It’s certainly a rare occasion for Joe Russo and Marco Benevento to reunite as a duo. While the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead bandmates have mostly dedicated their time to the Grateful Dead-inspired band, as Benevento tours his own band throughout the year, the drummer and keyboardist reunited for their fourth show this year after a six year hiatus on Friday night. Suwannee Hulaween served as the perfect setting for this reunion, even bringing former collaborator Mike Gordon to the stage for a set-closing “Scratchitti”.The Benevento Russo Duo made an unexpected come-back when they played a surprise show at a small club in Brooklyn, NY at the Threes Brewing in 2016. Having not played since 2010, the show marked the first of four that would take place in the year since. While they were once a touring machine, bringing Mike Gordon along for the ride in 2005 and then Trey Anastasio in 2006, the Duo always remained the key ingredient of the special sauce.During their performance at Suwannee Hulaween, the Benevento Russo Duo welcomed the Phish bassist for an appropriate “Scratchitti”–an original that’s been in rotation since the band’s inception in 2004, and the go-to for Mike Gordon sit-ins. As JamBase notes, the trio hadn’t shared the stage under this moniker since 2008, and with Mike Gordon’s band in 2009–though the end of this video indicates that it’s been eleven years since they’d played that together. All in all, the surprise sit-in was a huge success for all those in attendance.Check out a full video of the Benevento Russo Duo and Mike Gordon performing “Scratchitti” below:
Always Bring a Potato SaladLet’s say you got invited to a party, and you want to impress whoever is there. Everybody agreed to bring something to the party so when you enter, the others logically ask what you brought with you. And you just stand there and think oh no, I brought nothing with me. Not even a good joke to at least make them laugh.Not a really good impression, right?This example actually has a very important lesson in it that you can apply at work, and even in your private life: one of the lessons I’ve learned at Dell EMC in my first four months.Last October I started working for Dell EMC as an EMEA Sales Graduate in The Netherlands. During my first few months I had the privilege to follow specific sales training together with sales graduates from countries all over the EMEA region, work with my local group of 10 graduates in Amsterdam on several on-site activities (e.g. the annual Christmas drinks with a charitable event) and get to know an organization that is totally different from what I expected.That’s why I want to share a few key insights I got at Dell EMC. Insights that not only helped me see Dell EMC in a totally different way but also changed my perception about what sales is or should be.1. Dell is much more than just computers I made an assumption about Dell before applying for my role and it couldn’t have been further from the truth: I thought Dell only sells computers. After graduating I wanted to move into the IT sector because of its quickly changing landscape and its huge potential (think of IoT, Big Data, VR, AI, Machine Learning, etc.). I thought of Dell mainly as a computer selling organization. I mean, as many of us might have, I purchased my first computer at Dell. Turns out that Dell is actually also investing in IoT, Big Data, VR, and so much more.Yet it doesn’t stop there. When I applied I found out that I didn’t apply for Dell but for Dell EMC, a name that I mentioned a few times before in this article. Dell EMC is part of a family of organizations under the umbrella of Dell Technologies. Like me before I applied, most of my family and friends didn’t have a clue what Dell EMC actually does. But as part of Dell Technologies it helps organizations modernize, automate and transform their data center infrastructures. Sounds different than only selling laptops and desktops right?Next to Dell EMC, Dell Technologies consists of:RSA and Secureworks to address cyber threats and other security issues that organizations can encounter;Pivotal to transform how organizations build and run any application, at every cloud, in one platform to innovate at start-up speedVirtustream to build cloud solutions to run complex and critical applications;VMware to use software and services that let organizations run, manage, secure and connect all of their applications across clouds and devicesSo as you can tell I made a very wrong assumption about what Dell actually does, and I’m very happy that I looked past this assumption.2. Sales is great skill to master early in your careerA second lesson I learned during my first few months at Dell was that many of us (including me a few years ago) associate sales with something negative. But you know what: I think that mastering how to do proper sales will teach you so much for your professional career and your personal life. Let me tell you why.Sales is everywhereThe first time I actually read about sales being everywhere was in a blog on LinkedIn from Somen Mondal about why sales is the best first job and it made me realize how sales is an important part of most organizations. In my opinion he is absolutely right: sales comes back in every aspect of your life. Whether it is convincing