Tag Archives: personal growth

What am I good at? Survey says… part 2

ImFeelingInspiredAt last, I’ve finally had some time to continue examining the data collected during this merely quasi-scientific study of What I’m Good At, aka “Manifesting – The Musical!”. I’ll bet the handful of you who have been reading here probably forgot about this, it’s been so long. Well – on with the show!

Response Rates

89 people were polled, 37% by email and 63% on a private internet forum. A combined total of 25 people responded. 56% of the email population responded, as opposed to 44% of the forum population. The forum is female only; hence there are no male responses by the forum polling method. 38% of the females polled via email responded, as compared to 20% via forum.

Population Polled, by Polling Method and Gender

Figure 1: Population Polled, by Polling Method and Gender

Whereas email responses were made between me and the respondent, people from the private forum posted their responses in full view of the other members of the tribe. This may account for the higher response rate amongst the email population; it may have felt “safer” to opine only to me than it would have to opine in the presence of a wider audience.

Population responded, by Polling Method and Gender

Figure 2: Population Responded, by Polling Method and Gender

Approximately 87% of those polled were female; 13% were male. Despite the disproportion between males and females polled, it should be noted that fully half of the males polled responded, as opposed to only 24% of the females. Two of the male respondents are Siblings, two are Friends From High School, one is a Tech Geek and one is a Sanibel Fan. The distribution may suggest that I tend to engage in high-quality interactions or friendships with males who are similar to the ones with whom I was raised in in my birth tribe.

Normalization of Responses

Responses were made in free-form prose which had to be broken down and normalized across respondents in order to take measurements. Often, it was not enough to identify keywords as presented in the prose, because the same word used in different phrases by different respondents could translate into different concepts. Each respondent’s contribution was examined and broken down into the separate concepts that were being expressed. There were 124 concepts identified, which were then mapped to 55 keywords.

A few examples of this challenging task include:

  • The phrases “straight talk”, “telling it like it is”, “no bullshit” and similar phrases were all distilled down to single keyword, “Forthright”, because they clearly all described the same concept
  • The phrase “cutting through the bullshit and whittling down the issue to its essential core” became two keywords – “Analytical” and “Insightful”. Although this phrase shares the word “bullshit” with “no bullshit” in the previous example, it clearly implies something besides “forthright”. There are two concepts expressed in the phrase. One is “cutting and whittling” and the other is “essential core”. The former implies the tearing away of layers while the latter implies that there was some foreknowledge that the removal of these layers would yield something, even though that “something” might not be defined until the “cutting and whittling” had been completed.
  • Words and phrases like “entertaining”, “making an event special”, “making people feel cared-for”, “a good friend”, “you listen and make me laugh”, “good at bar crawling” were initially lumped under the single, somewhat whimsical keyphrase called “pixie dust”. However, there came the realization that again, separate concepts were being expressed, and the distinction was important. Therefore, this category was separated into “Fun” (“bar crawling”, “make me laugh”, “entertaining”) and “Nurturing” (“special”, “cared-for”, “good friend”, “you listen”).
  • Despite roughly 30 years of near-radio silence between us, a single participant ended up contributing a detailed and frighteningly accurate response that yielded 18 separate keywords. In fact, this individual is responsible for contributing, either directly or via normalization, 9 of the Top 10 most common keywords in the survey. This means half of his keyword responses are represented in 90% of the Top 10. And he had the nerve to accuse *me* of possessing “a highly effective vocabulary”. Pot, kettle, black! 😉

Top 10 Keywords

As a result of normalization, 126 instances of 55 keywords emerged. Many of these 55 keywords repeated only once or twice. To focus the analysis, the Top 10 most frequently occurring keywords were identified (Figure 3).

Top 10 Most Frequently Occurring Keywords

Figure 3: Top 10 Most Frequently Occurring Keywords

The number of occurrences of the Top 10 keywords represents about half the total occurrences of all keywords that resulted from normalizing the survey responses.

Figure 4: Top 10 Keywords, Percentage of Total Occurrences

Figure 4: Top 10 Keywords, Percentage of Total Occurrences

Occurrences of the Top 10 Keywords were most often found in the responses of the Sistas and the Friends Back Home.

