What I Learned From A Night Out & A List Of Great Questions

conversationsI had an awesome night out recently…

I went out with a group of my coworkers who I knew to varying extents in my as of that moment, short stint working with them at my new job. Our plans for the night had hit a wall so we all decided to just hang out at a local draft house to chat and relax after a long week. When there was a natural lull in the conversation, I noted how I love great questions and have collected a list over time. This peaked my colleagues’ interest and I started rattling off some of the questions to the group. After a few questions (and maybe a few drinks) we were sharing stories and experiences from our lives and bonding over the deep dialogue we were having.

I learned some profound things from evening that I feel like can be helpful to others, especially my colleagues out in the wide world of student affairs. I learned the importance of people feeling safe, the value in self-disclosure, and the power of great questions.

Throughout the course of the evening, I made sure to really listen to the people in my group. They were sharing very personal anecdotes at times so I wanted to really hear them and appreciate their bravery being vulnerable with the group. We all got meta at times where we felt like I was being a group therapist but many of the skills I learned in my counseling courses during graduate school are just great tips for life when listening to people and encourage genuine emotional connections. No one would have been into my gauntlet of questions for us all to get know each other better if they hadn’t felt safe in the group. Everyone bought in and helped create a safe environment, even in a public place like a bar, which was an important foundation to build off of for the entirety of the discussion.

Being an unofficial leader of the discussion as the keeper of the questions, I had an important role in the discourse. While people felt safe through my active listening and appreciation of their vulnerability, taking it all one step further was my own self-disclosure. I didn’t fancy myself better than anyone else there and would often give my own answers first, if not second. I have a strong feeling the steam of the conversation would run out pretty quick if I was never sharing anything about myself

Lastly, the engine of this fascinating chat I had was my questions. I felt out the vibes of the group and kept my questions to more positive ones that asked about interesting concepts like what would be your desired superpower, your personal motto, the best vacation you ever had, and what profession you’d like to attempt other than your own. People shared as much or as little as they wanted and weren’t made to share anything too vitriolic. The questions were some of my own creation, submissions from others, and some from the famous list used on Inside the Actor’s Studio. Great questions get people thinking and sharing beyond topics relegated for “small talk”. My all-time favorite question was the inspiration for one of my favorite blog posts, and simply asks “what do you geek out about?”. I’ve gotten a wide array of answers to this question and it never fails to get a great conversation going since people are talking about what they love.

I always like to gleam grandiose life lessons from even the most mundane things. This night is a simple example of how personal conversations can create deep connections and allow for great positive change. People learned new things about people they thought they knew and appreciated each other not only for sharing, but for the new things they learned about one another. I hope for more fun nights like this in the future and I hope you can have some of your own too.

If you have any awesome questions you’d like to submit, leave a comment or tweet at me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Movie Review Monday: Short Term 12

936full-short-term-12-posterWelcome to another edition of Movie Review Monday! This week’s movie from Netflix is Short Term 12, starring Brie Larson.

The synopsis of the film (via Netflix), is that “A new charge at a foster care facility dredges up the memories of a young supervisor’s (Larson) own troubled past, and her tough exterior begins eroding.”

I found this movie to be very emotionally powerful, engaging, raw, and real. Larson carries the movie along and does a fantastic job as the troubled lead, showcasing a fracturing stoicism throughout the film. The cracks of vulnerability show up subtly at first, but then all the emotions stirring inside her begin to explode. I have enjoyed Larson in other bit roles she has been in like in Scott Pilgrim VS The World or Community but she knocks it out of the park with this one. All of the foster kids also beautifully embody such fragile emotional stability, breaking down under the weight of their own life stories.

The movie’s takeaway is a good one I feel like, that bad things may happen to us, but we don’t have to carry the burden on our own and even further than that, the film tells us that family can be what we make of it. It can be comprised of whomever we choose and we don’t have to live in the shadow of the past, a past that may be comprised of uncaring, abusive, abandoning families. There is a way forward, and there are people in our lives that can help us through it.

You can check out Short Term 12 streaming on Netflix right now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Why I Love Scott Pilgrim, The Movie

scott_pilgrim_vs_the_world_ver2_xlgSo I was just thinking recently about one of my favorite movies of all time, Scott Pilgrim VS The World.

This film from 2010, directed by Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, is based on a graphic novel series of the same name written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, and a great ensemble cast of characters. Such awesome actors as Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Chris Evans, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Jason Schwartzman all make appearances in the film. The frenetic pace, unique visuals, and quirky dialogue combined with the plethora of references to things I love make this movie such a immensely fun viewing experience.

