It’s Important to Joke Around with your Coworkers!

I think that those who laugh together will work well together and since I’ve been here at Turner, I’ve had many laughs with my fellow coworkers. This has created a relationship between us that allows us to have a sense of humor at work and gives us the ability to joke around with one another. It’s also important to know your audience and where the line is at all times so you don’t cross it. I would like to give an example of a recent laugh that we had that involved bringing sweets into the office.

Every Friday at Intel, there is an employee that brings doughnuts for the team and this is all expensable through Turner so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. The person who is suppose to do it every week is working nights so he won’t be able to do it, so he sent out an email asking for others to help. Here is the following email that he sent:

All,

The time has come to decide who will acquire the single largest responsibility for the Turner Intel Team: Doughnut Duty. Unfortunately I am working nights this week, Calvin has Friday off, and Tyson has Jury Duty. Therefore, the torch must be passed on. Somebody will have a chance to show their greatness, their leadership, their courage, and most importantly – their dedication to Building the Future. The question is – who is ready to step up to the plate!?

It’s a task that nobody wants to bear on their shoulders but someone has to do it, so I decided it was my time. So I made this meme and then I hit “reply all”.

Lessons I Learned From My Sears Internship

I spent the summer of my college junior year doing an internship for Sears Holdings Corporation as a college field intern for my local Sears store; it was located at the Clackamas Town Center Mall. The internship consisted of shadowing current assistant store managers with the hope that I will join their ranks when I graduated from college. My duties included approving price changes, handling customer issues, overseeing employee evaluations, support the assistant store managers, operations manager, and store manager, and anything else that the company needed. It was my first internship and it was a great experience that I will never forget because not only did I learn how to treat and handle customers, the internship provided me with the knowledge of what it’s like to work in an office environment. I learned what’s it like to work with coworkers who have different views; I also met good and bad coworkers and learned many things about the working world and life from them. There were a few exchanges that I had during the internship which stuck in my mind and made me think about how I should go about my career and life in general.

I had worked at Sears before but only as a seasonal sales associate during high school and my main job duties were just handling customer inquiries, working the cash register, and restocking merchandise. Therefore I remembered a little bit of how the register worked but I was still a novice at it so when I was asked to help with some “cash wraps” (the hub where the cash registers are located) because there was a long line of customers. I felt a little overwhelmed because I didn’t know how to look up prices if it didn’t show up or how to handle returns properly. So a customer line was starting to form behind my register so I asked a older fellow associate if she could help me and she responded “You’re young, you can figure it out yourself.” And I was shocked at her response because I thought she would help me. I later told a coworker about the incident and she told me that the person I asked for help doesn’t really like new employees and that was probably the reason for her rudeness. I was also wearing a blue lanyard which meant I’m a sales associate when managers wear red lanyards but I wasn’t given a red one because they had ran out. So a few days passed and that same sales associate came over to me and said she was sorry and that she didn’t know I was a manager. I wasn’t sure if I heard her correctly but then she followed up with some more apologies and asked if I needed help with anything… It definitely sheds a new light on how I viewed employees and how they treat each other and their supervisors. I was still very young at that time and I was surprised when she treated me completely different when she found out that I was a manager and not a regular sales associate. This taught me to treat all your employees the same no matter their position because you never know what they will achieve later in life or maybe that they already have that position but you just don’t know it.

One day I was eating lunch when a fellow coworker sits next to me and we start chatting it up. He sold shoes in the footwear department and has been working with Sears for several years now. He talked about his future plans and how he wanted to study architecture and also landscaping so that he could design every aspect of the building. I questioned him if that was a good idea since it might be easier to subcontract out one or the other and just focus on one field. His response was that he already had his mind set and believes this will help him become a better designer by learning every aspect. He then proceeded to ask me what kind of car I drive and I told him an old Toyota Camry. He said “Why is that I am only a few years older than you yet I drive a BMW and you don’t?” I was like WTF? Where did that come from but my response was “I don’t know man, I guess you got more style than me.” Lame response I know but I wasn’t going to say anything else because 1. I was a manager and 2. I really didn’t give a shit. At that point in my life, I had gained enough confidence in myself to know that I don’t need material possessions to validate anything in my life. I also knew I had a bright future ahead of me and if I wanted a BMW in the future, I don’t think I would have any problem affording one. As I look back on that conversation now, I have much more knowledge and I know the true cost of luxury cars. There are many people who buy them but they can’t actually “afford” them without sacrificing some part of their financial freedom. I’ve also read “The Millionaires Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko and learned the fact that the majority of millionaires spend around $32,000 for their cars because they don’t make good investment sense. I remembered my parent’s asking me what my dream car would be and I said a Honda S2000 and they asked me why I didn’t pick some grander car like a Ferrari. I responded that I really don’t need an expensive car to show people that I’m rich. All I want is the ability to be confident in myself so that I don’t need to rely on other people’s perception of me.

I really enjoyed my internship at Sears and especially the other managers I shadowed. The operations manager was my favorite and we got along very well; I would love to work with him in the future because we would joke around and gel very nicely. He also took me under his wing and showed me the ropes which I really appreciated. That was my first experience being a manager and it showed me what kind of people skills you needed to be a great one. It also required a lot of emotional intelligence and the ability to separate emotions from business. I hope that someday I can become a manager where others will respect me and be able to tell me what the candidly think so that we can make the business grow together.

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.

 

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.

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!

