Alyssa J Freitas

June 19, 2019

Back in Time: Richard Somers

This past weekend I went with Joe to his home town to see his sister Emma perform in a dance recital. On the way there, I noticed a sign for the historic Somers Mansion. While we didn't have time to stop, I was curios to learn more about the Somers family, and boy do I have a story for you.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Learn all about the many adventures of Richard Somers in his short life
Somers Point, New Jersey is named after John Somers and his son, Richard, built the aforementioned mansion. While I'm sure both of these men have interesting stories, today we're going to learn about the brief life of the son of Richard, grandson of John, Richard Somers.

Born in 1779, the youngest child, Richard came into the world at an exciting time. Apparently, his father was friends with Washington and as a boy he was looked fondly upon by the great man. In fact, one of his prized possessions was a ring with a lock of Washington's hair. I would have thought that was a bit strange if I hadn't seen lockets and other keepsakes with hair from Washington and Jefferson in Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan.

Richard went to school in Philadelphia and met Stephen Decatur, and they became best buddies. While Richard was reserved, Stephen was energetic and the two personalities ended up being a perfect match. On the same day in 1798 the two were appointed midshipmen in the navy.

While the friends were talking to one another on the ship, Stephen called Richard a "fool." Richard didn't think twice about it, but later five or six officers refused to drink wine with him. What the heck, he thought. He asked them why and was told that they looked down on him for not responding to Stephen's insult. He went to his buddy Stephen who proposed a peaceful plan for clearing up the misunderstanding, but at this point Richard was intent on proving his bravery and never being questioned on this matter again. He challenged the other officers to a duel, all on the same day and all challenges were accepted.

With Stephen as his second, Richard set out to prove his courage. In the first two duels he sustained injuries on the right arm and thigh. He lost so much blood, that for the third duel he needed to sit down and be supported by Stephen. Richard wounded his opponent and since all the officers were now assured of his bravery, the two or three other duels were done away with.

Richard's next adventure was aboard the Boston, commanded by Captain Daniel McNeill. I haven't been able to find nearly as much as I would have liked about McNeill, but there are a few stories I did uncover that give a taste of what sailing under him must have been like.

They were headed to Europe to meet up with Commodore Richard Dale in 1801 (Somers is 22 at this point). Dale was much younger than McNeill, and McNeill always seemed to show up too early or too late to rendezvous with Dale. For about two years he sailed around the Mediterranean, getting up to all manner of activities. At one point he was at a French port and wanted to test how quickly he could get under way. At the time three of his officers were ashore and three French officers were on board. He decided that was an even split and it was months before the French officers got back home where they had been labeled as deserters. In a more extreme circumstance, he sailed off with Italian musicians on his ship and it took years for them to make their way home.

But back to Richard. He was sent to Tripoli, along with Stephen and somewhere along the way an idea was born to fill a ship up with powder and blow it up among the Tripolitan fleet. And our boy Richard was to lead the way. At the age of 24. This was the plan.

12 men in total were to be part of this adventure (one deck hand stowed away, making 13 in total), with two getaway boats at the ready. His best friend, Stephen, would be in another boat that would support him for as close as they could get. In the darkness of night, Richard set off, but was soon spotted by the Tripolitan fleet and the fuse was set off prematurely, exploding his ship and killing all 13 men, without wounding or damaging the enemy.

In Somers' honor, a number of navy ships were named after him. One in particular was the site of a mutiny...let me know if you would be interested in hearing more about that! Somers, New York was named after Richard and there is a Richard Somers Day in Somers Point each year.

Check out more Back in Time posts here!


Great information from this post came from Naval Institute Proceedings, Volume 35, Part 2 and Heritage History.

June 12, 2019

5 Books to Change Your Life

If you can't tell, reading is a big thing around here. I've shared a few posts on my recent reads and today I wanted to share the best books I've read that have changed my mindset or helped me to become a better professional/friend/all around person. If you're looking for some books to pick up this summer to level up, I've got you covered.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out these 5 books that will change your life for the better

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is by far the best book I have ever read on personal development and quite literally changed my life. My father bought this for me when I was in middle school and having trouble making friends, and I've read it countless times since then. I even wrote my college essay about what an impact this book had on the way I conduct myself.

