|August 28, 2012||Posted by Angela under Local Places & Events|
As San Antonio has grown, so has our food scene. We have new, trendy, yummy restaurant spots popping up all over the city – and I am loving it. But what I love even more is that our local restaurants are not being overshadowed or closed down. They remain open and busy as ever. Our local favorite, Los Barrios, has been a local favorite of my family’s since I was a child. When we wanted a simple, delicious Mexican food plate that felt like your grandmother had just made, we went to Los Barrios. We went there to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, Friday nights, after games – it was our go to place for every occasion. And that hasn’t changed. I now go with my husband and son and we’ve introduced my in-laws to this wonderful gem to celebrate the same special moments with good family and friends.
Though Los Barrios has received plenty of recognition over the years (including being featured on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown and Good Morning America with Emeril Lagasse) and opened a sister restaurant, La Hacienda, in the north part of San Antonio, the recipes remain the same, the staff continues to welcome you like family and the ambiance is so comforting. You’re always bound to run into someone you know – as we did last Friday.
We were tired and hungry and I wanted a cheese enchilada plate (which is not normal for me). We wanted something quick and casual. Los Barrios of course. We get there and it’s crowded and there’s a wait. No biggie. We run into a coworker from Rackspace and he is there with his wife and kids and another family. Lots of families were there.
We finally get seated. As I sat down, I see an old friend I had played volleyball with as kids. She lives in Seattle, her brother in NYC and they both had just flown in to celebrate their mom’s 60th birthday. Where else would they celebrate but Los Barrios? It was so great to seem them and chat about our childhood days.
But why I really love Los Barrios…
As our meal came to a close, we saw Louis Barrios (owner of Los Barrios). As always, he is visiting each table and making sure his guests are happy. He comes by our table to say hi. I apologized for the mess my son had made (rice was sprinkled on the floor under his high chair). He immediately said, “No, no, please do not apologize.” He want on to explain that his mom (late Viola Barrios) used to say that whenever she saw rice on the floor, she knew she was serving the right people (families). That made me almost tear up. Viola wanted to serve families and if that is what she was doing, her job was done. Her family continues to live out her purpose and I think that is so special. And it reminded me of why I love Los Barrios so much.
There are a gazillion Mexican food restaurants in San Antonio but we continue to choose Los Barrios because the food is good but more so because they treat you like an extension of their family. May other restaurants learn from them.
|August 14, 2012||Posted by Angela under Business & Technology|
I had my last mentorship over coffee session almost a month ago and I finally put aside some time to write about it. Even though our session was cut short, I probably took the most from this one. Here’s why.
I’ve been ferociously working on a project with my colleagues that we started about six months ago and it’s now finally coming to fruition. We’re at a point where we can socialize internally and get people rallied behind it.
I shared it with my mentor and though I was nervous, I was excited to share; I was so proud of it. After sharing the project, I patiently waited for their reaction. It was one of awe. I was relieved, yet, I was still unsure. I was sure they would tell me what was wrong with it. I waited but they went on about how awesome it was.
After looking at my expression, they asked, “What’s wrong? Are you not proud of it?” No! I was so proud of it but I was so scared to know what other people thought. I was so emotionally involved in the project and knew how great it was that I just wanted everyone else to see how great it was too. They looked at me and said, “You have to remember that you will be the hardest on yourself.” Immediately after telling me this, they got a call and had to leave. I spent some time thinking about this and put my thoughts together. It’s true; I was so hard on myself. We all are, and I think this is why we don’t do more than what we’re capable of.
We can come up with a million excuses as to why we can’t do something (read this article: 10 Reasons Why We Fail), but really, the only person holding you back is yourself. As I thought about the project I had worked on, I realized there were a few stages where I could have got stuck and prevented myself from progressing to the next stage.
