My Heart Still Beats – Original Poem

I lost my best friend today
I stare at her lifeless body lying on the cold ceramic floor

She spoke of angels taking her by the hand and taking her to this place we always dreamed about
Patience paid off for those angels
They came in with a gust of wind and left shivers to those that still feel the pain of life

My heart still beats
A little slower; a little harder

When we were eleven we made a promise under a tree to always be there and protect one another from the evil demons hiding in the clouds

Under that tree we kissed and made a promise
That promise is under a pile of dirt in a box with the words written “Best Friends Forever” on a small piece of paper
Legal and binding under the witnessing eyes of the red cardinals flying just above

We danced around the tree, hand in hand never to let go

It was a love stronger than any force strengthened by the innocence of a childhood promise

She dreamed
She dreamed
Too much

The punches came in, over and over
Even when she was down, they kicked with so much force and might
She got up, looked them in the eyes and danced

She danced in the rain, in the face of a tornado and in the midst of lightning

Today her feet stopped and gravity won dropping her to her finally earthly moment

My heart still beats

We used to ask what was the secret of life
Each year, we added a little more to our theory

We hugged a little closer
Each hug made it clearer

I don’t want to see the look in her mother’s eyes or the tears dripping down her father’s aged face
They invested the life lesson

We just took a long time to get there.

We woke up one day and the answer was love

It was in the dance, the kiss, the hugs and the promise

I’m too tired to cry now
I will. I will cry with all the love I have

Tragic Comedy – Original Poem

It’s a mental mind fuck
Gay or straight
Black or white
Depression or happiness

A blurry line clouds my judgement between acceptance and insanity
Growing up on the street corners filled with the angst of breaking curfew

It was a time of simplicity
A time of righteousness, when there was no definition
Friends shared a 40 and an empty dream
We were fine with that

Corruption was a game we played with spray paint and spirit

What is going on in this melting pot of ignorance?
We hate one another just to be accepted by a mass of faceless names

Guns may kill, but words wound

I found love inked on a slip of paper tucked inside a fortune cookie
I added a hash tag and make a statement

Now it flies in the wind for the next cause
A symbol of a world we want; a world we are afraid to act upon

We pray to heal, but no one is bleeding
Coy in our mourning disguising the pain in wine and beer

What is this game of deception we play on the board game of life?
It is a foolish attempt to care

Where are you Lord?
What are you waiting for Jesus?

You taught us to love and we still kill

Punish us
Embrace us

Or just address us with the ultimate gesture; a word from the mouth of a jester acting as a king as we all play in this tragic comedy

In Darkness – Tribute to the Charleston Shooting Victims

There is a darkness where there was once light
A church steeple now silenced of its familiar chimes

A congregation mourning; a city in tears

Grey clouds fill the sky torturing the sun and prohibiting its spotlight over the Holy City

Gathered in prayer; stricken of faith
In a moment, a celebration of life became a resting place tainted in the blood of hatred

Begging in weakness for answers

A higher power watching as his children sing
Echos of hymns muted; screams then deafness

Wandering the streets, citizen cry and wonder
Questions running aimlessly through our empty hearts

A day has past
Once again, the sun rose over the harbor glistening the morning calm
Floral fragrance ordains

Crowds gather in solidarity
Reminded of the power of community; the foundation of love
A family, not defined by color, hand in hand solidifies a bond from every church and temple to the edge of the ocean

A sanctuary of hope built on the resistance of fear

From the tip of that majestic Cooper River Bridge to the footsteps of children running on the beaches of Folly, there is a strength greater than bullets within the arms of acceptance

Charleston will once again rejoice and sing

For peace; for hope; for family

Darkness reigns now

Soon a thousand candles will light this city and the once again rise

My Morning Stroll Through San Francisco

Some cities are so rich in diversity, culture, history and architectural beauty, that every corner is a new adventure.  San Francisco, with its rolling hills is a city that can leave you breathless, in more ways than one.

A few facts you should know before we start our journey together:

  • If you ever feel there is a shortage of skinny jeans anywhere in the United States, that is because they are all in San Francisco.  Even dogs wear them.
  • Everything is a hashtag.  Signs, billboards, instructions, menu items… My thought is, if every word and phrase are hash tagged, doesn’t that just make it a dictionary.

Ok, on with the show.  This is a photography journey of my one open morning in San Francisco.  Enjoy the stroll.  I certainly did.

This was the view from my hotel room.  Great start to the day right on Nob Hill.

It wouldn’t be San Francisco without the famous trolley cars.

The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most recognizable sites in the world.

With all the hustle and bustle of workers getting off the ferry, you almost miss the beautiful view of the Port of San Francisco sign.

The seagulls are divas!!!

The churches lend a traditional historic appeal to this modern city.

They are majestic and massive.

It wouldn’t be San Francisco without a trip to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  It has gotten a little mainstream over the years, but still has that fresh seafood smell even early in the morning.

Some familiar names at the Wharf.

Boats are at peace.  Not for long.

Known for its arts and music scene, this was a nice site to see.

No escapees today from Alcatraz.

In Chinatown I found 2 pints of blackberries for a $1.00.  Holy crap.  And so yummy.

What a view from high above.

Love the decor.

A final look from my hotel window.

There you have it, my morning in San Francisco.  A perfect day, with a slight breeze, cultural awareness all around and murder on the shins.

Thank you San Francisco for bringing some urban beauty my way.

What makes you great?

By Mark A. Leon

On my flight back from San Francisco, Still Alice was on the screen two rows ahead of me. I did not have headphones, so I could not hear the dialogue, but my knowledge of the film and the unspoken interpretations of the scenes spoke volumes. Alice’s greatness was in her courage and her fight to hold onto her identify. In one poignant moment, Alice, played by Julianne Moore in an Oscar winning performance, was trying delicately to remember how to tie a shoe and had 35MM flashbacks of her childhood.