One of the lessons I think of most often is how to handle a disagreement. It is best to always keep an open mind (duh), but it's even more important to put the other person at ease and make sure they realize they are being heard. Carnegie recommends using a phrase such as, "I could be wrong, I often am. Let us examine the facts." This puts you on the same team, seeking the answer together. 

Read this book. Highlight this book. And re-read it often.

Also by Dale Carnegie is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Definitely also worth checking out!

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

This book is my most recent read that my aunt recommended to me. I was talking with her about a big decision I needed to make and the self doubt I was feeling (more to come on this big decision soon!), and she pointed me to the audiobook narrated by the author. I liked it so much that I bought the physical book and read it again! 

While it can be a bit woo woo at times, I appreciated the messages of trusting in your abilities and how to maintain and really believe in a positive mindset.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

This is another book that helps with decision making. One of my colleagues gifted this book to me and it was so insightful! It's a quick read that illustrates its points by telling the story of mice in a maze. You can think about which personality you relate to and figure out what your blindspots may be. 

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

This book is all about how slight adjustments make a huge difference in your results. It's another short book that gets you thinking with some examples and then leaves it to you to apply to your life. When I first read it I found myself thinking about my incremental improvements, but have fallen out of it. I think I'll pick it up again or refer to my notes as a refresher soon!

Simple Rules by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Another recommendation from my father. Along similar lines as The Slight Edge, this book discusses how businesses and individuals can leverage "simple rules" to govern their life and decision making. While the rules are up to you, consciously considering and mapping out the rules that make sense to you can enable you to be more confident, timely, and get better results out of the decisions you make. While the authors could have gotten their points across in 50 pages instead of 200+, it's absolutely worth the read.

Check out some of my posts on decision making here and here

What books have made an impact on your life? Have you read any of these suggestions?


June 5, 2019

4 Tips For Professional Note Taking

Taking notes in school is different than taking notes in the professional world. In school you are sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher and more likely than not, looking at a presentation. You're expected to be typing or scribbling away and it's an atmosphere that is clearly geared towards successful note taking.

Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out how you can take better notes at work
When you're in the professional world, however, the environment is not quite the same. You may be in a client meeting, greeting people for the first time, and potentially leading the conversation and have to be engaged and making eye contact...not quite ideal for getting every word said down on paper. So how can you ensure that you're getting all the information you need and optimizing your note taking while not sacrificing the quality of your meeting? Here is a simple process to get you in the right mindset and capture everything you need to know.

The basics

There is some information that you know you're always going to want to have in your notes:
  • The date
  • The client
  • The topic
  • The participants
  • The objections/challenges
  • The action items (who will do what by when)
Fill in what you can before the meeting and keep your ears perked for the rest throughout the meeting. This will ensure that you won't try to write down every word, but will instead be focused on the most important elements. 

The shortcuts 

When you need to write quickly and stay engaged in the conversation, use your own shorthand. Have acronyms for the common words in your profession, put arrows to connect ideas, underline topics you want to come back to and ask more questions on, etc. Right now, we're focused purely on the notes that are for your own eyes, so go crazy making it as simple for yourself as possible.

The debrief

To me, this is the most important part. Once you've taken notes, it's helpful to go back within a day (less is better!) and review your work to make sure there aren't any gaps in what you remember hearing and what you wrote down. If you're going to share notes with your team and/or clients, this is your opportunity to clean up what you wrote and make it shareable. 

The tools

I firmly believe that when you are in an in-person meeting you should be taken handwritten notes. Being on a computer or tablet means that you could be looking at something else not related to the meeting. And even if you're not doing that, the people you are with can feel offended or not listened to (whether they realize it consciously or not). During the debrief you can transfer handwritten notes to digital and make them shareable, as mentioned in the last point. 

I keep a physical notebook and transfer my notes (or take them straight on my computer if I'm in a virtual meeting) to Evernote. I have my Evernote notes divided by client and keep a running note on each particular topic so I always have the last discussion points easily accessible. It's also great because I have Evernote on my phone and can reference my notes wherever I am. When sharing with others, I copy and paste the notes from Evernote directly into an email or create a Word doc if that's necessary. 

