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How To Be A Healthy Coffee Addict

Coffee; Health, MattLambert.me

At the age of 12 (maybe it was earlier, but who knows) when I took that first drink, I was hooked. Not in a addicted kind of way. It was a more,, “I enjoy this.” I enjoyed everything about the coffee drinking experience. I enjoyed the coffee shop, the community, and the beverage. This was over 20 years ago and coffee was not as popular as it is now.

With coffee’s popularity on a consistent rise globally, it is attracting more attention for other reasons. The debate rages about the health affects of coffee. Is it good or bad? Maybe it’s the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking how to drink coffee rather than if we should. Or why is it good or bad?

Here are my suggestions for coffee consumption while maintaining your health. These are changes, I have been implementing over the last year. Some are more of a struggle than I realized, however, all have made positive impacts on my health over time.

Buy local, fresh coffee.

Start here and your coffee consumption habits will begin to improve themselves. Local, specialty roasters make it their mission to produce a cup of coffee that highlights the natural flavors of the coffee being served making it easier to follow some of the steps below.

Start your day with water.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Coffee wakes up the brain. Water wakes up the whole body. Your body naturally becomes dehydrated over the night. Consuming water first gets the system back to where it needs to be. Increases blood flow, Awakens the whole system in a way that the first cup of coffee will only help.

This was actually one of the hardest changes for me.

Drink your first cup around 9 or 10.

Because the chemical cortisol is being released into the brain and creating its own stimulus, coffee when consumed too  early can overstimulate the brain creating stress. Cortisol generally levels out after a few hours of being awake, and when these levels are lower, coffee can help smooth out your mood without the jitters.

I can do this sometimes, but I also do not have a regular pattern for getting up. With two younger kids, my day starts at 5:30 some days and 7:30 on others.

Skip the sugar.

Can we just agree the sugar is bad for our bodies. It’s fattening. It creates an increased sense of hunger. People use way too much of it in their coffee. If you’re coffee needs that much sugar, see my first point and buy something that is a little more expensive, but will be better for your health.

Minimize the milk.

Some people say get rid of the milk. I suggest minimizing. Why? I love milk! Milk in coffee can help balance it out, reduce effects of caffeine, and sweeten the cup again reducing the need for added sugars. Milk can also be fattening so be mindful when consuming it. Try to drink coffee black.

Drink plenty of water after.

Rehydrate your body. Keep the system functioning smoothly. Many times being properly hydrated will help the sustained energy levels and blood flow that the brain needs to be alert. Replenish the body after your morning cup has dehydrated you a bit.

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Designing an Employee-Centric Experience

I remember starting a new job when I was fresh out of college. I worked for an insurance firm. The application process was long and interviews even longer. However, by the end of the process, I felt as I had achieved something simply by being hired. Training lasted six months. Then I was released to my desk. But wait. Where is my desk?

The walk from the training area, which was a direct route into a bright open room, became a maze of hallways and crowded sections of tall cubicles. Openness was transformed into a dark, closed space. The design of each area stood in stark contrast, and left two different feelings on the employees who would spend eight hours a day in an already high stress work environment.

Companies talk about the importance of human centric design when it comes to products, but are they asking the same questions about human centric design for employees?

I look back and think about that job. Overall, the company was good. It had excellent benefits and bonus structures. I had two direct supervisors that I enjoyed, one of which transformed my thinking of leaders and the employees that work under their charge. However, the impact of the poor design of workspace and processes negatively affected my thinking. I believe this does not have to be the case, and using the design process in how personnel are hired and the creating spaces can greatly improve the mental effects felt by employees.

Here are 4 areas intentional, human-centric design can help companies and their employees:

Hiring

Hiring processes range from simplistic one form and interview hires to multi-page, levels of interviews, offers before a candidate is accepted. Throw in a probation period or lengthy onboarding process, and the steps become quite confusing.

Research shows that employees begin to make their first impressions about a company during the interview process. These impressions can last even after a job is accepted as an employee evaluates products and services of the companies or internal procedures.

While companies form products, services, and procedures around the general operation of the organization, more thought should go to the employees that are to champion these. This begins with the application and interview process to hire. Designing a well communicated, streamlined process demonstrates transparency, buy in, and a better user experience for the new candidate. It impacts the long term view of the organization.

