Top 7 California Attractions

The post ‘Top 7 California Attractions’ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Earlier this year I had the fantastic opportunity to live in San Jose, California, for six months. This temporary move was definitely out of my comfort zone – my entire family and most of my friends live on the East Coast, and it would mean leaving the comfort and familiarity of Northeastern.

But I decided to go for it. Not only did I get the chance to work at VMware, a huge name in the technology industry, but I also got the chance to see what I thought of living in California. My time in California was insightful. While I do not think the California vibe is right for me, I met some incredible people and had the chance to travel up and down the coast. Below are some of the places in California I enjoyed most, and hope others get the chance to experience as well (listed from north to south!)

Napa Valley

One of the more exciting parts of living in California was that I was able to celebrate my birthday while there. And not just any birthday, but rather my 21st. I was especially fortunate because my parents flew out to visit me for my birthday weekend and they took me to Napa Valley to celebrate me being able to finally drink.

While I’m not much of a drinker compared to some of my friends, when I do I tend to enjoy wine. But even now I don’t really know a ton about wine, other than the basic color differences. Having a day to try a variety of wines was not only fun but also gave me the chance to start exploring what I liked best. While I’m sure lots of visitors to Napa come for the famous wines and vineyard and know their wines, I can attest that even a novice would enjoy the chance to try so many new wines.

I also enjoyed the variety at Napa. During the day my parents and I went to three different wineries. While I don’t remember all of the names, each provided a completely different experience. The first place we visited focused on the process of making wine and included a tour of their underground storage, as well as a very small wine tasting in a cave-like room. It was interesting seeing thousands of wine bottles being stored until they were matured enough, as well as seeing the giant casks underground.

The next winery we went to was unique because it was a rather large castle. The winery had their vineyards, but to make it more interesting they had built an entire castle and gave a fake history tour of the castle as though it had been standing for hundreds of years. This even included a tour of their “long standing” medieval torture chamber. Beyond the fun (and slightly corny) tour, the wine tasting was enjoyable because you were able to sample any five wines from their list of fifteen wines. This was especially great for my parents and me, as we each chose a different five and were able to try each and rank our favorites.

The final place we went to was a more popular brand, Sterling. I enjoyed this tour because it included a gondola ride to the main entrance, and while the day we visited it was rainy, I can only imagine the beautiful view of the Napa Valley you can see on a clear day. While there was a free self-guided tour around the winery that included learning how the machinery worked, my parents and I also had a wine and cheese tasting. This was different from the other tours as we were served restaurant-style and taught how each different cheese brought out the taste of the wine and how it was selected.

Each tour was completely different which made the day even more fun. I loved it as someone pretty new to the wine scene, and could only imagine people with more experience loving a trip to Napa.

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Muir Woods

Since my first day in California, one of the things I was most excited to see was the California Redwoods. While I’m not usually the type of person to get excited over seeing a new type of tree, the California Redwoods are some of the largest in the world and something I didn’t want to miss. Unfortunately the Redwood National and State Parks was about a six-hour drive from my apartment.

Thankfully, there was another option: Muir Woods, only about an hour from San Jose. And even better, while there is an option to pay for admittance to the park, if you are willing to commit to a slightly longer hike entrance is completely free.

My hike in Muir Woods was fun in part because for the first half I didn’t see nearly as many Redwoods as I was expecting. The route my friends and I took had us walking around the main part of Muir Woods for the hike up, and then coming down through the woods.

While initially I was getting frustrated because I thought I had made a mistake and I might have committed to a hike slightly beyond my physical abilities, once we began our descent down through the forest I was blown away by the magnificence of the redwoods.

Muir Woods is beautiful and feels almost magical. There is something special about taking a break from the day to day city life to get back into nature. But this was more than that. It was almost overwhelming how large these trees are. Without a doubt, there are trees over fifty times my height. And while writing that down doesn’t seem so tall, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small.

The trees are also incredibly old. The nature I was walking around had been standing for over one thousand years, with one tree on display having been ‘born’ in 909 A.D. That’s over a thousand years old. To think that I was surrounded by living things that had been around for that long and will continue to live on for many years beyond me was an interesting feel and one that made me question my own significance in the world.

Even if hiking isn’t your thing, missing out on the California Redwoods is a mistake. While it might not be the smartest to commit to a hike out of your league like I did, definitely take some time to walk around these natural wonders and truly find yourself surrounded by nature.

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Sausalito

One of the cutest towns I visited while in California was just past the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito. This town is beautiful, absolutely picturesque, featuring a fantastic view of the city of San Francisco.

The first time I visited was with my parents when they came to see me. Sausalito holds importance to them, as it is where my dad proposed to my mom. It was cute seeing the town as I was able to hear the story of their engagement again, and also get to see the restaurant they had dinner at and the exact spot where my dad got down on one knee.

Even beyond the family significance, Sausalito is a fun place to visit. It has a small town feeling while still being remarkably close to such a major city. When visiting it feels as though you are able to take a breath of fresh air and slowly work your way throughout the afternoon.

I absolutely love perusing art galleries, something I discovered during my time in Portland, and Sausalito is the perfect place for this, with a dozen or more art galleries right next to one another. Combine this with some great restaurants, beautiful houseboats to marvel at, and a fabulous San Francisco skyline and you have yourself the perfect day.

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San Francisco

The main attraction I had the ability to experience while in California was the incredible city of San Francisco. Only about an hour’s drive from where I was living, San Francisco was everything I could have hoped for in a city. There were outstanding museums, fantastic food, and even better ballets to see. I had the chance to see some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever witnessed, tour famous landmarks, and find my niche in different neighborhoods.

I loved getting to know the city of San Francisco. While it never felt quite like home to me, I am forever grateful that I had the chance to explore such a famous city in the world over the course of six months. For more about my favorite San Francisco attractions, check out my blog post on my Top 9 San Francisco Attractions.

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Big Sur

Big Sur and I have a complicated relationship. As I discovered when I visited Vancouver, I love getting in a car, playing the radio a bit too loud, and driving up or down a highway where I can pull off every few feet to see absolutely breathtaking sites on the side of the road.

So Big Sur would be one of my favorite things to drive along in California, right?

Too bad I visited California the year it rained enough to end the drought. While I had been able to drive down some of the ways with my roommates in late January and have an absolutely amazing time, I wanted to see more. But thanks to mudslides, for the six months I was in California the majority of Big Sur was closed off.

Without hesitation, I would go back to California to drive down Route One. I still want to see McWay Falls, the Bixby Bridge, and Pfieffer Beach, some of the sites I was most excited for in California but that I, unfortunately, was unable to visit.

However, what I was able to see, albeit not much, was amazing. Absolutely stunning. The California coast is a beautiful sight to behold. When my roommates and I pulled off the road to get out and walk around, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of what I saw. There are beaches to stop at, cliffs with gigantic crashing waves to climb, and some of the most beautiful views to take in.

Another benefit of driving Big Sur is that you are also likely to pass either Monterrey or Carmel-by-the-Sea. While both are fun to explore with their own unique attractions, I loved Carmel. I took a trip with my roommates to Carmel to relax and explore the beach, and it was perfection. Much like Sausalito, there were tons of art galleries and restaurants, but Carmel had the added benefit of feeling like a beach town. It’s the perfect place to drive to in order to have a relaxing afternoon or even to just stop for some food as you make your way down the coast.

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Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is the quintessential California. When I grew up thinking about California I imagined a large beach with tons of people sunning themselves, maybe even throwing a frisbee or playing beach volleyball. The everyday California life in San Jose wasn’t this at all. But while I was only about an hour’s drive from Santa Cruz, so only took that long for me to see what I had only imagined.

Santa Cruz was a blast. The first time I visited I was with two friends and after utilizing street parking, we walked part of the boardwalk. We ended up deciding to hit the beach instead of walking the entire length or exploring the amusement park rides available, but if I were to return I would definitely check it out for longer.

One of my favorite spots in Santa Cruz County was Natural Bridges State Beach. It was less crowded than the main strip near the boardwalk, and it also featured a cool rock formation (a natural bridge) that you could swim up to. Getting the chance to swim into it was especially fun, in part because the interior was completely covered with shells and small sea life.

Another interesting fact about Natural Bridges State Beach (and Santa Cruz as a whole) is that it is an excellent place to see the monarch butterfly migrations. By the time I visited the season had passed, but if you are visiting between October and February it would definitely be worth checking out.

