Leff’s Picks September

Leff’s Picks | September 2023

Trying new things

It doesn’t matter how old I get; I still associate this time of year with learning new things, embracing new challenges, seeking out change. These last few weeks I’ve found myself gobbling up new information and setting intentions to learn more and waste less time—that is, to read more and spend less time on my phone. And I’m still chasing that feeling you get when you discover or begin something you’re really excited about. The feeling I had the first day of Ancient Greek in college. Or the first time I did a Yoga with Adriene YouTube video. Or on the first day of a new high school soccer season. It feels like the older we get, the less easily these opportunities arise. You have to go out looking for them.

Below, some of my colleagues share stories about trying new things and seeking growth—and when they’ve decided to throw in the towel.



Starting the day right

The great battleground of my marriage has been breakfast. Growing up, one of my family’s foundational beliefs was that any day that starts with scrambled eggs was automatically 20 percent more productive. My husband, being French, has always just grabbed buttery from a local patisserie. This year, I set myself the task of re-educating him (and lowering our joint cholesterol). Every Sunday, he has been “treated” to a plate of freshly made eggs and allowed to offer constructive criticism. We’ve now been through 22 iterations, which together have contained 17 separate ingredients. His verdict on the most recent? Just about edible. My overall conclusion? Let the man eat croissant.




After a long break (especially in the winter), I enjoy finding virtual events to attend that reacclimate me to finding creative solutions in work. This year, I joined the American Marketing Association which has also offered great events around a variety of skills- building topics. When it's warm outside, I enjoy going to networking events in person.



Back to school at 30-something

This fall I'm beginning my executive MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It's been 11 years since I got my Master's in Writing and Publishing, and since then I've gotten married, bought a home, became a mom, gained hobbies. Getting back into the swing of being a student has been a wild ride: blocking time every evening on the family calendar for studying, getting into regular arguments with our home printer over 20-page homework assignments, and reminding myself that cram sessions do no good—the slow and steady route of learning is what sticks. As I make my way through my first class (analytical methods, aka all the math we'll need for the next two years), I'm vacillating between confidence and panic. But the long break since I was last in school has done me good—I'm wiser, more patient, and looking forward to learning alongside fellow professionals at similar stages in their careers. And I'm particularly excited for my graduation month in June 2025, which I'll share with my daughter as she graduates from kindergarten. It's never too late to go back to school!



Vroom! Vroom!

This may seem squarely in the "midlife crisis" category, but it really isn't. Maybe. But I've long been a wannabe Formula One driver and, for my 50th birthday, my kids (OK, their mother may have contributed) got me a one-day Porsche Track Experience down in Birmingham, Alabama. I figured there's no way we'd be in anything too speedy - yet after a morning consumed with discussion of racing lines, weight displacement, controlling understeer and oversteer, traction control, and all manner of other stuff, I was strapped into a Carrera 911 GTS and ... well, dreams fulfilled. Or maybe dreams intensified: the next step is a two-day course to hone my skills, followed by four days where I can get my racing license. It won't qualify me for Monaco, but I'll definitely have some advanced moves next time I chug the people-moving SUV to school drop off.

Quick picks

Our favorite educational resources




SkillShare has been my favorite app for learning creative skills. With a subscription, you gain access to a multitude of different classes, led by industry experts, spanning from beginner to advanced levels.




With an array of free and paid courses, Edx makes career education and skill building an accessible avenue for all those willing to learn.

Annie Mullowney

As a senior editor, Annie focuses primarily on developmental editing and drafting, helping clients sharpen their stories and tell them in a compelling way.

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