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Backyard wilderness.  RIP Wookie

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.

Happy early Thanksgiving everyone.

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.

(photo credit by bandita)

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.

(photo credit: woodleywonderworks )

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…

(photo credit “Social network in a course” by hanspodolja)

The last broad topic for my MBA Frontier roadmap addresses the management of other people and leadership principles.  Without a doubt, they are two of the key ingredients to accredited business schools and the Personal MBA alike. A quick glance shows at least 14 of the 99 titles related to such interpersonal topics within the PMBA recommendations.  Yet even with 100 books between your ears, a personal style of management will be developed over time and under real life trials. Even within the texts, recommended styles contrast and contention reigns across this topic. While Jim Collins stresses humility, Harvey MacKay speaks of high confidence, but you may never know what brings success until you are confronted with taking action and handling the results.

I will be writing on this topic through my experiences with a volunteer activity that I have just passed over the one year anniversary of.   This student advisory and mentoring post has taught me a great deal about myself, and as I think about my successes and shortcomings it becomes easy to see how it lends itself to my personal development and my fluency of organizational dynamics and management concepts. I’m very happy to be serving this role as a Chapter Adviser for the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. Helping a group of undergraduates toward achieving their own personal development, philanthropic, social, and campus goals is something that I am proud to be able to offer.

During my time as an undergraduate, outside of classwork, the only other constant/unifying aspect was my Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter.  I continually acknowledge my growth throughout the offices I served in and through expansion of my personal network from joining such an organization. Now, I’m in a circumstance where I can help groups of otherwise strangers to also grasp the big experience that I had from such a student group. In future writing I’ll continue to discuss this Chapter Adviser position in more detail, and ideally weave in the key business topics and takeaways from my readings.  Aside from reasons already mentioned, I’ll leave with my growing list of motivations for keeping up with a position, at times, demanding and with usually little fanfare:

  1. Having a front row view of mentees during their own successes and challenges and knowing of my ability to help to guide them through.
  2. Keeping myself intact with some semblance of public speaking skills, hopefully balancing out spending days at the office putting to use technical skills sitting in front of a computer.
  3. The welcome influence from the young crowd -the university age that prompts so many trends and new ideas. Could this be a group that plants an idea in my relatively aged mind?
  4. Not to mention the exposure to diverse backgrounds and strengths that Pi Kapp attracts on campus.
  5. Being able to look back at my own time as an undergrad in this organization and have renewed respect for what we were able to accomplish.
  6. Collaborating with the other dedicated alumni advisers, who help myself and the other local campus chapters within the brotherhood.
  7. Personally growing this network of advisers by identifying, recruiting and engaging them through the needs of my advisees.
  8. Lastly, the list of things at this point in my life that I can consider myself to be an expert in is very minimal. Typically, with a window of four years or fewer to experience being in a fraternity chapter, it feels good to pass on my deep knowledge and enthusiasm I carry from back when I was in their shoes.

Thanks to those friends, other volunteers, and fraternity staff who supported me and continue to support me through my advising position.

(photo credit “Victor Stalberg and Coach Q” -by dtkindler)

Overlook

Who doesn’t love a sense of adventure?  Branching westward, the early citizens of the new United States tested themselves against harsh terrain, limited infrastructure, and a life without the safeties of political and societal institutions.

Present day, I look out at my idea of a frontier wilderness… Can I go through the rigors and learning activities brought on by attending an MBA program, only without actually attending one? Will personal laziness, be the pack of wolves who eats my trusty mule? Will a lack of clear ending credentials weigh on me like the carrying of six spare wagon yokes that were never needed? Will a lack of curriculum be as emotionally wrenching as the stereotypical dysentery contracted by my pioneer sibling? For all the reasons not to set off on such a perilous journey, there stands the reasons that I hope will keep me going.

Here are the 7 motivations for my self-study MBA project. Let me know what I’ve overlooked, oh fine interwebs mentors!

  1. The subjects studied as part of an MBA are true interests of mine and I would have been reading/doing these things anyway. Think of the blogging as a way of sharing them with others, and having a place for reminding myself what I’ve accomplished.
  2. I’d like to be in a confident position to start my own business one day. How many people go to business school with the predetermination they would be using the education to start their own business anyway? When the on-campus recruitment is valued less significantly, and truly takes a back seat to the education, the thinking by many is that self-teaching can be just as beneficial.
  3. This project is nearly free, especially in comparison to the costs of tuition and on-the-job opportunity costs foregone by attending a full-time MBA program.
  4. Maybe a self-study MBA won’t be as difficult as it could be. There is more material available than ever before to those who want to pick up learning MBA topics. There is an established movement and accompanying reading list for MBA self-study that goes by the name of the Personal MBA. Through that outlet and others, there is also great potential for a community of people, both virtual and in-the-flesh, to give help and encouragement.
  5. The blog, itself, acts as a credential for others to get a view into my efforts. Even though there is no degree at the end of this project, this web presence will hopefully serve at least a fraction of what a transcript could hold.
  6. MBA Frontier gives me the excuse to write. Writing is something that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but also something that I always need work on.
  7. Lastly, a chance to try out all the great tools and Web 2.0 concepts, besides just sharing with the world wide web what I ate for lunch! Tweet me back!

Until the next canyon break.

–photo “mt walker overlook”. by goodmami

With prices of higher education escalating to previously unforeseen heights, the decision of undergraduate concentrations and graduate degree enrollment has become more critical than ever.  Job availability  in the U.S., especially to recent graduates is dismal.

Are there alternatives available to traditional colleges and universities that will still lead to professional success?  For those already enrolled in a degree program, what are ways the most value of that degree can be realized?  For recent graduates, those of the Millenium/Generation-Y age, there may be more questions than answers at this point in time.  Emerging changes should be viewed unavoidable, driven by the rising costs, changing demographic and political landscapes, and continual advances in technology.

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