Really close to Santa Cruz, and technically still in Santa Cruz County, is the town of Capitola. One of the incredible women I worked with lives here and had invited my friends and me up to visit her for a day. She lives right on a creek and we were able to paddle board down to the beach, spending the entire day relaxing and exploring the town. The center of town was very cute, and for someone looking for something similar to the main drag of Santa Cruz but less crowded, this is definitely the place to check out.

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Los Angeles

A city I was very excited to visit during my six months was Los Angeles – and not because of any particular attraction, but because of one of my friends who lives there. I hadn’t seen my friend in person in probably four or five years, so getting the chance to stay the weekend in her home city was absolutely fantastic.

I had been to Los Angeles before and had the opportunity to see major attractions many years ago on a family vacation, so my time in Los Angeles was particularly fun because I didn’t feel any mad rush to see everything within the city. Rather, I had the opportunity to relax and see what someone who lived in the city for many years considered the highlights.

The first time I had visited Los Angeles it wasn’t for me. While at the age of thirteen I loved seeing all the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and pretending to be Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive, nothing stood out to me as particularly fantastic. I was glad to have visited but had no real desire to return.

This trip was different. While I saw some of the more famous Los Angeles attractions like the Griffith Observatory and the Broad (including Yayoi Kusama’s absolutely incredible Infinity Room, potentially my favorite museum exhibit ever) the visit was more focused on capturing the vibe of Los Angeles while doing more everyday things.

We brunched at a hip restaurant in Los Feliz named one of the top 100 brunch spots in the United States. We got tacos at the laid back Tito’s Tacos. We went on a dog hike. We saw the premiere of Wonder Woman. We walked Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We got our nails done. It was one of the first weekends where I had not only traveled somewhere but also felt relaxed. There was no rush to see everything, and because of that, the weekend was perfect.

Now I would love to get to go back to Los Angeles, and not only because I have a friend living there. I would love to explore some of the other neighborhoods around the city, as well as eat at some of the fantastic restaurants. I would love to check out more museums and maybe even spend a day on the beach. Los Angeles was a fun place to visit, and one I would love to explore even more.

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While I had the chance to visit some incredible places in California, there were also many I didn’t get to visit. If I were to have more weekends I would have wanted to visit Lake Tahoe, Oakland, Yosemite, Santa Barabara, and the Channel Islands, to name just a few places on a long list.

But while I am upset I missed these locations, I had the opportunity to visit some equally incredible places outside of California, such as Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle. My six months in California provided me with immense opportunities to travel, while also getting me excited to see what other places I could explore in the state I called home for six months.

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Top 9 San Francisco Attractions

The post ‘Top 9 San Francisco Attractions’ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

For the majority of my life, I have lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Roughly a half hour’s drive away, I have had the chance to visit the city whenever I wanted to. And although I’m not remotely comfortable enough with my skills as a driver to even consider driving (let alone parking) in a major city, I could have easily jumped on a bus or train to get in the city.

But I rarely, if ever, did.

I’m not sure if it was because I was always a bit more sheltered than most of my friends, or if it was because I never felt comfortable going places alone, or if it was just a classic case of me not appreciating what opportunities were available to me.

Whatever the reason may be, when I moved for six months to San Jose, about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, I promised myself I would not make the same mistake.

San Francisco promised me a new world. From my limited knowledge of the city (gained mostly from Full House and other television shows and movies), there was much to see and discover.

I just had to commit to finding it.

Over those six months, I think I did an adequate job discovering some of what makes San Francisco interesting. I didn’t visit nearly as much as I wanted to, and definitely missed out on some of the great parts of the city, but I made a dent. I carved out a niche in a city that, quite honestly, overwhelmed me at times. And while I never felt quite at home, I experienced incredible events and saw amazing places that will make San Francisco retain a fond place in my heart.

Although I saw many more sites and attended many more events than the ones listed below, these are some of the San Francisco attractions that stand out to me.

San Francisco Ballet

I love the ballet. In Boston, I have had the opportunity to see a handful of famous pieces, and am currently an ambassador of the ballet, hanging posters around Northeastern and sharing my experiences.

For whatever reason though, I didn’t think to check out the San Francisco Ballet.

In fact, it wasn’t until I was walking around my first weekend in San Francisco and saw a banner advertisement did I even think that yes, a major city and a cultural hub would definitely have a ballet program.

I’m still thankful I noticed the sign.

The San Francisco Ballet is absolutely incredible. Hands down my favorite thing to see in the entire city. During my six months, I saw three phenomenal shows: Frankenstein, Made for SF Ballet (a triage of performances), and Cinderella. Each blew me away, each in different ways. While prior to this year I would have said Swan Lake was my favorite show hands down, some of the ballets, especially Frankenstein, gives it a run for its money.

For anyone interested in ballet, or considering seeing their first show, in the Bay Area, check out the new season and try to see one of these incredible performances.

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de Young Museum

My favorite museum in San Francisco was the de Young Museum. Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is an art museum with an impressive collection and even cooler special exhibits.

The museum’s collection is so interesting in part because of the emphasis on American art. I tend to gravitate towards European paintings (many of which are exhibited at the Legion of Honor, which is included in the de Young Museum’s admission) and speed through other types of art. Part of this, however, tends to come from the fact that the museums tend to show off their Monets, Vermeers, and Van Goghs more so than other types of art.

But the de Young Museum stuns with its collection of American art. By having it the majority of the museum, it forces you to stop searching for the more familiar names and instead take a moment to truly appreciate a different type of art, something I found interesting.

The special exhibits at the de Young Museum are also stellar. During my time I saw the Summer of Love exhibit, focusing on art, fashion, and rock and roll of 1967. As someone interested in history, I found the way the way the museum highlighted social movements and activism through art fascinating. The exhibit was well designed and featured all different types of medium, from posters to original concert footage to clothing. The exhibit was definitely worth checking out and makes me think future exhibits will be just as interesting.

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Coit Tower

A month into my time in California, my parents flew out to see me for my birthday. We had a great time exploring the city, especially checking out some of the more touristy sites.

Out of everything we saw in the city, my favorite was Coit Tower. The tower, while only 210 feet tall itself, sits on a large hill in Pioneer Park, so while it might not be the tallest, you still get a great view of the city. And while I love an expansive view of a city, I like it more so when you aren’t so far up everything is hard to distinguish.

Although I had only been in San Francisco a few times before, I could make out famous places, some of which I had even visited. Not only was it fun seeing things I was familiar with, but it definitely helped me get a greater understanding of where everything was in relation to everything else. While a physical map is nice, seeing everything spread out below definitely made it easier to visualize.

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The Mission

One of the biggest mistakes I made was visiting the Mission during my second to last weekend. I absolutely loved this part of the city. While at times I felt as though I didn’t fit into the San Francisco culture, visiting the Mission made me wondering if I was just looking in the wrong places for somewhere to fit in.

The parts of the Mission I explored, mostly from Dolores to Mission Street from 24th to 16th, were everything I had hoped for in San Francisco. There were murals every four feet, art galleries and bookstores galore, and a ton of restaurants I wanted to try.

I wish I had not only gone earlier in my six months but that I also went earlier in the day so I could have dedicated an entire day to explore.

But even though I only had the end of a day there, I was able to find incredible things to do. One of my friends from work owns an art gallery with his wife, Wonderland SF, that also sells clothes I could only hope to be cool enough to pull off one day. Continuing down Valencia I ran into Dog Eared Books, one of the many bookstores I stopped in, with much more on the street I had skipped.

And the food! I had gotten dinner with some friends at Delfina, an Italian restaurant with some more unusual offerings. Options that also includes bread from Tartine Bakery, one of the more famous San Francisco bakeries.

Best of all? The Mission is pretty flat. When you aren’t as athletic as everyone else in the entire city seems to be, trust me, this alone is enough to make it a favorite part of town. Fewer hills ready to murder my calves is a gold star in my book any day of the week.

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Giants Game

The woman who made my time in California incredible, who made me feel like family when mine was thousands of miles away, has a son who is in Little League. Eleven years old, it seems as though baseball becomes his life for part of the year. Naturally, he was excited to be told he was going to be able to see a Giants vs. Padres game. But not nearly as excited as me when I was asked if I would like to join.

I enjoy baseball. While not my favorite sport to watch in person (that’s soccer), on television (that’s football), or to play (that’s volleyball), the best part of baseball to me is the feeling you get being at a game, surrounded by people just as excited as you.

The excitement of the game coupled with the fact you can half pay attention to chat with friends is so much fun. Especially when you are sitting next to two boys are convinced baseball was God’s gift to mankind, chatting excitedly about every play that happens.

