Randy Pausch’s last lecture

Just got done watching Randy Paushc’s last lecture on Youtube and it has to be one of the best videos I’ve watched on Youtube with Lily’s Disneyland Surprise and Ronaldinho’s Golden Touch. It was truly inspiring to hear his life lessons and how he still conducts himself even when he only has a few months left to live. The video is embedded with so many gems that the only way to truly explain it would just be to watch it. The two things I took away from it most was the story he gave about when his coach was riding him extra hard during a practice. One of the coaches said that “When you’re screwing up and nobody saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up”. He also talked about brick walls are there to see how much you want something. It’s also used to separate you and everybody else; from the ones who are willing to do whatever it takes and the people who will give up easily. I’m very glad that I was referred to this video and that I took the time to watch it. I actually planned it into my calendar and the lessons are something I will keep in mind when I go on in my life. Thank you very much Randy.

Here is a link to the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

Buying a Bicycle from Bikesdirect.com

I just recently purchased a 2012 Motobecane Fantom CX from bikesdirect.com for $580 and had it delivered on Friday 8/17/12. They told me that it would come 90% assembled and the rest was up to me. Let me tell you, it wasn’t 90% assembled!! It was more like 75-80% because it took me almost an hour to put the thing together and their manual was very general (which they warned me about). It also was difficult because I’ve ridden bikes before but I’m a novice when it actually comes to the components and maintenance of a bicycle. Therefore the assembly process was a difficult one but I got all the parts to go together and the bike ended up being functional.

After I assembled the bike to the best of my abilities, I went to the Bike Gallery on Division street to buy a new bracket for my Kryptonite lock and a few other items like lights, and a cargo rack. The ride took me close to an hour and I didn’t feel anything wrong with the bike except for I haven’t ridden  for that long for some time and my butt felt sore to the point I was walking bow legged into the store. Along with buying the items, I was also planning on asking them to take a look at my bike to see if I installed it correctly and if all the bolts were tightened correctly. He took one look at the bike and asked me if the bike was assembled recently and I tentatively gave him a yes. He then proceeded to bombard me with all the mistakes I had and blamed the online shops for telling their customers that they would be able to assembly the bike when they probably don’t have the proper tools because they cost hundreds of dollars each. So after convincing me that I am a complete noob and if I ride the bike home then there is a good chance that I could cause permanent damage to the bike, I left the bike with him to properly assemble for $85 + $$ for misc. parts he will have to add.

The lesson I learned: Always refer to an expert when it comes to anything that requires complex assembly.

Here is a picture of my bike, I named it Naz’gul.

 

10 Tips on Building Great Business Relationships

I was reading through Turner’s new hire material and came across a fantastic article about building business relationships. Some of these tips are true gems and I think they can really help people advance their careers and also make their personal relationships better as well. Enjoy!

1. Know something personal about the people you do business with.

Some people don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. But your business should be your pleasure! Think about how much time you spend on your business. It makes it so much nicer to know what’s important to your colleagues.  For anyone who has kids, pets, etc… there is nothing more important to them. Make an effort to know their names.

Or if your colleague is an avid golfer or tennis player; ask them how his game is going.  This doesn’t have to monopolize the entire conversation. But it is a great way to start off a business lunch or meeting, especially if you have not seen that person in a while.

2. Always be sincere.

Has this ever happened to you? You are at a conference, and you meet someone in your industry. You seem to hit it off well and you think this could be a good business connection. Your new business connection even initiates the card exchange and says, “Call me anytime.” You follow up right away with a phone call or email… and nothing happens. After a few weeks of trying, you realize it’s a dead end.

If you have no intention of cultivating a relationship do not give the impression otherwise.  It’s really ok not to offer cards at conferences. And if someone asks you if they can call and you know you are not interested – tell them up front. Be polite and respectful but never give the impression that you are going to do something when you know will not.

3. Respond to colleagues in a timely manner.

We are all busy. Someone else’s biggest priority is usually not our own. However, if you agree to do something for someone, do it in a timely manner.

