Kick the Nest

So, the other day my landscaper accidentally cut down a tree limb and knocked a storks nest into the water. It was very traumatic for me and dramatic in the sense it involved jumping into the Bay but after much ado we saved 3 baby storks from drowning (I say “saved” loosely as we were also the reason they were drowning in th e 1st place).

Anyway, after we got them back in the tree. I was extremely worried about them. Their mama seemed to have disappeared and I wasn’t sure what they would eat. I started asking my friends and received various suggestions like “go buy worms” or “feed them hotdogs”.

 I did neither.

However, I was getting increasingly worried.

How would these babies survive? What would they eat? Would they ever fly?

So, in the next 48 hours I did alot of watching. And waiting. And worrying. And then repeated the cycle.

Finally, I decided to take action. I called an expert from the Wildlife Refuge by the name of Barb. I nicknamed her the Stork Whisperer. She would come to the house bc if these storks were woodstorks (which they turned out to be), then they are endangered and must be protected.

I was excited. I felt like I had hired a Stork Superhero that was gonna save the day.

Barb showed up. I took her out to the nest. She looked at the nest for 90 seconds. She looked at me for 30 seconds and said ” I know you’ve been worried about these storks but I’ll tell you what the problem is here. Sometimes, you’ve gotta kick the nest”.

And then, Stork Whisperer Barb picked up each bird and let them fall from the tree on the ground. And then she tore apart the nest and said “sometimes, the only things holding the birds back are people that keep letting them cling to the nest rather than forcing them to grow up and get on with their life. I know you were well intentioned, but they are ready to fly and by putting them back in the nest is actually hindering their growth.”

She smiled at me and we both watched as the first baby stork flew across the water.

Lesson learned. In what area’s of your life do you need to kick the nest?

Data Drives Decisions

I’ll make this short and sweet.

I had an epihany today in the middle of a “brand wheel” exercise with Derrick Brook, Jeff Gooch, my boss and a co-worker about the Tampa Bay Storm. Derrick was telling a story about what it was like to defend some of the top running backs in the NFL. He was describing some of the greats when he started talking about Barry Sanders and how impossible he was to cover. In fact, he actually called it the “Sanders Factor” and it seems to be well known among NFL players. Great story. In fact, I wish I could have video taped him and played it b/c it was one of the more entertaining stories I’ve heard.

But, it’s not my story to tell and it’s not the point of this blog so your on your own.

The point is, before he got to talking about Barry Sanders he was describing how even the greatest players in the game could be defended by studying tape and analyzing stats. I was floored by how much a player like Derrick Brooks was relying on data to plan he defensive. I mean, it makes sense but I guess I just hadn’t realized the extent to which it was being used.

Now, working in sports my whole life this wasn’t the first time I had heard about the importance and game tape and strategic analytics when it came to developing the game plan. On the ice. On the court. On the field.

However, it was the first time a light bulb came in on my head and I said, why are more businesses not doing this?

Fortunately, my current ownership group and leadership group are allowing me to do just this. In fact, I hired a position that is strictly business analytics. It’s a refreshing change and one I welcome.

But, it hasn’t always been the way. I’ve fought long and hard in past jobs to try to get positions like this.

So, this blog is really for those who are struggling with this.

The light bulb came on for me when I realized in the past, I should have just hired Derrick to come in and tell the Sanders story to my boss! Or maybe (a more practical solution) I should have gathered some data on how/why every sports team thinks roles like this is importance for success and use those examples with my past bosses. It might help to get my analytical jobs approved.

Using data to drive decisions has changed the way I work in the last 4 years. After spending the first 15 years in sports going with my gut and having success it was definitely a switch for me. In fact, I think what holds most people back is pride. You think you know b/c you’ve been in the day-to-day. Or  b/c you’ve had success in the past.

But the data doesn’t lie.

And there have been multiple times my opinion has changed when presented with the analytics. I’m a better marketer today b/c I listen to the data.

That’s my soapbox for the day. Would love to hear from people on if/how their company uses data to drive their decisions. And if they have a full time position for it.

PS – Data apparently won’t help you when it comes to defending Barry Sanders. But Barry is a 1 in a million exception. I’ll play those odds.

Reunited

After 10 days in Iceland with only the clothes I wore on the plane, a few loaners from friends/family & a few necessary purchases, my luggage has arrived on the doorstep at 6pm the night before we are leaving back for the states.

Oh well, I’m just happy to have it.

The Elusive Icelandic Puffin

Take a good look at this photo to your left. Please note it’s not mine (neither the photo nor the puffin). I got it off Google images. It’s a pic of the elusive puffin. Yep, that’s right. I came all the way to Iceland and one of the main sights to see is this bird and I got no pics. Well, at least not a single one in which you can tell it’s actually a puffin.

I call them elusive b/c even though it’s the most common bird in Iceland and there are over 10 million of them, they are apparently hard to find. And even harder to photograph. They are quick little buggers.

We took a boat tour that cost about $30 out to an island to see them. I do NOT recommend this. You are nowhere close to them on this boat. And apparently, you can’t just throw bread in the air and attrack them as one might do with a seagull.

