Of all the charities that make requests to me to finish out the year, I wish I could contribute to more of them. To wind down 2013, I made my highest donation priority to help the way for my advisees’ pledges to Push America, which three of them will be riding a bicycle cross-country this summer promoting its mission.
The cross-country trip is called The Journey of Hope, and aside from the physical test of the bike trip, it involves making visits to local facilities along the way that care for people with disabilities. The fraternity members who participate in the ride must meet a minimum fundraising requirement towards the organization, and most members have a goal greater than that minimum. The fundraising campaign runs the sensible model of benefiting both the organization and the person who would be getting credit for the funds on behalf of their goal. Push America provides an easy way for a rider to market themselves and accept donations over the web. As a result, I took advantage of the service and my very late December charitable givings is well summarized by the below
I’m especially proud of the efforts of these young men in their fundraising and commitment to the trip. There had not been a member of the George Mason University Pi Kappa Phi chapter to ride as part of the Journey of Hope in many years. Hopefully, they can start a trend for years to come.
Thanksgiving comes on it’s earliest possible date this year. Even still, having gone through the recent hurricane experience and come out the other side with no lasting damage to house and family, I want to get out my advanced thanks and gratitude. My thoughts especially go out to those who are rebuilding, recovering, and grieving, especially leading into this upcoming holiday season.
This being my first time owning any property during a heavy storm and this past summer dealing with some tragic loss (albeit a pet), it has made it even more clear the importance of caring for each other and sharing that sense of disaster when all of a sudden your home becomes compromised.
On top of the feeling of being fortunate to not have any damage from hurricane Sandy, I do come away with a sense of pride for all the work I put in over the summer to setup a drainage system in the backyard, trim trees, and all the landscaping sweat to minimize issues from the massive rain. The winter may bring some new challenges for me as a new home owner, but from the early experiences of the derecho and hurricane within 6 months, I will chalk it up as just occurrences that I need to be rolling with more as time goes on.
As much as I don’t buy books all that often, I still do manage to have a decent sized collection of them. Lately, my eyes get drawn to the shelves and piles of them in thinking about having box them up in the not too distant future for my move. For a bunch of the titles, I just have tended to keep them around so I can remember that I’ve read them, and I’d really like a better way to recognize that without so much packing poundage. A great alternative that I found is that LinkedIn has an Amazon add-on for your profile called Reading List where you can track what you’re reading or what you’ve already read.
The LinkedIn app is even better for my tastes, since so many of the books that I read are business/personal development topics anyway, if not directly relating to my day job covering software dev skills. Sure, I could also pop stuff on there like Jurassic Park or some Grishams -haven’t decided yet. Overall, the app is great for jogging my own memory, showing off hypothetical knowledge, and just give profile gawkers more info about me. Apparently, the new figure is that 93% of firms go through some recruitment searching on LinkedIn to try to fill positions. The company is also being upped overall for big results compared to other social networks (Facebook), so I’m guessing my efforts to tome dump on this walled garden is not at risk for abandonment.
If you check it out, you’d see my status marker for The Big Short shows up as ‘Reading’. After having to pass over too many newspaper pieces trying to analyze the sub-prime housing downturn, I decided I wanted a better background of the terms and cast of characters. On top of that, there’s nothing quite like 45 hrs of power loss at your home to cause you to add another physical book to my piles to help pass the time without the Internet.
July 15th is probably as good of a spot as any to declare that a college summer vacation is half over. My Pikapp chapter adviseeshave been working and planning for the fall recruitment period that starts up at just the third week of classes. By then, most freshman probably haven’t even been forced to perform their own laundry duties yet, but on campus they will be confronted by people wearing shirts with Greek letters and then asked to decide about joining such and such organization. As much as it requires a share of sales people to try to entice these next ranks, the groups will also need the simple manpower and show of solidarity to reveal their character and culture as well as answer questions about themselves to have hopes of potential members. The internal process may sound simple, but motivation for a group’s own recruitment activities is often times lackluster.
While as an adviser, I won’t be doing any actual sales pitching or activity planning, but I’ve been trying to think of ways to both keep the leaders on track for getting things done on their vacation and also ways they can transfer motivation onto the other members. On this 15th of the month midway point, we have our second, and final, summer check-in meeting to see that the leaders will everything planned for when school starts. Regarding group motivation, one thought I’ve had and need to introduce is to emphasize that the members keep tabs on their competitors. No matter where they fall in the membership size rankings, there’s always going to be that other group who seems just ahead of you in size, or involvement, or sports team record, etc. There is that next-closest competitor who you can act as your measuring stick and who will give the troops a sense of victory if they were matched or exceeded in recruitment intake. For my own undergrad experience, this competitve vibe was always in the forefront for me and my brothers as we went through planning, publicizing, and then execution of our recruitment/rush week. I hope relaying my experience can raise engagement in this new time and place, and give the current leaders some fodder for improving their odds at definitely their biggest priority of the fall.
Over the past couple of years of considering the path towards a full time MBA or other graduate degree, it really caused me to look at my priorities. Beyond the clear advantage of the degree, the costs of it is the next immediate thought that comes to mind. As of May 7th, I’m now a home owner, and have exercised one of the big near-term opportunities that I would forgo, had I decided to go back to school.
I am happy with my funds draining decision, and these fruits of the huge (beyond my imagination!) amount of work that comes with both buying a home and overseeing large renovations on a property that I will be living in. The decision to buy a home was not an easy one, but it was helped greatly by the unheard of mortgage rates that are available and finding a good fit property that is in a high value location.
As is key with most big decisions, timing is such a key factor like with the lending rates and home prices, but it’s equally important to have the confidence of projecting where I want my life to go. Not only am I making a deep commitment to living in the DC suburbs of northern Virginia, but also the near-term limitations that I have put on my formalized education. Yet, I am confident in my decision for this huge financial play, and even more determined to continue my personal pursuits and curiosities I’ve set up for this blog to discuss. The home renovations and ongoing transition for my new professional position, have taken so much of my time lately, but regardless of the lack of updates to this page, my mind is full of thoughts that I hope to express here in the not too distant future.
Unfortunately, over the last number of weeks this blog has been slowed down a lot, but I’m happy to say that my efforts had been switched up in order to go through some recruitment processes and that I have now accepted a new full-time position. My work responsibilities have been picked up quite a bit, and especially in the short term I’ll be learning new a software code base and getting introduced to anew team. As things settle down, I’m looking forward to ramping up the content over here.
As for the new job, I’m very excited for the different opportunity, and I will now be among the growing trend of those employed as a direct result of cloud computing technologies. It will also be an eye-opening experience for me from this business education front, as I now get a view of the realities for a subscription-based software business, as opposed to those that rely on licenses and upgrades for a payment model. Which, by the way, I’ve been brushing up on those topics from the text-book style book Business Model Generation. Highly recommended, and lots of illustrations, reminding me of the Head First book series. More topics for another day…