, optimistic
How to screen for right attitudes: plan interview in advance, get them talking freely, ask what they did (give me an example of…), trust your gut, see how they deal with conflict, keep assessing for 1st 90 days.
3. Obtaining Buy-In
* Outmaneuver CAVE people by kicking off with WOW! event, blitzkrieg them (follow thru quickly), create disciples from rank/file, take success story straight to the top
* Create a HOT team (don’t be unfair, mean, rule-bound; do like your people, believe in them, listen, make teamwork engaging, let them decide)
* Lead a HOT team: distribute the coaching relationships & they will lead themselves
4. Individual Initiative
* Share your purpose; look at your biz through eyes of a customer; ask yourself & your people “What gets you out of bed in the monrning?”; motivation stem from defeating common enemy?
* What motivates you– what 1st attracted you to this line of work, what parts of work life do you use when not at work? if pay was cut 50%, what tasks would you keep?
* Show more respect (lack of respect leads to lack of initiative)
* Find the line between enough and too much accountability; how much control will the group have over the outcome? how good at giving useful feedback?
Get Team Member’s Expectations by Asking Them
* Review personal and job history, establish rapport & trust. Once comfortable:
* What would you like to be earning in next 12 months? 24? 5 yrs? Why? What would you do with that money? What kind of percentage increase would that take? Have you ever accomplished a similar increase? What did you do to get that increase?
* What professional advancement would you like to achieve over next 2, 5 years? Have you been promoted like that in the past? What did you do to earn the advancement? What new skills did you master? What accomplishments preceeded the promotion?
* What are the top 3 skills that qualify you for this job? (examples that prove they exist and make a difference?)
* What would you like to be able to do better? What else?
* What do you need from me?
Another way: give an assignment. Take 48 hours to prepare an answer. It’s the end of the new year, on track for hitting your goals. You’ve just received a great review, exceeding expectations. In a paragraph or 2, write what you did to earn this glowing review

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The Likeability Factor

It should be no secret that likeable people are more likely to get ahead in the world. If people like you, they’re more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, or a second chance, or a job, or their phone number. This was an enjoyable, quick read, filled with common sense. One idea that has stuck with me is the concept that the barriers between work and non-work are completely gone now– in the past, someone could be a jerk at work then come home to be the perfect father. Now, your friends and neighbors can google you to see your full reputation. I think it’s just good practice to be a positive human being wherever you are.
So how do you raise your L-factor? By improving your likeability (friendliness, relevance, empathy and realness). Friendliness is obvious, but woefully missing in today’s world. Relevance is the idea of bringing value to someone else. I could be the nicest person in the world, but if I didn’t have anything to offer you, I wouldn’t be relevant to you (e.g. I operate a corner store 2 blocks away from the corner store that you frequent– we’ll never meet). Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s place and feeling (or attempting to feel) what they feel. Realness is your ability to be all of these things but still be yourself. Don’t pretend to have an interest in 19th century literature just because I do.
Bottom line– if the entire world raised their personal L-factor, it would be a happier place to be. Make it a goal to make someone smile each day.

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