The Dance

Seductive ladies dressed in brightly colored, long flowing, backless gowns with thigh high skirt slits, sit almost motionless at small candle lit tea tables at the edge of a polished hardwood floor.  In the shadows slowly cruise men in black, carefully choosing their target while summing their courage to act.  And then ….the first strands of a charged tango melody pierce the air.

First one black form then another leaves the darkness of the surrounding shadows and with purpose head held high stride to the beat of the music across the expanse of the open dance floor.  The only sound is that of the instruments. Not a word is spoken by anyone just the quick, quick, slow of the tango rhythm.

Standing at almost attention, eyes straight ahead, soldier ready in the candle glow of his chosen table he extends his right hand palm up.  The seated lady taking little notice, making no eye contact, as if in her own dream world, slowly places her left hand, palm down upon her suitor’s thus accepting his offer without a word or a shared look between.

He preforms a small bow then a step back he continues to hold her hand as she lifts from the chair revealing the full extent of her beauty.

With the flow of the dance counterclockwise around the room he frames the couple, strong, upright and steady with his embrace. She the color, the fabric within the frame responds to his lead with reaching steps of extended line from toe through hip in a swirl of dazzling gown.

Quick, quick, slow then there is a pause. The classic tango pause.  Each stops and holds their place within the dance and with a sudden turn of the head they look for the first time, directly into each other’s face, eye to eye.  Then just as sudden they look away in unison outward toward their out stretched clasped hands and so continue the circle route of the dance around the room, now cheek to cheek.

Having experienced each other’s touch within the tango embrace for the customary three songs their introduction is complete with a final showy spin.  He with head above the crowd surveys the surroundings and gains his bearings, collects his lady, she taking his arm and they stroll back to her seat at the sideline table awaiting her arrival.  He holds her chair. Thanks her for the dance. The first words by either during their brief encounter.  She in like thanks him before again assuming her dream state in the candle glow, to wait her next awakening from a hand held palm side up.

…but, this is a Love story

I recently sold a condo to a couple, their first home together but, this is a love story.

A true story that got this old dried out sales guy, to well, get all sort of warm and gooey. Kind of resorted my faith in the younger generation, in right wins over wrong and in, yes love.

My buyers were young newlyweds. Not only that but both were foreign born coming from different parts of the old Soviet Union. Both after finishing old world “University” training, had decided to leave the security of their families and move solo to Seattle hoping for the promise of a better life with more opportunity.  Not so very different than many others before them, like my own Pappa who made the trip when only 17.

Traveling so, halfway around the world, they found each other in the very strangely different and wonderful world of Seattle at a coffee bar. Sometimes we locals forget just how lucky we have it and need a fresh view from another’s prospective. A view full of awe and wonder. The same is true of love, after all this is a love story. Continue reading “…but, this is a Love story” »

A Writer ???

“A writer”, somehow in a strange way it seemed to fit.  It was kind of like putting on that special occasion outfit.  A little awkward at first, a bit stiff, a couple of pulls and tugs here and there, but as I began to let the everyday normal me go, it…well…seemed to fit.

I was attending a fairly large social function, somewhat formal, enough so that I felt a little under dressed.  As I slithered about the close quarter’s crowd, trying not to draw attention to the fact that I had not worn a tie, a stylish woman took notice of me.  Fearing that my lacking tie had been spotted, I averted my eyes, only to have her come closer. Upon her approach she said the most amazing thing.

“You’re the writer.”

I took a quick look over my shoulder, then said “You talking to me?”  “Why yes. A couple of other people have pointed you out.”  Now confused on several levels, the first of which, that I hadn’t done a very good job of ‘not drawing attention to myself’, pulled  together and uttered the best response I could come up with, “Oh.”

She then motioned me over to another women who was holding a small glass of wine with her little pinky finger posed just so.  ”Beth, this is Mark, he’s a writer too”.  By now my mind was on warp speed, “a writer too?”  What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Well, I and Miss Pinky Finger had just a ‘lovely little literary chat’ about her latest efforts in the series of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles.   She talked about her chickens and talked about my ducks, who knew that I could pull the whole writer thing off?

So it was, that I had been handed the writer persona by someone who had not recognize the everyday normal me and well the special occasion outfit felt pretty good.  Maybe I should wear it more often?

