Rebecca Todd

Life on the Road, the Upward Spiral, and the Spin Sucks Community

By: Rebecca Todd | June 4, 2013 | 

Life on the Road, the Upward Spiral, and the Spin Sucks CommunityThe night is late.

The sign reads “Blondie’s Wet Spot Bar” and I am seated between two very handsome men.

I probably do not need this vodka in front of me, but Bacchus needs appeasing.

There is a taqueria. We came here on the BART.

I really do not know where I am.

This is not unusual for me – I often do not really know where I am, or even when I am. Life on the road.

We began the evening somewhere else – a patio – and some martinis, manhattans, and munchies later, we are now fast friends. We are Tribe. A casual observer would probably not guess this is the first time we’ve met.


We’ve developed our own slanguage during the last few hours. It started back at that posh bar when I presented to these fine gentlemen my version of David Logan’s Tribe TED talk. While I’m sure Mr. Logan’s version was not quite so full of profanities and vodka, the essence rings true.

I first watched that TED during The Dark Days, while I was still mired in Level Two thinking, looking to change my world. Life was less than pleasant for me at the time, and his words helped illuminate some shadowy corners of my mind. He provided me with a framework to match my own observations.

It resonates instantly with these men, thankfully, and they appreciate my nerdiness and excitement. Now with a common vocabulary, we start analyzing the blogs we read, the people we know, and our own selves.

We all know examples of all levels. We’ve all done our time in the lower echelons. Yet we now find ourselves moving upwards.

Community Building

It is no coincidence the unifying force for our trio is none other than Gini Dietrich. We “met” here in the comments of Spin Sucks, a solid Level Four Tribe, with intense bursts of Level Five. We discuss how G embodies this concept, the idea that surrounding yourself with strong, smart people makes you stronger and smarter. The Upward Spiral.

We’ve all felt it. G has this almost prescient way of reaching out to people right when they need it. She knows when someone is on the cusp of one Tribal Level and lifts them up. Changes lives.

A gleam in Joe’s eye says he’s about to say something marvellous. With a scampy grin, he says “We are Levelling Up.”  It is so perfect, so true. And we all have Ms. Dietrich to thank for being the catalyst.

The Upward Spiral

The second most popular question people ask me is “How do you deal with so much constant travel?” Nights like this one are key to my survival, to my success. Yes, I miss my friends, my dogs, my bed. My family most of all. But being in San Francisco, talking intently with two such brilliant and kind people as Dwayne Alicie and Joe Cardillo makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you, Joe and Dwayne, for such a mind blowing evening – and I encourage you all to watch David Logan’s TED. I’d love to know what you can do to Level Up.

Me, I am going to follow our fearless leader Gini. I will keep meeting amazing people who push me to be a better RAT. People who know that their own self-worth doesn’t reply upon someone else being lower than you.

From now on, I am going to associate with those that lift me up.

About Rebecca Todd

Graduating with her bachelor's of education degree, Rebecca Todd knew the classroom wasn’t for her. Her passion for adventure carried her to educational publishing, and now she travels the globe and savors life on the road as a representative for Ivey Publishing. But she’ll always be an academic at heart, as evidenced by the meticulous annotations in the science fiction novels she loves to find in second-hand bookstores. When she’s not working on her list of the world’s best vegan restaurants, she enjoys hot yoga, hangs with her dogs, and sometimes thinks about working on her Victorian home.

  • Well said! I’ve been thinking about that upward spiral a lot lately. 
    getting mired down in the day to day is hard. There are tips and tricks
    but ultimately you have to identify what motivates you and make sure
    that’s being addressed. The other thing that happens is being careful of
    the structures you have to live/work within. This is why design matters
    so much, true economy of action and thought is crucial and that’s not
    something you should leave to chance.

    • JoeCardillo Yes! This concept of buoyancy is one I think about a lot, too. Especially in sales! Cause we all have good days and bad, good calls and bad. Not letting the day to day bee ess of life effect the overall tone of your life is a challenge, but so very important. Again, so great to have met you in real life.