Recently a colleague wrote a book and wanted some feedback on his first chapter. Unfortunately, his request went onto my junk email folder. When I saw the request three days later, I immediately sent him an email explaining the situation and told him I would read the chapter right away and send him my comments.

It was 11:00 p.m. when I saw the request, but I still read the chapter and sent off my comments right before midnight.  Sure, I would rather have gone to bed and done it in the morning. But I knew this was important to him. We had been colleagues for ten years. We had worked on multiple projects together, and he never missed a deadline. Having a sense of urgency is very important in the business world. You must create value at all times around the goods/services you are providing. Treat your job like it is always on the line, and do your best to create value each and everyday.

4. Always arrive on time.

Fashionably late does not exist in business. Showing up late for business meetings or lunches lets the other person know you don’t respect their time and that you think your time is more valuable. It also makes one question if the project will get done on time. The more that you can show you are an asset, the more your colleagues will standup for you in times of turmoil.

5. Never use your children as an excuse.

Many times the reason for not finishing a report or being late for a meeting very well may be because one of your children wasn’t feeling well, or they couldn’t find their homework or you forgot to pack school lunches.

Regardless of the reason, never walk into a business meeting that you are late for and announce that the dog ate Bobby’s’ homework and you spent the last hour redoing the assignment. Simply apologize for being tardy, ask what you missed and move on.

There will be times when real emergencies occur. At that point it is perfectly fine to let your colleagues know that you need to leave because your child needs you.

6. Be brand positive.

Be brand positive and always optimistic about the future of your business. No one likes to be around cranky people.  Beside the fact that cranky people take the fun out of things, it can be draining and counter-productive. A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that positive people accomplish more than negative people.

7. Know something about your potential business associate’s company.

If you are off to meet with a potential business associate make sure you do your homework. Understand the company’s main function and core competencies. Know how long they have been in business. Have a basic understanding of how you can work together. With the Internet, all of this information is just a keyboard away. Go to Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc… and do a little digging, I am sure they did some digging on their end.

8. Never, ever gossip.

Being known as a gossip is the fastest way to destroy a business relationship. Regardless of your skill set, no one will want to work with you. Gossip can destroy careers and takes up valuable time that could be spent on gratifying situations. Keep to yourself and keep delivering the value that you were hired to bring to the table.

9. Give more than you get. 

Karma does exist. If you are known as the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) type, you need to work to change your image. When you are willing to help others without payback, it comes back to you ten-fold. Don’t get me wrong. We are all running businesses, working towards maintaining a balance life. However, helping a business colleague without the expectation of payback will be far more beneficial to you in the end.  

10. Just say no (It’s ok).

Being a young business professional, I try to please everyone I come in contact with. However there are times when saying no to a request in business is better than saying yes. If your plate is full and you know that you will not be able to honor the request in a satisfactory manner, then don’t do it. If you know the outcome will be substandard, you are at risk of hindering your credibility, disappointing your colleagues, and missing deadlines on projects you have already committed to.

By saying no, your colleagues will actually respect you more for your honesty and commitment to finishing what you already started. Have an ongoing goal to work on this vital business building skill. Improving your relationships with business partners, colleagues, and all those you work with will bring many benefits.

 

Future Career Developments

Tomorrow we have a meeting where meeting is mandatory and it has caused people at Intel to start throwing suspicions everywhere and I have gotten a little whirled up into their speculations. The rumor mills are spitting out that we got a new project, we didn’t get our new contract signed, there will be restructuring, and there might a massive lay-off. Apparently there is usually a description that accompanies these meetings but this time, there isn’t any and that has lead to the staff questioning the true intent of the meeting. I’m not sure if this mild chaos was planned or if there was no way around it because the manager needed to keep the information confidential until he has permission to release it. Either way we will all know at 3:00 PM tomorrow about what our future at Intel will entail.