AT&T Park is also beautiful. I was sitting behind home base (in the nosebleeds), and while at times it could have been hard to see, the spectacular view made up for it. Immediately behind the stadium is the San Francisco Bay, so if someone hits it out of the park, chances are it’s going right into the water.

And in a city where the weather is seemingly perfect all year long, when is it not the time for a ball game?

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Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is fun because it has everything you would ever want. One of my first day trips to San Francisco resulted in me spending a significant time hanging around the city’s largest park (which also happens to be larger than New York City’s Central Park).

And while I had fun walking around the park and throwing a frisbee with some new friends, I think Golden Gate Park is particularly interesting for all the things held within the park.

Golden Gate Park seems to have everything: gardens, museums, sports fields, lakes, even a bison paddock.

Seriously. Go check out the bison paddock. When’s the next time you’ll see bison outside of a zoo?

You could easily spend entire days in Golden Gate Park and still not see everything. While I was able to visit the de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Gardens, and the Dutch Windmill, I missed out on some other areas I wanted to explore, like the California Academy of Sciences and the Rose Gardens.

Most of all it’s just nice to get back to nature. I’m a city girl through and through, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a place you know you can go to sit back in the grass and take a deep breath away from the hustle of the city.

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Alcatraz

The San Francisco attraction I was most surprised to enjoy was Alcatraz. On paper, I couldn’t think of a reason I would enjoy it. Touring a prison? One that was notoriously chilly, regardless of how hot the city is? No thank you.

But the tour is something any history lover can appreciate.

Without a doubt, the prison’s audio guide is one of the better tours I have ever been on. Right from the start, you are thrown back in time. Multiple narrators tell you the story of Alcatraz, ensuring you get the perspective of both wardens and prisoners.

The tour moves you seamlessly around the prison, all without the necessity of a guide. You have the opportunity to not only check out the prisoners’ cells but see different aspects of their life. You explore the mess hall, the library, and even get the chance to go into a solitary confinement cell. And when you are instructed to go outside, you are able to see one of the best views of San Francisco.

I also learned an incredible amount from the tour. The history of the island before the prison was created, the crimes of some of the most famous prisoners, and how plans to escape were hatched are just a few of the highlights from the tour.

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Painted Ladies

One of the parts of San Francisco I love most is the architecture. Never before have I been to a city where each and every individual home seems to have so much personality.

While I love the brownstones in Boston, in San Francisco each house, while designed architecturally in a similar way, is bursting with character.  Although most are no taller than three floors and heavily feature windows, the colors are incredible.

Whether painted a muted blue with gray shutters or a hot pink with neon green shutters, each house stands proudly in its own way. And while a crazy colored home somewhere else in the world might garner an eyebrow raise, in San Francisco it is the norm, making each street as lively and loud as the next.

Right near Alamo Park is one of the most famous rows of homes known for their Victorian architecture, called the Painted Ladies. These homes are some of the most beautifully designed houses I have ever seen. Each is intricately painted with different colors accenting the detailed facade and are absolutely incredible. The attention to detail is striking and absolutely stunning.

While all of the San Francisco architecture made me long to live in the city, the Painted Ladies may even take the prize as my absolute dream home, right up there with the brownstones.

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The Bridges

And finally, one of my favorite parts of San Francisco is the bridges. More specifically, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is great in part because it is everything I have ever imagined when thinking about San Francisco. In fact, prior to my time in the city, I’m not sure what I would have pictured if not the bridge.

It is unsurprising why the bridge is so popular – bright red and connecting the city to some of the best parts of California, not to mention the number of vista points for an incredible picture.

And much like my California roommate mentioned in one of her recent blogs, one of the best things to do with a group of friends your first time in the city is getting in a car and driving over the bridge while blasting the ‘Full House’ theme song.

While I love the Golden Gate Bridge, I will say though that my favorite bridge by far is the highly underrated Bay Bridge.

Connecting the city to Oakland, this bridge is just as beautiful, but in a different way than the Golden Gate. While the Golden Gate is best seen during the day as it stands apart with its bright red color, the Bay Bridge is best seen at night.

In 2013 a lights show was added to the Bay Bridge, consisting of approximately 25,000 LED lights. Within a few years, the show was made permanent for people viewing the bridge, something I was grateful for.

And with each night the lights randomly making different patterns, you always get a new experience.

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Being so close to San Francisco and visiting with more frequency than most other cities I’ve visited will forever give it a special place in my heart. While I wish I had more time to go in and explore more thoroughly, I have no doubt that I will be back, if only to visit some of the incredible people I met in the Bay Area.

Business Book Club: Are You Fully Charged?

The post ‘Business Book Club: Are You Fully Charged?’ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

What’s most important for your work and life? This is the question Tom Rath helps readers answer in his newest book, ‘Are You Fully Charged?’ Broken into three sections, Meaning, Interactions, and Energy, Rath explores the different ways people approach their work and life, and to what degree each of these methods is best suited for success. Even more importantly, ‘Are You Fully Charged?’ aims to help readers get themselves fully charged with helpful suggestions and action items.

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What I Liked

If one thing is for certain, it’s that ‘Are You Fully Charged?’ isn’t lacking facts. Each and every chapter is filled to the brim with examples taken from research Rath has observed, studies published in journals, and statistics highlighting the importance of Rath’s message. Whether it was a University of Michigan study that found when people were reminded of monetary rewards they were three times as likely to want to work alone, or how Rath’s own research found that people who had great interactions throughout the day were four times likelier to have higher well-being, Rath backs up every claim with many examples of research and studies proving him correct.

But while each chapter had tons of information, the chapters came quickly. Rath’s book is organized well so that those wanting to skip to certain sections have no problem doing so. First and foremost, everything is set up into the main three ‘keys’: Meaning, Interaction, and Energy. But within each section, there are multiple chapters as well, each no longer than ten pages. And within chapters there are occasionally subheadings, helping a reader easily digest information.

The focus on health in ‘Are You Fully Charged?‘ was also something I enjoyed. The entire second section focused on the importance of building and maintaining relationships with people. And while this is slightly similar to ‘Never Eat Alone,‘ the focus of relationships wasn’t just for the benefit of business, but for improving the self. Similar was the third section. The primary focuses were on the importance of eating right, exercising, and sleeping. Most business books neglect these topics, sticking instead to what you can do at work to improve your work life. By including the emphasis on improving your life, of which only a small part is work, Rath puts into focus what is truly important in life.

Similarly, Rath makes sure any advice he gives is actionable. Within the book, he gives advice on how you can make changes and presents this language in an empowering way. Rather than focusing on how important healthy eating is, he recommends you “organize the foods in your kitchen and pantry so the best choices are most visible and easily accessible.” You shouldn’t just exercise because of the health benefits, you should “walk and stand in meetings to keep focused and energized.” And instead of talking about the benefits of sleep, Rath says to “impose a moratorium on all electronical devices in the hour before your normal bedtime.” By using commanding language, Rath makes the reader feel as though he or she can and should go out and make changes in his or her life.

What I Disliked

While Rath’s book provided great information, it at times felt as though the book was just an accumulation of facts and features on studies. And while there is no denying analysis was done, I would have liked for a more personal story element to the book. In fact one of the best parts of ‘Are You Fully Charged?’ is when Rath describes the importance of assuming good intent.

He writes about how cancer left him unable to see out of his left eye, and thus he will at times accidentally collide with someone who thinks he saw them coming. He says that “each time my partial blindness leads to a collision, it gives me a little window into what’s going on in the other person’s life at that moment.” Most of the people he runs into are able to interact in a positive matter, apologizing, smiling, and shaking it off, but others assign blame and get angry. This helped Rath realize that other’s reactions have more to do with their own feelings and well-being than his.

Part of the reason this part of the book stuck with me was because it was a personal experience, and I felt connected to Rath during this moment. I understood his point better because he made it personal, more than just stats and figures. I just wish Rath did this more, especially after reading ‘Predictably Irrational,’ where Dan Ariely is able to describe his research while making it feel like you are reading a novel.

I also felt that Rath’s book took some time getting into. It wasn’t until after the entire first section, Meaning, that I started enjoying the book. And even then it was because I had changed my thinking of the book. Rath’s book isn’t a typical ‘business’ book as it is advertised as. It’s more about ways to improve the overall health and quality of your life, of which work is just a small fraction. But having gone into it with the mindset of learning about how to improve my work life, I felt detached, as I was reading something much different than what I was expecting. Once I realized I should treat the book as a more general life guidance book, I was able to connect with it – I just wish it had been more honestly portrayed so it didn’t take so long to get.