  • Well you know I ADORE this post. And it is something the two of us have discussed quite a bit lately (as we plot world domination). The power of an amazing tribe, like the one Gini and team have put together here on Spin Sucks, is truly unmatched. I think the thing that is consistently most interesting to me is that most of the people drawn here have extremely strong personalities on their own. We may all be different, but very few are wilting violets, and yet there is this amazing collaboration and mutual support that, honestly I’ve never seen anywhere else. Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t be #petropower without the powers that exist here. You all are like my IronMan electromagnetic heart 🙂
    As an extrovert, a space like this is particularly crucial and stimulating for me to be part of. I’m so highly affected by outside circumstances, this has become the place I turn when I’m about to go ‘grumpy cat’ on everyone’s ass and need to be inspired by amazing minds, great learnings, comic relief and freaking kickass voodoo. 
    Thanks to all of you!

    • LauraPetrolino Hear hear – I would take a bullet for anyone that participates in SS regularly.

      • JoeCardillo LauraPetrolino It was very…validating (am I a therapist now?) to meet you and dwaynealicie in public and learn fer certain that these connections are real and not just virtual.

      • JoeCardillo – and being an actor, you know how to do that with style! 🙂 LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd

        • lizreusswig JoeCardillo LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd Ha, a master of callbacks she is =)

    • LauraPetrolino Well said, lady! You are certainly one of the people I am so thrilled to have met in this space. And YES to that- we are just at the start of our reign of non-terror! (Bee to the dubs, meeting with that contact Friday!). xxoo

      • RebeccaTodd muahahaha! The RAT-PETRO Reign of Non-Terror!!!!!! Armed only with hyperbole and piecharts this dynamic duo is saving the world!

        • LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd LOVE that! Boom!

  • I heart this so, so much.

  • Everything katskrieger said x eleventy billion. <3

  • Rebecca Amy Todd

    Thanks Yvette!

  • Brilliant post RebeccaAmyTodd  – so powerful and so true. Also, I’m jealous you wet to a bar called “Blondie’s Wet Spot Bar” – LOL!!

    • RebeccaAmyTodd Dear God in heaven – you WENT to a bar…..

      • belllindsay RebeccaAmyTodd Hah nice typo! Was that the name of the bar? I can’t confirm. I showed you the pic of the neon sign, though…It’s San Fran- they’ve got everything there.

  • Shoot…belllindsay took my word – BRILLIANT! There is nothing better than being part of a tribe that accepts you (warts & all), engages you and lifts you up!  So NEEDED to see this post on this day! 
    You are an amazing RAT and lucky us for it!!  And yes, we are all so lucky for the generous & wise ginidietrich (and the whole dang AD team!) for this tribe!!
    I’m very envious that you got to meet JoeCardillo & dwaynealicie in person and hang out at such an amazing-sounding bar!! (New Bucket List Item – San Fran trip & visit Blondie’s with SS tribe members!!)

    • lizreusswig belllindsay ginidietrich JoeCardillo dwaynealicie Yes that’s so true- while I called out G by name, this is really to the whole AD/SS crew. Such amazing people! I can’t wait to finally meet you someday, too, Liz. Those gents were top notch company, and I highly recommend an evening in their fine presence.

      • RebeccaTodd lizreusswig belllindsay ginidietrich JoeCardillo dwaynealicie Dwayne and I will gladly play host anytime

        • JoeCardillo RebeccaTodd  belllindsay ginidietrich dwaynealicie Come on over, Miss lizreusswig !!!! I hope you know you are welcome, absolutely any time — you have friends here who will make sure you feel at home and show you around!

  • Wait. What’s the first most popular question people ask you?? I travel much like you do, but you have a much better attitude about it than I do. I don’t know how you’re gone – not just days, but weeks at a time. My four day trip this past week and the one I have coming up is enough to put me in an early grave. But that’s not really the point. I LOVE you were able to meet Dwayne and Joe (even ahead of me) and I love you for sharing the story. In fact, I told this story at Social Capital during my keynote. THIS is community. The fact that you’re all friends without me makes me really, really happy.

    • ginidietrich Really? Ahh damn, I wish I could have made SoCap. Ahh the first question…well that’s another story… 
      I honestly had to sit myself down and have a little talk about my attitude towards work travel. I could either continue to sit around drinking wine in bathtubs, or I could start living the gee dee dream. It was really rough, my first season on the road in this job. really damn tough. Then, I decided, pretty much right after you gave me my Follow Friday shout out, that enough was enough and it was time to nut up or shut up. I took that attitude on my month long jaunt to Australia, and haven’t looked back. 
      It could have been a whole post just about dinner with you, too. It’s really freaking amazing to me the time and energy you share with us, and I really honestly appreciate it, and you.

      • RebeccaTodd You are the sweetest thing ever for saying that. Thank you!