I’m not panicking too much because it’s all speculation at this point, but I always fear the “first in, first out” rule. I know that Turner hires people for a career and they won’t let anybody go without doing their best to find them some work. This is why I have faith in them and the reason they have lasted over a century in a very competitive business; you must be able to adapt to your surrounding environments and if the information is bad news, then I’m sure we can adapt.

And if the worst case scenario happens and I’m laid off, then I will promptly start trying to find a job somewhere else in the construction industry. It’s definitely a scenario that I don’t want to pane out, but the world is not about survival of the fittest but survival of the ones who are most adaptive to change. I can’t doing anything now except wait for 3:00 PM Thursday when I know what will happen.

Sam Brooks’ 5 Steps to Business Success

I attended a youth conference last Thursday that focused on promoting entrepreneurship among young high school students at the OAME (Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs) conference center in downtown Portland. My involvement was through Turner and they had been sponsors and  volunteers for the better part of a decade; my role at the conference was to be a business coach meaning that we helped facilitate and support the ideas of the students. The conference consisted of students splitting into groups of three with a business coach and then creating a business plan for a fictitious company that only had a start-up budget of $2,000. There was also a few speeches from local minority business leaders every hour or so with the main speaker being Sam Brooks who is a local entrepreneur and founded OAME. He made a quick first impression by asking who were the first three people to arrive to the event and proceeded to hand each one a $100 bill. Sam said that being early to any event is one of the reasons he has been so successful. Unfortunately some students didn’t listen because it was their second time attending the event but they still weren’t first; if that was me, I would be camping outside! The man is a true entrepreneur saying he started his first business when he was only 10 years old collecting old vegetables from farmers and then selling them at the local market. He gave five valuable business lessons to the students to how they can be successful in this world.

1. How to grow and manage your business
He emphasized that if you are going to see your business become successful then you need to know all the aspects about it; from the financials to the customers to what your employees are doing. You cannot manage your business if you do not know what is happening inside the spider webs.

2. Market and sell your product and services.
Marketing is an extremely important part of the business because without it, then people will not know that your business exists. There should be a strong push towards marketing both in your  company’s value and in their financial budget.

3. Access to capital
To start your business, you will need access to capital or money. He told the students that their best bet at finding capital would be through friends and family. He said that it’s very hard to get money from people that don’t love you and he still sometimes has troubles getting some capital which I find hard to believe.

4. Using technology and social media
He has been successful because he has embraced technology in a way to make his company profitable. Sam knows why technology is important and the business advantage that it can bring his companies, that is why he stresses its use.

5. Network
At the end of the day, business is all about relationships and that is the ultimate goal that every entrepreneur should strive to make. Relations and networks with your employees, customers, suppliers, manufacturers, friends, family, and any other person or entity that you come in contact with. You never know what you can do for them or what they can do for you. So build those relationships and nurture them because they will truly help make you successful.

I’m glad I was able to attend the event because it was great hearing all those speakers, especially Sam Brooks.

The Impact of Mentors

During my college career, I discovered the amazing benefits that mentors can offer you in your professional career. I met my first mentor while I was doing a project in one my classes that required filming a construction process and then analyzing it and writing a report on how we would improve the task. There was one construction company, Andersen, that was working on a major project on the Oregon State campus so I reached out to the Project Manager because their schedule was bulking with construction. Andersen has been doing projects on the OSU campus for years so their PMs are familiar with students contacting them about various class project since our curriculum remains consistent over the years. I was the main person of contact for my group so I set up a time were our team could go walk the project and that’s were we got introduced face to face and I liked him from the first time I met him. He is around 10 years older than I am and very easy going; he was also very knowledgeable about his project and everybody greeted him when they saw him, so that spoke volumes in itself. Our project was completed successfully due to his guidance and support to help get our camera setup with the best vantage point and going out of his way for our causes. A few weeks after the project I asked him if he would like to get lunch or a drink sometime and to my surprise he obliged. There is a local bar called Clodfelters on the OSU campus that is right next to the CEM building so I figured that would be a great place to meet. It was a little tentative at first because we haven’t met out of a professional setting so I initiated conversation by asking what I can expect when I start working in the construction industry (I haven’t had a construction related internship yet). He answered all my questions and assured me that I would do fine as long as I asked many questions and if I don’t understand something then say it. From that moment on, we kept in contact usually once a month and grabbed a few beers and worked on other projects together throughout my last two years and that’s how our relationship grew.

