The Desk Tour Series Leadership Speaker Edition
May 07, 2021
It’s time for another edition of “The Desk Tour Series.” In this article, we are going to talk to Mark Cheney, a leadership speaker and mentor touring around the United States encouraging young people to be the best of what they can be. He wrote to us from his house in Florida, where he had been staying since the beginning of the global pandemic. He’s writing to tell us about his story and his workspace setup, which we think might help inspire others who are working at home.
I have always been a good speaker. I love inspiring people. Growing up in Ohio, I remember buying only leadership books and biographies of people who made great impacts on humanity. In return, I did everything to tell those around me about what I have learned. It was my mother who said that perhaps I should be a teacher. It made me extremely excited that I told my friends that I would be a teacher one day.
In high school, I became a member of the debate team. I quit right away because I thought it wasn’t my style. It didn’t appeal to me. Instead, I persuaded my teachers to create a new club I said I would call “The Leadership Club: Creating Future Leaders.” They agreed, and I got quite a few followers. That’s how my “calling” started. Our weekly meetings filled me with so much joy and excitement.
I moved to California to attend university and took up psychology. On the side, I joined organizations that taught me many things about the real world. It took me to places I’ve never been to and led me to meet people I now consider my closest friends.
I graduated and taught for ten years. 5 years ago, I quit my job and started touring the world. I began making speeches on leadership and human behavior. In that small period, I also published a book. I was scheduled to fly to Beijing to facilitate my biggest ever audience, but the global pandemic began, so I was forced to cancel.
I bought a new house in Florida 2 years ago. But I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have the time to stay and make it a home. When the pandemic hit, I thought it was the perfect time to enjoy the new property.
My assistant was with me, and both of us transformed the house into a livable space. We started redecorating and decided to improve on the existing home office that looked over the pool.
My home office is at the back of the house overlooking my pool and the view ocean, which is now blocked by a few huge cruise ships stranded because of the pandemic. The room is French Revival, which is what I love about the house. But the design is too formal for a home office. I want my home office as a place to relax and be creative. I don’t want any formal design language which might prompt me to behave differently. So, we commissioned a local construction firm to transform the room into something more conducive to creativity and mental exercise.
The firm made the room look like a New York apartment with exposed beams and brickwork. When inside, one can feel relaxed and safe and able to think in peace. I ditched the bulky replica of the Resolute Desk and bought the Flexispot Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series. I’m getting old, and part of my job now is to keep myself healthy. Thanks to Apple Watch, I’m now reminded when to work standing up. I discovered that working all day seated down is not healthy. One article said it’s important to stand up and move around a set time. With my new standing desk, I can continue working and continue being healthy. With just a push of a button, I can resume work while standing up. It’s convenient because I don’t have to have a separate workstation for working while standing up.
I have what’s called scoliosis, so I can’t stay seated or standing up for extended periods. This means I can’t work with a desktop. I need to have something I can bring around the house in case my back is giving me trouble. So, instead of a desktop, I bought the 16 inches MacBook Pro with M1 Chip. When working on my standing desk, I prop it on a sturdy aluminum laptop stand. Then I use the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse to turn the setup into a desktop. The good thing is, I can easily take the laptop on the sofa and work while lying down if I want to. I can’t do that if I’m using a traditional desktop.
On my desk are pictures of important people I met through the years. They are people I idolized growing up. Meeting them was very important to me, so their pictures on my desk often give me a boost of inspiration.
In between the framed pictures are my awards. The same awards were given to people I looked up to when I was starting. In times of doubt, these awards remind me of what I can do, and they push me forward and help me rise above doubts and setbacks.
Plants. I love gardening, and I often take inside plants that remind me of childhood. I keep them with me while working, and then at night, I bring them outside.
Scented oils are drops of heaven. When I’m feeling down, I pour a few drops of lemon oil into the water and it gives me a boost in energy. When it’s time to relax and rest, I put in drops of lavender oil to ease my mind.
Ordinary office chairs won’t do. I got the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair. Ergonomic chairs are important investments since they are designed for work. They are designed to help support the body while we are busy at work. This means no lower back pains after a long day behind the desk.
Be yourself. Make your workstation truly yours. Advises are good, but at the end of the day, you are your manager. You decide which one works for you.
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