Figure 5: Distribution of Occurrences of Top 10 Keywords Among The Tribes

Figure 5: Distribution of Occurrences of Top 10 Keywords Among The Tribes

It may be surprising that a tribe with whom interaction takes place almost exclusively online should be so well represented in the Top 10 Keywords. However, it should be noted that the Sistas tribe is primarily focused on the discussion and resolution of life problems and issues. Discussion topics are often deeply personal, which produces interactions that are generally more intense than those taking place in other tribes. The nature of the interactions in the Sistas tribe may account for the high volume of occurrences of Top 10 Keywords that the Sistas tribe produced.


Those of you who aren’t asleep by now Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. will be happy to know that there is only one more part to this series. Next time, in Part 3, we will take a look at what everyone said I should be when I grow up. Ciao for now! 🙂

What am I good at? Survey says… part 1

ImFeelingInspiredYeah, so, probably wasn’t the best time to start a new blog! Job has been chowin’ down on my life with a fair amount of regularity and consistency. At last, I’ve managed to carve out some time to work on Manifesting… The Musical! 😉 I still like that title, but it’s more whimsical and self-indulgent than descriptive. Therefore, we’re going with What am I good at? Survey says… for this series. I’ve polled the tribes and they have spoken. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Am I Good At?

A (merely quasi-) scientific exploration into my mad talentz and skillz


The purpose of this exercise was to find out what skills and talents I possess according to people who know me from all walks of life. The exercise is modeled after one that appears in the ebook, “The Principles of Successful Manifesting” by Thomas Herold, founder and CEO of Dream Manifesto LLC.

Population Selection

Over the years, my key interests have driven me to seek out communities of the like-minded, in both real life and online. These communities – or tribes – were targeted for population selection. Individuals with whom I’ve had frequent and/or high-quality interactions have had ample opportunity to observe my behavior and form opinions as to my particular talents and skills – What I Do Well. “Frequent” does not necessarily mean “recent”. My key interests tend to morph as the years pass. “High-quality” is harder to define. It pertains to the level of exposure to one another via shared experiences, whether they are shared virtually or in real life (IRL). The more we share, the more we know about one another. Therefore, the better the respondents knew me, the more accurate – and therefore, useful – their responses would be.


The population received a message, either in an email or else posted to the private forum, which said this:

Hola, friends –

I’m working on something – myself!

I’d like to ask y’all for the favor of your opinions. I am asking people from all different walks of my life, people that know me well and people that know me not so well. If I get the same general responses from people who know me in different ways, then that means they’re all on to something. I realize that a few of you know me only from the internet, but what you have observed over the years is in fact behavior, so I believe it’s valid to ask cyber friends as well as RL friends to respond to these questions.

Here are the questions – feel free to answer some, all or none, as the mood strikes you!

– What do you think I’m good at?
– What do you think my talents are?
– What do you think I should do with my life?

The first thing that comes into your head is probably the best answer.

Thank you in advance for your time


Responses were received on the same platform as the request was delivered (email or on the forum). Responses were analyzed and normalized for measurement, and the resulting data was plugged into a spreadsheet along with some demographics.


Data collected and analyzed includes the following:

• Polling method (email, forum)
• Gender
• Venue
• Tribe
• Common Interest
• What I Do Well
• Career Suggestions

Venues, Tribes and Key Interests

The three venues or contexts within which the tribes I belong to generally meet to interact are –

• Real Life
• Internet
• I-2-RL

Behavior (interaction, relating) is not limited to “real life” in this, the 21st century. Internet life can be active, rich and rewarding. However, interaction on the internet requires different methods than interaction in real life. The chief difference is the mode of communication. In real life, the primary mode of communication is verbal; whether face to face or on the phone, it usually involves vocal cords and ears. Verbal communication can also be accompanied by vocal inflections, facial expressions and other bodily cues that convey context and nuance. Alternatively, internet communication has been primarily via text – the written word. Recently, audio and video communications have been introduced, but the prevalent mode is still text. Lack of vocal inflection, facial expression and body language can often lead to misunderstandings on the internet. Therefore, successful internet communication requires an additional level of attention to the selection and interpretation of language in the written form that is not generally required in IRL.