The Verdict

Tom Rath’s ‘Are You Fully Charged?’ was not my favorite business book. However, I think it was a great book in terms of reassessing the way you approach life, and a good jumpstart for those looking to find meaning, cultivate relationships, and improve your health. But I would not consider this a business book, although it is marketed as one.

For More on Tom Rath and ‘Are You Fully Charged’

Website: http://www.tomrath.org/book/are-you-fully-charged/

Documentary Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5IL9nD9M_0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tomcrath

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Are-You-Fully-Charged-Energizing/dp/1939714036

Top 6 Seattle Attractions

The post ‘Top 6 Seattle Attractions‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

For a city known for constant rain, I have had fabulous luck when visiting Seattle. The first time I visited was nearly five years ago with my parents, but recently, while living out in California, I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in the city again. Seattle is wonderful – one of my roommates in California said that within a few hours she had already pictured herself living there. And I can’t say I disagree – while I found I liked Portland slightly more, Seattle is a beautiful city I could easily find myself living in. Below are some of my favorite Seattle attractions, some of which I’ve had the fortune of visiting multiple times.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

My absolute favorite part of Seattle without a doubt is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a museum filled with the glass art of Dale Chihuly. Only a few minutes away from the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is one of the most stunning museums I have ever visited. The first time I went to the Chihuly exhibit was by chance. My family and I had some time to kill before our tour of the Space Needle, and you can purchase tickets to the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum for cheaper when purchasing Space Needle tickets. While my family was not especially interested in visting an art museum, it sounded better than waiting.

I am so thankful we went. Each and every exhibit within the museum is better than the last. There are three main parts to the museum that I find particularly stunning: the galleries, the garden, and the glasshouse. The galleries are stunning, showing off tons of different works, including a collection of glass chandeliers, intricate vases, an indoor glass garden, and, my personal favorite, a ceiling composed entirely of glass that gives the room a rainbow glow. The garden is also nice, especially when the weather cooperates,  as the glass sculptures are scattered among flowers of similar colors, making the art feel that much more alive.

One of the most stunning parts, however, is the greenhouse. Chihuly was always a fan of conservatories and wanted to incorporate this interest into the museum. Therefore, as one of the last exhibits, you are able to walk into a 40-foot tall glass greenhouse, with only one piece of art on display. However, that piece is 100-feet long and suspended in the air. It is one of the most visually stunning works of art I’ve ever seen, and the natural light seems to illuminate it to a degree that wouldn’t be possible within a museum. Without a doubt, if you are visiting Seattle, the Chihuly Glass and Garden museum is a must do.

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Pike Public Market

I love a good market and thankfully Seattle delivers on this account. Located right on the water, Pike Place Market is a fun way to walk around and see local artists’ work, as well as pick up some ingredients for dinner, which my friend and I did when we visited. It’s a bit crowded and at times you feel like you are being shuffled along, but it’s a fun place to visit.

The most famous part of Pike Place Market is most likely the Pike Place Fish Market, where employees will throw big fish around the shop. When I was younger I remember finding this action exciting and exhilarating, wondering how they managed to catch the fish each time without dropping it. During my second visit it wasn’t as exciting, but it was still worth witnessing.

While at Pike Place, a visit to the Gum Wall is a must as well. While actually gross if you think about it for too long, the Gum Wall is an alley featuring thousands of pieces of gum. I overheard a tour guide telling her tour that the reason for this is because back in the day people used to stick a coin to the wall using gum for good luck, but someone came by and took all the coins, leaving a wall of gum. Although the city cleaned it up at one point, the gum collection was restarted, creating a place for tourists to add their mark to the city.

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Fremont Troll

My favorite movie is the 1999 classic ‘10 Things About You.’ The movie is set in Seattle, which helped me figure out some places I wanted to check out. One of the scenes in the movie has two characters climbing down from what appears to be a giant sculpture of a troll. While the movie doesn’t comment on the fact there is a random troll in Seattle, I wanted to see this sculpture in person.

Under a bridge in Fremont is where the Fremont Troll lives. It’s gigantic, as well as free to climb. One of the weirdest attractions I visited in Seattle for sure, but as odd as it was to climb on the shoulder of a giant troll underneath a bridge, it was also a ton of fun laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. Fremont by itself is a cute town as well, so it makes the trip to the troll that much more doable.

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Pioneer Square

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle was Pioneer Square, located in Downtown Seattle. Pioneer Square felt right like home to me – while I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, it had a vibe similar to that of Boston, making me feel like I belonged straightaways. The Square was filled with art galleries, bookstores, and cafes, some of my favorite things.

One of the main places in Pioneer Square I hung out in was Occidental Park. A public square surrounded by restaurants, my friend and I decided after a long day exploring we wanted to take a break, which Occidental Park was perfect for. Beyond the cafes and public art, there were also ping pong tables, basketball courts, and Foosball tables open to everyone, as well as tables and chairs to sit and relax in.

Once we felt rested, we went to check out another part of Pioneer Square: Smith Tower. Smith Tower has an observatory on the 35th floor, and while not the tallest building in Seattle (that honor goes to the Columbia Center) when Smith Tower was first built it wasn’t only the tallest building in Seattle, but the tallest building west of the Mississippi. I enjoyed touring Smith Tower because the small museum leading up to the observation deck included the history of the building, as well as of Seattle during the early 1900s, and while it isn’t the tallest building in Seattle, you are able to see the surrounding area pretty clearly in part because you aren’t too high up.

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Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture, known as the MoPOP, is one of those museums you either love or you hate. Or, if you are like me, one you change your mind on depending when you visit. The first time I visited the MoPOP, when I was about sixteen, I thought it was boring. I’m not the biggest music fanatic, so many of the exhibits fell flat for me. Reading about the history of different musicians and guitars was interesting on an intellectual level, but I wasn’t excited at every turn.

During my recent Seattle visit I had a completely different experience. While there was still a ton of exhibits on musicians, the number of exhibits on movies, video games, and sports also increased. For movies, there were entire exhibits dedicated to fantasy, science fiction, and horror, as well as a special exhibit on Star Trek. Each one of these exhibits was so intricate it was amazing. For example, the fantasy room feels as though you are walking through an enchanted forest, while the Star Trek exhibit is set up as though you are onboard the Starship Enterprise. The immersive experience was fantastic, and something I love in museums. The expansion of the MoPOP transformed the museum from something I could skip to a must see Seattle attraction in my book, but for those unsure, I would highly suggest checking out the exhibits online first before deciding whether or not to visit.

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Space Needle

One of the most visually recognizable attractions in Seattle is the Space Needle. The observation tower is an interestingly designed building, similar to the Vancouver Lookout but much slimmer. The first time I visited Seattle my family and I went up to the top. While it was cool going up such a famous landmark, the problem with doing that is that when you go up and take pictures, you miss the opportunity to have arguably the most famous building in Seattle in your pictures.

The Space Needle as a whole is just interesting. Hanging around the Space Needle is relaxing, as there is an expanse of grass surrounding it. The building is also located in the Seattle Center area, which is surrounded by other attractions like the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum and the MoPOP. If you have the money going up is fun, but if not you still should make sure you don’t miss out on seeing one of the most famous Seattle landmarks up close.

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Seattle is an awesome city to visit, whether for a few days, a week, or even as a pit stop before a cruise. While I haven’t actually ever visited the city while it was raining heavily, as it is known to do, I can’t imagine that it could even take away from the excitement of the city.

 

Top 6 Vancouver Attractions

The post ‘Top 6 Vancouver Attractions’ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Last summer one of my best friends interned as a computer programmer in Seattle. While I missed seeing her, I was ecstatic to hear her stories of the West Coast and the interesting places she was visiting. So when I moved out west, I instantly asked her what her favorite trip was – and without hesitation, Vancouver, B.C. was the answer.

Taking a Friday off from work, I was able to spend a long weekend in Vancouver. This past November I spent a long weekend in Montreal and absolutely loved the city, so I was expecting nothing less from Canada’s western coast! While I ultimately enjoyed Montreal more, I had a great solo vacation in Vancouver and would recommend it to anyone wanting a relaxing international vacation. I was also able to see a ton of attractions within a few short days, my favorites listed below.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

One of the first attractions I visited was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, located just north of the city. I was able to take a free bus from Canada Place (on the water) to the bridge, and once there only had to pay admittance to the park.

