A Letter to Shonda Rhimes

shondra rhimes

Let me describe me as a child. I had big Harry Potter-looking glasses (before there was Harry Potter) with the lenses sticking out past and around my eyes due to the sexy added bonus of my astigmatism. I had frizzy hair that I didn’t know (or want to know) how to maintain. I would stop at the water fountain at school every chance I could to try and defuse the loose ringlets jarring out of all sides of my face. They weren’t fluff, they were frizz. And they could take you along with them.

My solace from the complexities of dealing with “the awkward stage” was reading. I would read books while our class walked in line to recess. I would read books while in recess. I would read books in the cafeteria at lunch. I was isolated and alone, but I didn’t feel alone.

When I wasn’t reading fiction, I was writing it. I would write about who I envisioned myself to be when I was “older.” How I hoped I would be. I would create who I wanted my friends to be. This is where you really spoke to me Shonda – “I named them and wrote every detail about them. I gave them stories and homes and families. I wrote about their parties and their dates and their friendships and their lives and they were so very real to me that – I built it in my mind as a place to hold my stories. A safe place. A space for my characters to exist. A space for ME to exist. Until I could get the hell out of being a teenager and could run out into the world and be myself.”

Looking back, I’m almost alarmed at how nerdy and awkward I was. But I didn’t feel nerdy and awkward at the time. I felt awesome. A type of awesome that my peers just weren’t ready to understand yet. But I would lie. A lot. If I did make friends, I would lose them because I had devised some manipulative, truly uncanny lie that I got them all to believe. Not because I didn’t want to be honest, but so that I could pretend to be someone else. So I could see what other people would do in the situations I had put them in. The human race was, and still is, a mystery I yearn to figure out.

(Disclaimer: I am no longer a young and crazy pathological liar. In fact, lying now gives me anxiety)

Television was another escape of mine. To learn about someone else, to feel for someone else. This holds true back then and still to this day – I’d much rather feel sorry for someone else than myself. It was my escape. Analyzing another person’s life was way more interesting to me than figuring out my own.

My biggest, guiltiest, most addicting escape was Grey’s Anatomy. I could feel their pain and I could relate to their words. And I aspired to one day become Christina Yang,

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up The Year of Yes. I knew it would be entertaining. How could it not, written from the mastermind behind TGIT. I had no idea, though, how much I would relate to you, Shonda. How the stories of your past reminded me of my own stories. It’s almost like connecting to Grey’s Anatomy on a deeper level. Because what writing, and storytelling, mean to me is similar to what it means to you. Your connection with writing brought me Grey’s Anatomy. And it brought me Christina Yang.

I’m not a movie person as much as I’m a TV person. The reason for this goes back to my desire to understand the human psyche – my interest in character development. For connection with a character and curiously watching how their life progresses. No matter how much I wrote as a child, and even now, I could’ve never created someone I’d want to aspire to be more than you did with Christina Yang.

Because of all these things, I spent much of my younger years aspiring to be a television writer. In college, I would scribble down funny quotes my friends would say that would one day be used for one of my successful sitcoms. For reasons not to be explained here, I decided I would keep writing as a hobby, and an outlet, rather than my primary source of income. I don’t regret that, but reading your book made me very reminiscent and gave me reminder, and motivation, to keep finding time to write.

There’s no real reason for this letter, if you’re still reading and you’re looking for one. Ultimately, I wanted to say Thank You, Shonda. For reminding me of who I use to be, how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. But no matter what, I’ll keep “laying track” with the encouragement of knowing that it worked, oh did it work, for someone who deserved to get where she is.

You can learn more about Year of Yes in my book review.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

 

About

This book tells the story of Dan Millman, a young man in his junior year at the University of California who is training to become a world-champion gymnast. Late one night, something provokes Dan to end up at a local gas station managed by a 94-year-old man who refers to himself as Socrates. Socrates becomes Dan’s mentor and takes him on a journey to becoming a warrior – but not the one Dan’s been training to be in the gym.

giana pacinelli

The Pro:

  • If you are like me and feel that you need to be reading business books but want to be reading non-fiction – then this is the book for you. Now, this isn’t your typical business book. It is probably referred to as a spiritual book but I’m going to refer to it as a book that you should read to better prepare for living life.
  • The book is more specifically called Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives. And that is does. I would read this book on my lunch break and no matter what I was dealing with mentally or emotionally the wise words of Socrates always managed to put me at ease. It is a book that I will read again and it is a book that will give people clarity in their life, both personally and professionally, and the decisions they make. It is thought provoking and somewhat life changing, which shines light to the reason it was made into a movie (which I have yet to see).