 

Easter Bunny vs. The Peamouth Minnow

Okay…Okay !!!   To all my “urban wildlife” people, I haven’t written anything on that subject for quite a while.  Furthermore,  the Easter Bunny maybe considered “Urban Wildlife,” to some, but the 6 foot tall pink one I saw down at the mall, posing for pictures with sugar high octane kids just doesn’t cut it for me.  So….I give you the Peamouth Minnow.

The peamouth minnow a rarely seen, hard to find, but a wonderful and delightful surprise is an adult, natural and northwest native version of the childhood Easter Egg Hunt.  These foot long fish come to Kelsey Creek to spawn and in so doing attract blue heron, river otter and eagles. They’re thousands of them to see, but only if you know where and when to look (they are here only once a year for 24 to 48 hours).  In fact the City of Bellevue has volunteer groups out trying to locate them, expecting them any time from now until mid-June. The City even offers a training course to help you better understand the mystery fish of our in town neighborhood backyard streams.

For those of you with a little adventure in your soul ( beyond the pink mall bunny), the below link will give you a lot of info on the what, where and when of the peamouth millow with detailed location maps of the best spots to search, mind you all within Bellevue Washington city limits.  Truly a bit of northwest natures real “urban wildlife.” Good Easter egg hunting…fish egg that is.

http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/Utilities/Peamouth_Flyer.pdf

Where you live is as important as what you live in !

So Am I Chopped Liver or What?

Yesterday while checking out at the drug store it happened.   Hit me like a ton of bricks.  A store in which I have shopped at least once a week for over twenty years.   Most of the store employees have been around for ten or more years.  So over time, I and most of the clerks have become pretty familiar with each other to the point that they know what’s going on in my life by just tracking my weekly purchases.

Anna my checker today said, “You’re looking sharp”.  The comment caught me off guard.  My mind raced thinking of the proper response.  But, all I could think of was, “Does that mean on all my previous visits, I was chopped liver?”

The comment and my reaction have been bouncing around in the corridors of my mind for over a day now.  I pride myself as a confident well-adjusted person; however my reaction to her positive personal comment was anything but.  I’m to the point where I’m seriously planning to avoid using Anna’s checkout lane next time I’m in the store.

To give a well-meaning complement takes a very confident mature person.  A person who is neither threatened nor jealous of you but, is comfortable and positive within themselves. That’s what I came up with after two days of inward reflection.  GREAT, oh inward self.  What does it mean to me and my outward self?

Anna with her complement had shared some of her positive energy with me.  It was my place to politely accept her gift, thus lifting and adding to my own storehouse of positive goodwill and……… with a storehouse so filled be better able to share in like kind.

So, I’m thinking, it was not about “looking sharp” today and having been “chopped liver” for the last twenty years.  No, it was about having been chosen, yes chosen, to be part of a “domino effect” of and for goodwill. Just say thank you for the gift. 

“Dear reader I congratulate you for preserving through my sorting out process.”

Now that’s one complement down and you’re welcome..

Now I think I need to go buy some toothpaste and tell Anna she’s doing a great job in the domino game of positive goodwill sharing.

Benjamin’s Birthday

At 1:48 p.m. Thursday Benjamin greeted the world for the first time.   A mere two hours after his birth the family would host a welcoming like none I have ever witnessed or been a part of before. 

 Now new born babes are not new to me, having experienced the birth of my own three children and having had visits with 4 earlier grandbabies within hours of each of their births. This one was different, much more of a party atmosphere.  As one who firmly believes that all things in life happen with purpose, it took me a few days of reflection to see the light of the gathering’s meaning.