What surprised me the most about the park was that what I was most excited for, the bridge, was not even close to my favorite part. Pictures of the bridge had made it look much more thrilling and terrifying, but for someone not already scared of heights, it didn’t provide enough of a fear factor.

The rest of the park was more entertaining, in an educational way. I was able to climb throughout the trees, getting, as the park referred to it, a ‘squirrel’s eye view.’ The foliage was gorgeous and the park was informative, teaching about everything from the history of the trees to the importance of water (which I found to be the most interesting part). while my visit wasn’t what I had expected it to be, it was fun and worth seeing nonetheless.

Stanley Park

One of my favorite parts of my Vancouver trip was Stanley Park. I spent an entire afternoon just walking along theVancouver Seawall, a stretch on the outskirts of the park with a trail to bike or walk around.

The views from the park were stunning no matter which direction I was facing. Not being particularly high in elevation, I was surprised by the visibility Stanley Park provided, especially when looking at downtown Vancouver. And while I walked only half the park, I was able to walk up to Prospect Point Lookout to see an overview of the Lions Gate Bridge and the port, which was just as impressive as the view of the city.

My entire time in Stanley Park was relaxing. While not necessarily a hike, I was able to walk around and get some fresh air, while at the same time seeing fun miscellaneous sites, such as the Brockton Point Lighthouse and the Girl in Wetsuit statue.

Granville Island

As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I love markets. Therefore it should be no surprised that within a day I visited Granville Island, home to the Granville Island Public Market. The Public Market was fantastic, filled with tons of different foods that kept me full through both breakfast and lunch, as well as having local artisans who were more than willing to talk about their art. Beyond the food I ate, I also ended up purchasing some fantastic loose leaf tea at the Granville Island Tea Co., a store I would most definitely recommend.

What makes Granville Island even cooler, however, is the amount of art on the island. While the Public Market is amazing and hosts plenty of local artists, there are also many art galleries around the island, as well as the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, which is completely free to explore.

Granville Island was also easily accessible by sea taxi. While a tad expensive, I was able to save a lot of time headed to my next location by hopping on a ferry headed towards Yaletown, which dropped me off real close to downtown Vancouver. I was also able to cut a new path through Vancouver, one that included views completely different than those from a car or bus.

Bookstores

After hanging around tons of people at Granville Island for the majority of the morning, I wanted some time to myself. Naturally, I sought out books. After exploring the seven floored Vancouver Public Library for some time to decompress, I wandered around bookstores – and was not disappointed. A few minutes from the library was a fantastic triage of bookstores: MacLeod’s Books, The Paper Hound Bookshop, and Albion Books.

MacLeod’s Books was overflowing with books, to the point that navigating through the stacks and stacks of books was tricky. But while weaving in and out was at times a struggle, being surrounded completely by books and staff who were very knowledgeable about everything in the store was incredible.

While Albion Books was also interesting, with a big section dedicated to vinyl CDs, my favorite of the stores was The Paper Hound Bookshop. The store itself was tiny, with a much smaller selection, but the personalization of the store was amazing. While there were your standard delineations for rare books and books sorted by the author’s last name, they also had fun categories for books – such as ‘books with mice as the heroes’ or ‘books in imaginary lands.’ It reminded me of the specialization of Powell’s City of Books, which I loved during my Portland trip.

Vancouver Lookout

One of my favorite parts of exploring a city is finding a high point to look out of. While sometimes that means climbing a tall hill until I feel like dying (here’s looking at you Petrin Hill!) other times it means paying a small fee to take an elevator up a building. In Vancouver, the Vancouver Lookout was just that.

Located on the edge of Downtown and Gastown, the Vancouver Lookout is approximately 550 feet up a building that has a 360-degree lookout deck. Entirely indoors, the Lookout had a similar feel to the Prudential Center, making me miss Boston a little bit more than usual.

What I found interesting about the Lookout was more than the view – while that alone was beautiful, especially as I arrived just before sunset. What really interested me, however, was the descriptions of what you were looking at that were located in front of each new window pane. I visited the Lookout on my last night and had been able to explore some of the city, so it was nice getting more backstory and history on each of the places, as well as reading about some places I would want to visit on a second trip!

Highway 99 Drive

While I enjoyed my visit to Vancouver, my absolute favorite part of the entire trip was driving Highway 99. This surprised me, as I’ve never been the biggest fan of driving, but after my trip to Portland where I had a blast driving the Historic Columbia River Highway, I wanted to see if Vancouver’s drive was just as nice.

It was even better. I drove from Vancouver up to Whistler, about an hour and a half away, and then drove back down the same highway. While Whistler is a popular destination in its own right for skiing, I just wanted a definitive place to stop, call my mom on Mother’s Day, and turn around.

One of the craziest things to me was how different the drives up and down were. While the view while driving was consistently gorgeous both ways, when headed north there were few viewpoints or places to stop and take pictures, which resulted in my drive being the estimated hour and a half to two hours.

The drive back down to Vancouver was a completely different story. What felt like every five minutes there was a new place to pull off and explore, whether for a picture of the mountains or to check out a small beach. I made an effort to stop at every opportunity and wasn’t once disappointed. While the ride back took about an hour longer, having the opportunity to explore some of the beauty only a few short moments away from a major highway was not only stunning but humbling as well.

Vancouver was an awesome trip and for anyone living on the West Coast is a definite must. It is a great long weekend trip, and for those that enjoy skiing or snowboarding, there is an entire additional layer of attractions and mountains to see and explore.

Why Business Majors Should Do Academic Research

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The post ‘Why Business Majors Should Do Academic Research‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

During my second year at Northeastern, I befriended some engineers. Something I noticed quickly was that in addition to co-ops and clubs, the majority of them were trying to get involved in the same thing: research. But as a business student, I hadn’t thought much of participating in research – it seemed like something only for hard science majors. But the more my friends talked about projects they were hoping to work on, the more I kept wondering, why shouldn’t I get involved?

Academic research presents an amazing opportunity for students. While not as frequently advertised for students outside the sciences, it is available to students of all types of majors. My experience thus far has been absolutely incredible, and below are my top six reasons why business students should get involved in academic research.

An Unexpected Way to Get Involved

First and foremost, involving yourself in research when you aren’t in a hard science program is unexpected. There are many opportunities available that schools don’t seem to be as vocal about.

When I tell people I’m involved in research, there is usually a moment of hesitation, as though they are debating with themselves as to whether or not I’m actually a business major, or if they are remembering my major incorrectly.

But research is very relevant to business, and marketing in particular. Marketing research is vital to companies. When a new product is being launched, a company doesn’t just hopes for the best when promoting it. Rather, they do market research, surveying and running focus groups, getting customers’ opinions, which can help them determine better ways to market their product.

Involving yourself in research opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities, ones that can help you grow your own skill set, as well as introduce you to new aspects of business not typically discussed in classes.

Although unexpected for a business major, academic research is a fantastic way to get involved in your major outside of the classroom.

Learn How Much Goes Into It

Another benefit of research is that there is so much more to it than I initially expected. When I started, I thought that my team would be able to have the first draft of our research paper by the end of the first semester.

I was very mistaken.

Research is intense. There are a lot of moving parts, with much going into a successful project I hadn’t even the foggiest idea about.

When I took a class on marketing research we completed a research project. For that, we created a survey, ran a small focus group, and read a couple of articles. We took the data we received from the survey and made conclusions from it. While it wasn’t easy, it took only a couple of months to complete. I thought academic research would be the same. But what I did in class only scratched to surface.

For the project I’m currently working on, I have researched different concepts, read papers on different research techniques, codified data from blogs, watched television shows related to our topic to take notes on trends, developed concept maps to more easily identify overarching themes, and have just finished finalizing interview questions.

Moving forward I am going to conducts interviews and focus groups (after gaining certification from the National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research), create surveys, and continue to codify resources, turning qualitative sources into quantitative data. My team will then use this information and previous research to develop a thesis, which we will use to guide the first draft of our paper, with multiple rounds of edits to follow. Once edits are finished the paper will need to be looked over by a review board before it can even be considered for publication.

Definitely not something that takes two months.

Getting involved in research has shown me how complex it can be. I appreciate the hard work that goes into research so much more now being on the other side and respect the individuals who dedicate their life to discovering new theories, concepts, and connections that make it easier for people to be understood.

New Ways of Thinking

Academic research also inspires a different way of thinking. In a typical learning environment, you listen to someone speak, write out notes, study your notes, and take a test on them. While hopefully there is a deeper understanding, at the base the learning is centered around rote memorization.