I wish I would have seen it while it was in theaters to have that experience, but I only was turned onto this film after the fact through word of mouth. This article provides some insight into the film’s struggles at the box office. It turns out there were many other people like me who weren’t quite sure about this one and didn’t spend their money at the theaters to see it. I definitely feel like the movie is very much for a specific audience that can connect with the geeky nature of it but still also appreciate the story and characters.

There are some other awesome parts of this movie that I want to share with you all. The music from the movie is great (both the original soundtrack and the great score for the film), there is even a fun video game that came out alongside the film for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live. Everything about it is awesome! I’m glad this unique, original film exists and I hope it will find all of the specific people out there it was made for.

Buy the movie now, you’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for stopping by!

What I’m Geeking Out About This Week – 07/18/14

Geek-and-proudHey there!

Hope all is well with you! Here’s what I’m geeking out about lately:

I just started watching this acclaimed HBO series since it is now all streaming on Amazon Prime (click above). The series is a cop drama based in Baltimore and I’ve heard about how great it is for years so I’m really happy I am able to dig into it now and see what the hype is all about. I will say, so far, that the characters on the show are portrayed really well and for it having debuted in 2002, I think this show was really ahead of its time and modern “golden age” of television we’ve been experiencing of late.

A friend of mine on Twitter recommended this podcast to me, and as an avid podcast listener, I wanted to check it out since I knew one of the hosts, Jason SurfrApp, from another podcast episode I recently listened to and enjoyed. The premise of this is that it is a show for those of us that don’t have set offices and/or office hours, create things, and are essentially just creatively minded professionals. The show is casual, fun, engaging, and informative so it is the perfect style for me. Hopefully you enjoy it if you’re into it and check it out, They just started posting episodes and have a few on some great topics so I definitely highly recommend it.

I worked with a member of this new indie alternative folk band when I was back in New Jersey at Rutgers. I am a fan of their unique sound and support my friend so I wanted to give them a shout-out here as they work to put their work out into the world. Here is a quick link to all their music on Soundcloud. They’re all over social media so you can connect and follow them there and if you’re in the greater New Jersey area, they’re playing live shows around there. I wish them the very best of luck!

Thanks for stopping by as always! Have a great weekend.

This Kickstarter is Going to End Workplace Apathy

IMG_5470-e1380561152889So I’m really excited about this.

I know Kevin O’Connell from some awesome chance encounters from my time at Rutgers and I’ve followed the growth of his project, The Niche Movement for a while now. I love how he is constantly working to help people find their niche and give them the gift of immense happiness and fulfillment in their lives.

The path to satisfaction in work has changed dramatically in recent years and there needs to be a new handbook for this generation of job seekers. Kevin is hoping to do just that with his latest effort with The Niche Movement.

Kevin is crowdfunding the development of a new book based on the ideals put forth by The Niche Movement in hopes of reaching an even wider audience with his inspiring message. I know personally that Kevin is extremely passionate about this and will help out so many more people with this book getting out into the world.

Having all of us feeling more fulfilled, driven by our innate passions, purpose, and beliefs will change everything for the better. Help support make this vision a reality.

Check out the full, formal press release below and make sure to check out The Niche Movement and support Kevin’s Kickstarter today. Every little bit helps.

July 14, 2014 – Kevin O’Connell, founder of The Niche Movement, today announced the launch of a new crowdfunding campaign focused on his new book, The Niche Movement: New Rules for Finding a Career You Love. The book aims to debunk common ideologies surrounding the job search, entry level employment and employment unhappiness by offering true, inspirational stories along with research and advice from experts and influencers from around the world who chose not to take the conventional approach to career exploration.

The last eight years working with college students and young professionals proved to O’Connell that most academia and student affairs practices are not teaching students to take risks in their twenties. With his entrepreneurial, educational, and marketing backgrounds, he’s taking his passion to a whole new level with The Niche Movement: New Career Rules for Finding a Career You Love.

The book will amplify a message that needs to be told: a job worth loving exists, you just have to find it. “It’s 2014,” O’Connell said. “This generation need to be told this.” The book, which will include stories of others who have found their niche, will serve as a platform to empower young adults to take risks that will lead them to finding their niche. It will teach the new rules for finding a career path worth loving.

“I eat, sleep and breathe college student’s lives,” he says. “I’ve been in the trenches where I have seem them thrive and a year later frustrated in their “post-graduate life.” I’ve seen the bad advice not work.”

According to Kevin, significant opportunities for change are constantly being overlooked.