Let Yourself Be Creative
The first step is to allow yourself time to be creative. We are so consumed with our everyday activities that it’s not often we stop and just imagine. To quote Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” We’re all in a place where we’re living up to someone else’s expectations – maybe it’s your employer’s, your parent’s or your professor’s – so when do you make room for yourself to think broader than what is expected of you? We all have creativity in us but don’t allow ourselves the time to let it rise above the surface.
Solution: Schedule it! You make time for everyone else and everything else, why not make time for you to think? It doesn’t mean that you’ll come out with something, and you may not for days, weeks or months, but when something does come to you, you’ll have renewed energy!
You Have to Make it Happen
Some may think this is the hardest part but I actually think the first is the hardest. Once you’re at a point to make it happen, everything falls into place. The difference between being creative and making it happen is the difference between “strategists” and “doers.” I am about to be a jerk here but I cannot stand when I ask someone what they do and they say, “I do strategy.” That tells me “I do nothing.” Don’t get me wrong, strategy is important (it’s in my top 5 strengths) as you can’t execute on something if you don’t have strategy, but the train doesn’t stop there. You have to do it!
Solution: When you have an idea, you shouldn’t think that you have to do this on your own. This is why having true, meaningful relationships with people are so important. Make sure you’re around people that have different qualities than you; people that compliment you. Marissa Mayer says, “Surround yourself with the smartest people possible.”
Don’t Just Believe It, Sell It
I recently saw the 80th anniversary Lego short animated film and actually watched the entire 17 min video. It tells the company story of Lego, from it’s humble beginnings in the early 1930s. What was interesting to me is that the initial founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, believed in his product. He made each toy product with pride. When it came to selling, however, he would often cut himself short – he sold enough to feed his children. It was when one of his sons, Godtfred, stepped in to lead the business that his products began to sell. He was no different than his father in believing in the product, but he had a way of selling it. Selling means attaching the benefits of your products to the needs and wants of the buyer. What one buyer wants isn’t necessarily what another buyer wants. This goes for everything you do. Sell your work. Let people know why it’s important to them, not why it’s important to you. (And don’t jump to selling if you don’t believe first.)
Solution: Make it into a story (similar to what Lego did). I recently read an article that was spot on called How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool. Often times we talk ourselves out of telling stories because we think it’s for children. Stories connect humans; it’s something anyone can relate to.
Be Ready to Have Thick Skin
I have definitely been down this road, as many of you, and it’s tough. I might have a more sensitive personality than others, but I have learned that not everyone will like your idea. It’s definitely hard to take in especially when you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into something you thought was golden and it turns out not necessarily being golden in someone else’s eyes. The only thing that I can say here is “listen and adapt.” Somebody might catch something that might make your product/project/work better than what it actually is. It might be hard for you to believe that there’s actually room for improvement, but most of the time there is. Many companies start off offering a certain product and/or service and when they start gaining customers, they realize customers may use it in a way that didn’t initially anticipate.
Solution: Pretend like you’re going into an interview and think of all the potential questions that can be asked of you. Try to think of everything that could go wrong and document how you would handle each. You might not tackle every potential punch that can be thrown, but at least you’re in a mindset that it is possible things might not go the way you initially planned. When it does happen, you won’t give up.
I’ve learned a lot leading this project and fortunately, I kept pushing through and made it the last stage. I will keep you posted with what’s to come. Although the project hasn’t been launched yet, I am confident it will.
- Mentorship over Coffee, Lesson #3: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’ (angelabartels.com)
- Mentorship over Coffee, Lesson #2: Define your Non-Negotiables (angelabartels.com)
- Mentorship over Coffee, Lesson #1: Build your Brand (angelabartels.com)
|August 6, 2012||Posted by Angela under Family Stuff|
July turned out to be one of the most special months my family has had. We had the opportunity to host a young boy (14 years) from Spain the entire month of July. I studied in Spain when I was in college 10 years ago and I always wanted to be able to be the host family for a Spanish student one day. When an email was sent out to all staff at my office about looking for a host family, Jason immediately forwarded it to me and said, “isn’t this something you’ve always wanted to do?” Yes, of course! Without putting much thought into it, I emailed Global Journeys and the next thing you know, we have a student coming to live with us.