Space

One of the biggest drawbacks in the personal story above was the space design. I spent six months in a space that created high interaction and activity with enough boundaries to keep people focused. The reality of the long term workspace was much different. It decreased collaboration and communication among teams especially between supervisor and team member. The high cubicle walls darkened the space and created a maze effect.

In companies that require high employee to employee engagement, workspaces must be designed to fit the needs of the employee as well as the company. Design of the workspace creates a positive mental and emotional feel that motivates the employee to be present going beyond the general goal of efficiency. One way to utilize design of the workspace, is involving the employees in the layout, decoration, and creation of the space itself.

Education

Employee education and growth are two major ways to keep employees engaged and retained with the company. However, many times employee development plans fail even when couched as “personal” plans. Why?

Writing for Forbes’, Joe Folkman suggests that these development plans are not driven by the employee, but another program created broadly. The problem: “the one size fits all” ends up helping few and fails at the intended purpose. Design thinking forces us to look back at the employee, and create something geared to the needs of the “user” rather than the company.

Organizational Structure

The structure of a business can play a large part in the employee’s experience. A major shift is taking place even among established companies from a hierarchical approach to a flatter organizational structure. A major reason for this is creating a more agile structure to address constantly changing patterns in tech and how is business is conducted.

Realigning an organization to improve communication and address changes at a faster rate will improve the company’s ability to be proactive and react when necessary to morphing trends. A flat organization also improves employee experience by removing layers of a process and empowering the employee to form creative solutions that receive more direct and clear feedback. The experience is enhanced, and employees feel more able to achieve creating a more motivating work environment.

To be fair, design thinking will not address all issues that human resources or a company will face. Not every employee will be satisfied in their new roles. However, adapting a more employee centric approach to running a business helps to identify a more proper fit for new hires.

What To Do In Montenegro During May

Montenegro in May

May has been called the best time to travel to Montenegro. The tourist season is not in full swing at this time. The weather has warmed, and late spring rains have all but cleared completely out of the country. The air is fresh still slightly cooled in the evenings and early mornings. The days are full of sunshine making the sea good for a swim on a warm, sun-filled day.

I tell most of my friends and family to come visit Montenegro during May for the above reasons. I also tell them to be ready to visit the lesser known areas. Of course, the Bay of Kotor is majestic especially from the top of St. John’s Fortress. The coastline is dotted with old towns that capture the imagination of a bygone time. However, most of the magic and majesty lies in the lesser known areas. My recommendation is to visit these and catch the usual spots as time allows.

Explore Lake Skadar

Skadar Lake-Montenegro

 

Lake Skadar takes the name from a northern Albanian town, however, the majority of the lake lies in Montenegrin territory. It is the largest lake in the Balkans with a diverse ecological system. The lake is becoming one of the most popular areas for exploring Montenegro. Historically, the area around the lake has contributed significantly to the culture of the country feeding its wine and cheese industries.

Lake Skadar has so much to offer the traveler the tone could easily spend a holiday there. And if you do, I would recommend my friends at Undiscovered Montenegro and their villa that rests above the town of Virpazar. Traveling around the lake visiting the village of Rijeka Crnojevica among other villages that play sanctuary to the local birds and animal life is a treat. They also provide some of the best photo opportunities in the country.

Relax on a Farm

Lipovo-Kolasin- Montenegro

 

An up and coming part of the tourism industry and important aspect for rural development is agro-toursim. Montenegro offers a vast amount of rural area and farmland to get out of the city/towns to relax. The beauty of Montenegro is the size which makes it easy to enjoy a farm stay in the North while having access to the regular tourist attractions and towns.

Visit my friends at Meanderbug to explore the possibilities of staying in the countryside of Montenegro. They can help you plan and book the perfect spot that will fit your needs and wants the most. Step outside the norm and unplug for a few days in the villages of Montenegro.

Drive Mountains to coast

It is said that one can spend the day in the mountains hiking and enjoying the rugged nature of Montenegro then head to the sea for a late lunch or dinner on a similarly rugged coastline. I would agree, and do so from firsthand experience. Such an experience allows one to take in this small Adriatic country from a different perspective. The smaller roads that wind North and South; East to West across the countryside expose some of the best scenes from the country that would never be experienced without such exploration. For a taste of what a drive across the country offers watch the video below.

Rest on the Sea

Kotor-Montenegro

While I recommend visiting Kotor, Budva, and Porto (especially if you want a little luxury), my suggestion would be to visit these towns, explore their history, and enjoy. However, stay outside of them. Look for the smaller villages along the coast which offer accommodations. Or if you are a digital nomad visit my friends at Playworking. Mix work and play at Montenegro’s first coliving space on the coast for a retreat while not completely neglecting your work.

Whether you decide to bring your work along or leave it at home, take a few days to rest along the coast of Montenegro. If doing so, consider coming to Spark.me for a bit of inspiration for your work while you recharge. The Spark.me conference is hosted just outside of Budva, Montenegro the beautiful resort of Mediteran.

I would recommend the boutique hotel experience of Casa del Mare along the coast. To escape even more outside of the towns, you can check out some of the offerings from my friends at Meanderbug, here.

Hike among the villages

Peaks of the Balkans

For the more adventurous traveler consider exploring the “wild beauty” of Montenegro by taking a tour through the mountains from village to village. A lot of work has been done to restore old paths and trails that once extended across the country. Now guided tours are offered to help navigate the terrain. One highly recommended tour is the Peak of the Balkans which actually goes into Kosovo and Albania. You can find more information here.

Wherever you decide to spend your holiday in Montenegro, May is the perfect time to explore the country. Being a smaller country, a variety of experiences are possible. From the mountains to the sea, Montenegro offers adventure, rest, a slower pace, and whatever else you can dream up. Visit Montenegro in May.

 

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How To Realign Your Focus For The New Year

realign your focus; new years; goals

It is the year’s end, and we are facing the next. Ads and messaging bombard us to think about New Year’s goals and resolutions which, undoubtedly, will be abandoned by mid-February, and forgotten by April.

The challenge?

FOCUS.

Focus on goals and aspirations held deep within one’s heart and mind.

Reassess and refocus on the goals you had set, but did not achieve.

This is how the New Year should begin: with a realignment of focus for this coming year. Everyone becomes distracted, waivers off course, or completely derails from their original objectives (which can be good or bad). However, for those few things that are worthy enough of our time and effort, what is needed to see them take shape?

Here are 5 ways to realign your focus for the New Year.

Reflect honestly on the past year.

Every year is a fresh start for something new to happen or a restart to complete a journey previously started. Going into a a new year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect honestly and openly on the past year. Question yourself, and allow others to ask questions. This process of honest reflection opens the space to see if a goal went unmet because it was unrealistic or resulted from a lack of passion.

Reflection helps to know if we need to  realign our focus on the goal, or completely change possibly abandon the goal altogether. It reveals our passions and aspirations getting the new year started with proper focus.

Evaluate your purpose statement.

Simon Sinek spearheads the “Know Your Why” movement that has swept the business community. Read more from him here. The new year provides the perfect place to evaluate your purpose, your “Why” and how it is being lived out in daily life, especially work.

If and when the things we are doing do not lead to this purpose and passion, then we are forced with a decision. Do I leave this position? Do I quit this project? How can I refocus? Ultimately, how does my current profession, start-up, or project fit my purpose? Creating a purpose statement and evaluating it quarterly or annually creates focus heading into the new year.

Create goals and processes that lead to your purpose.

Goals and processes are the pathways to operating in your purpose and passions. Once getting a clear focus on what these are, set goals that will serve as clear benchmarks to show progress along the way. Goals challenge and push toward that vision and purpose statement for one’s life. Goals should be clear and concise to eliminate ambiguity and uncertainty. Here is good resource for several different perspectives and types of goals.

Pro tip: Share your goals with those you trust. It is easier to take steps with others supporting and helping to clarify your goals along the way. 

The other side of achieving your purpose statement is mapping the necessary processes. Create a strategic plan for hitting milestones. Carefully, consider not only the benchmarks, but the steps and challenges you will face. Identify new skills that need to be learned, and how you will acquire them. Once your processes have been set, stick to them for 3-4 months and evaluate. Are the processes moving you toward the goals and purpose laid out? Can they be improved?

Reassess your schedule.

Schedules are necessary. Some will cry reading this, but they are. They guide a day, week, month, or the year. A schedule sets the tone for productivity and creation. It provides structure that many of us need, even when we do not like to admit it.

They can also be a hazard to achieving goals. Poorly done schedules give the sense of busyness without considering direction. At the end of working day or week, it is easy to feel a lack off accomplishment despite the long hours. This is a result of a poor schedule.

Reassess your schedule. Make sure it guides toward your purpose and the individual goals set. Be flexible only when understanding personal processes for achieving your goals. Stick to it. Be unapologetic about it.