In addition to Real Life and Internet, there is a third venue, a hybrid of Real Life and Internet. It has become more and more common for people who initially meet and interact via the internet to arrange to meet in real life. In the cases of my Sanibel and Disney tribes, the initial meeting usually occurs at the travel destination that is part of the common interest, often for large “meets” but just as often for smaller groups who happen to be vacationing at the same time. Sometimes, these meets result in cases where Internet relationships take hold and cross over into Real Life. For the purposes of this survey, this venue will be identified as “I-2-RL” (internet-to-real-life). One-time or infrequent interaction offline is not considered for inclusion in this group.

A tribe is the community and context within which I have had the most interaction with the respondents. Tribes are more than just collections of people; they are also the socio-ethnographic backdrop against which the respondent has observed my behavior. In some cases, a respondent and I belong to more than one tribe together. To simplify the analysis, I selected the tribe within which the most frequent and/or highest quality interaction has occurred.

The tribes selected for the study are:

Disney Fans – lovers of all things Disney. Primary focus is on animated films and and visiting Disney’s theme parks. Interaction began 5-7 years ago
Friends Back Home – these individuals are primarily friends from high school or from the performing community on Long Island. Interaction began 10-30 years ago.
Sanibel Fans – these are people who have belonged to a few forums online devoted to visiting Sanibel Island and collecting seashells. Interaction began 5-7 years ago.
Siblings – this is my birth tribe. In this survey, a “sibling” is a respondent who is either one of my brothers, or married to one of my brothers. Interaction began 20-45 years ago.
Sistas – these are women who are members of a private, all-female support forum. All of them are also members of the Disney Fans tribe; however, greatest quantity of high-quality interaction has occurred in the Sistas forum. Interaction began 5-7 years ago.
Tech Geeks – my oldest online tribe, this group of individuals started together in a technical support forum for distributed computing in the early to mid 90s. It is also the smallest tribe I belong to, consisting of three Englishmen, a dude from Pennsylvania and me. Interaction began about 15 years ago.

Key Interests
Disney – shared primarily with Disney Fans and Sistas tribes; secondary interest with Siblings tribe.
Family – primary interest shared with Siblings tribe.
Geekery – primary interest shared with Tech Geeks; however, technology has become a very mainstream interest and therefore is a secondary interest shared with virtually all other tribes.
High School – primary interest shared with the majority of the Friends Back Home tribe. “High School” really means “we were once all young together”. It should be noted that not all of the tribe still lives “back home” but once a member of the tribe, forever a member of the tribe  😉
Long Island – catch all for friends who are on Long Island and therefore “back home” but with whom I never performed and with whom I did not attend high school. Typically, I met these people when I was already an adult but not within the context of work or music/performing.
Performing – the third leg of the “Friends Back Home” stool, performing is an interest shared with people I know from studying vocal music technique/repertoire and participating in musical theater and opera productions in New York.
Shelling – the collection of sea shells, primarily from Sanibel Island. The Sanibel Fans tribe often self-identifies as “militant shellers”. “Militant” shelling involves the study of optimum conditions for shelling and the use of tools and other gear to facilitate the hunt and capture of specimens. For some, the interest also extends to cleaning, polishing, displaying or crafting with the collected specimens. This interest is shared almost exclusively with members of the Sanibel Fans tribe.

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So… fun stuff thus far, huh?   Wait till we get to the part about normalization of responses – woohoo!   Until next time….

Manifesting – The Musical

No not really, but wouldn’t it be cool if there WAS a musical called Manifesting? I, of course, would be the star 😉

I’m reading this e-book about manifesting. I downloaded it a while ago and then forgot about it. Was cleaning out my Thunderbird email so I could move it to the new computer (a neat little netbook) and there it was, attached to the original email that delivered it to me.

Printed it out today – 65 pages. Don’t worry about my carbon footprint – I duplexed! 😀 Anyhow, there are exercises. One was for my friends. I posted it for some of mah sistas to answer and I emailed it out to about a bazillion people. I will naturally share the results, but I won’t share names unless I have permission to do so.

There’s a whole list of questions to answer that are designed to make me do a deep dive into who I really am, authentically speaking. One of these questions, I’ve covered before; my Sanibuddies (fellow Sanibel Island lovers) will recognize this from long ago –

What does a perfect day look like for you?


