100% dark chocolate

I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate any day.  Since I love dark chocolate so much I went out and purchased 100% dark chocolate in bar form.  After getting home, opening the package, and trying it, I quickly found out it was too bitter for my liking.  Typically, I purchase 70% dark chocolate, which I do prefer.  This tells me more is not always better and I can relate this to other things in life too.

IMG_8886

Many years ago I thought doing more is always better because it proves you are contributing to the team, society, or whatever it might be.  As the years went by and I gained more experience, I realized doing more is not always better.  A lot of the individuals on the fast track up the ladder are not always doing more.  A lot of these individuals are actually more focused on the higher priority projects that will gain more exposure cross-functionally.  After realizing this, I stopped spreading myself too thin and started putting the majority of my efforts into the projects that really count.

Since I have targeted my focus on the important projects that produce the biggest impacts, I have noticed more movement for myself in my job, in my business, and in my personal life.  As humans are often impatient and have attention deficit disorder tendencies, it is often difficult to remain consistent and true to meeting your goals.  If we can take a step back and understand the important projects that will get us ahead, we can put our efforts into those projects.  We will see more results faster and be able to move onto the next project faster.  To me this makes sense and is working out good for me.

Charismatic… the natural way

Charismatic is defined as exercising a compelling charm that inspires devotion in others [reference Google].  Being charismatic can give you some major advantages in life, which may make your life easier.  For example, charisma can be a helpful feature when you are trying to convince someone to do something or see something your way.  It may also help you make new friends and being a likable person.  It is not something you can force and typically comes to people naturally.  A lot of successful people are charismatic, which makes me think being charismatic is an important part to being a success.  An example of a successful person who is very charismatic is Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson.  He is someone who is always smiling, is in very good shape, and always has good stuff going on.  Dwayne Johnson is someone most people can respect because he is a genuinely nice guy.

So if you would like to be charismatic, you need to make sure you are being genuine and true to yourself.  When you speak to others, do not say things to make them like you.  You need to make sure you are truly being truthful.  Secondly, you need to be positive and smile when possible.  It is difficult to smile all the time, but you should smile the majority of the time.  When you talk to someone or an audience of people, try to look them in their eye(s) and speak to them and not at them.  Additionally, you will want to make sure you are building a relationship with anyone you come into contact with in some way.  This may seem impossible, but is truly not.  Even if you are at your local ‘Wawa’ preparing a coffee at the coffee station and there is someone next to you, try to be warm and not cold.

Life is too short to hate the world.  Be kind to others and try improving your charismatic levels.  The biggest takeaway here is to be genuine to others.  Do not just talk out of your ass!  And try caring.

 

Starting a new job

I have changed roles several times in my career and the transition is not always flawless.  I have gathered a list of challenges and possible solutions to better help you transition into a new role.

The first challenge we are faced with is knowing our co-workers and their roles and responsibilities.  To overcome this challenge, we must setup 1:1s with them to understand their role in the organization and their relationship to your role.  In addition to setting up 1:1s with individuals you are going to potentially work with, you may also want to grab lunch with them.  It is beneficial to build relationships that stretch further than the job itself.  You are more likely to be successful in leveraging your co-workers if they respect you on a personal level.

The second challenge is understanding the fundamentals of your new role.  Even if you were a sales representative previously and you are going into a sales representative position at another company, there may be some crucial differences between the two companies you will need to know.  Before jumping into your role and trying to execute with a lack of understanding of your new role, invest time in educating yourself on the new position.  Understand the processes, acronyms, miscellaneous materials, and so on to set yourself up for success.  Bypassing this vital information can set yourself up for failure.

The third challenge is being patient.  As humans we are naturally impatient and want everything today.  We should not get frustrated with lack of progress when we are working hard to achieve our goals.  We need to realize things do take time.  Typically, we will not gain the respect we want in the beginning because people are not going to trust us 100% on day 1.  Overtime, we can show our co-workers we are deserving of the respect and that they can trust us.  In time, we can build our brand and make a name for ourselves.  If you work hard and honestly, the results should be promising.