people about your ideas, when you are looking for a new job (and you basically need to “brand yourself”), when you’re selling products to customers or when you want to sell your vision to your employees as a manager. Think about that for a moment. Sales generates direct value to organizationsWhen an organization is going to invest in you it will expect a return on investment in the long run. What will your value to the organization be after many training-hours? After looking around at different departments, and drinking coffee with managers to understand the business? In sales you can directly generate revenue (=value) for your organization, which will give the organization a reason to invest more in you and gives you the opportunity to grow faster in an organization than any other position. No sales, no customers, no money, no existence. And this example doesn’t limit to only profit organizations: for non-profit organizations to exist sales is also of paramount importance.Sales gets lots of people out of their comfort zone because you need to deal with rejections – which makes you strongerGetting rejected is something nobody likes, including me. I have learned that it is not about being rejected but how you learn to deal with it, how other people see you dealing with rejection and how you stay focused on your goal. In work and in life rejection will evidently happen – for example riding a bike: the more you ‘practice’, the better you become and the faster you can grow. Just like Michael Dell, who started his business in his college dorm room and now runs a global organization.3. You should always bring a potato salad to a party One specific lesson I have learned already at Dell EMC is from one of our sales trainers, and I found it ties everything that I have mentioned nicely together. It is that you should always bring a potato salad to a party. Meaning that when you call a customer or when you enter a meeting with your colleagues, always think in advance how you will be able to contribute to the other(s). How you will be of value? What will be your ‘potato salad’ that you bring to the party?For me, part of learning and slowly mastering sales is being able to deliver true value to customers. Working for Dell EMC and subsequently, Dell Technologies makes it so much easier to have that talk with these customers. To have that potato salad ready during every customer meeting.Thinking in advance about that potato salad in whatever situation you are is for me one of the most important lessons I have learned so far. It will help me to avert awkward situations in which everybody expects me to bring some kind of value to the table and that I actually have thought this through in advance. And that I will never think oh no, I brought nothing with me.So what do you think about my experiences after reading this piece? Did you have a similar assumption about sales, and has it changed since you have experienced it? Please let us know in the comment box! (And if you are interested in reading more about our graduate program make sure to read this blog post about the experiences of graduates last year!)
Photo courtesy of OpenDoors Slow and controlled, the breath becomes rhythmic and steady as the terrain stretches on along past rushing streams and towering trees, complete with birdsongs and various flora and fauna as elevation ebbs and flows. It’s a run less about mile time and more about the strict endurance and human emotion behind its existence. Connor Mailander, 17, is running 100 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to raise $100,000 for OpenDoors. Mailander’s connection to the families and students of Asheville, N.C. runs deep, calling him to combine a passion for running with community outreach. An experienced athlete in both cross-country and track for his high school team, Mailander is taking it to the next level with his upcoming ultra distance run. How did you become involved in OpenDoors? Started in 2010, OpenDoors blossomed as a non-profit organization and a flourishing relief effort. Gennifer Langdon Ramming, executive director and co-founder, noticed the need for specialized attention for students in the classroom while volunteering at Dickson Elementary. Now, OpenDoors is helping support Asheville’s low income families through emergency assistance, including gas and grocery cards, furniture and bedding, summer camps, and education via the “To and Through” program to foster success through high school and college. If you would like to donate to Connor’s run for OpenDoors, visit the link below: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/connors-100-miles I would say probably one of the greatest challenges of all is mental tiredness. My body is going to be in so much pain, but I would say it’s just about staying focused. After a while it’s pretty easy to just start thinking, “Oh, I want to go eat a hamburger” or something like that, and you don’t get that opportunity. You just have to keep on going through with one foot after another. I ran a 50 miler in December and I spent 12 hours on that run. I had to keep my mind engaged, “one step after another, right after this there is a flat section, then a downhill section, now let’s run just a few more yards than we could.” It’s not about going super fast, it’s