The thinking used to complete academic research is much different. Rather than being told something, you are the one discovering what is important. Ultimately you will become the one teaching others about your research findings.

Research requires questioning everything. What is it you are interested in? Are you looking for connections between bigger themes? What else works within that theme? What doesn’t work? Are you not getting the results you expected? If not, what does that mean?

The more you discover, the more questions you ask. When you start to gather answers to your questions, then you can tie them into bigger ideas, explore those ideas, look for more connections, take notes, go back to the drawing board, and start asking questions all over again. From there, you can start to figure out which direction to take your research in.

While I had some experience in this type of thinking from working on different case studies with the marketing association I’m involved in at Northeastern, it wasn’t to the extent academic research requires. The different type of thinking required to research involves questioning everything and formalizing concepts and ideas based on the answers, a type of thinking typical class work lacks.

Research forces you to think about problems differently and look at the world in a more inquisitive way. This is a great way to practice looking at situations from different angles, and something that greatly adds to the typical school experience.

Exploring New Topics

Something else I find exciting about academic research is that I have the opportunity to become an expert about topics I wouldn’t have otherwise.

For my current research project, I am assisting on a study focused on minimalism. Minimalism, to start, is the idea of simplicity in life. Seen in design, art, music, fashion, life, and more, minimalism has begun a resurgence in popularity as people have begun shying away from the increasing levels of consumerism.

Minimalism has so many more interesting facets however. For the research I’m assisting on, we are focusing mostly on people who own tiny homes (homes less than 400 square feet) or capsule wardrobes (closets less than approximately 40 pieces). Neither of these had I ever looked into before, beyond reading the occasional article about HGTV’s tiny house themed shows or fashion magazines talking about downsizing your closet.

But research in these two topics goes beyond definitions. We are researching the motivations that push people to engage with these trends, challenges people have adopting this new lifestyle, benefits people receive from starting, the communities behind them, and much more.

We are able to discover how people who join these movements feel about minimalism, and what they are able to show about the concept of minimalism as a whole. And that’s just what we’ve been seeing so far.

I am also learning about different types of research, and how someone goes about selecting which style is best for them. I have the most experience with grounded theory, and have read multiple papers explaining the benefits and seeing how other studies have used this theory to accomplish their goals.

Academic research pushes me to explore new ideas. While marketing themes like consumer behavior are seen throughout my research, I am also learning about trends sweeping the nation I was completely ignorant of, and learning about movements I can take some guidance from.

Best Type of Work

Being a research assistant means that you are doing a job relevant to your interests. I am interested in marketing, and through research, I am able to work in my field while being a full-time student.

Research provides so many career and academic benefits, and the fact that you can (sometimes!) get paid for it is even better. Especially if you have work study or financial needs that require a job.

Being an academic research assistant is also a great resume builder. Having a job in general while in school is a great addition to a resume, but the type of work academic research provides makes it that much better.

Depending on the type of research and the duration of the job, there is a high probability that you could be involved in the process of a research paper being presented to an academic journal. My work involves me assisting with the entire process from beginning data gathering to eventually helping to write a paper that will be submitted to a journal. This will be something I can include on my resume, especially if there is the possibility of co-authorship.

This is a phenomenal opportunity. How many college students can say that something they worked on was published in a nationally recognized academic journal? It’s a great addition to any resume, not to mention a great experience to have.

Relationship with Professor

Probably the best part of being involved in research is the fantastic relationship you get to form with your coworkers. The researcher I work for, Dr. Daniele Mathras, is absolutely brilliant, and before I got involved in research I probably wouldn’t have ever had the chance to get to know her.

The university I attend, Northeastern University, is a research university, which means that research is a core part of the job description for professors. Therefore most professors employed by the university are working on projects related to their interests.

I was unaware how many different opportunities there were available. My consumer behavior professor researches how ‘moral emotions’ like guilt and shame influence buying decisions, my marketing management professor researches the impact of social media and digital technologies on advertising effectiveness, and my boss focuses on the role of cultural belief systems in shaping consumer behavior and well-being.

This is absolutely fascinating to me. Before I got involved in my own research, I probably wouldn’t have thought to ask about the research projects they were running, mostly because I wasn’t aware of the many directions marketing research could take.

Working with Dr. Mathras and learning more from other professors has taught me so much, and has expanded my relationships with them. I appreciate the work they do so much more, and how difficult yet rewarding it is to discover something entirely new.

The professors at Northeastern are amazing, exciting, and interesting people. Getting to work with Dr. Mathras gives me the opportunity to learn so much from a person who is not only my boss, but someone I would consider a mentor and friend.

And if that isn’t reason enough to get involved in research, I don’t know what is.

Top 5 Portland Attractions

The post ‘Top 5 Portland Attractions‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

One of my favorite things about living on the West Coast for co-op is the sheer amount of opportunities to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many places up and down the coast, one of my favorites being Portland, Oregon. Portland provided me some of the East Coast charm I’ve been missing, without the hassle of a red eye flight.

While I was only able to spend a short weekend in Portland, I was able to see many interesting attractions. In fact, I enjoyed my trip so much I’m planning on returning in June, hopefully to see even more of the city. Below are some of my favorite Portland attractions I saw during my time, a list I’m excited to have grow during my upcoming trip.

Powell’s City of Books

It should come as no shock that I love reading, especially considering my reoccurring ‘Business Book Club‘ series. So when I searched for ‘Top Portland Attractions’ and found Powell’s City of Books, a bookstore a city block long that CNN rated as one of the world’s coolest bookstores, I knew that I didn’t have to worry how I was going to occupy my time.

Powell’s was amazing. Over the course of four hours, I was able to explore each of the nine rooms, color coordinated to different genres, including a section for rare books.  I mostly stayed in the Blue Room, literature, especially since a kind salesperson gave me a free bookmark listing recommendations of fictional biographies, one of my favorite genres.

Something that I particularly liked about Powell’s was the level of personability throughout the store, even beyond the kind staff members who were ready to help me find anything and everything I needed. When you walk down the shelves of books, something that stands out is the sheer number of tags hanging off. These highlight everything under the sun, including ‘Staff Picks,’ books written by women of color, local authors, and quotes from popular reviews. I loved these, and definitely thought it made me stop to consider books I might have otherwise passed.

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Portland Saturday Market

As I mentioned in my last blog on my favorite New Orleans attractions, I love markets. Therefore, it only seems fitting that I visit Portland’s weekly market, a market running since 1974. A completely free open air market right on the water, it is the perfect place to spend a warm afternoon. I love getting the opportunity to talk to artists about their work, and this market definitely gave me the chance to hear stories about the local artists’ inspirations and works.

The art market is also right near the Historic White Stag Sign, one of the most famous parts of Portland’s skyline. While I visited in April and was able to see the sign in its usual state, for those visiting during the winter holiday seasons, the stag’s nose is lit up red to represent Rudolph the reindeer.

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Pearl District Galleries

If you are looking for even more art, Portland has got you covered. The Pearl District, located between Interstate 405 and NW Broadway, features dozens of art galleries. I like art galleries for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, I enjoy being able to see a collection of work from the same artist, as it gives me the opportunity to better understand the type of work and messages he or she is trying convey.

As a younger person galleries are also great for additional reasons. Rarely does anyone expect you to be able to purchase anything, so you are free to wander around uninterrupted. If you decide to ask questions, however, people are generally excited to have someone new and interested in what they have to say. And finally, art galleries are usually free, my favorite cost of admittance.

Portland’s art galleries were cool and featured incredible art. The first I visited, and potentially my favorite, Blue Sky Gallery, provided me a map that highlighted some of the other galleries within the Pearl District, and in one afternoon I was able to visit nearly all of them. My Saturday in Portland was ideal, with my time was spent between art galleries, an art market, and a bookstore.

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Historic Columbia River Highway

The second day I was in Portland I rented a car, giving me the opportunity to explore outside the city limits. One of my friends had suggested that I see Multnomah Falls and the subsequent natural wonders on the road to it.

This part of my visit was one of the best parts by far. I had expected the ride to be beautiful, but I was continuously surprised by just how magnificent the view was. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a highway with a more stunning view. The right side of the road featured hills and waterfalls, on the left the river, and in front of me the view of Mt. Hood.

