I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Posted on May 23, 2019

Help From My Friends
 Today’s Buzz is by Meredith Reynolds – connect with her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter!

What I’m Listening To: See the Light by Matrimony from Charlotte NC
(Seems my music has a theme lately)

What I’m Watching: Bosch Amazon Series a modern film noir detective series based in Los Angeles that I highly recommend.

A Secret I Want To Share: I was so paranoid after the technical difficulties I had trying to post my first entry as a Morning Buzzer that I actually believed my posting date was a week earlier than I was scheduled for. (Because I feel like I have to live up to the awesomeness that is @kowyatt and fellow Morning Buzzers) So, this is a throwback to last Tuesday, when I was waiting for my flight to #ELGL19 from LAX > RDU.


One benefit in an organization with over 5,000 employees is there a good chance you’ll meet a few people who actually like you. I’m lucky to have a colleagues that I refer to as my ‘coalition of the willing.’ This is a diverse group of folks who support each other professionally, show up for each other’s events and projects, sign up for group efforts, and go out of their way to help each other. They are from a variety of the city’s 22 Departments, vary in age, education, experience, gender, ethnicity, and personality.

One is the epitome-of-health marathon runner that loves dogs, another is a born-and-raised local who bikes everywhere on her seriously cool vintage-green bike, even to mentor local school children.

One is a blossoming silo-transcending up-and-comer who wants to reinvent government engagement and communication, and another is desert transplant working to deploy criminal justice resources to those in need of treatment and care.

One is a conscientious health professional focused on ground-breaking organizational equity while establishing roots and growing a family, another is a wicked-smart planner who is tackling climate change head-on.

One leveraged young motherhood into achieving her professional dreams and inspires innovation, another selflessly cares for her ailing mother and still manages to keep Department finances on track.

One, who is allergic to everything but likes beer, was recognized as an emerging planner in the region, another is dynamite collaborative engineer with killer soft skills that partners to deliver major city capital projects including a new City Hall.

They are driven by public service, making their City better, and can think across traditional bureaucratic boundaries. Some are big picture thinkers, others are logistical wizards, some develop policy while others implement them, and still, others are builders, designers, communicators, and storytellers.

they exhibit behaviors that grow our connection.

Like a Rubik’s cube, each person brings different multidimensional facets that come together in different combinations to make something wholly fascinating.

Some of these folks have transcended typical work relationships, and are people I consider my friends. Many of these friends happen to be women – strong, educated, emotionally intelligent, delightful women and hold an incredibly important place in my life. I was reflecting on what behaviors they display that has elevated them from ‘work proximity associates’ to ‘my people’, and generally, we have shared values and they exhibit behaviors that grow our connection.

…They listen and empathize as I fiercely discuss issues of pay equity, developing employees’ talents, creating sustainable mechanisms for park funding, building community relationships, community engagement, and other work topics important to me.

workplace proximity associates… They save space for honesty and truth as we evaluate some of our organization’s biggest issues, things I feel can be seriously lacking in city dialogue. (I don’t know how many times these folks have heard me say ‘but what do I know, I just work here’.)

… They challenge my perspective and we can respectfully debate without judgment or hurt feelings because we don’t have to compete to be right.

… They create a safe space for personal conversations, caretaking information I share in confidence.

… They find connections and offer their ideas that build upon my ideas, elevating joint concepts and finding new angles we hadn’t thought possible. (Did I mention that they add ideas to my Pinterest Boards?!?)

… They encourage me, cheer on my accomplishments, no matter how small, and drive me to want to do my best.

… They are fun to be around, they laugh at my silly ‘govie’ jokes and we compare our award-winning collections of lanyards and reusable conference bags.

They have a desire to understand who I am – the most fundamental human connection.

To quote @GilbertLiz, “to be fully seen by somebody then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” They make me feel like me, and they contribute to my experience in life. This is meaningful because this type of kinship seems more difficult the older (and busier) I get, and is only paralleled by those cherished few that are friends from my childhood that watched me grow up in a small town in California’s central valley. 


I am a people person who likes to bring people together, which is one reason I am drawn to engagement work. So it makes sense that I’d want to cultivate these relationships among colleagues and in my personal sphere. I can also totally relate to @KendraHwa, when I have that first awesome interaction with a coworker, I just know we are going to be BFFs!

As it turns out, it’s healthy to surround yourself with good people and science suggests that our well-being is influenced by the company we keep. Researchers have found that certain health behaviors appear to be contagious and that our networks can influence obesity, anxiety and overall happiness, and this leads to longer lives.  A Mayo Clinic study showed that people with positive attitudes had lower death rates over a 30-year period. Your ‘coalition of the willing’ has a lot to do with this! They can give you a boost of daily energy, increase your sense of belonging and purpose, they make you smarter, they help with self-care – a must in local government work. They can also improve people’s perception of your team-player-ness, helping to place you squarely in the camp of go-to staff members for group projects, important for future promotional opportunities.

The grass is greener where you water it

The key is to find your people! Attend work or community events, or volunteer to support a city activity or partner community organization. Extend and accept invitations to activities to get others involved. Ask for help or advice on a problem you are trying to tackle. Celebrate accomplishments in the office, no matter how small or seemingly silly (I know people who celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day..it’s a thing).  Start or participate in a walking group, lunchtime book club or employee yoga class, resume peer-review or networking group. Sign up to host an ELGL activity! There are many more great ideas that I hope we continue to share. Everyone has their own way of making connections with like-minded colleagues.

So, be yourself as you project the energy you want to attract because your vibe attracts your tribe and we all have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our relationships.

This is one of the main reasons I opted to attend this year’s #ELGL19 conference. While I haven’t personally met anyone affiliated with ELGL yet, I see parallel characteristics between my tribe and those are involved with ELGL who volunteer to write content, produce podcasts, engage on social media and create unique accessible experiences to connect the membership. And who doesn’t want new awesome members of their coalition of the willing, am I right?!? So, after a 5am #riseandgrind wake-up, tousled bus ride to one of America’s busiest airports during Los Angeles rush hour (why is it that you can never really kick the smell of charter bus?!?), a 4-hour cross country plane ride, and the guilt/anxiety cocktail of the piles of work and backlog of emails awaiting upon my return, I know this investment in my professional development and the relationships I yearn to cultivate will be worth it. I’m open to it being WAY better than I ever imagined…


And it WAS!

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