Twelve of us celebrated together in the one small delivery room, passing the bundled Ben from one to another for each to hold and introduce ourself.  His mother, my daughter, looking amazingly fresh and joyful having produced the babe just two hours earlier, sitting up in what looked like some sort of cross between a bed and an Easy Boy recliner, all smiles. The child’s father seated next to her holding their baby Ben proudly.  A threesome all a glow, representing the love of family.  Four year old big brother Nick, trying his hardest to wait his turn to hold his new brother, representing sibling acceptance and support.  Sister Rachel, two (and we can’t forget, a ½ years old), dancing all around the forest of standing legs, unable to contain her excitement, representing pure joy.  Uncle Jon, just quietly watching as he leaned against a wall for what looked like a needed support. Half scared thinking of when it will be his day to be the new Dad, represented the father’s extended family.   My daughter’s mother and I, though no longer joined, united in our love for Benjamin, represented our contribution to Benjamin’s family tree.  Courtney, a college dorm mate of the third time mom there too, representing an involved circle of helpful and dear friends.  The attending nurse, passing through the group handing out food snacks hostest style, representing a full plate of life’s opportunities, free for the taking.  And the one role that took me the longest to understand was that of the student.  A young man from the University of Washington studying in the medical field.  A stranger, who had asked permission to witness the birth and be part of our group celebration.  I decided that his presence represented a life of curiosity and learning invited to come into our family circle from the outside and become part of this new life.  Now in the middle of all this my Mother telephoned with her welcome greeting for Benjamin.  She being Ben’s Great grandmother, represents not only three living family generations but, firsthand accounts of the family members two generations before that. Her personal in the flesh, family history five generations deep, to be shared with the sixth.

 Now dear reader the story does not end there.  No, for having read my tale you have become an important part of the Benjamin birthday story too.  His coming has now also touched you representing that greater global world that each of us, all be it sometimes unknowingly, interact with every day from our very moment of birth.

Benjamin’s first day, his first few hours of life, reminds me of the truth that states, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  Join in this party of celebration, as we all lift our glasses with a toast to each of our own wonderful, amazing futures yet to unfold.              To the Future…Cheers !

Mark Behringer   

 

The Death of Cave Drawings

Seemingly with every new day there is a new device to “help” us communicate verbally or in text, even as the line between the two forms grows ever more blurred.  My caveman nature harkens back to the good old days.

Witnessing the death of typewriters, rotary dial phones and the like, I wonder what it must have been like at the very first upgrade…… 

We find a young Tor working at the cave wall, Professor Gruck, standing near holding a fire torch.

“Professor, how do you spell “antelope” in profile? Is it with two legs or four?” “If it’s a deer that I saw yesterday and not one I hope to see tomorrow, do I tint it in blue or red?  And is it grammatically correct to make the stick figure hunter, bigger than the antelope? Oh no, that should have been a double hand space, not an arm’s length!  Now it’s all messed up!  I am sorry Sir.  May I start over in another cave?”

“Well son, don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve heard that the Grand Club Master Jobbo over at the ‘Apple Tree’ is working on a completely new way of expression.”  Tor was all ears for he knew there had to be a better way, after all he was running out of caves.

“Professor Gruck, tell me what is it or is it still in Beta testing?”  “Tor you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.  With this new device you won’t need a cave. You won’t need plant dyes. You won’t even need a fire torch.” It’s so advanced our apple gathering clan will be the leaders of the whole caveman tech world.”

“What is it Sir tell me please. I must know.” “Well if you wish. Meet me down at the “Apple Tree” tonight at midnight, so that we’ll be first in line to see the morning’s grand unveiling.” And so it came to be. Grand Club Master, Jobbo stood before the masses at sunrise and held before the waiting clan the visionary “S-pad.”

For that’s what Jobbo called it. It was indeed revolutionary.  A stone tablet that you could carry freely with you everywhere, as long as you could lift it. (Later advancements would make it lighter, more user friendly for the less strong techy masses) With just a simple swing of an ordinary caveman club, marks could be made on its surface.  It was way ahead of its time.  Another thousand years of development would be needed to decode the club marks into a useable language but, everyone in the clan thought the S-pad was just way cool. The way of the future. No one was sure where it would led but, saw its potential. They just had to have one. 

All cave drawing soon would quickly die out as being old fashion technology, left only to legend and the memories of the clad elders, of a not so distant past…. Much like the legends of typewriters and rotary dial phones of our yesterdays are but memories of a bygone time. The S-pad’s time had come.

Mark Behringer

 

 

 

 

 

Your Customer has a Vote…Will They Vote for You???

With national politics in the air my thoughts ran to “Would my customer vote for me?” Or maybe better said, “Why would my customer vote for me?”