Reassess relationships.

The new year and a realigned focus also provides the perfect opportunity to reassess relationships. Those who surround us and serve as sounding boards for ideas, projects, and pursuits may not be the best to help achieve our passions and purpose. While it may not be necessary to completely cutoff relationships, it is good to evaluate where our time is spent. Do others help us achieve our goals or distract from them? Are they positive forces in our lives giving motivation and encouragement, or do they take energy and time?

Everyone needs to evaluate the people around them. Create circles where ideas can be challenged, informed, and progressed. Consider taking on a mentor to help you stay on track, or overcome challenges.

In a few days, we will kick off a new year. It is time for a fresh start. It is a time to adjust. It is a time to realign your focus for this year.

Let us know how we can  help. Drop us an email. Tell us about your purpose, passion, and ideas that you are working toward.

 

Coffice: Skopje Coworking Space

Walking down a busy Patizanski Obredi Blvd in downtown Skopje, I was a little lost looking for Coffice, Skopje’s only primary coworking space (that I know about). After planning a recent trip, I decided to so a quick search to see what the Skopje coworking scene was like for the city. I had found a couple more on the outside of the city and focused on business incubation and accelerating rather than coworking. After sending a quick Facebook message, I knew I needed to stop into Coffice.

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Coffice is located across the street from the Ramstore Mall (on the side with the Istanbul Cafe). Go across the street toward the back of the parking lot and find a whitish awning, and you have arrived. The space owner and manager, Dani, opened in June 0f 2015 creating an energizing and interactive space for freelancers and creatives. According to Dani the majority of those working there are freelancers receiving jobs from abroad, a current trend that is growing the freelancing market across the Balkans.

Entering into Coffice on the ground level, the space is created for relaxing and taking a break. The walls are white and decorated with unique, black art and games such as the “world’s most difficult Sudoku.” A couple of couches, lockers, and some basic end tables decorate the lower the space. Upstairs is where business is done. Again, the space is simply designed and layer out. Wood top tables, chairs, and bar top are all available for working. Internet speeds of 60mbps and coffee help keep the tenants working throughout the day.

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The one thing that really stood out is the interaction taking place. As I topped the stairs, I heard the sounds of keys being pressed along with the noises of people talking, laughing, and discussing their work. Coffice had an amazing energy for being a smaller coworking space. It resembled many larger spaces that I have visited with its vitality.

Coffice is a pioneer space for the city. Dani admits that this can be a difficult process, and she is in a wait and see what happens stage. Skopje coworking is relatively new and developing for the betterment of the local economy and freelancing industry, Hopefully, as Coffice grows and others take shape, coworking will impact Skopje as it has countless other cities across the world.

 

Being A Nowist: Takeaways From Dr. Max Mckeown

Nowist; Matt Lambert, Spark.me

“Strategy is about shaping the future.” One of the opening lines of Dr. MAx Mckeown and opening lines for the whole of Spark.Me. Also, one of the more profound points to understand when starting, progressing, or innovating anything. Mckeown is a strategist and “nowist”. He is a believer in forward movement, and the only way to accomplishing such is by remaining optimistic in the present using circumstances to move toward your future goals.

Innovation Defined

“Innovation is new ideas made useful.” In a day when the word “innovation is thrown around loosely, it is good to have a structured, practical approach. Innovation is not merely having an idea. Many people have ideas and do nothing. Many stop at “desire insight” where the possibility is seen. However, it remains in pile of  untouched potential never coming to fruition. True innovation will see new ideas take shape in useful ways that change how life is lived.

Experience does not equal learning

Common myth in the innovation story is that experience automatically brings learning and progression. However, this is false. Experience only brings learning. Those undergoing the experience must be engaged and draw conclusions for learning to happen. Learning cannot be assumed to happen, but must be actively pursued throughout the process. Engagement in the now brings progress toward future goals.

The future is powered by human desire ===> curiosity

Curiosity and questioning the norm is what moves the human experience forward. People begin to ask questions, challenge the status quo, dream, etc.  Curiosity into the world around us should push toward learning much like a child. In doing so, we begin to find solutions to daily challenges, or improvements to daily habits and routines. The human desire to be curious brings what we envision in the future to the now.

Avoid living on bloody awful island

A critical point of Mckeown’s presentation came when he described the different states of people as they approach the present. We can live on an island where everything is “bloody awful,” and nothing can change because present circumstances will not allow them. Some exist in a space where things are slightly better. All is not lost, but still cannot see the way forward. However, those who see the potential, and use the now to their advantage are the ones who will find success. Avoid the “bloody, awful” island.

