What Are Your Resolutions For 2014?

30 March 2007

What’s next? (image via ccarlstead)

The year is now two weeks old, but it’s never too late to make resolutions, and set some goals. And if you are a senior (either college or high school), you should definitely make the following your goals for the next three months: [Read more…]

Take A Flying Leap – You Still Can When You’re An Intern

outside-comfort-zoneThere are a couple of great sayings that are worth printing out and putting up on your memo board – you’ll find them often on posters, mugs, and refrigerator magnets. One is “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” The other is “Do one thing every day that scares you.” And at Advanse, we couldn’t agree more.

Those words of wisdom are true at any age. But we especially encourage interns and beginning professionals to take both sentiments to heart. Because when you are starting out, you have several things on your side:

[Read more…]

Thanksgivukkah 2013

its a wonderful life

Is “It’s A Wonderful Life On”? Then it’s probably holiday season.

There used to be a time, not that long ago, when holiday season in the US began at Thanksgiving. That’s when the stores used to put up Christmas trees and holiday decorations. And in a colleague’s immortal words, it was the most wonderful time of the year because you could find It’s A Wonderful Life playing on a TV no matter when you turned it on. Well, sometime in the last twenty years, that changed. Drastically. Now retailers start marketing Christmas in in the summer. And the public has actually begun to resent it. By the time Christmas Day rolls around, there are no secrets about Santa.

But we’re lucky in Advanse’s backyard. Because here we still have much to discover in holiday season as a result of the DC-region’s cultural diversity. People come here from all over the world – diplomats, students, corporate executives, immigrants looking for a better life. Which means holiday season here includes visible, informative, and inclusive celebrations from many faiths and traditions you might be unfamiliar with. You probably already heard about Deepavali. But in addition, between now and January 30, 2014, you are also likely to hear of Hanukkah, the Solstice, and Eid (the *second*) of the year. And because many of them follow lunar or luni-solar calendars, they’re often a pleasant surprise on the calendar. Not everyone’s Christmas is on the same day of the year, and even then, Christmas may not look the same in every church. You don’t have to go far to see the rest of the world. [Read more…]

Entrepreneurship 101, via Chef Geoff

One of the important components of Advanse’s training programs is business visits. And our departing Summer 2013 SPRINTers had a unique and really enjoyable business visit experience. They got to visit with Chef Geoff Tracy, the very successful founder of the Chef Geoff restaurant empire. (And yes, you didn’t read that wrong, they got to “visit with” him. To visit with someone, to say you “visited” is an American expression for spending time with someone.)


Summer 2013 SPRINTers visit with Geoff Tracy (far right) of Chef Geoff.

Chef Geoff took time out of his busy schedule to talk to our SPRINTers and share his thoughts on entrepreneurship. And we’re not kidding about the busy part. He runs six restaurants, splits his time between New York city (where his family currently lives) and Washington DC, is married to a high profile journalist with an equally demanding schedule, and has three young children including twins. Did we mention that he had no background in the industry, and in fact, graduated college with a degree in theology?

So how did he get this far and how does he hold it all together? Simple: Tracy epitomizes the saying that if you do what you love, it’ll never feel like work.


Geoff Tracy answers SPRINTers’ questions on entrepreneurship.

Here are some of the other big themes that came out of the SPRINTers’ conversation with Tracy:  [Read more…]

The Post, Bezos, And “Genius”

There's a lot to learn from Jeff Bezos' purchase of a storied but declining paper - risk, patience, long term strategy, and details.

There’s a lot to learn from Jeff Bezos’ purchase of a storied but declining paper – risk, patience, long term strategy, and details.

For those of us who are DC-region residents, one story overshadowed the rest of the news this week – the sale of The Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

For newspaper readers – whether it’s the dead-tree edition at the breakfast table or online on the go – this is big news. Because the Post is arguably one of the few important American papers left with any kind of global standing (the others being the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and …. that’s probably it). Let’s put it this way, when you get on an international flight going, there are only a few American papers the airlines and lounges will still stock. And the Post is among them.*

But we digress. Back to Bezos and the papers… [Read more…]

Holidays, Vacations, and Rolling Vacations

kid on a beach on vacation

“Vacation’s all I ever wanted …. ” (Image by Boudewijn Berends)

Ah summer….when everyone takes a vacation! Right? Wrong.

