My Weekend of Nothing

“You do too much. Go and do nothing for a while. Nothing.”

— Lillian Hellman

Between summer goals and an accountability partner, I had been making great progress. This past weekend, though, I did Nothing.

I’ve capitalized it because I rather like thinking of nothing as something tangible, as something I should aspire to. Those who know me, know I’m really not all that good at doing nothing. It’s one of the reasons I love the Lillian Hellman quote. I carry it with me. I aspire to it, and rarely succeed.

I had a to-do list for the weekend. I’m not sure where it ended up. I was supposed to walk 10,500 steps each day. I didn’t even break 5,000 steps on Saturday. To be honest, I didn’t break 4,000 steps.

I was supposed to write two chapters of my book and write my blog post for today (yes, this one; the one I wrote during my lunch hour).

I had planned to work in the yard. The sky was blue, the humidity was low. I did buy some plants for the gardens, but alas they remain on the porch.

DSCN1076Here’s what I did do, though. I listened to my heart and soul. I woke up with the urge to open all the windows in the sunroom, brew a big pot of coffee, and get lost in a good book. Not a management book. Not the selection for book club. A beach book, or in this case, a sunroom book. Bliss.

Then I decided I wanted to scrapbook because the light was so perfect in the dining room. I opened the blinds all the way. I pulled out all of the supplies. Through the pages I created, I relived a fabulous trip with my goddaughter.

I awoke Sunday feeling guilty for barely moving the day before so I left the house and walked. Maybe strolled would be a better word. I explored the neighborhoods near me. Seven thousand five hundred steps later, I returned home.

My beach read was calling me, so I headed to the pool and read until I finished the book. I paused in my reading to dangle my feet along the pool’s edge — the water was still too cold for full immersion.

I returned home and finished the scrapbook. I finished the book.

I did Nothing.

And I am better for it.


Cycling Race Organizers Share Lessons

For a few months last year, everyone in Richmond, Va., could not get enough of bicycles. The UCI World Road Race was in town for 10 days, and this was the first time the race was going to be in the United States in decades.

Now, many months later all that is left to do is to assess how successful the race was. It’s a good practice to do no matter the magnitude of a campaign or project. Reviewing the lessons learned allows you to implement those learnings in future endeavors so it’s important to be honest.


Source: Richmond 2015 PowerPoint slide.

Among the lessons race organizers Lee Kallman and Paul Shanks shared were –

  1. People like comfort and certainty. Europeans use a paper size known as A4. US paper is 8-1/2 x 11 – not quite the same thing. This caused some early consternation.
  2. Plan, listen and then plan again.
  3. Embrace help. Kallman noted that the Richmond2015 team that worked on the race was small. “Sometimes we weren’t good at accepting help, but we got better over time.”
  4. Just own it. Parking was going to be an issue no matter what race organizers did. One of their team members spoke at a meeting and directly stated that no parking would be available on a particular street. There was no sugar coating. Residents weren’t happy with the news, but they could accept it.
  5. Relationships matter. Race organizers leveraged their relationships with partners and reporters.

The race organizers recognized that message management would be critical in the months leading up to the race and throughout the race. “The event was more than a bike race,” Kallman said. “We knew cycling wouldn’t get [people] excited.”

Richmond2015 launched a website to help with navigating the race. Once it launched, it gave people confidence, said Kallman. “People were interested in how to get to work.

The UCI Road Race in the United States had zero brand recognition and, yet, is a storied event in Europe. While organizers struggled to get early coverage, the turning point came when the Washington Post ran a story about the race. “It became a proof point,” Shanks said.

During the final four weeks of the project, the team earned 54 million media impressions.

Kallman and Shanks also focused on social media and crisis planning. They developed a Joint Information Center and their efforts became a case study for how to handle crisis planning. They acknowledged, though, that despite all the planning there were a few small incidents, including a stolen bicycle of one of the riders. It was resolved quickly with the bike recovered and “reflected the hospitality and vibe,” said Kallman.

They may not be planning another cycling event in Richmond, but they have learned from this event and are ready for whatever comes next.