Be a #Nowist

A “nowist” leverages the moments of today to reach the goals of the future. There is clear direction that cannot be derailed by challenges that popup along life’s journey. They keep moving forward taking advantage of unplanned opportunities. A nowise minimizes regret by doing so.

The question becomes, “Am I acting and living as a “nowist” or thinking too much about the challenges being faced?” Are we truly innovating by making our new ideas useful, or saying, “if only….” What ideas do you have, and how can they be made useful? 

 

 

 

Visiting Montenegro around Spark.Me

Montenegro; travel; spark.me; matt lambert

At the end of the month, May 28-29, one of the region’s best business and innovation conference will kick off! Spark.me brings energy and excitement within an inspirational context and environment. Spark.me pushes attendees to dream big going after goals and objectives once thought out of reach. While Spark.me offers the inspiration for entrepreneurs and startups to get moving, the organizers bring presenters who will help existing businesses pivot into a different era. A rugged coastline set among the mountains serves as the backdrop for the conference offering another level of intrigue making it a mistake not to attend the conference and explore while visiting Montenegro. Here are some suggestions on what to experience while processing the immense amount of content from Spark.me.

The Basics:

Cetinje and Lovćen

Lovcen, Montenegro

Only 20 minutes away, Cetinje was once the royal capital of Montenegro, and today, is considered to be the cultural capital. The small city/town offers a view of the art, culture, and history of the country through its streets, museums, and churches. This inspirational perspective climaxes in Lovćen National Park just outside of the town. A drive up a curvy, narrow road will take you to Mt. Lovćen, the resting place of Njegoš, the national hero credited with unifying the clans of Montenegro. His mausoleum provides the perfect view overlooking the mountains while contemplating the ideas gleaned from Spark.me. Even plan your next team meeting here.

Kotor and the Old Road from Lovćen

Kotor, Montenegro

If deciding to visit, Cetinje and Lovćen, consider taking the Old Road from Lovćen down to Kotor for the views. The road is full turns and twists so be careful if carsickness is a problem. Kotor is a UNESCO heritage that has been featured for its old town surrounded by magnificent walls, hilltop fortress, and iconic setting tucked within the Bay of Kotor. A day spent in Kotor is definitely worth the time along with a scenic drive around the bay exploring the towns of Risan and Perast.

Durmitor

Montenegro Experience, Diskors Projekt

Durmitor is a must for those venturing through Montenegro. While attending Spark, the mountainous North is a perfect choice for a getaway, and time of reflection. It has been deemed the most beautiful mountain range of Montenegro. Along with the mountains, the glacial Black Lake rests in the top of the range surrounded by a black pine forest.

Off the Beaten Path:

Lake Skadar

Skadar Lake Montenegro

Lake Skadar is one of the most restful places in Montenegro. After enjoying the beaches, move inland to explore this wild wonder. The lake lies between Montenegro and Albania, and is the Balkans largest lake. Mostly undisturbed, the lake has been fortunate to avoid developments that would compromise its beauty. Check out Undiscovered Montenegro or Boat Milica for the perfect day on the lake.

Stari Bar and Ulcinj

Stari Bar

The old town of Bar lies slightly inland overlooking today’s Bar. Old Bar lies at the foot of Mount Rumija, and is a throwback to former time of coastal Montenegro. About a 30 minute drive from Bar, Ulcinj provides another take of older settlements of Montenegro. The old fortified town of Ulcinj stands tall on the Adriatic waters, and claims to a be an inspiration for a portion of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Sandy inlets dot the coastline around Ulcinj. The town also claims the largest sand beach in Montenegro, Velika Plaža. Traveling down the coast after Spark from Budva to Stari Bar and Ulcinj is a pleasant way to end a Montenegro vacation.

Mountains of the North

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For the traveler looking to get off the coast for something lesser know, look to the mountains of the North. Besides Durmitor, Bjelasica and Prokletije offer adventure and relaxation away from the normal vacation spots. I recommend checking out Meanderbug for offerings and suggestions for your travels around the North. Spark.me challenges the attendees to dream big and there are few better places to do this than venturing through these rugged landscapes. Little towns such as Kolašin, Mojkavac, and Bijelo Polje circle around Bjelasica providing a variety of hiking and bike paths. Prokletije provides an even lesser explored mountain with more intrigue as it has been named the Cursed Mountains. The North of Montenegro will not disappoint anyone looking to experience the culture and adventure Montenegro has to offer.