I continuously stopped my car to pull over and explore. Although the most famous of the stops was Multnomah Falls, there are many waterfalls on the way that are equally as stunning. I was surprised by the sheer amount of waterfalls, as well as a number of locations you could casually begin a scenic hike. Even on the river-facing side of the highway, there were times when I pulled over to take pictures of the view. People not looking for a miles-long hike can also enjoy the beauty the Historic Columbia River Highway has to offer.

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Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Part of the reason I wanted to see Portland during the spring was to see the tulips at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. Located about an hour south of the city center, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm has over 40 acres of tulips, framed against the scenic Mt. Hood. I have mentioned in a previous travel post about my desire to see the Netherland’s tulip festival, and after hearing that there was something similar (albeit on a smaller scale) I figured I had to go.

It was as beautiful as I had hoped for. The sheer amount of colors in a single type of flower was astonishing, as I didn’t even realize how many colors tulips came. Being able to walk through the rows of flowers was beautiful and worth the trip. There were also a lot of activities at the farm including wine tasting, wooden shoe making, and carnival rides which made the day even more enjoyable. It was crowded, but I went on Easter Sunday, something I bet contributed to the number of people visiting. If visiting Portland during spring and want to see some beautiful flowers, definitely head south to check out the tulips.

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I loved Portland and what the surrounding parts of Oregon had to offer immensely. It has been my favorite trip on the West Coast so far, so much so I’m planning on returning in June to see more!

Business Book Review: Boss Bitch

The post ‘Business Book Club: Boss Bitch‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Nicole Lapin is a badass. The youngest ever anchor at CNN and CNBC and constant finance contributor on other prime time television networks with the what’s what on finance, Lapin is an expert on personal finance. But with the success of her first book, Rich Bitch, a personal finance guide made especially for women, Lapin was ready to take on an even bigger goal: helping women become the boss bitch of their careers.

With absolute hilarity and at times frightening honesty, Lapin drills down a path to success – however you define it – in 12 simple steps. By embracing your inner Boss Bitch, your most confident, kick-ass self, you too can achieve your dreams, regardless of how impossible they may seem.

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What I Liked

By far my favorite part of Boss Bitch was Lapin’s style of writing. She isn’t here to preach to you, to tell you that she is right and there are no other alternatives. She’s here to tell it to you straight, giving you the truth no matter how much it may hurt.

She prides herself on being a “financial expert you don’t need a dictionary to understand,” although a dictionary is included in the end. And this rings true, as Lapin dedicates pages to financial literacy in conversational speak, at times even outright cursing.

Take for instance her definition of a Boss Bitch: “A Boss Bitch is the she-ro of her own story. She is the heroine who doesn’t need saving because she has her own shit handled.” When’s the last time someone described their target audience in those terms?

Another reason why Lapin’s Boss Bitch makes an impact is the way she shares her experiences without writing a memoir of her life. Similarly to Kate White’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This or Aliza Licht’s Leave Your Mark, the focus is on the advice or tips. But to make it something the reader can connect to, a healthy dose of personal storytelling is included, showing that Lapin can walk the talk.

Lapin does this well with her ‘Confession of a Boss Bitch’ call outs. Here she shares a personal story relating to the topic at hand. For instance, when talking about networking and how not to look like an idiot, Lapin wrote about the time she met Sara Blakely, CEO of Spandex. She was so excited being able to talk to someone she admired so much, she completely lost the plot of the conversation and ended up embarrassing herself. By sharing this, something that makes Lapin look a bit ridiculous, it conveys an additional layer of honesty in Lapin’s writing, making the writing that much better.

The other great part of Boss Bitch is that Lapin’s advice is good. And more importantly, it’s good in regards to a lot of topics. Boss Bitch covers what seems like everything from being the boss of yourself to starting your own business and becoming your own boss.

One of my favorite sections was about the art of the side hustle. As Lapin explains, “a side hustle (noun) is something you do on the side of your “day job.” Side-hustling (verb) is the act of getting your ass out there to make extra cash and see what else might be in store for your career.” Lapin recommends that before you quit your job and start your own business you try it first as a side hustle, where you’ll find out quickly how committed you actually are. And for those not sure what they could even do as a side hustle, Lapin has resources on her website for help.

The dictionary at the end of Boss Bitch is also fantastic. Almost every word that wouldn’t intuitively be known is included, covering topics such as accounting, finance, tax information, and general slang terms. Want to know what Schedule C is? A unicorn? Depreciation? The difference between an eagle and a duck, or a bull and a bear? This dictionary has got you covered. Equally cool is that on Lapin’s personal website if you so much as hover your cursor over these words a definition instantly pops up.

What I Disliked

While I would have to say I enjoyed Boss Bitch, as always there were some things I didn’t love. First and foremost would have to be Lapin’s ‘Be the Boss of You’ section, which to me felt like a drawn out introduction. The section was very short – only two tips, which combined were only 22 pages, fewer than most other individual tips.

I can definitely appreciate an introduction, and I loved the short bio on Lapin that Tip One provided. However, it felt almost like Lapin thought was necessary, the idea of ‘being the boss of you,’ rather than something she wanted to elaborate on. Other tips are well thought out, give tons of advice, and make an impact. The beginning tips? Not as much, and made Boss Bitch something that took warming up to.

Something else that lessened my love for Boss Bitch was how a large chunk of the book didn’t really apply to me. While on one hand, it’s great how the book has something for everyone, at the same time this resulted in entire chapters not best suited for me.

Take the entrepreneurship section. I don’t want to be an entrepreneur at this point in my life, so these sections didn’t apply to me. Unfortunately, they totaled about 150 pages, a significant chunk of the book. While it is true that Lapin inspired me and made me want to look into entrepreneurship as a potential future option, or at the very least a side hustle, for people who know this isn’t for them, the book loses some of its value. While there is an appeal in catering to a wider audience, sometimes committing to a niche makes the overall content that much better.

Finally, I felt as though the book ended abruptly. Each chapter ends with a ‘bottom line’ section, which shows ‘conventional wisdom’ versus ‘the real deal,’ effectively summarizing the chapter. And while I love how Lapin includes this for each chapter, there is nothing beyond this after the last chapter. It goes straight in the dictionary.

Because there wasn’t anything truly distinguishing the last chapter from other chapters, turning the page and finding that the book was over was jarring. There was even a moment when I was wondering if I had missed something because surely it couldn’t have just ended. With even two to five more pages, Lapin could have wrapped up her book in a much more satisfying way.

The Verdict

I enjoyed Boss Bitch and would definitely recommend it, especially for those interested in entrepreneurship or needing some real talk about getting their careers and finances together.

For More on Nicole Lapin and Boss Bitch

Website: http://nicolelapin.com/

Twitter: @NicoleLapin

Blog: http://nicolelapin.com/essential-conversations/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Boss-Bitch-Simple-12-Step-Charge/dp/0451495861

The French Quarter and Beyond: Top New Orleans Attractions

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association’s International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans. Each year the marketing association I’m involved in, Northeastern University’s Marketing Association (NUMA), sends a few students to represent the university, and I was one of the seven selected this year.

The conference is held each year in New Orleans, and each year I’ve been able to discover more things to do in the city. While the conference is hosted in the Sheraton on Canal Street within the French Quarter, my group made sure to adventure outside the popular district as well to ensure we were able to see as many fun and beautiful New Orleans attractions as possible!

Jackson Square and Cafe du Monde

One of the most popular places in New Orleans, and one of my favorite places regardless, is Jackson Square. The park features the stunning St. Louis Cathedral with a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback in front, surrounded by beautiful Greek Revival architecture homes. While the square can feel as though it is overrun with tourists and street performers, I enjoy lounging about, listening to the jazz bands that perform in front of the cathedral.

Equally as important when visiting Jackson Square is a trip to Cafe du Monde. While it seems that all of the food in New Orleans is revered, my favorite by far are the beignets. While some claim that beignets are just a variation of a donut, I firmly believe they are deserving of their own category.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of having a beignet, they are essentially fried dough topped with heaps of sugar. But while beignets are served outside of New Orleans, nowhere else have I had anything that even begins to rival the deliciousness of Cafe du Monde’s beignets. Unsurprisingly, my friends and I went to Cafe du Monde each day we were visiting.

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Frenchmen Art Walk

For late night fun, most people visiting New Orleans seem to end up on Bourbon Street, a stretch of thirteen blocks that contain primarily bars and strip clubs. While I understand how some people might consider this fun, for someone who doesn’t enjoy drinking in excess or staying out late, spending time on Bourbon Street is quite miserable.

But when most of your free time is during the evening, it’s hard to find things to do. Most museums are closed, and while walking around random areas and getting lost is fun, it loses its appeal once it gets dark.

