Bored? Try a Slice of Orange

Adding a "slice of orange" to your water -- and to your professional development -- can produce more flavorful results!

A few months back, I joined peers for happy hour. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I was intrigued by an orange slice resting on the rim of a passing beer. When my server appeared, she described a light, slightly sweet ale called “Blue Moon.”

Deciding to try something different, I ordered a Blue Moon…and enjoyed it. Then I had an epiphany: if they could put an orange slice on a beer glass, why not on a glass of water? Yes, that qualifies as an epiphany for me.

From that point on, I began asking for an orange slice with my water instead of lemon or lime, and my dining partners started following suit. Each time, the server would smile at the surprisingly unique request, but never had a problem fulfilling it.

The orange-infused water had a nice, more pronounced flavor than lemon. That’s when I had epiphany #2: If this simple shift from the expected could produce flavorful results, how could I apply that same concept to my professional development?

So I began making other simple shifts – or as I like to call it, “adding a slice of orange” – in other areas:


  • I added some of my 22-year-old son’s favorite podcasts to my library. With more Millennial-friendly podcasters, guests and topics, I’m gaining new perspectives on business, technology and a different generation.

  • Since I listen to podcasts while walking my dog, I’ve started keeping a notepad near the door to capture nuggets as soon as I return. Besides increasing the likelihood that I’ll retain information, the notepad reminds me to be intentional in capturing what I’ve learned, or what I want to explore further. Keeping a notepad in the glove box when listening in the car is something else I plan to do.

Publications: I began subscribing to the Harvard Business Review which, although relevant in any industry, challenged my attention deficit. I now find it to be a great, insightful read…second only to People Magazine (I may be kidding about that).

Meetings: I’m calling into meetings of groups outside of my geographic area to learn more about how peers in different regions and countries approach their work and the mutual challenges we face.

I’ve just started making these simple shifts, but they’re already bearing fruit (pun intended): a fresh perspective, new insights, different approaches, and more.

Where can you add a “slice of orange” and make simple shifts that enhance your personal and professional development? How can you encourage similar shifts for your team and/or direct reports?


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