While visiting Montenegro before or after Spark.me look for places that inspire. Visit the basics, but do not shy away from going off the beaten path. Use the spirit of the Spark.me to guide your travel and help you prepare or process all that is offered through the speakers, networking opportunities, and seeing the work of others.

Moving Abroad: First Steps For Success

Moving Abroad; Matt Lambert; Success

The thought of moving abroad has always been a part of my dreams. Living life in what was the “normal” context was not appealing. The feeling was so strong that even when I was dating, I would ask their feelings to adventure through life outside of the U.S. However, living abroad does not come without challenges, and a mental struggle that will force many people back to the U.S. (or their country of origin). The expat life is not for the weak heart.

As I reflect on 4 years of living abroad, and doing business in a foreign country, here are some suggestions that I wish someone had given me.

Make connections before arrival.

This was the single most important advice that no one ever gave me. As you settle on where you will move and the business that you will conduct, begin making connections with others working the same or similar fields. Local groups exist which will be a valuable support network, and offer a way for one to begin automatically giving back to their host culture. Too many times, this gets overlooked, or people think they will grow their network upon arrival. However, this can be a slow process depending on the culture. Research and find out who the influencers and more interactive people in the community where you will move, and reach out to meet as soon as you arrive. Making connections before arrival will speed up trust building a relationship prior to setting foot in a country.

Social media is your friend.

 

Before leaving the U.S., I was warned of the “dangers” of being too active on social media when trying to adjust to a new life and culture. It would cause me to be too homesick, worsen culture shock, etc. For me, this was not the case. Social media can be and should be your friend for building your network, meeting new people outside of your normal context, and keeping up with current events that are not available because of language barriers. A majority of the people I meet come via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I have been able to meet government officials because of one tweet. Relationships for me have started long before meeting someone for the first coffee or business meeting because of the interaction through social channels. Active and genuine engagement are important for social media and the personality that is put out there, but this is a later post.

Begin learning the language before departure.

Another valuable insight that did not get mentioned. Learning the language is important, and usually gets emphasized upon arriving in a new country. However, one can start prior to arrival. For most, hearing the language is a struggle. Before leaving for your new home, take time each day to listen to music, radio, or stories in the host culture’s language. This will begin tuning the ear to the new sounds. Most linguists say it can take up to 6 months of just listening before one truly hears the unique sounds. This is an easy task to complete each day while driving, working, cooking, etc. that will pay off in the long run. Also, learning simple phrases and introductory conversations is easily accessible online. There is no reason to wait. Start the learning process before departure.

Learn new skills. Adopt new hobbies.

I am an advocate for life long learning. Many people will pigeonhole themselves based on their degree or background. Never stop learning. Moving abroad is the perfect context to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill that has been sitting in the back of the mind. We are never truly defined by our past, and should look to move forward in our careers and activities. The internet makes acquiring new skills such as coding, marketing, along with other the skills highly accessible. Again, social media, will open opportunities to learn about local clubs and hobbies that peak our interest. For me, it was cycling, blogging, and photography. These have been two things that have introduced me to new people, and given me another creative outlet. Do not be afraid to try something new and stretch yourself.

Humility goes a long way.

a lesson continually learned: humility. Sometimes approaching a new culture can bring a sense of pride as if the one entering has something to teach their host. The opposite is actually more accurate. The one entering has much to learn from their host. Enter the new culture with humility willing to ask those you meet for help. A space of humility creates trust and builds friendships faster and stronger than acting in the reverse. Maybe this one was told to me, but I was not humble enough to receive it. 😉

These are some suggestions for moving abroad. Some things can be done to help the transition process. Those mentioned have been what has impacted me the most. If you live abroad, where do you live? And What lessons have you learned?

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3 Lessons of Leadership

3 lessons; leadership; Matt Lambert

While doing a bit of reflecting, I began thinking on the different areas of leadership that I have held. And how fulfilling these roles brought responsibility for the success of myself, my family, co-workers, a organization, or maybe a group of friends. In most cases, all or some of these were bound together. Here are three lessons/principles that I feel summarize not only my experience, but some of the greatest successes and failures of leaders that I have admired, or at least gleaned understanding.

