As we round the corner, let’s not corner ourselves in

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“How are you doing?” I asked a nonprofit philanthropist on a phone call last fall. Her response stayed with me.

“Well, I am doing pandemic fine,” she said.

She went on to explain that that was the kind of response she gives during a global health crisis instead of something like: “I’m doing okay. I have my job, which is stressful, but at least I have work. The family is fine. No one is sick. Virtual homeschooling sucks, but we’re fine.”

Her response was amusing yet perplexing because, when I inquire how someone is doing, I want (and expect) to…


Or — stop saying sorry!

(Izzy Park on Unsplash)

How many things have you apologized for today? I would guess it’s at least one or two. Half-a-dozen? More?

I want you to think differently about apologies. Jessica Lim primes this with some hearty commentary:

“Sorrys are polite. They’re kind. They’re consolatory… They are absolutely infuriating… The ‘I don’t wanna argue about this anymore so I’ll just apologize’ kind of sorry? …Ya, those are the kinds of ‘Sorrys’ you need to stop saying.”

We can all use a reminder of where we are in place and time. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that a highly transmissible respiratory virus is still raging around…


Be honest about the effort you’re willing to give.

Image: Ashley Knedler | Unsplash

My aunt once had a coffee cup that featured a cartoon person wearing one of those glasses/fake mustache costumes, accompanied by the words, “Don’t ask me, that’s above my pay grade.”

Would your 10-year-old brain have gotten the joke? Mine didn’t. I thought the cartoon was cute and funny, but the punchline escaped me.

“What does that mean?” I asked. With a laugh, my aunt replied, “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Now that I know a few things about life and work, I fully understand the joke. But I’ll be honest — it’s funny because it’s not funny.

What We Usually Mean When We Say ‘Pay Grade’

I used…


The saying ‘praise in public, criticize in private’ has its limits

Image: Coco Championship, Pexels

It was our first staff meeting after the big weekend. About 20 of us were spread out in the large, multipurpose space, and my team update was next on the agenda.

I was too excited to sit still.

The weekend was a massive undertaking for our team. We were interviewing students for a new music workshop that involved marathon conversations with the musicians and their parents, as well as internal debates. We made it through and everyone involved had a great experience.

“Evan, you’re up. Whacha got for us?” asked our director.

I jumped out of my seat, power walked…


We are disappointed witch hunts continue in the future

Photo: K. Mitch Hodge, Unsplash

To the Mystical Orange Man —

We can see you through the cauldron, vividly, waving your tiny witcher hands back and forth, as if playing an accordion. We know not when you exist, though we can see from the surroundings that it must be well into the future — centuries, perhaps.

It appears you are a former King, of sorts. Buildings don your name, as do many goblin children from different witches. …


It helps to realize everything is bigger than it seems

Photo, Nathan McBride, Unsplash

Sorry, did I forget to tell y’all about this? It just happened so fast, it didn’t occur to me to wrap you in,” said one of the nonprofit’s volunteers.

Yeah…” I lamented. “This is the third time that ‘didn’t occur’ to you… We’re here to help, but we can’t do that if we don’t know what needs helping.”

I serve on this nonprofit’s board, and after several bouts of failed communication, we were at an impasse. A number of conversations were had, but we were miles from a solution.

A Solution in Systems

At this point, I paused and hearkened to a practice called…


I’m usually more of a ‘pink chapstick’ kinda guy, but it’s a brave new world.

Image: Erik Mclean, Unsplash

Just reach in my purse, it’s somewhere on the bottom,” said my wife on one particularly dry-lipped day whilst I was looking for lip balm.

Caramel apple? Interesting… let’s give it a whirl,” I thought in my mindgrapes.

Times were simpler back then. Cauliflower wasn’t pretending to be pizza dough. Almonds weren’t pretending to be milk. Insurrectionists in the United States weren’t pretending to be tourists.

Like I said. Simpler.

But shit just keeps getting weirder.

Now they’ve got these self-driving cars. Stoves and refrigerators that connect to your Bluetooths. …

Evan Wildstein

Small southpaw writing about organizational life, kindness, and creativity.

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