To recap, we need to build relationships with our co-workers, build an understanding of the role, and be patient.  These are not the only three challenges in starting a new job, but are three very big challenges worth mentioning.  I do not think we should feel discouraged in taking a new position when the opportunity is promising.  I do feel we should rise to the occasion and better ourselves.  When a new opportunity is provided for us, we need to evaluate it from every angle and determine whether it is a good choice for us.  If we do find a good opportunity waiting, but you are afraid you will not transition in well, try to understand why.  Take each challenge and truly understand if you can overcome it.  Most likely you are capable of overcoming any challenge and if you work hard enough at it, will succeed!

More coffee please

Each morning I wake up at around 4:40am and go to the gym for roughly 50 minutes to 70 minutes.  I get back around 6:15am, take a shower, prepare my lunch, make coffee and drive to work.  On the 50 minute drive in, I drink my coffee and listen to music.  This drive is the portion of the day I reflect on the past, present, and future.  Basically, it is free time for me to be alone and think about things I normally do not have time to think about.  The caffeine typically hypes me up for the day, but by noon I start feeling tired again.  At that point, I say… more coffee please!

The problem with drinking coffee every time I am tired is that I will become dependent on it and I do not want to do that.  For some people, coffee becomes a permanent crutch.  So why am I talking about this?

In life, it is easy to become addicted or dependent on certain things.  We need to make sure we are not doing anything in excess.  Even too much good can become bad!   There simply needs to be a balance in everything we do.  For example, if I am working too much I can burn myself out (Burnout is real).  Also, working too much may allow your personal life to suffer and that can lead to big problems.  I do plan well in advance in almost anything I do, but also live a day at a time.

My advice is simple!  Drink coffee for the enjoyment, but do not drink it because you need it.  Similarly, do the things you are doing with good intentions and be smart about it.  With everything stacked against us, we need to be very clever to make sure we succeed.  Remember to enjoy each sip of your coffee and remember the work that went into producing you a cup of coffee.  From the bean to the drink!

Interconnected progress

I do not believe it is often that people are good at just one thing.  More often, a person is good at a variety of things, which is why I believe in interconnected progress.  There are characteristics individuals who are successful have that allow them to transfer their abilities from one activity to the next.  One important characteristic to have is drive, which will enable you to produce results, even when the environment is challenging.  Another important characteristic to have is intelligence, which will enable you to build a plan to produce results, even when the solutions are not apparent.  Having certain characteristics allows you to more readily achieve your goals in multiple focus areas.  For me, these areas included school, work, business, and my personal life.

The second part of this discussion revolves around achieving results in multiple focus areas simultaneously.  This speaks more to the interconnected progress part.  As I am learning new materials in my career at my job, I can utilize these new learned materials to help me advance my business and my personal life.  I may find new tools I never knew existed before, which I can apply to other focus areas in my life.  This allows for better interconnected progress and will help me achieve my goals faster.  This is a concept I just recently was thinking about because I am learning new materials in my new role at work, which I can apply to my business and personal life.  Fortunately, I do not need to apply them to school because I am no longer in school.

My last thought for today on this topic is that we are all trying to advance.  Knowing that we can use interconnected progress to advance faster, we should be willing to put more focus on it.  On a day to day basis, we should consciously make comparisons from our different focus areas.  We need to stay awake and not dissociate from our daily activities.  Once we stop being engaged, we start lacking the curiosity we need to exceed our expectations.  I am guilty of day dreaming, but have realized I need to be awake more during the day when I should be.  That is all for today!

Going back to school

After undergraduate school, I immediately joined a startup pharmaceutical company as a chemist.  After several years, I joined a larger company that offered tuition reimbursement as a benefit.  I took advantage of the tuition reimbursement program, which I highly recommend to anyone who is thinking about going back to school.  Fortunately for me, my company reimbursed me 100% of the tuition for my graduates degree.  Once I earned my degree, nobody can take this away and it is something I have throughout my entire life.  The value of such a degree is upwards of $30,000.  It took me roughly 3 years to complete since I was doing it part-time, so you can look at it as an additional $10,000 I was receiving from my employer.