I think what has really strengthened our relationship is that I don’t base our relationship on how he can help me because I want to help him as well so that there is a mutual benefit. He has helped me in so many ways and one tangible example is when I wanted to take my LEED Green Associate test but didn’t want to pay for the class to be eligible to take the exam. Therefore I asked him if he could write me a letter and he kindly obliged. Then when I was about to graduate he asked me to write a letter about my mentoring experience with him and I put a lot of time and effort into the document to clearly explain and show how his mentorship has made my academic career and professional career more progressive. He stated that he wanted to use the letter for OSU during their project proposals so I made sure to address that point in the way I framed the letter. This is a just one among many examples I have of the mutual benefit of our mentor/mentee relationship.

I have another mentor at Intel who introduced me to a director of Intel operations and I asked him what has been the most influential thing that has lead to the advancement of his career. His answer was to have mentors and at least 2-3 of them but be sure that they are not your immediate manager. He also states that the mentors should be spread out in their positions and should be high up if possible, someone who can give you direction on where you want to go with your career. He says that he had some mentors above him and when he got past them then he found new ones but he emphasized to never burn your bridges. My mentor at Intel also stressed the importance of mentors and what it has done for her career. Just from these two contacts at Intel, it has been shown that having mentors can meteorically push your career faster than you’ve ever expected. I’m still finding my way around Turner so I haven’t found a mentor yet but I’m hoping to have one by the end of this year. I have two great ones already but I believe a mentor within my company would complete my Triforce of Teachers (trademarked lol).

The Humbling Experience of Playing Softball

Last Wednesday I finally got to play some organized softball which I’ve always wanted to do in college but never got the opportunity because I didn’t know anybody who wanted to play. Unfortunately, I haven’t played softball since PE class in middle school and it gave me an experience I won’t soon forget. The team I played on was with my fellow Turner coworkers and they play in a “beer” league where alcohol is consumed throughout the softball match; I only drank one can but others were pounding them down like old college days! I guess it’s hard to find players so we teamed up with another company titled Glumac which I think is an engineering firm. We played two games starting at 6 PM all the way to 9 PM with the first game being decided by time and the second one being played till 7 innings.

When I got to the field, it was a busy day apparently because we had 23 players which is huge compared to the other team which probably had around 12 people so we could basically field two teams. This made it a little difficult to get some reps but I got to play multiple times in the field and also batted three times. When I was on the field, I mostly played center field because I found out that the more experience players play in the infield similar to soccer. I was waiting for a ball to be hit towards me so that I could make a diving catch but I never got my opportunity. I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to make the catch because the other guys were belting those balls pretty hard and on top of that, the softball’s name is misnomer! It’s hard as hell! I ended up not making and catches but I did get to throw the ball once and that was the highlight of my outfield experience. When I got to bat was my favorite part, as it probably is for most people because there is nothing more fun than hitting a ball.