Diskors Projekt - BE

BE

At the moment, I am a bit consumed with this little, yet significant word. In any case, a leader must “BE.” A leader must BE himself. A leader must BE present in the situation, organization, crisis, etc. A leader must simply “BE.”

Too many times, leaders can become sidetracked by their position or title and fail at any of the above examples or countless others. Many times, I have witnessed leaders who fail at the first because they do not know who they are. Therefore they fail at being themselves which is usually why the position of leader was acquired. The reality remains that if a leader fails at being who they have been made to be, it is only a matter of time before other stressors are evident: unrealistic expectations, taking on tasks that are not a good fit, poor vision, etc. All of which can be curbed to a great degree when a leader knows their own person, and chooses to BE that person.

BUILD

Leaders must be able to build around themselves. This means understanding personal weaknesses, and building a team that will meet those weaknesses. This also requires a leader to be secure enough to admit faults and recognize that others excel in these areas. Too many times, leaders try to cover their failures and weaknesses at the fear of being “exposed” as a fraud. A true leader will understand these faults and recognize them as strengths within others looking to build the best possible team.

Not only does a leader build a team, but they also build an environment in which the team functions. The trustworthy leader facilitates and orchestrates the environment in which the team will flourish. This is not unchecked freedom, but accountability balanced with room for errors which can bring growth. Significant growth if the right environment has been built. LEaders bear this weight. It is tough, but that is why they are leaders.

Diskors Projekt

EMPOWER

Leaders empower those around them. Plain and simple. If someone is not exercising empowerment, they are more of a manager or authoritarian rather than a leader. Leaders set people free to excel and create in ways and areas in which the leader may not be able to do. This is tied into the security of the one leading. In my experiences, those who are most insecure are the ones most controlling and authoritarian. The adverse has been true as well. Those who I have found to be most inspiring as leaders were the ones empowering me to be who I was made to be, and even helping me get there.

A leader who encourages their team member(s) to grow can be empowering. The leader who says, “Yes. Now let me help you get there,” is truly empowering and moving not only the individual forward, but the team is moving forward. It is not enough to “inspire” people to do what we want them to do. This can easily become manipulation. But leaders must inspire and empower people to become what they are passionate about and driven toward.

A leader who can be, build, and empower is a leader worth following. He is also a leader who is usually willing to follow when it is necessary.

What lessons or principles on leadership could you share?

Boat Milica: A family story of resilience on Skadar Lake

Boat Milica; Skadar Lake; Matt Lambert

On a cooler than normal day last spring with a bit of overcast and wind, my family along with a visiting friend decided to do something that we had not done in the two years of living in Montenegro, take a boat tour around Skadar Lake National Park. After asking our friends from Undiscovered Montenegro, Ben and Emma, they recommended Boat Milica. Within a few hours, we were off for our 3 hour tour around the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula.

Skadar

We arrived in Virpazar about 30 minutes outside of Podgorica to begin the tour around the lake which included seeing the local wildlife and monasteries. It is easy to tell from the pictures that the tour itself was amazing. The vibrant greens signaling the newness of the season created the perfect backdrops for the old, stone monasteries being restored. As we went around, our guide, Ksenija, was exceptional at pointing out the intricacies of the lake, its history, and wildlife. After a quick dip in the lake by our friend, we returned from our tour with a new appreciation for Montenegro’s wild beauty which happens to be only a short drive from us.

While the tour was memorable and the service provided is highly recommended, it is the story of the Boat Milica which really draws me in, and causes an even greater appreciation for their business. The family Dabanovic is from Virpazar knowing the lake intimately. During the economic downturn around 2011, the Jelena guided her family to do something different to survive. They started Boat Milica.

captain Skadar Lake

As a family, they divided responsibilities and took to creating their business building it slowly. The daughters learned new languages to specifically help with foreign tourists, they built their wooden boat in the shop of an old master in Podgorica, and Andrija began guiding tours. Andrija grew up on the lake and is familiar with al the ins and outs. The stories, legends, history, and diversity all get proper treatment during the tour. And Jelena became the only woman in Virpazar to own and operate a boat tour showing off Skadar Lake

The family worked together and have been successful together. Even in the face of some struggles, they have proven resilient and creative to help one another and their town by attracting tourists to this natural resource hidden in the interior of Montenegro.

The Dabanovic story is one of resilience in the face of difficulty. It is exemplary of what it takes to be resourceful and succeed. The family found support among themselves continually encouraging each other to do better and achieve their goals.