Top Ten Thursday - Talents

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

Today we're talking about the Top 10 things we are good at!

I was thinking that we tend to be super critical toward ourselves. We should be more organised, work harder, eat less sugar, always say and do the right thing, bla bla bla - let's not forget that there are many things that we're good at (without even making a great effort) and doing brilliantly!

What are those for me?

1. Writing
You knew this was going to be on the list, right?

Ever since we were supposed to write essays at school, I liked to craft stories, true or fictional ones. 

I'm also pretty good at summarizing what has been discussed at meetings which often makes me the designated minute taker. 

In Switzerland companies are obliged to include written reference letters in an employee's leaving package. This document is supposed to be both truthful and favorable. Now writing one for somebody who did a great job is easy. How about the person you fired because they were lazy, rude and unreliable,..? That's when line managers were really glad to have me as their HR person...
Sadly I am also their go-to person for condolence cards.

The other day I came across a former classmate of my post-graduate studies.
"Remember how we switched oral exam dates?" she laughingly said.
Ohmigod, yes!!!

When we were advised of our big day (which we knew was going to fall within a two weeks' period) I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the one day I could not not be at the office. We were going to have wage negotiations with the unions. The one day the entire company was relying on their HR leader.

M (my friend) on the other hand couldn't believe her day was at the very beginning of that 14 days' frame; she needed more time to prepare. She made calls and handed in a written request so we could switch dates.

"They said no!" she cried on the phone. "I'm so screwed!" I asked her to send me her request as well as the rejection letter. When I saw what (and how) she had written, I was like no wonder it was denied. I made an appeal which got approved. Up to this date this fact gives me the confidence to ask for an exception.

2. Listening / Getting people
I generally like people. (As long as they don't piss me off, haha.) I am interested in what drives them. I want to hear their stories. And boy, do they tell me things way beyond the need to know basis. And I'm talking about job interviews here. People I possibly meet once in my / their lives will tell me everything.

3. Keeping my cool / Knowing what to do in tough situations
In my over 20 years of working in Human Resources (more than in my private live, fortunately) I have been involved in exceptionally emotional situations like the wife of one of our key managers committing suicide - leaving him a single Dad to two little girls and us short an important business driver from one day to the next, or one of our sales rep's having a panick attack right there in the meeting room. Back then I thought he was having a nervous breakdown. 
Anyway, I remember having risen above myself or something. If prompted I would have thought I'd freeze, or at the very least get super nervous. Even though I was probably on auto-pilot I felt calm and crystal clear, and I did what had to be done.

4. Languages
Of course as a European I had the advantage of growing up in the middle of it all. French was compulsory for every high school student, back then English was voluntary (it's not anymore these days, kids start in 3rd grade already which I think is great) but almost everyone took it anyway, and you got to choose to learn Italian and Spanish which I did all through college as well. I can order pizza really well, hahaha! 

5. Planning
I tend to think of everything important, and I know how / where to get it and whose help to ask for. However I don't like to plan all that much. I don't know why. It's great to be prepared, right? Anyway, I think I'm better at

5a. Improvising
It's when I really thrive. I can usually whip up something acceptable with the resources available in very little time, be it a meal or a blog post ;-)

6. Teaching
I think I manage to get into people's brains and find out what way works for them to learn stuff. Some will prefer to just read, others need to shadow you or do it themselves. 

We kept having issued with Store Managers who thought when one of their partners (employees) were sick, they could just call another store and ask for somebody to fill in, no harm done. The thing is, in Switzerland you have to pay a sh**load amount of sick days, meaning the store with the sick partner actually got charged for two salaries that day. 

Our Finance department kept sending them charts and spreadsheets to show them how their costs were affected. One day I teamed up with a Finance guy, and we created a board game with Playmobil characters, Monopoly money, Las Vegas style dice and all. In other words we did some playful visualising. I think it was one of my most favourite days. Seeing those managers playing the game and actually really understanding how those transactions worked (they had to pay the other store upfront, in cash - ouch!) was so rewarding.

7. Rubik's Cube
When I was in fifth grade I was bored. Somehow I got my hands on a copy of the instructions on "how to solve the Rubik's Cube", and I learned them by heart. Underneath the school desk ;-) 
I can still do it. My hubby's relatives whom we visit every Christmas always ask me to "redo" their cube that got messed up. If for nothing else, this is what they will remember me for.

OK, this is where I got stuck. I mean, I can drive a car pretty decently, I haven't had any bad accidents, and sometimes I even manage to parallel park, but I don't feel this is worth going on the list. 

Colin was looking over my shoulder. "Watcha doing, Mommy?"
I told him. "Anything I should add?" I asked. This is what he said, and I'll take it:

8. Finding stuff
What he meant is finding stuff you can't just simply google / order. Like toys. Or sports jerseys. After this summer's soccer WC he became a fan of Gareth Bale, and he wanted a Wales national team's jersey for his birthday. I canvassed the sports article retailers, and they would all laugh at me. "Bale? Kids' size? In Switzerland? Good luck, lady!"
Good thing the world doesn't end in Switzerland. Thank you, British guy on eBay!

Also, the good old "Mom, where is my INSERT RANDOM ITEM?" works at this house.

I have been doing pretty well at tracking down long lost people, even in times before the internet. School reunion? I have organised a handful.

Oh, or how about a medical dictionary? When my brother emigrated to Israel, he needed a document stating in English that he was in perfect health even though he's had a tumor removed from his spine. Now of course our regular doc issued this certificate in German, but you know how that sounds at the end of the day: mostly Latin!

It was a time before internet, so I called a state hospital, told them about our situation and asked if there was such a thing as a dictionary with all the medical lingo. Of course there was, and I was welcome to come to the library and use it. 

Great! When I arrived at the reception the nurse was looking at me funny. 

"You're not who I was expecting" she said. 
Sorry about that, I can't make myself taller, skinnier, prettier,...?
"No, it's not that. When you said your name was Stutz (my maiden name back then) I assumed you were Dr. Stutz, you know, who is working here? The medical library is for personnel only!"
She could be convinced to turn a blind eye to the rules though and handed me the giant book.

9. Cooking / Baking
Considering I used to live off canned sweet corn and frozen pizza, I'm doing OK. I like to experiment and try and make new things. Not everything will be a winner, so I'll always come back to my tested and proved dishes. Lasagna, enchiladas, risotto.

10. Being a Mom
I love that he said that! I wonder what makes a good mom in the eyes of an eight year old. Upon being prompted, he went:

  • She is always nice and looks after me and my friends
  • She only yells when I really mess up
  • She buys yummy treats for me
  • She allows for lengthy iPad time 

Now we want to hear about your talents! What are you great at?
Would you like to join us for next week's Top Ten Challenge? The theme is gonna be "top ten cool things I saw, heard and / or  experienced this week that made my day" and it posts September 29.

Please sign up here or send me a message!

The prompt for October 6 is going to be  "top ten things to take care of before leaving on vacation",  (Sign up here

But wait! Don't leave just yet - visit my fellow Top Ten Bloggers and see what they came up with! The linky-tool is up, please use it to link up your post!