Sidebar: I guess since they are hunted and eaten as a main course around this part they are a little skeptical of all humans. I tried to show them I was an American with very finicky eating habits and thus, had no interest in them as a meal but they didn’t seem to understand.

You can watch this video if you have 4 minutes of your life you don’t care about losing. Or you SHOULD watch this if you are a big Justin Timberlake fan b/c our guide was a dead ringer for JT (except for the fact he can’t sing, dance or act. Yes, I asked).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MQlcbUxdeU

The only other highlight besides the fact our guide is a dead ringer for JT, is the fact he was halfway knowledgeable about the puffin. Well, at least he sounded knowledgeable from what I could understand. You can hear me agreeing and trying to decipher his Icelandic English accent. I give myself an “D” on the deciphering part. You can probably do better on your own.

So that’s it. Disappointing day and no puffin to bring home to the dogs.

Bottom line is, if you ever find yourself in Iceland I strongly suggest driving up near the Fjords where I hear you can see these puffin on land & it’s free.

IceBergs – Jokulsarlon

It’s hard to explain how cool these icebergs were. I can guarantee I’ll never see anything like it again.

It was a lagoon of icebergs off the glacier. When they break off from the main glacier they’ll stay in this lagoon for 5-7 years. Then they float out to the beach.

Looked like where SuperMan went to go live with Lois for refuge.

Here’s a video.

httpv://youtu.be/EIKlJYYxk5w

AH-Mazing. Here are some facts about the Icebergs.

1. What you see above the water is only 10% of the total iceberg. Think Titanic people. 90% of it is under the water. Meaning: These things are HUGE.

2. When they leave the lagoon they head out to see and often will attach themselves to the shores of the beach for years before being washed away with the tide. See pic to the left.

3. The blue color you see is an illusion. The iceberg is actually white but the blue color is b/c of the air and water.

4. The black you see is just ash from the volcanic eruption of 2008.

Anyway, this was by far my favorite thing of the trip. It’s just surreal to see these icebergs floating away from the lagoon and out to shore. A must see if you ever find yourself in Iceland.

Hiking Near the Glaciers

Now, there is no way pictures or video will do the Glaciers of Iceland justice. Plus, they come out of nowhere. You’ll be driving and think you have landed on Mars. Think all ash and volcanic rock and then BOOM! A Glacier. We actually hiked near that little volcanic glacier that shut down most European air travel for a few weeks back in 2008.

Let’s start at the beginning. Which is the “getting there” part. There are no real roads in iceland. Well, one road that kind of circles the perimeter called the 1. But to get to the Glacier you have to go off road. And in summer when it’s finally warm and the snow starts to melt your drive to the Glacier includes river crossings. Lots of them. It’s intimidating at best. Especially when you are 4 girls in a stick shift and you are facing a pretty large river and you aren’t sure how deep it is. Like this one

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKMsFugSk6E.

and here’s the video from inside the car. (NOTE: might be tough to watch as it was tough to film. Do not blame the videographer for the rockiness)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nyB_5giy-0

Once you cross a few of them it apparently gets easier. I wouldn’t know that b/c I wasn’t driving but that’s what I was told.

Anyway, the hikes are absolutely incredible. The change in landscape is crazy. One minute it’s green, next your on volcanic rock, next snow, etc. Like the picture to your left kind of looks like a golf course but it’s not.

 I was amazed at how much ash there was still left due to the volcano that erupted in 2008. All the black you see in the ice is from the volcanic eruption.

If you come to Iceland you must hike the Glaciers. We did the hike up Landmannalaugar one day and then over to Porsmork and along the Laugavegur trail the next day.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures.  It’s a picture of my friends hiking an area they call the cats back. it speaks for itself. I highly recommend doing this at least once in your life.

Iceland – The Blue Lagoon

Today we went to the Blue Lagoon. If you want a history lesson, read this.

It really is amazing as to why the Blue Lagoon was created and how people were sneaking in so they decided to turn it into a park. Trust me, there’s no way i would have jumped into that water unless I knew for sure it was safe. First, it looks like a neuclear power plant on Mars. Driving up is it’s all asphalt looking rocks and it smells bad (b/c of the sulphur). Then the water is milky blue and steamy. I would have honestly thought it was radio active & I would come out with 4 arms or something like that.

But, it’s safe according to the millions of tourist who have been visiting since 1976 so we decided to risk it. 🙂

Besides the fact it’s just completely cool and impossible to explain, we also are now 10 years younger thanks to the free mud masks.

This is the “during” shot. I would show you the after but you probably won’t recognize me unless you knew me in grade school.

The water is warm in most places and scalding HOT in others. We called them HOT pockets. Some were nice but some were so HOT you had to move less you suffer 3rd degree burns. No, i’m not kidding. The Blue Lagoon likes to keep you on your toes.

If you are wondering if it was COLD outside, I offer you this picture of the lifeguards at the Blue Lagoon.

Case in point. They are not messing around here.

It was at this point, I started to wonder once again if I was growing 4 arms. Why are they in bright yellow, flame retardant coats?