His name is Pablo and we were so blessed to have received a sweet, polite, fun young boy. My younger brother is the same age as Pablo and they became friends pretty quickly. The purpose of him traveling to the US is to learn the American culture and the English language. He did so much while he was here that it seemed like a year versus just one month! Although I won’t mention everything we did, I did want to at least call out this really cool music camp he participated in.
Pablo had cello experience and was interested in learning the guitar. When I started looking for potential guitar lessons, I was recommended this camp on two occasions. I inquired with Global Journeys and Pablo’s parents about the camp and they agreed to have me enroll him. It was a 2 week rock music immersion program where the kids learn the history of music in the mornings and receive personal lessons in the afternoons on the instrument of their choice. The best thing was the concert, where they performed at Sam’s Burger Joint. It was not only an amazing experience for Pablo but for us as well. To see him learn an instrument in 2 weeks and then be able to play some awesome rock songs was so incredible. He really got a taste of the American culture!
If you have a child between 7-17 years that is interested in music, I HIGHLY recommend this camp. Pancho, the music director, and all the instructors are not only highly talented musicians but all have a passion for teaching kids. It’s a really special experience.
In addition to the camp, we took Pablo to the movies, the mall, lake house at LBJ, to Austin, Fiesta Texas and so much more. We really became attached to him and it was incredibly hard to let him go. But we did and now we stay connected with him via email and social networks but of course, it’s not the same. Our intention is to take Jacob to Spain when he’s older so we can visit Pablo.
As I thought more about why we chose to do something like this, I came to the conclusion that it’s our purpose in life. With the latest horrid news stories on the Penn State coach incident or the recent shootings in Colorado, it’s easy to think that the world is falling apart; that good, loving families are a rarity. They’re not and I think that it’s our duty to spread the love of a caring family. We need to make those connections and bring goodness to the forefront so we can encourage our community that there is a chance for our younger generation.
Being able to open our home up to a young boy from across the seas was such a wonderful feeling and made me realize how special my family is. So if you can, open your house to someone new and help spread the goodness of the world.
|July 19, 2012||Posted by Angela under Business & Technology, Words of Inspiration & Motivation|
There has been a lot of buzz with the Marissa Mayer news, 13 year Google executive (and 20th employee) transitioning to CEO of Yahoo!. I think it’s great and without really knowing her, I am so proud of her. The next day she announces her pregnancy, making her the most powerful pregnant woman in America. Wow. If that is not bold, than what is? And she is only 37! I was so curious to know how she has done it. Being worth $300 million, she clearly does not need a CEO job at Yahoo!. What is her motivation? I read this article on how she got ahead (from back in Dec 2011) and watched this interview she for the Forbes Most Powerful Women recognition and found it to be so insightful. She names two things that she lives by 1) Surround yourself with the smartest people possible (which is why she chose Google among 14 other offers when graduating from Stanford) and 2) Do something you’r unready to do (which is why she switched majors during her time at Stanford to Symbolic Systems and chose to work in a lab in Switzerland when she didn’t know German).
Congrats Melissa and thanks for being an inspiration for all Americans (not just females).
|July 12, 2012||Posted by Angela under Random|
We worked on an infographic recently launched on the Rackspace blog that illustrates what an API is, how it’s used and how quickly the use of API’s has grown. Now, you might be thinking, what is an API? Well, welcome to my world – the world of acronyms. API stands for application programming interface. The trend and the reason why it’s so easy for us to use the web – when a company launches their application (like Facebook), they usually expose their code. Why? Well, so others can develop things to work with that code – to make “calls.” So all those games you play on Facebook, um, they used an API to develop. Take a look to learn more.