just about staying engaged. If you stay engaged and you’re able to just keep moving, even though you’re in a lot of pain, even if you’re walking or crawling, you’re still moving forward and I think that’s the big, big thing, that you got to keep moving. How would you encourage others to use the outdoors as a catalyst to take action in their communities? Usually I’ll do six miles on a Tuesday, eight miles on a Wednesday, and six miles on a Thursday. If I’m feeling good on Friday, which I usually am, I will run about three miles on Friday. Then usually Saturday I have a long run which varies. I give myself Sunday to just really relax and it’s kind of nice. I have homework and stuff so I just give myself a break on Sunday, and then Monday, I will do like a light run or bike or just go for a walk. Nothing too intense. But I kind of give myself two days of rest, depending on how hard Saturday is. It is a challenging time to raise money just because people aren’t working. It’s hard to give money when you don’t have any to give. And so, hopefully at that point there’s a little bit more traction and people will want to donate. The response so far has been great and while I’m running, I hope that people come out and support and, of course, socially distance. It’s great when people are able to rally around something that’s a good cause. I had a friend last year who also ran 100 miles, and he raised money for a charity called Partners and Health. We run a lot together and we went to school together so he said, “Hey, you should run a hundred miles this year.” I came home and I told my parents. They loved the sound of it and so then everybody kind of just started helping me with it. OpenDoors hopes to use the money Mailander raises to provide aid for students in need of tutors and daily meals, while furthering the resources of the program. BRO caught up with the runner to talk about his upcoming run set to take place on June 19-20. I run on [Mills River] every day, and it’s a great trail. A lot of people use it. So it’s a good trail to use and runs right next to the parkway. Pisgah Forest is a good trail, just because it has everything. Part of it also is just tacking on miles. It’s a lot of distance so you have a lot of different places to run. The Mountains to Sea trail will be the tough thing. All that is pretty tough terrain so that’ll be pretty challenging. I have lived in Asheville for almost nine years, and so I’ve been able to enjoy Asheville and all of its surroundings and opportunities. But a lot of these families aren’t because they don’t have the resources, and OpenDoors really provides them with those opportunities with focusing on school. They send kids to college, they help give them scholarships, they provide opportunities for families and for working parents. They make sure that families are taken care of and that they are able to have a life with a lot of resources, and a lot of help, and a lot of love. There are some kids who are in OpenDoors who go to my school, even one of my brother’s best friends. My mom is pretty good friends with the executive director and so from those relationships, I’ve gotten to know a little bit more about OpenDoors, what they do, and what their purpose is. The more I learned about them, I realized that’s something I’m passionate about, which is, education. My goal is to do under 40 hours, and a lot of it’s going to be on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s a pretty tough trail in some parts and not too bad in others. I think under 40 hours is going to be achievable. On the first day, my goal is probably about 60 miles and then the second day is finishing. I think, especially in Western North Carolina, we have such easy access to nature. It’s just a fantastic resource to build community and to educate people. I know that when I was in elementary school, going out for hikes in the Arboretum, walking around, and being able to see all this biodiversity. And of course, at such a young age, you don’t really understand what you’re seeing but I think now as I get older and as I spend more and more time outside, I get to really see beauty. Last weekend when I went running, I was changing elevation quite a lot and you can just see how the plant types change around you the higher up or lower down you go. I think you can use that for education purposes. Asheville has so much biodiversity, you can teach so much about every single living organism here. But you can also use it to build community. I know that there are groups in Asheville that go for runs on weeknights and they just go run around the city or biking groups where you just go like bike down the trails because we have so many amazing trails here. I think being able to have such easy access to nature we are able to build stronger communities by getting outside and kind of dropping all the technology and dropping into what’s happening around us and just appreciate where we are and who we are with. What is the greatest challenge you expect to face in your outdoor run? Mailander trains with his dog. Photo courtesy of OpenDoors How are you training for the run? Why did you choose Mills River, Pisgah Forest, and part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail for your run? Why did you decide to do an ultra run to raise money?