Before it was my turn to bat, a coworker asked me when was the last time that I hit a ball and I told him 7th grade then he grinned at me. Luckily, your own team pitches to you rather than the other team so this was a relief for me and also you get 5 tries and that is it; there are no strikeouts so you can attempt to swing at anything. I had confidence in myself because the ball was huge and I was pretty athletic so this was going to be easy in my opinion. The first pitch that I got was thrown at my feet and my friend told me he was just playing with me, which didn’t help me at all cause I needed all the practice I could get! The second pitch came in and looked perfect so I used all my strength and swung at it envisioning a home run and listening for the huge thunder that was going to come. But all I heard was a swoosh and myself spinning around in a circle. Then came the comments about my golf swing and the wind they felt. The third and fourth pitches ended up in the same order and this lead my teammates and opponents to cheer for me. I’ve never been on this side of the cheering before and it was very humbling. Hearing people say “You can do it! Keep your eye on the ball” made me feel athletically inadequate but also motivated me to not let them down. It did help me that I had my coworkers and other people rooting for me that I didn’t want to fail them on my last pitch. So I locked my eyes really hard and focused on the ball and was able to make contact! Although it ended up being a fly ball everybody cheered because I was able to make contact and I’m glad I was able to experience what it was like to being cheered on when you’re struggling. On my third at-bat in the 2nd game, I was able to contribute to my team. I was less nervous on the 3rd time and was able to hit an RBI and then I ran the field over two hits and was able to run home. Our team ended up winning by one point and I like to think that it was due to my RBI 🙂

I really enjoyed playing softball because all my coworkers were very supportive and it was a fun atmosphere. I would definitely try and make all the games over the season just to become better friends with my coworkers and also work on my hitting! We also have this golf event coming up in September and I think I would need to practice before that occurs as well. I’m still in my honeymoon phase with my job but everything has been going fantastic and I’m learning so much both in my work and out of work.

Portland’s Sand in the City

Sand in the City is an event held at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon that is sponsored by Mr. Yoshida and supports Impact NW which is an organization that provides support and aid to Northwest children. The event consists of hundreds of cubic yards of sand being dumped into Pioneer Square and then teams create sculptures around a central theme. There are a couple categories like competitors choice, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, and the people’s choice award. The event was held on Friday July 20th this year and had 12 different teams competing; I was on the Turner/AMAA team and the central theme was “No place like home” and our take on it was “Our home in 2030”. Basically, we wanted people to be able to see our home in 2030 because we are currently over-loading the earth and we need to be more environmentally conscious if we want to thrive in a livable world in 2030. Therefore we used the theme of the Lorax to display and encourage that image because he is a stalwart for sustainability and the environment. It was my first time being involved in the event in any form and I had a complete blast!

The event started at 8:00 AM but I wasn’t able to make it till 9:00 because I had a superintendent’s breakfast at 6:00 AM followed by some safety training but I didn’t miss much. It was a lot more work than I expected! When I got there the forms were already nailed and placed so all we had to do was put the sand in the forms and start tamping and compacting. The only materials that were allowed was sand and water and only hand tools were allowed. I spent the majority of the time shoveling sand from the large community sand pile into our own pile so that we can start filling the forms. The more experienced team members handled the mixing of water and sand along with compacting the sand. Our total structure was designed to be 9 feet tall but that prove to be too tall so we scaled it down a bit to around 7 feet tall. The tall structure was the Once-ler’s house and took 4 forms and a crap load of sand and man power. We had around 23 people with around 12 people not coming until we were doing pulling the forms because they were the architects and were in charge of drawing out the details. Below are pictures of what our project looks like during and after construction.

All work at to be completed at 4:00 PM because they judges make you step away from your work and if you continue then you will be disqualified. We finished right up to the last second and so did every other team. The judges then walk around to decide the winner and announce an hour later. We ended up placing 3rd place which sucks because we won it last year and I believe our sculpture was outstanding but then again, I am biased. But we still have hope in the people’s choice which will end on Sunday at 1 PM. I will be there for that to see if we won or not and also that is the same day they demolish all of the sand sculptures so it should be fun to watch. I also got to get a picture with Mr. Yoshida who is the main proponent of the event.

My First Few Days at Intel and Turner

Only two days has passed since I’ve started my full-time job but it seems like a week has passed! I just spent 4.5 hours going through New Contractor Orientation to just be able to work on the Intel campus because they are very stringent on safety and are very serious about the issue. The campus is a lot larger than I expected, They have 2 huge buildings just for the contractor’s only and 1 building online just working on the new D1X fab facility. I can tell from the atmosphere is that everybody is also busy and that was apparent from my first engineer’s meeting where everybody was talking about their projects and the constant problems that are popping up. Tomorrow I will be joining this discussion because I have completed the majority of my orientation with Turner except for a few HR issues because the current system hasn’t recognized me yet but that shouldn’t be an issue for long.

