My Top Experiences & Lessons Learned in 2016 (Written for Millenials)

2016 has been the best year of my life. I invested a lot of time into learning about myself and took the most action towards achieving what mattered most to me. This is the way I determine the success of … Continue reading

How a Group Of Cows Taught Me About Team Work

Holstein cows at pasture, grazing. Staffordshire.

It was an average Tuesday morning on my way to work when I saw a sight on the side of Highway 75 that made me question everything I knew about team work.

Let me tell you the story.

I woke up for work around 6:30 AM and brushed my teeth just like every morning. Next, I threw some gel in my hair, got dressed and headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. After eating my omelet I walked out of the door at 7:30 AM.

I took my normal route down 75 where I would then take exit 131 in order to make it to work by 8 AM. Normally I would see nothing too exciting on the highway, usually other cars, birds, trees and the occasional heard of cows here and there.

But on this morning the cows surprised me; that’s right, the cows stole the spotlight for the day.

Let me explain further. You see, the night before it had rained heavily (as it often does in Florida) and as a result I could see the fields in which the cows would usually roam were severely flooded. I imagined the cows wouldn’t like to sleep wet and was wondering what they do and where they go during times like this. My question was shortly answered as I cruised down 75 in my Honda Civic.

On my right hand side I saw the cows. What they did left me amazed.

Out of their entire roaming area which was covered by stagnant water, there was one small hill. It was almost like a little mountain; about 10 feet wide and 5 feet above the normal roaming grounds.

There were about 15-20 cows standing on it together. At the same time. Collectively, they resembled one massive cow standing on this platform to avoid the water. It reminded me of human assembly and how humans gather together in times of support and need. It was truly amazing to see them work together like this.

From adults to calf’s these cows came to the understanding that they did not want to stand in the water.

In addition to this understanding, the cows also had to physically get every other cow on this hill successfully. How they managed to do this and how long it took, we will never know, but they got it done.

The cows acted as one based on a mutual agreement. Everyone agreed, everyone acted in the best interest of the group and everyone stayed dry as a result.

Great, but don’t humans do this all the time? Isn’t this why C-Level executives spend a third of their day in meetings with their teams? Sure this is true but often when humans are on teams we have to deal with the issue of every team member putting in equal effort, don’t we? I can recall many school projects and even work assignments that everyone did not place the same level of importance on. This is an issue and led me to ask this questions:

Is the real issue not finding team members who work hard, but finding a goal that all team members actually care about?

Do we need to challenge ourselves and wonder, maybe our groups need to be comprised solely of people who want to do this, people who truly support this cause, have desires to reach this goal and wouldn’t tolerate anything but success?

What do you think?

In conclusion, the cows taught me that anything as a team is possible so long as every team member wants to achieve the end result and gives it the same level of importance. The cows served as an excellent example of how goals are achieved when all team members are on the same page and want the same results for the same benefit. Hopefully as humans we can take something away from this to make sure our teams continually reach success.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the content. Please like, share, & comment if you found the content valuable and worth sharing. 🙂

 

How Death Sparked Drastic Progression and Growth in my life 

When you glanced at your feed today and looked at this title, you probably though something like: “What?” “Is this guy serious?” “How could death (the polar opposite of progression and growth) spark progression and growth at all?

 

Allow me to explain, this is my story.It was September of 2012 when I was still a chemistry major in college (yea I know, big mistake). I was studying in my room when I received a phone call from a dear family friend. He asked me if I was okay and needed anything. Confused by his generosity and sensing by his voice that something was wrong I asked him what he was calling about.

He told me after calling his place of employment to check his schedule, (the same place my father worked) he received news that my father had passed away. My initial reaction was a laugh because I had just spoken to my father the day prior. My father also had no medical conditions and fairly great health throughout his life. He was the type of man that you would never find sick; in fact, I don’t believe he ever broke a bone or had any surgical procedures of any kind in his life time either.

The family friend assured me that he was not joking. I still didn’t believe him, but decided to call my sister just to make sure all was well.

The phone rang about three times, then my sister picks up. “Hello?” Her voice was calm, this instantly made me feel as though everything was okay; certainly if he was dead she would be hysterical, right?

Wrong. She admitted that Daddy was indeed dead and that she was on her way with our neighbors from the east coast of Florida to pick me up (I live about 2.5 hours away from them on the west coast of FL). 

I’ll never forget that moment. I had so many questions, what happened? Where is he? Where is Momma? What are we going to do? How did this happen?

“His body is at the hospital. Momma is Hysterical. I don’t know what we’re going to do Danilo, but I just can’t cry anymore” my sister said.

