Saturday, July 7, 2018

My Flight History

I read a few travel blogs, primarily The Points Guy and the network at Boarding Area, and yesterday on the former I found myself directed to explore Open Flights, a free (though there are paid options) website where one can log all flights taken and then analyze the component data. The website also gives you a map of all the flight paths overlaid.

See my current map here.

As of this writing I am 20% of the way to the moon! And before the end of the year I have five more segments already scheduled and two more planned but not yet booked.

I must say, for a minor #AvGeek such as myself, it was quite the distraction during my lunch break yesterday!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Creating the Greatest Impact

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 73rd National Conference of the League of American Orchestras, hosted by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I attended as a delegate of both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Overture Council and the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. It was my first time attending the League's National Conference, and it was an excellent experience.

Between Wednesday and Friday, I attended the opening session, closing session, four breakout sessions, and one special tour of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Milennium Park with the original acoustical engineer.

The theme for this year's conference was Creating the Greatest Impact, and the keynote addresses in full and the breakout sessions as well explored how the orchestra field, and by extrapolation much of the nonprofit arts sector in general, can be a positive presence in today's world.

The stage and lectern just before the opening session

The opening session featured a keynote address by Vijay Gupta, violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and founder of Street Symphony, also in Los Angeles. Gupta is a TED Senior Fellow, Senior Citizen Artist Fellow with the Kennedy Center, and self-described advocate for artistic voices in social issues. A few quotations from his address:
Why did we become musicians? "To connect with the world around us. To ask questions. And to tell stories."
"As artists and art leaders we must reclaim the conversation about why we became artists in the first place."
"This is our time to ask the usually inefficient and always uncomfortable questions."
"Our nation looks to us to make meaning for ourselves and the world around us. When we engage in this joyful work we assume our natural seat at the table as leaders of a vibrant national discourse."
"We only have one best practice. To show up. We have to show up."
"How radically do we welcome the communities on the margins into the center of the artistic process?"
"Sometimes all we can do is sit down and be humble."
"Our greatest impact is in how we listen. Our job is to listen louder than we sing, play, or speak."

Between the opening and closing I attended the following engaging breakout sessions:

Messages that Matter, a case study of what the Eugene (Oregon) Symphony did to listen to what their community wanted in their arts institutions and fold that into their offerings. A quotation: "Let's reframe the business model from 'presenting art' to 'making memories.'"

Building Your Next Gen Donor Pipeline, a look at how Millennials want to engage in philanthropy. Some quotations:
"They care more about results than they care about institutions."
"I think we're creating barriers that don't necessarily exist."
"We have to talk about the connections we make and the value we add."
"Your loyalty to them is more important than their loyalty to you."
"Listen more, talk less."
"Impact happens once, value is constant."

Beyond the Org Chart: Everyone Leads, defining leadership as "behavior that brings people together to move things forward" and discussing empathy in organizational settings.

The Post-Tax Reform Philanthropic Landscape, which rather than being the damage control session I think most of the 75 people in the room thought it would be, actually was an insightful look at some of the potential opportunities for philanthropic activity. The key, not surprisingly, was to "double down on donor relationships" and "tell your impact story."

And the closing session featured cellist (though of course he does so much more) Yo-Yo Ma, recipient of the League's Gold Baton for "distinguished service to America's orchestras." Some quotations from his address, "Why Culture Matters":
"Listen to what's around you.""Make sure every decision considers the other perspective.""Culture engages both our analytic and empathetic faculties, allowing us to make better decisions."

It was a most enriching and stimulating week and I am grateful to both Wheaton College and the CSO for supporting my attendance. And a lot of what I learned was relevant not only for my work with those to institutions but also for my work with Calvary Memorial Church. It was also really enjoyable to have the opportunity on breaks to meet and interact with delegates (as attendees at this conference are called) from orchestras and supporting organizations across the country, from Florida and Louisiana and Massachusetts and Minnesota and Oregon and more. I have only just started processing what I absorbed over the three days and am looking forward to sharing it with colleagues over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Administrative Professionals Day

Today is Administrative Professionals Day in the United States, a day to honor and recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support personnel.

I am blessed to have SIX administrative professionals as colleagues across my two jobs.

At Calvary Memorial Church, we have Cindy our office coordinator, Janet our administrative assistant, and Soo Ai our executive assistant.

At the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, we have Susan and Janice our office coordinators and Michelle our administrative assistant.

All six have been in their roles since before I assumed my current role with each organization, and I find their experience and institutional knowledge extremely valuable.

Make sure you thank the administrative professionals in your own workplace today!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Hobby-Based Look Back

My biography indicates that in my spare time I enjoy attending concerts, cooking, reading, and traveling, so to recap 2017, I will summarize my accomplishments in those areas.


The irony is that managing concerts, as I do, sometimes makes it difficult to attend them. Nonetheless, I was in the audience for several concerts in the last year and a few in particular I really enjoyed.

In April I heard Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 Reformation, appropriate given this Reformation 500 anniversary year, as well as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with Yafim Bronfman.

In December I heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under Nikolaj Znaider, perform Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. On both occasions I was hearing these symphonies performed live by a professional orchestra for the first time, and on neither occasion did they disappoint!

Over the summer I attended a couple performances at the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park, including, in August, one featuring the Mariachi Cobre, which may have been only the second time in my life I had heard live mariachi music, at least in concert.


Naomi and I are regular Purple Carrot users, and a few of the recipes we have gone on to reuse, particularly the delicious (and simple) red bean burger. We have been introduced to new ingredients and new twists on familiar meals. One of my long time favorite recipes, which I first learned when Naomi and I were dating in college, is a zucchini and kidney bean chili. I am also now very partial to the use of dates as a sweetener, though that is more for baking than cooking; my skills are very much still in the cooking realm.


I read eleven books from start to finish this year and read bits of some others, but I really do want to increase that total in future years. Three in particular are:

  • John Bateson's Building Hope: Leadership in the Non-Profit World, anecdotes and experience-based advice on many facets of the non-profit institution
  • Andy Crouch's Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, a compelling analysis of the ways power is often abused and how it could and can be used for so much good instead
  • Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie's The Piestist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity, an encouraging look at the principles of pietism and how they can inform most other traditions


In addition to my home state of Illinois, I found myself spending time in Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont this year. (I also changed planes in California but I am of the school of thought that that does not count.)

My visits to Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont were my first times in each of those states. The Hawaii trip was Naomi's and my honeymoon in January to the island of Kauai, and it was very much the perfect time of year to go and an all-around enjoyable trip. I chronicled the Vermont trip in detail previously on this blog.

What's Next?

I already have tickets for two CSO concerts in 2018, we are due for our next Purple Carrot later in January, I have two books waiting for me on my desk to read, one of which I am sure I will take on our January trip to Florida, and after that who knows to where else I will take books for the plane ride - New Orleans and Canada are on our list!

I hope 2017 had many satisfying moments of those things you enjoy doing in your spare time, and that 2018 will have no less!