So often we know what is right in front of us, but we fail to let our emotions generate and guide the right action or response. At Hirepalooza, I made a new professional connection. As the event wrapped up, we started discussing career choices and what defines a memorable candidate.

I asked her, “what makes you great?”

She said she loves to make a difference. I said no.

Then she told me she loves helping others be better leaders. I said no once again.

She laughed and said, “You tell me the right answer.”

I explained there is no right answer and only she could tell me what truly makes her great. It is the emotional passion that drives you and gives you that fire that makes you want to continuously be a better person.

Her responses continued and I still shot them down. Then something happened. Her voice raised volume, tone and pace. Like the Grinch instantaneously growing a larger heart, she burst out a flaming response. She finally told me her true self.

Her friend turned to her and said, “That was it. I have never seen you so focused and passionate about an answer. That is what you need to say in an interview.”

The heart of a great workforce is great people; ones that are an extension of the culture, products and the value system of the organization. In the hustle and fast paced world of technology, client needs, deadlines and life balance pressures, we often have to make compromise. For many, that compromise is personal passion. Why? I’m not going to get into that discussion today because it isn’t about why it lacks, but how to find it once again, use it and hold on to it.

The separation point between a good candidate and a great one or a good worker and great one is a very fine line.

If you can make that separation point, I will take the odds that what truly gives you meaning will be that catalyst.

Every one of you knows what makes you heart pump the desire to live. Let it be a part of who you are as a professional as well.

How do you communicate passion over practicality in the workplace?

By Mark A. Leon

I grew up with an overwhelming amount of imagination. I was the youngest of four and for the most part my parents loved me, but didn’t feel like going through the motions of involving me. From a very young age, I have been on my own to discover the world. This most likely has contributed to my nomadic and creative persona.

For the last decade, I have been motivated by a world of possibility. Not quite in the Houdini manner, but I look at organizations and I see potential outside the walls of accepted practice.

A number of years ago, General Electric (GE) coined the term “boundaryless”. That term has stuck with me throughout my career.

In 2008, the idea of a corporate community page on Facebook was taboo. In 2009, creating LinkedIn groups focused on building a skill specific talent community was silly at best. In 2010, a career experience blog highlighting individual success stories and telling the cultural story one person at a time was shunned upon. “What is the value added?”, “How is this going to help us hire people?” – These were the questions posed by the senior leadership or the naysayers.

In 1998, we had a challenge: How do we support our growth in Engineering and Product Development as a result of a major decade funded government contract? The solution: Let’s show them what we got. The idea was formatted for an on-site career fair and expo.

Here was the pitch:

  1. We reach out to the professional sports teams, museums, theaters and radio stations asking for donations and participation.
  2. We do a picture collage of the last 80 years and focusing on the number of generational families that have worked here.
  3. We show off our state of the art 3D simulation studio.
  4. We have hiring managers on-site to answer questions and do same day interviews.
  5. We offer an inside look at the future of military design and development with plant tours.Impossible they said. You won’t get buy in from all the departments. We can’t interview people right off the street. This will be overwhelmingly expensive.At about $600 per attendee and 21 confirmed hires, this was a raging success. The answer was simple; we brought passion, culture and a very intimate personal touch to the candidate experience. If you drove by our facility, we looked like an old manufacturing plant gated in with no clue what was going on inside. Invite them in and they will come. They sure did. Almost 300 attendees on a Saturday morning.

    In the last 15 years, I have updated my resume once and have not seen the light of day of a job board. I am approached and on occasion I listen.

    The career choices I have made have been because of a few common trends.

    1. The recruiter provided me with an incredible candidate experience. Quick follow up, education on the role, deep interest in my background and love of their company.
    2. The hiring managers challenged me. They weren’t looking for a body with some technical or soft skills to fill a role. They were looking for individuals to partner and contribute to the growth and innovation of their teams.
    3. A set of values that were demonstrated in the words and actions of the team.

    I am very good at what I do and I know I have limitations. I work extremely well as an individual contributor, but thrive with a team that shares expertise and values support.

    We all have good and bad days, but the minute it becomes a regiment of mental clock in and clock out the passion dies and the wall come tumbling down.

    Do we need process? Absolutely
    Do we need checks and balances / QA? You bet
    Do we need mandatory training? Hmmmm I suppose
    Do we need structured hierarchy? No always.

    What companies truly need is a human capital element that thinks and acts with emotion. The ability to care about your team, clients, supervisors, subordinates and cross functional groups is a gift. That gift will reverberate and send positive shivers down the spines of all you are in contact with.

    Start each day with positive electricity and energize those around you.

From the Eyes of Another – Original Poem

From the eyes of another
I can see the world from high above this clear blue sky

From the eyes of another
I find peace in the cherubic laughter of your fortress of curiosity

We welcomed you into this world with a beam of light and the purity of a soft snowfall

Blue clarity
A world undefined
Without harm, without prejudice, without bias

From the eyes of another, I remember the reason for being
Existence with meaning

Someday you will carry the torch of the love I give you
Keeping the flame burning so that your children will feel the electricity of humanity rich in the fruits of nectar

With wings you will fly
Soaring above the people and places that taught you to survive
In flight, witnessing the grandeur of giving; the peak of generosity you will release your wisdom for the millions waiting for direction

From the eyes of another, I remember once again why we live and continue the pursuit of a great unknown
Remind me with your blue-eyed glare and the soft connection of those tiny fingers

Welcome to your world