  • Lovely post, RebeccaTodd! Spin Sucks does sort of feel like a digital home away from home. I think you nailed it.

    • bradmarley Thanks Brad! I spend a lot of time alone on the road. It’s great to be able to connect with people, here or in person.

  • This is just…beautiful. Truly. This is an amazing community and I’m glad to have chosen 2013 as my year to come out of the corner and participate more. I’ve loved getting to know all of you better!

    • TaraGeissinger Thank you Tara! For reading and for commenting. It’s such a great community here.

  • That night honestly changed my life. I can’t wait to meet all of you guys in person!

    • dwaynealicie The upward spiral!!! Heck yes, you’ve had a wild couple weeks since then. Everything is coming up Dwayne, and I love it! It truly was so great to spend time with you, and I can’t wait to see you in person again. JoeCardillo claims we are going to do a Google hangout, just as soon as I figure out what the heck that is.

      • RebeccaToddJoeCardillo East Coast people are always gung-ho about google hangouts at like 9am and we west coast people are like AYFKM that is the middle of the night. But I would get up early to hang out with you any time.  I’m sure Joe and I will be cranky together at a coffee shop and pretend to smile.

        • dwaynealicie RebeccaTodd JoeCardillo I promise to be grumpy.

        • JoeCardillo RebeccaTodd <smack>

  • rdopping

    Damn. That was awesome. Sounded like tons o fun. Level up lady.

    • Thanks Ralph! I’d love to see you and J soon.

      • rdopping

        RebeccaTodd Hey! I just watched that TEDx Talk. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I don’t know how many times i jumped between Level 2 and 3 in my life. Damn.
        Next time you are in TO drop a line.

        • rdopping Yes how he framed this just worked for me, especially at the time I first saw it. Thinking of you today! Let me know, potassium?

  • It’s pretty cool to hear this story straight from you after hearing about it from Gini at SoCap. I checked out the video and I’m posing the question to our team of organizers: What level are we? I know what I think. Next step is exploring how to level up. We were already on the path to do so before I read this and you’ve just inspired me to be diligent about follow-through.

    • Karen_C_Wilson I have to see this talk of G’s now- is there a video somewhere?

      • RebeccaTodd Unfortunately not. 🙁 But that’s one of our “level-up” plans. 🙂

        • Karen_C_Wilson Excellent! I would have loved to attend the conference, but I had been on the road so much- I was only at home 5 nights between April 26- May 24. Next year! Thanks for reading the post. I’ve watched that TED many times over the years and always take away something new from it.

        • RebeccaTodd OMG, that’s a hefty travel schedule! I will look forward to meeting you next year – or elsewhere in the meantime. You never know!

        • Karen_C_Wilson I am rarely in Ottawa, but I am mostly everywhere else. Off to Calgary again tomorrow! Let’s meet when the opportunity arises for sure.

  • Maybe it’s time for the Spin Sucks community to self-organize and have a live, in-person event. 😉

  • YES to all of this. And that TED talk is on my list the very next time I have 16 free minutes to watch it! I agree Gini is a catalyst, in big and little ways, including the time she took to explain some critical components of the Prancercise video :-). On the upward spiral, I sit through so many meetings at my day job where the opposite seems to be taking place — a business we deal with is so protective of its Service Level Agreements (and after being charged so many millions of liquidated damages for failing to meet them I guess I can see why) that I sit there time and again wondering, “do they EVER ask themselves if they are helping fulfill the mission of insuring children, which is what we contracted with them to be a part of in the first place?” I know they have to make $$ but I get SO frustrated when the mission of an enterprise is stomped on as other agendas, many of which have to do with money but others that have to do with turf,  take precedence. It’s the anti-upward spiral and your post reminds me that there are probably things I can do to be proactive about finding people and organizations with which to affiliate that look up instead of down.

    • biggreenpen It really made a huge difference, to me anyway. My last organization wasn’t good for me that way. It had an organizational culture of finger pointing and ass covering- not really about moving up. But sometimes we can’t get all that from work, so maybe it’s a shift in your job or maybe a shift in other things you do to keep moving up.

  • RebeccaTodd Granted you had great subject matter to begin with, but the writing itself is wonderful. Love the opening.

  • Fun read – yes, some of the best IRL times I’ve had professionally over the last couple of years could trace their way back to online camaraderie on the SpinSucks blog. We then expanded over to Hecklers’ Hangout, and we’ve had several of the SpinSucks crew over as guests…including Gini and her dog. 😉