Newcomers to the US are routinely surprised that the country doesn’t shut down in the summer. We certainly have some of the same wicked temperatures they do, often in old towns where air-conditioning isn’t a given. And yet, Americans suit up and go to work June through August. That isn’t because we don’t believe in vacation. Rather, it’s because the US does what’s called a “rolling vacation.” Yes, the summer is traditionally when people take a vacation. But not everyone at the same time. It’s a very very rare company or business where everyone has vacation at the same time and business is suspended. There is always a skeleton staff, during regular business hours. Even when business is slow. (Unsurprisingly, this catches Americans by surprise – routinely – when we go abroad. “Why is it so empty? What do you mean the store’s closed until Monday?” And of course, the answer is usually “vacation.” Or if you’re in the UK, “holiday.”) [Read more…]

What’s For Lunch?

Lunch. One word. Fairly universal. But how the American workplace treats the mid-day meal is always eye-opening to Advanse’s students. Here are some of the things our students notice and struggle with right away:

When Is Lunch?!

Lunch break + Calligrapomorphic

A lot of people in the US eat at their desks – either because of work load or because it’s quicker! (Image by Mo Riza)

Ah yes, the American predilection to simply barrel through the day, not stop, and just work work work because time is money. Americans are some of the hardest working people on the planet, and many will argue that the direct result is one of the largest, most robust economies in the world – despite the current economic riptides. We don’t disagree. But we’ll be the first to say that although efficiency is a good thing, we are not robots. [Read more…]

Memorial Day

Memorial Day Flags

Image by Eddie Acolyte

Are you confused between Memorial Day, which is this weekend, and Veteran’s Day, which is in the fall? You are not alone!

Briefly, Memorial Day honors those who have fallen in battle. Veterans’ Day (called Armistice Day elsewhere) honors all who have served in the military.

Although both are national federal holidays, in the last decade, Memorial Day has probably been a more somber day in Advanse’s neighborhood – which is home to not just Washington DC, but the Pentagon, as well as several major military and defense institutions, bases, and communities. Because between 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq II, Memorial Day reminds us like no other, of what many of our neighbors have lost. And because Memorial Day honors all fallen American soldiers, you will also see a lot of Rolling Thunder motorcycles and parades. In particular, if you take Metro this weekend – or even otherwise – the observance will be evident with information and signs pointing to the Rosslyn station on the Blue line, which is how you get to Arlington National Cemetery.

Always sacred ground in the American psyche, Arlington is a particularly poignant place on Memorial Day. It is a unifying moment, one during which people put aside how they may have felt about the politics, or the wars. Do not be surprised if you see people of all ages, some very properly dressed, somewhat subdued, on their way to pay their respects. Definitely do not be surprised if you see entire troops of Scouts and similar community organizations on their way to Arlington – they are probably going to hand out carnations to those visiting the cemetery.

On a much lighter note, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer. [Read more…]

Judge Not: Bill Gates’ South Korean Faux Pas

Did you hear about the one where Bill Gates didn’t get the memo and came off as a goober?

First, let’s define the word goober….it can mean an assortment of things, including a peanut. But when you call someone a goober, you’re essentially using an American southernism to call that person an unsophisticated person, a yokel, a rube. And in fact, the first time I’d heard the word used hilariously and disparagingly was to describe—wait for it—Bill Gates! His offense? He was on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and once again, didn’t get the memo. Guests on any show usually wait for the host to go to commercial before they exit the stage. Gates? Not so much. When the conversation was over, Gates just got up and left. This being a comedy show, the result was even more hilarity, with Stewart milking it for laughs.


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Gates Crashes
Daily Show Full Episodes Indecision Political Humor The Daily Show on Facebook

But the next morning, as we laughed about it at work, my boss said, “Once a goober, always a goober.” [Read more…]

How Much To Tip?

funny sign that says "tipping is not a city in china"

An old restaurant joke! image by mayhem

Do you tip where you’re from? Do you leave a little extra cash on the table for your waiter before you leave a restaurant? A bit for the cleaning staff at your hotel room when you check out? An extra fiver or tenner for your hairdresser or manicurist on the way out the door?

If you don’t, you are not alone. Because tipping is not a universally uniform practice. And in fact, there are many places where it doesn’t happen at all. But tipping is the norm in the US. And many an international student or visitor will find him or herself marked as the outsider, unpleasantly so, upon leaving no tip. [Read more…]