I could have went to grad school immediately after receiving my undergrad degree.  This would have most likely meant I would be paying out of pocket unless I was accepted into a free program.  I would have most likely had to pay, which would add more dollars to my overall student loan debt.  This is not something I wanted to do for obvious reasons.  I would recommend others to look into all of their options for grad school, continued education, certifications, and so on.  You may start at a higher salary with more education, but you will have also been out of school for an additional year or two not making money.  You will also most likely have gained more debt.  These things should be weighed into your decision.  Additionally, you would not have the career experience if you took on a role immediately after under grad.

My last point, is that you need to make sure everything is planned out.  There are pros and cons to both sides of this argument.  Each situation is different and everyone’s goals are different.  You need to make sure your plan to achieve success works for you.  Even though I felt grad school was better after years of working and having my employer pay, you may have different reasons for continuing education immediately after undergrad.  Either way, I do think continued education is very valuable and helpful in your career.

Learning to wait effectively

A major flaw in people is their inability to wait effectively for things they desire.  Due to their lack of patience, individuals will do one or more of the following:

  • Give up and/or forget about their goal(s)
  • Unknowingly self sabotage their goal(s)
  • Execute too early and fail due to poor timing and lack of readiness
  • Sporadically change their goal(s)
  • Change their strategy for reaching their goal(s)

We must realize all good things take time.  From experience, I have learned it is sometimes just as important to wait as it is to act.  Waiting can be a crucial part in your strategy to reach success.  As Kenny Rogers sings…

You’ve got to know when to hold’em
Know when to fold’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

In developing and executing a strategy to achieve your goals, you will want to include timing for each part.  In my personal life, I have found there were roles I wanted to get, but needed a certain level of experience to obtain those roles.  Basically, I needed to put in a few years before I could actually move into the role I wanted.  There would be no getting passed it and I would need to wait it.  Of course, you just do not sit and wait.  You need to wait effectively, which means making the best out of your current situation and setting yourself up for success while you do wait.

Waiting effectively does not mean giving up, changing your plans sporadically, or forgetting about your goal(s).  Too many become impatient and do not follow through on their dreams.  To produce results, you need to stay consistent and be tenacious.  Also, remember to enjoy your present day and not be 100% concerned with the future.  Make sure you are fully aware of your present day because you do not want to miss it.

 

Business pipeline

In the last couple of years, I’ve realized activity is key to growing my business.  If I am going to grow my business, I need to make sure there is a pipeline to generate increasing amounts of money over the next several years.  Typically, I will lay this out into a table to help me better visualize the key activities planned over the next couple of years.  I also associate numbers with each activity and a completion date.  This helps me understand where I can add more work and where I may need to reduce the workload or add resources.  It also helps me understand if the effort is worth the reward when comparing to my other projects.  This is where prioritization skills come into play.

With greater focus on the business pipeline table I created this week, I have quickly found new ideas to make my company better in terms of workload.  I also feel more confident that I have a better grasp of what needs to get done and when it needs to be done.  As I always mention, if you are not meeting your goals by the timing you set, then you need to take a step back and reassess the situation.  Does your timing make sense for the goal or milestone?  Are there more pressing issues you should be looking after?  Is there something that is taking you away from the goal you are not accomplishing in a timely manner?  As important as it is to find answers to the questions we ask, it is equally as important to ask the questions to invoke answers.

Lastly, without a business pipeline showing your next steps for the next couple of years, we may not be confident in our future as a company.  We need to make sure we are building strategy and executing it appropriately.  We also need to make sure our strategy makes sense for our business and allows our business to grow at the rates we are seeking.  Without growth year over year, our business may be in jeopardy of failing.  I have also mentioned time and time again, that we are generally fighting an uphill battle. Just with inflation, we need to pass those increased prices to our customers or find cost savings in our operations/materials to keep the price point the same.  Raising prices does not make any customer happy and I know this from personal experience.  If we can find cost savings each year, we can potentially keep the price point the same and not convince our customers to look elsewhere.  Build your pipeline and plan for the future.  Your growth awaits you!