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make sure that you are accurately keeping track of your meetings and have a go-to source for all of the deals you're working on. 

This is a simple outline that hits on the basics, so please let me know if this is a topic you'd want me to go more in depth on!


May 29, 2019

May 2019 Monthly Recap

Sunshine! This month the sun continued to hang out, and what a wonderful thing that is.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I was up to in the month of May
Naturally, the weather drew us to brunch and eggs benedict continues to be my favorite when I decide to go savory instead of sweet.

Joe and I played ping pong, and not to brag or anything, but I won again (just like in March. Could I have become unbeatable?).

When I told Papa the next day, he told me he could show me a thing or two and we also went to play. The game ended in a tie, so I still have a bit of work to do.

I got to see Tina again - two months in a row! We were in New Jersey this time and had a great dinner and conversation, as always.

A big highlight of this month was seeing Addison compete in amateur night at the Apollo. He advanced through multiple rounds, on multiple nights, and I am very proud.

On the morning of Uber's IPO, I joined the Morning Brew crew at a tailgate at the NYSE. If you aren't familiar, the Morning Brew is a business email newsletter that keeps you informed and entertained. You can sign up here!

Another business event I attended this month, aside from a Women's Bond Club evening, was a Women in Sales panel about creating value from first outreach to closure. I really enjoyed hearing the speakers weigh in on the topic and got some good prospecting ideas in the process.

A fun activity this month was being in a photo shoot on a boat! My mother signed me up for a photoshoot for South Street Seaport Museum and it was a blast. While the morning was cool, nothing could beat these views.

Joe and I picnicked in Washington Square Park and had a lovely time walking around.

Austen and Andrew had a housewarming party and I was so excited to take in even more amazing Manhattan views.

I headed off to Arizona for a week for work and got to spend a little bit of time exploring. I checked out the Sugar Bowl and Old Town in Scottsdale.

This past weekend Joe and I picnicked in Central Park and I got to wear my new red dress. I'm trying to incorporate more red into my wardrobe and am obsessed with this dress from Old Navy that has Madewell-vibes. We read and ate strawberries and were in heaven.

How was your May?!


May 22, 2019

What I've Been Reading Lately, Vol II

I've done a few posts in the past about the recent books I've read (back in 2018 here and more recently in March here), as well as dishing out advice on how to read more and up your reading game. If you can't tell, I absolutely adore reading and getting to share my thoughts on books is a lot of fun.
Click to read now or pins to save for later. Now is the time to get your reading inspiration for the summer

Thinking I may turn this into a more frequent series, since this year has been the year of series. You can expect Etiquette, Back In Time (not doing one this month since there were two in April!), and Monthly Recaps each month, and while I'm not going to institute a reading summary every month, I will say that this topic is going to be incorporated more frequently - partially to get me to read more! Anyway, let's jump into it, shall we? 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I. Loved. This. Book. While the characters are such a mess and it's almost like you can't imagine someone making so many bad choices, it doesn't make you relate to them any less or not get as captivated. This coming of age story in the underground art market is sure to keep you engaged and unsure of what is going to happen next.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I don't normally read books set in WWII. It really just isn't my cup of tea. However, this book drew me in and had me feeling deeply for the characters. While I am still not into the time period (too depressing and alarming), I did like learning more about how German occupied France was a dangerous place and it was all the more challenging for women without their husbands. Through this story of two sisters you get to see how each reacts differently to a situation and how each upholds her honor in the way she sees fit.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This story is an interesting premise. It follows the life of a car driver who gets a job driving a top executive at Lehman Brothers. Then the whole thing collapses and you get to follow along with what happens from there. It's a fast read and I really liked getting to learn a few more facts and tibits about the culture of immigrants. 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Nope. Not into it. This book is about a black nurse who is accused of not preventing the death of an infant, the child of white supremicists. Predictable and it felt like it was being provocative for the sake of being provocative. 

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

I listened to the audiobook on my Aunt's recommendation and immediately purchased a copy when I was done with the audiobook. It was great to hear about switching to a positive mental state and the tips and tricks you can use along the way to be awesome, and to know it. Highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to level up.

I'm currently reading Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson and John Adams by Page Smith. What books have you read lately? Let's be friends on Goodreads