All in all, it was a great day. Very touristy but well worth the hype if you ask me. Cost about $45 for the day but it was unlimited access to the lagoon, all spas/sauna’s etc. They even had a relaxtion room.

Well worth it.

PS – if you ever want to check out the live webcam at the blue lagoon here’s the link. Enjoy!

Iceland – The Golden Circle

So today we drove The Golden Circle. It rained all day so i guess it was ok we were doing a driving tour today. Weather has been average at best. Had a great first day.

For me, the highlight of the tour was Geyser. There were 3 active geysers in the town although the word ‘active” is defined differently. the one to the left is called Strokkur. It erupts every 6 minutes. “Geysir” is the second most active but it only erupts 1-2 times daily. We didn’t see this one. There was 3rd geyser that hadn’t erupted in over 10 years. All in all definitely worth seeing. Only downside was the sulphur smell and the fact it was pouring down rain.

We also went to the town of Gulfoss which is Iclands most famous waterfall. Pretty cool but Niagara would win in a head to head competition.

The most amazing thing about these Falls was that there were literally no barricades for visitors. One small rope was the only thing seperating you from death by waterfall. In the states this never would have happened. It was awesome. We got so close to the edge of the Falls and were really able to experience them.

And my thought is there are no less “accidents” here per capita than in the States.

Last part of the Golden Circle was Pingvellir. It’s the largest lake in Iceland and filled with pure glacial water. We walked around the National Park for quite some time.

This kind of reminded me of Ireland. Huge cliffs and wide open green. It was very pretty and someone was even getting married in the small church in the park.

After the day on the Golden Circle. We went to the largest “swimming pool” in Reykjavik. Its not like any public pool in the States. For one, the lanes were 50m. That’s a long swim. Plus, it’s fully heated all the time. There are 4 hot tubs that each get progressively warmer. and by warm, i mean H-O-T. So far, we’ve made our way up to 42 C. Gonna try to get up to 46 C when we hit the Blue Lagoon.

Last night we ate dinner here in Reykjavik. As you can see, we are meeting lots of nice people & trolls here in Icleand.

Reykajvik – Fun Facts

1. Reykajvik is correctly pronounced Wreck-A-Vick. It means Smoky Bay.

2. Normally when I travel, i am kind of a blond bohemeth in a sea of small people. Not here. Here, it’s like everyone is related to me. They seriously could be my family. White. Blond hair. Light eyes. In general, there’s almost noone of a different race and very few with dark features.

3. Iceland is actually pretty green. Lots of pretty flowers here. We’ve been on one hike already and the scenery is gorgeous.

4. This time of year, it’s light 24/7 here. It’s actually kind of freaky. It’s currently 11pm and looks like it’s mid day. The sun won’t even set for another hour and even then it just comes right back up the other side.  And there are people out on the streets at all hours. After one night here the first purchase i made was a sleep mask.

5. There are almost no trees here. So the homes are made of cement and the new fashion is this corrugated siding you see in this photo to the left.

6. Bread is served at every meal. And cheese. Lots of dairy. And seafood. WOW! We had dinner at our friends house and they made lobster soup. Could be the best soup I’ve ever had. In fact, our friend here that is a nurse said they often have to teach babies how to “chew” b/c so much of the food is soft they don’t learn on their own.

7. The people are very fashionable. And everyone is BEAUTIFUL. We keep seeing super model caliber people all over. Many of the girls wear colorful leggings and scarves. All of the clothes are cute and very current to American styles. I’ve been shopping partly b/c the airline lost my luggage but mainly b/c there’s good stuff.

8. There are lots of churches here although no one is really religious. When we asked our friends that live here why that is they said they needed them for weddings and funerals.

9. The public pools are very popular. they are open til late at night and always seem busy. The best part was the outdoor spas. They keep the temps very HOT. Can’t wait to see the Blue Lagoon.

10. Alcohol is expensive and very hard to come by. It’s only sold in stores during the week and the stores are only open from 11am – 6pm. You really have to plan ahead if you want a drink (which is the point I think) or pay big bucks out at a bar or restaurant.

11. The yogurt they eat here is called Skyr. If an Icelandic person heard me call it yogurt I would be automatically corrected. “It’s called Skyr”, they would say. I don’t care what it’s called. It’s delicious and we’ve had it every morning and mid day for snacks. They have both the greek yogurt style containers and the drinkable kind. And it looks like the pic to the left. I wish we had it in the States. 

12. Your last name in Iceland is your father’s first name and then you add son to the end if you are male and dottier (meaning daughter) to the end if you are female. So, my icelandic name would be Lynn Robertsdottier and my brother would be Mike Robertsson.

13. Not sure if it’s because it’s their summer but there have been lots of “demonstrations” around town. The weirdest thing i’ve seen is about 40+ barbies strung up across the street with an old guy on a megaphone ranting in Icelandic about something. However, there’s literally like street theater going on every few blocks as we walk around town. Yesterday, they threw an impromptu concert in our backyard. Literally.

Very interesting culture. Amazing people. Very easy place overall to travel to if you are an American. Everyone speaks English and they are very helpful and friendly.