Life is definitely different being a full-time employee because you know you must perform well for your company while as an intern you didn’t have that kind of bond. My biggest fear is just learning everything because it seems so fast-paced and everybody uses so many acronyms that I don’t even understand what they are saying at times. I’m sure I will get the hang of it after a few months but for now I’m just trying to learn the ropes. Hopefully I’ll be able to make contributions to the team soon and be able to impress my coworkers and supervisors. I wonder if I’ll notice when I start talking like everybody else and using the acronyms properly.

I don’t have a set date at how long I will be at Intel but I won’t be surprised if I spend a few years here and I don’t have an issue with that because I will always be constantly busy with work and will be learning so much. Also, Intel is a very intelligent and demanding owner so I’ve heard that if I can succeed at Intel then everything should be cake. Here we go!

My Ongoing Experience with Student Loans

The only thing I regret about taking student loans is that I didn’t monitor how much I took and should have took less over my academic career. I consider myself financially savvy but I didn’t foresee that taking out student loans would have such a financial impact on my future. My debt isn’t that bad when you consider it ($21 k) but my parent’s PLUS loans are the main issues sitting at over $50k which in total is almost $80k for a PUBLIC school education. The reality is that I should be no where near this number because tuition each year is around $10k and there is no way that living expenses will reach up to another $10k. I know this because the last few years I started to learn and there was a term (11 weeks) where my living expenses were less than $2,000. One thing I am grateful for is that the student loans allowed me to fully enjoy my college career because I didn’t need money from a second job to help me stay in school. This gave me the time  to party and study without giving me the prior commitment of going to work. On the downside, it gave me a lot of free time which I didn’t always use in the most productive manner but hey, its college! So would I have traded this debt for a lesser college experience? No because I had such a blast with all my friends and I think having the loans allowed me to focus more on school and not on my surrounding finances. I’ve read that the main culprit for why people drop out of college is not because they are incapable of handling the course load but because they run out of financial funds.

Now that I have graduated and can finally see with a clear vision of what my debt truly is, I’m a little shocked at the amount I was able to amass. I decided to take on my parent’s PLUS loan because it seems only right with living at their house free of rent, car insurance payments, and grocery payments. This one is going to take the longest to pay down just because the interest rate is 7.9% compared to 5.2% for my own loans. One of the thing I hate most in this life is paying interest!! But I don’t foresee any other way around it unless I went the lottery sometime in the near future. I have decided to live a frugal life and spend the majority of my dispensable income on paying off my student loans. The loans are slated to be paid off in 25 years but I’m hoping to have ALL of my student loans paid off within 3 years. The main reason I’m attempting to do this is because of the higher-than-expected salary I was offered. Hopefully I can stick through this plan and pay off my debt as quick as possible so that I can start saving up money for retirement, buying a house someday, my daughter’s education, and some spending cash if I decide to go back to school.

So here are some things that I learned about student loans:
1. Take more money the first 2 years and then the 2 last years should only be enough for you to survive. The best years of college for me was 1 & 2 and then partying got a little boring after that and it was time to focus on studying and graduating. So take the money to be able to live your college career (you’re only young once) to the fullest and then be more mature about taking loans as college comes to an end.
2. Stick with FEDERAL loans and avoid PRIVATE loans. The good thing about federal loans is they have many repayment options and are usually more flexible when it comes to complications. I’ve heard horror stories about private loans but if you have no option then try to find one with the lowest possible interest rate and be sure to do your homework/research.
3. Take a student loan seminar to know all your rights and responsibilities so you won’t be surprised when you graduate.

Please be cautious when taking out your student loans and learn quickly about how to balance your college experience and what you can financially afford in the future. It will be difficult but you future self will thank you dearly!