With his new book, he hopes to open the eyes of college students, recent grads and other young professionals and help them harness the professional and personal experiences they’ve had, the experiences they’re living, the experiences they’re going to have and continue to ask themselves: why am I doing this? How can I get back to what motivates me?

The Niche Movement: New Rules for Finding a Career Path You Love can help change the way we view employment. It will rewrite the way we approach career development for good.

The job searching process is a very lonely one; one that instills a sense of frustration, stress and even self-doubt. O’Connell’s stories will provide a support system, a personal guide and our society should want that for young adults. “I’m not a job board. I’m not a recruiter,” O’Connell said. “I’m trying to help connect the dots for young professionals and find their way.”

A successful campaign shedding light on this unconventional career advice would create a platform to scale the larger project: end unemployment happiness for young professionals and twenty-somethings. Starting Fall 2014, The Niche Movement will be hosting monthly, inexpensive career events for people who want the information in addition, to the workshop and keynotes, and online programs they already offer.  

Kevin’s dream is to create a pipeline between really great companies with really great jobs with really great students because, “right now, they are both missing each other.” He hopes his stories will go well beyond the idealistic commencement speeches and give real world solutions for this generation to find the work they love.

Kevin O’Connell is a student affairs professional who has done everything from service learning to student leadership to social media strategy. He is a driven, enthusiastic up and coming entrepreneur whose passion for young leaders drove him to create a movement. Kevin is a true believer in authenticity who values honesty, trust and execution. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Courtney O’Connell, and their black lab, Luke. For more information on Kevin and The Niche Movement, visit thenichemovement.com.

Thanks for stopping by!

Movie Review Monday: The Untouchables

the_untouchables_originalThis week’s movie is 1987′s The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia, and Robert De Niro. The film dramatizes the historical events of Al Capone’s downfall during the Prohibition Era of American history.

As a history major, I enjoyed seeing movies set in real historical contexts. This movie unfortunately seems to simplify these events into an action movie, which doesn’t make for a terrible movie, it just feels like there could have been more substance. The acting isn’t too great either so that doesn’t help much with the story. The action however, is pretty solid, with Costner, Connery, and Garcia taking down the bootleggers in brutal fashion.

As with a movie like Olympus Has Fallen, there isn’t much more to discuss here. This movie doesn’t work for me as well as some other classic 80′s action movies since it has some trouble with pacing for me where something like Commando, for example (which needs to be back on Netflix, it was for a time), is able to avoid since it is just straight action without a focus much on plot. What is so unique about this era of action movies is that they somehow get away with it, where The Untouchables doesn’t.

I’ll leave you to see what you think of this movie. It’s streaming on Netflix now and isn’t terrible but it’s not great either from my estimation. I watched this movie mostly since it was sitting in my queue for a very long time. I’d be interested to hear what any of you think.

Thanks for stopping by!

What I’m Geeking Out About This Week – 07/11/14

Geek-and-proudHey there!

Thanks for coming by! Here is what I’m geeking out about this busy week:

If you follow my blog, you know I’m excited for this movie. I’ve posted about it multiple times (here and here, at least). It has (as of the posting of this) a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and the 3D is apparently amazing as well. I’m going to go see it tomorrow some time and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts with you all. You should see it too so you can share in the awesomeness that will be this movie!

A friend of mine up here in Maine (hooray for making friends!) invited me out to go see the original Body Snatchers movie out on a big screen at a park in town. I haven’t seen this movie in a long time and it’s a great sci-fi classic that has been remade multiple times. I think this will be a fun way to watch the movie, out with other sci-fi fans, outside on a beautiful night. I’m really looking forward to it!

  • Trivia

Something else I’ve gotten into since I got up to Maine with some of my coworkers is going to a local trivia night again. I went a ton when I was back in Delaware a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I am determined to win a night while I’m here just as I eventually did in Delaware, even if it takes me a year!

***So, a quick aside here. I’m working my full-time job now and I am going to keep hustling to keep a regular flow of content to you all. I always enjoy getting likes, comments, and feedback so any support you can give to keep me inspired as I’m figuring out a new life routine is very much appreciated. Every single one of you who comes to this site is special to me so I would love to hear from you.

All the best and thanks for stopping by,

- Dustin

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Prequel Shorts

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apesIf you’re as excited as I am for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as I am, you’ll want to check out these short films that tell some short vignette stories that lead up to the feature film. I feel like the movie is going to have a bit more of an impact knowing how the outbreak of the simian virus affected humanity.

Let me know what you think if you watch them