Thankfully New Orleans has the Frenchmen Art Walk. Located about 10-15 minutes from the hustle of Bourbon Street, the Frenchman Art Walk is a late-night art walk open every day of the week.

I love markets. Whether it’s a farmers market or an art market, I think the opportunity to check out local merchant’s goods is exciting, and the ability to stop and chat with people is fun. The Frenchmen Art Walk was no different. It was great seeing so many amazing pieces of art, in all different styles, and having the chance to talk to the artists. My favorite stops had to be those owned by an older gentleman who created wire designs that projected images that changed depending on where the light source originated, and a woman who took old cameras and books and threaded light bulbs through them, creating unique lamps.

For a relaxing evening getting to know local New Orleans artists, and potentially walking away with original art, I would definitely recommend the Frenchmen Art Walk.

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Garden District

A bit farther out of the French Quarter is the Garden District, featuring stunning houses that could only be classified as mansions. My friends and I had heard this part of town was absolutely gorgeous and we were not disappointed.

Walking around the Garden District is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. New Orleans as a whole has breathtaking architecture and getting to see a more residential version of it was fantastic. As we were walking around we also passed about three tour groups so we were able to glean some history by eavesdropping, although I would love to come back and hear a tour in its entirety.

For those also interested in checking out historic sites, the Lafayette Cemetery is a must see. One of the oldest cemeteries in the city, the cemetery features above ground graves, holds the remains of many Civil War veterans, and shows the drastic effects of diseases like yellow fever and apoplexy. I find cemeteries to be beautiful and could spend hours reading the history of the people and the city, but even for those not as interested, Lafayette Cemetery is still a great spot to visit.

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Voodoo Museum

New Orleans is known for its association with voodoo and for those wanting to get to know a bit more, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is a must. For only $5 my friends and I were able to learn more about the history of voodoo in New Orleans, the difference between voodoo and hoodoo, and important figures in voodoo.

While the museum is quite small, it manages to pack a ton of information into a few rooms. In the museum, there are many paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and voodoo relics, all with accompanying information.

It was fun getting to know more about different beliefs, as well as learning the history and influences behind the modern perceptions of voodoo. For such a small entrance fee, the museum is worth visiting, especially if you want to feel a bit spooked by the sheer array of bones and voodoo dolls strown about the museum.

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Pharmacy Museum

A museum that took me by surprise was the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Not being particularly interested in medicine, I thought the small museum was going to be dull, with potentially a few cool bottles of poison here and there.

I was very wrong. Located at the site of the first licensed apothecary in the United States, this museum takes you through the history of pharmacy. This includes everything from the history of drugs and abolitionists throughout history to famous beliefs about medicine and classic New Orleans historical pharmacy bottles.

There are so many interesting facts about medicine and the ways they have been used and abused throughout history I was completely unaware of. The visit itself only cost me $4, and I while I only spent an hour thanks to the conference I was attending, I could have easily spent a significantly larger amount of time here.

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Louis Armstrong Park

A short walk from the Voodoo Museum is Louis Armstrong Park. In March when I visited the New Orleans weather was absolutely beautiful, high 70s and sunny, a perfect day to walk around a park.

The Louis Armstrong Park seems like it would be the best way to spend a lazy Sunday. The park is beautiful, featuring many sculptures honoring New Orleans jazz musicians, and having many ponds and bridges to create beautiful imagery.

And for those interested in history, the park is also the location of Congo Square, a meeting place of slaves in the 1700 and 1800s that became famous in part for its influence in shaping jazz music and its ties to voodoo spirituality.

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American Marking Association’s International Collegiate Conference

For college students interested in marketing, mid-March is a great time to visit New Orleans because the American Marketing Association hosts their annual International Collegiate Conference then.

This year the Northeastern University chapter performed even better than any of us could have hoped. We had the honor of being named a Top 5 Small Chapter, an award we hadn’t thought we could have been considered for, let alone win. We also received fourth for our website design, and won first in educational value for our booth design, highlighting the work we did over the previous year.

The conference also gave great opportunities to meet other students interested in marketing, as well as hear from interesting speakers talking about topics ranging from networking tips to the future of digital advertisements.

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This is just some of the amazing attractions the city of New Orleans has to offer. Last year I had the opportunity to check out some other New Orleans sites, my favorite of which being the National World War II Museum, so for more suggestions for things you can’t miss, read my 2016 blog describing more of my favorite New Orleans attractions.

The post ‘Beyond the French Quarter: Top New Orleans Attractions‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Business Book Club: Predictably Irrational

Dan Ariely’s ‘Predictably Irrational’ is an enjoyable combination of consumer behavior and psychology. The book, originally published in 2008, explains why people act in a way counterintuitive to their best interests, no matter how irrational it might appear. Ariely’s book focuses on the predictable patterns people form, and thus ‘Predictably Irrational’ is a fun way to learn about behaviors ruling your life, even those you are unaware of.

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What I Liked

I absolutely loved ‘Predictably Irrational.’ It was not only easy to read but also entertaining. Ariely’s style of writing is amazing. He has a tongue in cheek humor that makes potentially boring information fun, and he is great at weaving a story. Rather than explaining each research study in analytical terms, Ariely presents his research as a story, making the non-fiction book feel like a narrative.

Another benefit to Ariely’s style of writing is how he explains his personal experience through the book, making him feel relatable as opposed to an all-knowing researcher. Whether it is him describing the awkwardness that comes with seeing a student outside of class, or talking about his experience with pain after 70% of his body was covered in third-degree burns, the personal touch gives ‘Predictably Irrational’ a more genuine feel that enhances the quality of the book.

I also enjoyed the way the information is presented. Each concept is presented by detailing the story of the research, emulating case based learning. I found it interesting how Ariely decided to present his findings not by presenting the results first and showing how they were discovered, but by describing how the concept was thought up, how the research was run, and what the results were. I personally find case based learning to be very helpful in my own classes, and I felt that by presenting the information in this way Ariely involves readers more, making them feel like they were discovering the results with Ariely, rather than just learning about his results.

One of the best things by far was the amount of information Ariely managed to pack into one book. He covered tons of concepts I had learned in my consumer behavior class, and so much more on top of that. Ariely explains fascinating research in ‘Predictably Irrational.’ He talks about how numbers as arbitrary as the last two digits of your social security number can influence the amount you are willing to bid on items, how the idea of something being free makes you more likely to give up better offers but at the same time less selfish, and how owning something can distort what you perceive the value of your belongings to be. Ariely’s research is fascinating and has the potential to teach readers quite a lot about irrational habits they themselves perform.

What I Didn’t Like

While I enjoyed the examples Ariely gave, and the lessons learned, at times I wasn’t sure what exactly I could gain from them. While it is interesting to know, for instance, that the placebo effect is so strong that taking more expensive Advil can make me feel better than a generic Advil, I can’t do much with this information. If anything knowing that certain drugs Ariely describes are mostly placebos makes me unlikely to continue to have the positive effects from them.

‘Predictably Irrational’ could have benefited from a couple of paragraphs at the end of each chapter explaining how someone could have moved forward with the knowledge being provided. While I have recently begun developing an interest in research, what I find most interesting is how the results of research are applied, which I believe gives the research that much more value.

Another thing that I can see being a drawback from ‘Predictably Irrational’ is the fact that it could be watered down into a single article, or a series of articles. While I found the book easy to read and interesting, I can see how Ariely could shorten his points. I know that the examples of studies given have been written about in Ariely’s academic papers, but for the average person, I think some examples could be shortened or removed for brevity’s sake.

For example, in my consumer behavior class this past semester we studied anchoring, a topic Ariely covers in his book. Because Ariely is an expert on the subject, in class we watched a video he had created. The video was no more than five minutes long and I felt as though I had as clear of an understanding of anchoring as I did after the chapters covering it in ‘Predictably Irrational.’ While I love the multiple case studies because it gave the book a novel-like feel, I think that other readers might prefer fewer examples and more research results.

The Verdict

I absolutely loved this book, and would most definitely recommend it to people, especially those in marketing looking to better understand consumer behavior. Ariely’s book is just plain interesting, so if you are looking for a book that’s informative, while enjoyable and easy to read, this is the book for you.

For More on Dan Ariely and ‘Predictably Irrational’

Website: http://danariely.com 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/danariely

Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Predictably-Irrational-Revised-Expanded-Decisions/dp/0061353248

The post ‘Business Book Club: Predictably Irrational‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.