More is not always more

I have observed in life activities come in waves.  If you think about a wave, amplitude and frequency are two very important characteristics.  As a refresher, amplitude is defined as the maximum extent of a vibration or oscillation, measured from the position of equilibrium [reference google.com].  Frequency is defined as the rate at which something occurs or is repeated over a particular period of time or in a given sample [reference google.com].  When we are super busy in life, we are most likely near the top of the wave and when life is dull and boring, we are near the bottom of the wave.  Depending on what lifestyle we live, these ups and downs may occur at different rates or frequencies.  Imagine that you can control the frequency and amplitude of your life to a point where you can reduce your levels of stress.  In my opinion, this would be great!

Too often, I find myself trying to take on too much because I was always under the impression more is more.  In reality, more is not always more.  When we try to take on too much, we can find ourselves overly stressed, tired, and zoned out.  We are not able to enjoy the present and may be unhappy.  If we take an approach where you are prioritizing the activities in your life and controlling the wave (amplitude and frequency), then you may be able to better life your life.  There is the saying, less is more and I truly do believe in some instances, this is true.

A perfect example of how to prioritize to get more done can be seen here.  This link will take you to Stephen Covey’s “Big Rocks” demonstration, which is a very good way of looking at how you should prioritize your work.  At the end of the day, we all want to accomplish something and produce results.  Remember… more is not always more.  You are in control of your life and it is up to you to create the life you want to live.

Technical business ops balance

I spend a lot of time with my father because we are business partners.  We have a lot of discussions about our business and the direction we feel it should go.  My father is extremely talented when it comes to the technical side of our business.  Without his expertise, the business would not exist today.  For over 10 years, my father has transferred knowledge to me, but still there is so much I need to learn from him.  One of my strengths is business operations management, which is crucial to have if you want to have a successful business.  It is not enough to have a good product.

Importance of good operating business

There have been so many failed businesses that had great products, but the businesses were poorly run.  For one, you need to bring awareness to your business through proper marketing and sales.  Secondly, you need to make sure your business is profitable which can mean you need to cut out some fat and make your operations more lean.  It does not always pay to hire employees just because they’re your friends and they need a job.  We need to constantly review financials and let your balance sheet speak for itself.  After collecting financial data for an extended period of time (i.e., 1 year, 2 years), make decisions that favor the growth of your company.  As I always mention, gather information/data to better prepare yourself for the future.  The more data you have the better!

Make sure your business is getting paid

Over the years, I have heard stories of businesses closing because their customers simply were not paying them.  If your customers are not paying you, stop servicing and/or selling products to them.  Make sure you take the right steps to make them pay you.  Some may say, I don’t want to upset my customers because they may not come back.  Well, if they are not paying you, then they are not very good customers to have and you should get the money that is owed to you.

Set emotions aside

There are many businesses that perform poorly because there is some sort of emotion attached, which may be making the business owner make poor decisions.  A lot of times people will tell you to go with your gut feeling or want to their business story to be a fairytale.  The truth is, there are not many fairytales in the business world.  Make sure you are determining your next moves off of hard data and not soft emotion.  In business there are going to be tough decisions you need to make, which is fine if it is for the good of the business.  Build your strategy to help your business grow.  Make sure you create an environment that allows your business to succeed and not an environment that restricts growth.

 

These are just a few tips that I’ve learned along the way and they seem to be helping me tremendously.  There are many more I have, which I may write later about.  Please reach out with any questions.  Also, comment if you have your own opinions on this.

You are not getting paid for s&g

In the common workplace, you will find all sorts of people with diverse backgrounds and I would say this is a very good thing.  When a team is diverse and contains people with different experiences, a wide range of solutions can be brought to the table.  With this being said, diversity can also bring differences in understanding the business.  Not everyone is trained to look at their role in the company from a business lens.  I will admit that I was one of these people with the lack of experience to understand how my role impacted the business.  For starters, we need to be aware that you are not getting paid for shits and giggles.  If your role is not creating value for the company, then your role should be eliminated.