There are no attendants at the toll plaza, and the gates are stuck in the up position, so I don’t have to pay to make the perilous crossing over to Sanibel Island. Likewise, the parking meters at the beaches have mysteriously vanished, and everywhere I go that day, there’s an open parking space close to the water with perpetual, all-day shade. The water in my water bottle never gets warm or runs out, and if I have even a fleeting thought of it, it will miraculously change into a mango margarita, then back to water again, if I desire. If I decide that I’m hungry, someone from Hexter’s Deli appears before my eyes with a rare roast beef and provolone on whole wheat, mayo, lettuce, tomato, salt & pepper, and a sweet Nestea, ice cold.

My perfect day has a full moon visible at all hours, and a very low tide all day long! A few white, puffy clouds wander by in the blue, blue sky. It’s about 80 degrees, all the no-seeums are dead, the Nanny* is unheard of, and there are heaps and mountains of really good gastropods on the beach and in the shallows. AND, I have finally found the most awesomely perfect pair of shelling shoes. They fit like a dream, don’t give me blisters, don’t fill up with sand, and dry off on my feet immediately when I want them to.

Sanibel Island SeashellsThe only people I see on the beaches are Sanibuddies, cheerfully waving their claws and nets as I pass by. They are all carrying mesh bags full of booty, so everyone is happy, happy, happy! Wandering along the shore, a 10 inch long, fat red tulip washes up at my feet, followed by some colorful cousins. Then, a fleet of 2″ – 5″ long mac n cheese appears, and then a perfectly pink monster horse conch. My shell net on a stick barely touches the water, and it’s full of fabulous finds, including some very bright and shiny olives with their pointy little heads still intact. None of these shells needs a rinse or a bleach bath – they are all perfectly, spotlessly clean, inside and out.

The most awesome wildlife appears before me everywhere I turn – dolphins, blue, blue herons, bald eagles – and I get the perfect photos of them, as they patiently pose and wait for me to focus.

After I’m done at the beach, I head off to get a 90 minute, four-handed massage at the day spa. Then I go watch the sunset, which is remarkable because that perpetual full moon, huge and low in the sky, is right beside it.

On the way home, I stop at 7-11 and purchase the winning lottery ticket – $50MM, after taxes. When I get to my house, I send an “I quit” email to my boss and fire up the blender for a celebration.

PS – throughout this entire perfect day, I am 5 shades tanner with no ill effects on my skin, and 10 pounds thinner!

* “the Nanny” is a phrase I coined to describe the red algae bloom that sometimes plagues the beaches of Southwest Florida. See this trip report from July 2003 for further details.


I wrote all that on Wednesday November 8th 2006 – someone asked the question and I remember typing with great speed and no edits and posting it just the way you see it here. That was apparently the right way to do it, for the book says to answer “spontaneously” for the best answers. Reading it now, what strikes me as remarkable is that I was apparently already “manifesting”, but didn’t know to call it that, much less to do it deliberately.

There will be more as I try to get through all these questions. What I’m hoping to get out of all this is figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’m really tired of fearing the reaper in Corporate America and doing boring, meaningless work that feels like a chore. I want to find work that pays the bills and brings me joy. Quite demanding, aren’t I? 😀

to be continued…

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?

– Emily Webb, Our Town

And how can we, when we are born knowing absolutely nothing? I think it’s one of the cruelest things about life – that we are born not knowing jack shit, and we have to make a bunch of serious mistakes before we learn and grow and start getting in right. I’m not really sure how we are supposed to appreciate what we have when we’re so young and inexperienced we’ve got nothing to which we can compare it.

I had to go through cancer to understand how precious a working body is. I had to go through years with the wrong man to understand how fragile relationships are, and how irrevocable heartbreak can be. You can learn things by the example of others, certainly, but there really is no substitute for experience. I look at my young nieces and I wonder what trials they are destined to endure in order to reach the place where they realize at least part of life, while they are living it. They have no idea. How could they?

Still, I refuse to believe that the essence of youth is “wasted” only on the young. Most of the time, I feel like I’m around 12. Most of the time, my inner adult gladly steps aside and yields to the fun, fun, fun of unencumbered singlehood. I think I’m making up for lost time. I think I’m doing all the things that were forbidden or at least frowned upon when I was young and controlled and repressed – and I didn’t know jack. Jack and I, we’re more than just acquaintances these days, and we both like to have fun. Jack definitely realizes life – every, every minute. Jack is my hero. 🙂