By customer I don’t mean that person who is already in your “accounts receivable.”  No, I mean those people who are looking and trying to find your service or product.  Why should they pick you?  Unless you’re that one in a million, you have competitors.  In my case as a Real Estate Broker in the state of Washington, there are tens of thousands of licensed agents.  Why should anyone pick me?

A recent panel of political advisors where asked how they would help someone seeking public office, “get the vote needed to win?”  Their solution broke down into three basic principles;

  1. Know who you are.
  2. Know how to clearly articulate that.
  3. Know your audience and now to relate to them.

Not exactly rocket science but never the less food for thought.  In my case, there is only one “me” even if there are tens of thousands of other real estate agents.  So if I can figure out who I am, I will be the only one of “me,” and therefore unique.  Not as easy as it seems. 

As it turns out, we’re not the best one to know who we are.  Ask past and current customers why they “voted” for you.  What qualities or expectations did we meet?  What qualities did we NOT have that made us a best fit for them over anyone else?  If you’re just starting up, ask the people that likely will be using your service, what are they looking for in a professional such as you and do you have it?

Hopefully you will now have a better idea of ”who you are,” now articulate it.  Again, not easy.  The vast majority of us have trouble talking about ourselves.  Get over it.  Think of and work on a 3 minute elevator speech, a one page resume, a tag line.  Practice it until you can deliver it like a veteran politician in a TV debate. Remember the overriding question we’re trying to answer as clearly, confidently and truthfully as possible is “why vote for me?”

The third point, in my opinion is the most important.  You can really know who you are, you can really know how to say it but, if your service is selling ice and your audience is Eskimos at the North Pole, no matter how clear, confident and truthfully you are, it’s going to be pretty tough sledding. 

Knowing your audience and now to relate to them is major!  This could be considered “Market Research.” Again I say, not that easy.  In “Market Research” the object is to find the wants and needs for a particular product or service.  What we’re after here is to figure out who it is that wants YOU to be the ONE that will deliver their needed product or service. This is more about who you are naturally attracted to. Whom do you feel most comfortable with?  Who fits with your style?  Who gets your message that you have the best answer for THEM?  That’s your target audience, the ones that you will be able relate to and they in turn can relate back.  

I can’t help but remember, as I write this, the time I met Al Gore when he was running for office.  He showed up at Boeing to get our vote, wearing a red flannel plaid shirt over a cashmere black turtleneck, blue jeans neaty pressed and shiny new logging boots (black dress socks).  I guess he was trying to relate to what he thought a typical Pacific Northwesterner would be like???  His east coast advisers knew and were aware of the importance of relating, they just didn’t have a clue of who their northwest audience was. Lesson here,”Don’t try to fake it!” Be real. Be you.

Keep these three keys in mind, as you go about your day campaigning for YOUR vote! 

Get enough votes and you will find yourself elected as one successful entrepreneur.

Good Luck!

Mark Behringer,  NorthwestLookingGlass.com

 

Graphic Recording

Mark and Anna

A Mark and Anna photo merge for my entertainment

For 4 hours last Friday, Mark Behringer, Anna Ulanova, and I did the shoot for some graphic recording.  We were a bit pressed to cram it all into 4 hours, and even more pressed to cram everything that we needed onto my 64gig card.  But we made it.  The footage is now transferred to my computer, and I plan to chop it up over this week.

I expect it to be a very cool production.  The art behind graphic recording is something that we’ve seen more of over the last couple years, and it’s quite amazing to witness.  Like a “live” flip book?  Perhaps it’s even more amazing because we all wish we could illustrate so easily.

One of the nice things about being in video production since 1994 is the visualization of a project like this.  I’ve already pictured how all the pieces fit together, where I need to crop and mask, where I plan to plug in some fun little animations that will add even more life to Anna’s work.  This visualization of the process and finished product is nevertheless something that I find difficult to explain to clients, even to fellow workers in the production process.  It takes a lot of words to write out exactly where graphics should go and what should happen to them when communicating by text with a graphic artist…much easier to point and gesture and show.  And there’s seldom full confidence in telling a client “trust me.” :)

The shoot went well.  Mark and Anna were terrific.  I didn’t yell at them too much, so far as I can tell.  And we barely squeaked out of Mark’s daughter’s home before she had to get her children fed and out the door.  Always something cool about tearing a room apart and putting it back together.  Watch Mark’s site for the finished product.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG