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Update – Stewart Family 40 by 40

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As you might know, Jon and I worked on lists of 30 things to do each before we turned 30. After we each hit that milestone, we created a new list of 40 things to do before we turn 40.

We’re both now 33, so how are we doing so far? The summary is that we’ve accomplished 7 things and made demonstrable progress on 3 more. See our full list below.

We purchased our first home last year, and have had a great time putting in small updates here and there to make it our own. We also replaced the foundation, which is a very responsible and incredibly uninteresting update for a house. #boring #earthquakecountry

We created one source of (relatively) passive income in renting out one of our cars on the weekend using Turo. We typically don’t need two cars during the weekend days, so this is a great way to make extra money with little effort. We’ve been doing this for the last 8 months or so with no problems so far. Here’s our referral link if anyone wants to check it out to either rent a car or rent out your car – I believe it gives you a credit when you use this link.

We bought a king-sized bed. It’s great.

We had a 2nd kid (hi, Cam!), which was one of our private goals (now you know!).

We paid for a child’s cleft lip surgery. This was much cheaper than we realized (Operation Smile says $19!), so we decided to donate for several children instead of just one.

We attended a Garth Brooks concert in Sacramento – it was as amazing as I hoped.

And I participated in a Thriller Flash Mob last Halloween. Video here. It was completely out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed it! #pregnantanddancinginthestreet

We’ve made progress on a few others – we did one no-kid vacation a few months before Cam arrived when our friends offered to take Brooklyn for the weekend so we could get some adult time before being the parents of two. I’ve done a bit of blogging on professional topics, but have a ways to go before getting to my goal of 10. We did one camping trip with Brooklyn last summer at our CSA farm, Eatwell.

Here’s to more progress before 2016 finishes!

Stewart Family 40 by 40 List

For our family:

  1. Have a dog join the family.
  2. Live and/or vacation internationally for at least one 3 month period.
  3. Take a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
  4. Jessica & Jonathan take at least 3 trips with no children, including one for our 10th anniversary.
  5. Take one trip with a destination we decide after having already arrived at the airport to leave.
  6. Lose a collective 15% of our combined body weights keep it off for one year.
  7. Be financially able to purchase a home (or have purchased one).
  8. Make a trip to an Auburn football game in an RV.
  9. Renew our marriage vows.
  10. Create one source of passive income.
  11. Participate in a TV show audience.
  12. 5+ family camping trips.
  13. Take a trip to Europe as a family.
  14. Visit Disneyland.
  15. At least one of us donates our hair to a good cause.
  16. Take a vacation in which at least part of the time is spent on a humanitarian/volunteer cause.
  17. Two weeks of no screens (phones, TV, etc.) after 5pm.
  18. One month of exercising every single day.
  19. Pay for a child’s cleft lip surgery.
  20. Foster at least one animal.
  21. Spend one month eating vegan as a family.
  22. Own a king-sized bed.
  23. Plant a tree.
  24. Private Goal 1
  25. Private Goal 2
  26. Private Goal 3

 

For Jonathon:

  1. Have a conversation in Spanish with our daughter.
  2. At work, be managing a team of people.
  3. Attend the Homebrewer’s Conference at least once.
  4. Take a beer judging class to learn to be a better taster.
  5. Participate in a long-distance biking event.
  6. Join a nonprofit board of directors.
  7. Take a cooking class series.

 

For Jessica:

  1. Participate in a flash mob.
  2. Try karaoke.
  3. Attend a Garth Brooks concert.
  4. Officiate a wedding.
  5. Be a mentor to someone.
  6. Donate blood 6 times in one calendar year.
  7. Be known professionally as a model for work and life balance.
  8. Try out blogging on professional topics (at least 10 posts).
  9. Participate in at least one endurance exercise event.

 

Want to be great at your job? Structure opportunities to give and get feedback.

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As you might have seen in our list of 40 things to do before we turn 40, one of the things I’m trying is blogging about professional topics. I set my measure of success for “trying this out” as writing at least 10 blogs. I’m going to see if I can manage one per month for a period of time. Are there particular topics you’re interested in? Let me know in the comments or via email/FB message/carrier pigeon.

Context
For context on me professionally for those of you who aren’t my colleagues, I got the opportunity to engage in leadership development in high school and college via various student organizations and then started my career as a teacher for four years in Oakland. I then transitioned into a staff role at Teach For America Bay Area as the Director of Teaching and Learning. I then transitioned to my current role of Managing Director at GO Public Schools Leadership Center.

The workstreams and areas of responsibility of my current role have changed quite a bit over time. When I joined the organization, there were just a few of us. We are now a team of nearly 20 full-time employees – in short, we provide information, help develop and organize leaders at the grassroots and grasstops levels, and do policy and political advocacy (the politics is done with our associated 501(c)(4) org).

One of My Favorite Structures for Giving Professional Feedback
noahs_ark_photosculpturFor this first topic, I’m cheating just a little bit. I was asked to write some tips for the Tip of the Day blog at New Organizing Institute a few years back, and a version of what you see below was  one of them. I figured it couldn’t hurt to share with you all!

We all know that getting and giving good feedback to our colleagues and volunteers is a critical part of running successful organizations and winning our campaigns. It’s important to offer feedback regularly in our work – sometimes daily and weekly – to our colleagues. But we all know that structures can support us to be better than we might be without them.

One of these structures that helps me prioritize giving feedback is one I’ve learned over the years from those wiser than myself — it’s called a “2×2 conversation.”

In brief, it’s a conversation in which each person shares:

  • Two things that they think they are doing well in their own work
  • Two things they want to improve upon in their own work
  • Two things their colleague is doing well in their work
  • Two things they think their colleague could improve upon in their own work

Before the conversation, we’ve found it’s best if the two people engaging send each other an email with their thoughts. Then schedule a lunch, coffee, or walk and discuss your thoughts and ideas about how the two of you can take your work together to the next level.

At this point in my career, I’ve probably had more than thirty 2×2 conversations. And regardless of the situation, I can honestly share that every one of these conversations has been helpful. I’ve gotten excellent feedback from managers, those I manage, and lateral peers, and gotten to share thoughts with others that I might not have otherwise made time to share given a busy schedule.

We have in the past done organization-wide 2×2 conversations at least once a year where teammates have these conversations with several staff with whom they work closely, and we also schedule one for 6 weeks into someone new joining the team (with that person’s manager).

There’s little that’s more important to your work than how you interact with your teammates. Those working relationships are worth the investment, and this is one tested strategy that you’ll love.

Have another tip on giving feedback? Share in the comments!

Stewart Family 40 by 40 List

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As you might know, Jon and I both had lists of 30 things we wanted to do by the time we were turned 30 years old. We completed most of our lists (missed a few), and enjoyed the process.

About 10 months ago on Valentine’s Day, we spent our evening with Indian takeout and a notebook writing down ideas for our next list – a “40 by 40”. We have revisited and refined the list a bit over the last year (things got a little busy with the addition of an adorable baby), and we finally finished it up recently. There are actually 42 things on this list because we figured we could use a little wiggle room and couldn’t figure out more to cut.

Below is the list – being publicly accountable will help us make these things happen. You’ll see we’ve completed one so far – getting a king-sized bed (!), and that there are a few private goals as well.

We’ve got about 8.5 years until we’re both 40 years old – let’s get started.

Stewart Family 40 by 40 List

For our family:

  1. Have a dog join the family.
  2. Live and/or vacation internationally for at least one 3 month period.
  3. Take a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
  4. Jessica & Jonathan take at least 3 trips with no children, including one for our 10th anniversary.
  5. Take one trip with a destination we decide after having already arrived at the airport to leave.
  6. Lose a collective 15% of our combined body weights keep it off for one year.
  7. Be financially able to purchase a home (or have purchased one).
  8. Make a trip to an Auburn football game in an RV.
  9. Renew our marriage vows.
  10. Create one source of passive income.
  11. Participate in a TV show audience.
  12. 5+ family camping trips.
  13. Take a trip to Europe as a family.
  14. Visit Disneyland.
  15. At least one of us donates our hair to a good cause.
  16. Take a vacation in which at least part of the time is spent on a humanitarian/volunteer cause.
  17. Two weeks of no screens (phones, TV, etc.) after 5pm.
  18. One month of exercising every single day.
  19. Pay for a child’s cleft lip surgery.
  20. Foster at least one animal.
  21. Spend one month eating vegan as a family.
  22. Own a king-sized bed.
  23. Plant a tree.
  24. Private Goal 1
  25. Private Goal 2
  26. Private Goal 3

For Jonathon:

  1. Have a conversation in Spanish with our daughter.
  2. At work, be managing a team of people.
  3. Attend the Homebrewer’s Conference at least once.
  4. Take a beer judging class to learn to be a better taster.
  5. Participate in a long-distance biking event.
  6. Join a nonprofit board of directors.
  7. Take a cooking class series.

For Jessica:

  1. Participate in a flash mob.
  2. Try karaoke.
  3. Attend a Garth Brooks concert.
  4. Officiate a wedding.
  5. Be a mentor to someone.
  6. Donate blood 6 times in one calendar year.
  7. Be known professionally as a model for work and life balance.
  8. Try out blogging on professional topics (at least 10 posts).
  9. Participate in at least one endurance exercise event.