Hello from the chilly chilly Midwest! I’m in Chicago for our Darden Marketing Job Trek. Great things about Chicago: restaurants, people, nightlife, sports, shopping, museums, lake, parks. Bad things about Chicago: January weather.

Over the weekend, I saw friends in Milwaukee. They own a fabulous boutique hotel, the Iron Horse Hotel. This hotel is what happens when good taste and good art, comfort, class, ambiance and service are muddled, mojito-style, and served up as a quiveringly delicious experience. I wish to live there. Forever. I actually contemplated how to turn my room into a studio apartment and had the kitchen mentally assembled. I knew it was going to be a great weekend when my gracious host escorted me to the funky-cool bar and told the bartender “Anything the lady wants” to which I replied “a Men’s Health cover model, please.” Immediately, an attractive fellow at the bar who just happened to work for one of my target get-a-fabulous-summer-internship companies smiled at me and struck up a conversation. Well, hello.

Scrabble as metaphor for life?

One of my gracious hosts is a Scrabble shark, and convinced me to play. Typically my style is shot-put Scrabble – heaving the tiles out onto the board in an effort to create the most impressive words. But guess what? When you’re playing a shark for points, just because you can rock “askance” or “treason “in fine style doesn’t mean you win. There’s no Scrabble prize for cleverest words. What there is, I learned, is solid defense combined with reliably high-scoring offensive techniques. Manufacturing points, if you will. My opponent plays densely, nestling tiles side by side to spell a regular word one direction and impossibly improbable 2-letter words in the other directions. I beat him by the skin of my teeth in the first game, got roundly beaten in game 2, and by game 3 we were sharing racks of letters and he was coaching me on how to manufacture points.  For me this meant sacrificing that “TA DA!” moment where people admire my fancy words and going for the 90-pointers.

And then, as so often lately (not complaining here, just recording), a realization. Hey, you! Yeah you, Miss Fancy Words. Change the way you think about the game – and you’ll change the way you play the game. Gosh, this concept just might apply more broadly beyond Scrabble…