How I passed the LEED Green Associate exam with self-study

I just finished taking the LEED Green Associate on June 9th, 2012 at my local Prometric location and passed with a score of 184/200 (92%)! It was my first attempt at the LEED GA and my major is construction engineering management so I was knowledgeable with LEED but not to the degree that I could pass the test without the mildly rigorous studying that I did. Like many others who have taken the test, I did a lot of googling about “how to pass the LEED GA” and read on forums about other people who got high scores and garnered as much experience from them as I could. If you’re thinking about taking the LEED GA soon then please take some heed to what I have to say because it could help you pass the exam the first time and avoid paying another $150 to retake the test!

The two critical success factors to passing the LEED GA for me was reading study guides and taking practice exams. Those are the two main things I will focus on through this post.

Study Guides

I don’t think I could have passed this test without the study guides that I used; I only used two. The first one was a study guide that I got from a friend and it was the  the LEED AP Building Design + Construction Study Guide published by the USGBC. This was the first book I read consisting solely of LEED principles and it was extremely helpful to get familiar with LEED, their requirements, the categories, and the credits involved with each one. It was very helpful that the book had a glossary of terms before each category so that I could get to know the definitions before I read each chapter. They also have five practice questions at the end of each section that really test your knowledge because they are difficult questions. Sometimes the questions are a little absurd because I read some of the questions and it required a lot of extrapolation from what was written in the text; so some of the questions were way too difficult and I didn’t see questions of that level of difficulty on the official LEED GA. This book was a good starting point to get familiar with LEED but I would definitely not delve too far into it because it goes in-depth to the actual calculations for the credit and that is not pertinent information for the LEED GA. A friend let me borrow the book for free so if you had to purchase the book, I would NOT recommend it because the second book I used was excellent.

The second study guide was a free one I found on the internet called the LEED Green Associate Study Guide published by Studio4; it was free when I downloaded it but I heard that they started charging but I think you can still find a free copy by googling. The book is 240 pages and I read it from cover to cover and that truly elevated my knowledge of LEED. It was very comprehensive in regards to the credit requirements of each category and the text was very easy to understand. The outline of the study guide was also very easy to follow and they used a good example of a theoretical project trying to achieve LEED certification throughout the study guide. They also had comprehensive guide of glossary terms that was good to know because there was several questions regarding definitions like albedo, density factor, building footprint, among many others. The only thing I didn’t like about the study guide was that it didn’t include any practice questions because I think that really helps emphasize learning. I would highly recommend either finding a free copy online or purchasing it.

Practice Exams

I used three different practice exams before I took the test and averaged around a 70% on all three tests but I noticed that the questions in those exams were far more difficult than anything I saw on the actual LEED GA. It was really good preparation because a lot of those questions I saw on the LEED GA but was just reworded differently. I took the free 100 question practice exam that was created by www.buildingmygreenlife.com and that was very helpful because of the specific questions they asked and I saw several of the questions on the LEED GA. I also took the 35 question practice exam given by www.greenstepeducation.com which requires you to e-mail an address to get the answer key but that was not an issue because I got a response within 5 minutes. I did pretty bad on this test and I think it was because the questions were a little misleading but it was also good practice. Both of these tests were truly helpful because instead of telling you which answer is correct they include a short paragraph on why that answer is correct and the others are incorrect. The final practice exam I took was the 10 question and 50 question from www.greenworkexperience.com which was the most easiest and realistic in terms of test taking because it was administered online; the other ones I printed out. This test included a lot of questions that were actually on the LEED GA and it was the last practice exam I took before the actual one. I didn’t like how they didn’t explain the correct/incorrect answers which could have helped in learning the material.

If you want to pass the LEED GA, then you must take as many practice exams as you can! I can’t stress how important practice exams are because they test how well you know the basics of LEED and many of the questions you will see on test day. It is also good to take the 100 question exam in actual conditions (2 hour limit, no outside information, secluded area, etc.) to help you prepare for testing conditions and to see if time will be an issue for you. I truly believe that the reason I was able to pass the LEED GA was because I took as many practice exams as I did, and don’t be discouraged if you get a bad score because the questions on the LEED GA are easier than what’s on those practice exams.

Tips!

1. Give yourself a few days to study. Don’t cram for the test because there is just too much information to be disseminated in a few hours. Allow yourself at least a few days to read through the study guide by Studio4 and any other materials that you could get your hands on. I didn’t read any of the references that was listed on the USGBC website. I also studied a week before my test at 2-4 hours a day with the final 2 days somewhere between 4-6 hours.

2. Take as many practice exams as you can! I can’t stress this enough, the indicator to you passing the LEED GA will be dependent on how many practice exams you take. I remember taking one of the practice exam a few hours before my test and 3 of the questions were almost verbatim on the test. If you don’t have time to read through all your study materials then spend all the time you have before your test on taking practice exams.

3. Read each question very, very carefully. I can remember one question where it asks you to calculate the water usage per day depending on FTE and one word changed which answer you would pick; the word was graywater, and if you didn’t catch that word then you might calculate the total water because it included both toilets and lavatories. And of course all the answers available were “correct” depending on how you did your calculations.

4. Mark every question you have any hint of hesitation about. If you finish with plenty of time left (>30 mins) then you should have no problem with going over all the answers you have questions about a second time. I marked more than 50% of the questions and finished with more than a hour left. Before I reviewed my marked answers, I took a bathroom break to splash some water on my face and take some deep breathes to clear my head. This short intermission really helped me rejuvenate and refocus and let me go back into the questions with a new perspective.

5. Relax and have confidence in your studies. I knew that I had studied well for the exam and did fairly well on the practice exams. I was thrilled going through the first few questions of the test and thinking how easy these questions were. So just relax, have confidence in yourself, and make sure you took the necessary time to prepare yourself for the test.

I hope you all the best on the passing the LEED Green Associate exam!!