Creating value

In my journey to better understanding the connection between my role and the impact it had on the business, I realized an important piece is creating value.  We can ask ourselves, how is my role creating value for the business?  How can I create more value for the business?  What can I do better?  If you are able to start answering these questions, you are going to be a far better employee than you have ever been before.  We need to take a step back and understand the bigger picture.

Secondly,…

Look for larger roles

As you gain more experience and grow out of your current role, you should be looking for the next stop in your career path.  If you grow too large for your current role, eventually you could be easily replaced by someone who requires less pay.  You may say, how can they replace me, but I have seen this exact scenario happen many times.  As you become more equipped for a larger role, you are going to be able to help contribute more to the business.  Since you will be contributing more (i.e., responsibility, time, dedication), you should get a matching salary.

Never hide in the weeds

A very smart person once told me, look for the opportunities that give you exposure to multiple fronts.  A lot of times people want to hide in the weeds and avoid being noticed.  I can understand this because you are still getting paid the same [today].  If you want to grow and be promoted, then you are going to need to network and be noticed for your good works.  If you are ready for a new position, then look for that position that offers you more exposure.  The exposure should be on multiple fronts meaning, across the entire company.  For example, you may want to take a business operations manager position because you will get exposure to top management across procurement, quality, plants, packaging, product development, sales, marketing, and so on.  It would truly be a cross-functional role that requires you to take on a true leadership role.

A few last words

As mentioned, you are not just getting paid for shits and giggles [s&g].  To grow, you need to create value for your company, look for larger roles, and never hide in the weeds.  These are just a few tips of many that I can provide.  If you are interested in more guidance or discussion around this, please comment below.  I am always up for a good conversation on careers.  As obvious as this all sounds, it is typically not something they teach you in school.  Especially for me studying biochemistry/engineering, you are just not going to get this teaching in your normal workload.  It is up to us to network with professionals and gain career advice in this way.  I would not say my advisors in university were extremely helpful when it came to career advice.

Making hard decisions easier

Decision is defined as the action or process of deciding something or of resolving a question [reference google.com].  Everyday we need to make many decisions.  Some decisions are easier than others.  Some decisions are extremely difficult and require more thought than an easy decision.  It is crucial to make the right decisions to avoid getting into trouble.  Poor decisions can lead to a delay in your plans to reach success.  Poor decisions can also possibly lead to illness or even death.  In our lives we are going to make poor decisions and that is normal.  It is important to make less poor decisions than good decisions.

When faced with a difficult or hard decision, we need to make sure we are putting extra effort into making a good decision, especially if there is negative impact associated with making the wrong decision.  Of course, we may not know in that moment if a decision is good or bad, which is why it is important to keep this in mind.  First, we need to gather information/data to better prepare ourselves to make the right decision.  More information about the choices will help us better understand the pros and cons of each option.  If we are not fully aware of our options and what they mean, then we are just picking based off of luck.

Secondly, we need to understand our goals and make sure our decisions are aligned with helping us reach those goals.  We should ask ourselves, does this decision help support my plan to reach my goals?  Also, does this decision help support other team members on my team or in my life reach their goals?  Although a decision may support your goals, it could backfire if you are crushing someone else’s plans.  We need to keep these types of things in mind too.

Third, we need to make sure we are learning from our mistakes.  If there was a poor decision made in the past, are you remembering this to make sure you do not repeat it?  If you make a poor decision now, you need to make sure you note it for the future.  The same goes for any good decisions.  We need to make sure we remember good decisions too, so we can repeat those results.

At the end of the day, some decisions are just going to be simply difficult.  There may be nothing we can do to solve this, but we can surely ease the pain of a hard decision by following these three steps.  We need to gather information, make sure it supports our plans, and remember our past decisions.