 

The Con:

  • The book starts off rather slow. If you haven’t read a super helpful blog post (cough cough) that told you this book was worth it, you might lose interest quickly. Don’t lose interest. Once you have an understanding of where the story is headed, you will soon think about the book throughout the day and be eager to get back to reading it. This book is a lot like some TV shows, it takes awhile for the character development to progress enough that you are hooked.

 

Important Takeaways

“The warrior acts and the fool only reacts.”

“You can control your efforts, not outcomes.”

“Anger is a powerful tool to transform old habits and replace them with new ones.”

“I saw that I had never learned how to enjoy life, only how to achieve. All my life I had been busy seeking happiness, not finding it.”

“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

 

Rating

I gave this book a solid and easy A rating. Like I said, this book was almost an escape for me from a hectic and crazy workday. I wish I had my own Socrates to follow me around and remind me that the bad things that I think are happening to me are actually only happening because I let them. I’ve never read a spiritual book and have never intended to, but the way this book made me feel has opened up that possibility to find more like it. This book can be best referred to as mediation for those who can’t mediate.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

About

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook was published at the end of 2013 by New York Times Bestselling Author and social media connoisseur Gary Vaynerchuk. The book’s reason for existence is to teach readers how to deliver appropriate “jabs” – the one conversation, the one engagement that slowly but authentically builds relationships between brands and customers. These jabs occur on various social media platforms so that when it comes time for the brand to deliver the right hook – the sell – customers are more willing and ready to listen.

giana pacinelliThe Pro:

  • The book is separated by each individual social media medium. Within each chapter, or social media channel, Vaynerchuk gives a brief history of the channel (how many users, target audience, types of content, ways to advertise, etc.) and then dives into examples of different posts from prominent brands on those channels. He critiques them on what worked and didn’t worked. Being a visual learner, it was extremely helpful to be able to take Vaynerchuk’s tutorial on the social media platform and utilize what I learned by critiquing brand’s posts and seeing if I understood why the post was good or bad. The way the book is broken up also makes it extremely easy to read. You don’t feel like you’re reading “social media 101” but more of an intermediate class that skips the boring verbage and goes right into the meat and potatoes.

The Con:

  • This con is of no fault to Gary Vaynerchuk and his literature, but just of the times. It took me almost a year to read this book from the time it was published and by that time a decent 25-30% of the content was already outdated. For example, information on LinkedIn, Google+ and Snapchat is cut down to about half a page because Vaynerchuk considered this an “on the rise” platform while, only a year later, they have already reached somewhat of “Celebrity Status.” This does not mean the book isn’t worth your time. However, when you finish the book you might feel like you’ve only become well-versed on half of the popular social media channels of the time. The pro to this is that you will feel pretty smart when you notice these outdated facts.

Important takeaways:

I’m not going to go into specific tips per social media platform, that is what the book is for. Some high level concepts that really made me go hmmmm.. are below and will hopefully peak your interest as well.

         “Remember when you were a kid, and you’d go to your mom and ask her to take you out for an ice-cream cone, or to the video arcade? 9 out of 10 times she said no. But then, every now and then, out of the blue, she would say yes. Why? In the days or weeks prior, something about how you interacted with  your mother before the unexpected outing to the ice-cream shop or arcade  made your mom feel like she wanted to do something for you. You made her happy, or maybe even proud, by giving her something she valued, whether it was doing extra chores or good grades or just one day of peace with your sibling. You gave so much that when you finally asked; she was emotionally  primed to say yes.”

            “You’re going to wear a different outfit and use different vocabulary when you’re sitting down for tea with your grandmother in her home than when you’re living it up with friends in a night club. “ (in reference to acting differently on different social media platforms)

            “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to  read. Make it for your customer or your audience, not for yourself.”

Rating

I give this book a solid B ranking. I learned a lot and will definitely be able to apply some of the strategies and tips highlighted. However, I feel like it took me an unnaturally long time to finish. Facebook is the first chapter and it is at least double the size of any other chapter of the book which I feel to be a little unwarranted. By the time you finish it you’re emotionally drained and may have lost your will to move forward. From my perspective, although Facebook has been around the longest, I definitely don’t see it to be the most important social media platform out there to warrant the space of almost half the book. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to fight through it. There are essential takeaways awaiting you.

Disclaimer: You should have some type of knowledge on these social media platforms before reading this book. This really isn’t “Social Media for Dummies.” If you have never been incredibly active on social media channels for business purposes it will be pretty difficult for some of the concepts to really resonate.