According to medical examiners he suffered from a massive heart attack that none of us saw coming.

So after moments of grief and explaining what had happened to my roommates, I emailed my professors at Florida Gulf Coast University to explain what had happened and that I would be missing classes for the remainder of the week.

That weekend was a tough one for sure. But one thing was certain, this life event would spark a flame within me that would burn so passionately and cause me to reach what I like to call my “personal version of success”.

So after that week at home I knew two things. I needed money and I needed a plan.

Addressing money, my father made a decent salary which was able to help support me in college. I would pay for all personal expenses but Dad helped with rent and school. This meant that I now had to supply myself with enough money to cover both expenses. Thank goodness my mother was able to cover car payment, insurance and my cell phone bill for the time being. But I also knew that upon graduating I would have to have a job set up so that I could immediately begin making real money to help my mother and fill in the shoes that were now void in my family. This is where the planning came in. I had to figure out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it and how I would make it happen. Thank goodness I still had 2 years left in college.

My immediate action was setting up a conversation with my manager at Cole Haan (my place of employment at the time. (Love their shoes by the way, go check them out!!) to discuss an interest in management. Which also meant discussing a pay raise (what I needed). The conversation went well and given that I had already been there for 2 years I ended up being a pretty good fit. So I was then able to pay for my own rent, utilities, credit card payments gas and food. But nothing else, I just had enough for the essentials, but thank God I had that.

Since I easily inherited stress from being broke with no extra money for myself or just for peace of mind at night, I decided to pick up another job in the mall I worked at. I would choose Brooks Brothers as my 2nd employer and used that money to get credit card bills down as well as be able to go out with my friends every once in a while.

The next part of my journey was not a part of the plan at all. I like to believe it was faith or perhaps a miracle. While working what seemed to be like an average day at Cole Haan, an equally average young gentleman came into the store and started to examine some of our leather British tan duffle bags. The bag he was considering was $400, so I approached the guy and started conversation.

Me: “It’s a beautiful bag, I’ve contemplated spending my entire pay check on it before.”

Customer: “It’s really nice, I have a trip I’m preparing for and this looks like the perfect weekend bag”

Me: “Funny, check the tag and you’ll see the name of the bag is actually the weekender.”

Customer: “Oh, that’s pretty funny”

From that conversation I would learn that he was an alumni of my college and a fellow marketing major (that’s what I stuck with after switching to chemistry). He then told me about the company he currently worked for and how they had an internship program he thought I’d be perfect for. He gave me his business card, purchased the bag and left the store.

His name was John and he had no idea that he had just given me the direction I needed which would dictate my future.

The company he worked for was called Gartner Inc. an IT research and advisory firm. It was a great company that paid its employees well and I knew if I could get into that company, I would be able to earn enough to support myself and help my family during this difficult time.

I followed up with John immediately but then had to ask myself…okay now what? How can I put my foot in the door here? How can I ensure that I get this job when I graduate? Mind you I was two years away from graduation at this point. The answer at the time was, “I have no idea”.

So I started where I could and decided to research the company. After reading the “about” section, I still had no clue what the company did nor did I locate any way to apply. So I did the next best thing, I directly called a recruiter.

That’s right, a 20 year old college kid called a recruiter of a company he knew nothing about and asked about a job that he wasn’t qualified for.

To this day, I am so glad I decided to do this.

It turned into a wonderful Q&A session all about Gartner with a woman named Liz. She was great and even told me about a Gartner open house that was happening in the following month, she told me I could learn more about the internship program and even meet the person who was in charge of recruiting for the internship!

Are you kidding me? This is exactly what I needed. A plan was being created without me even knowing it and it felt amazing.

So I attended the open house, met the internship coordinator and applied in January 2014. After 5 intense interviews later, I was told that I had been accepted as an Intern and would begin in June.

I was ecstatic. This is exactly what I wanted and knew that if I crushed it in this internship, I could land a full time job after graduation.

I worked my butt off and built a positive brand at the company. People knew me as the sharply dressed kid who could get meetings and sounded good on the phone. My managers gave me positive feedback after all of the tests we had undergone and I was certain that I was in a good position to get the job. But I never acted like it was secure, I knew that at any moment if I slipped up I would risk all of the work that I had done thus far and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

Fast forward to the end of the internship. I’m now at the career development office at Florida Gulf Coast University, meeting with the internship coordinator there to discuss the details of the internship. I had still not heard from Gartner on whether or not I received a job offer. Then in mid discussion on the job duties of the internship my phone rang. I stepped outside to take the call.

It was Natalie. The internship coordinator who I met at the open house one year prior. She told me she would like to have the pleasure of extending a full time job offer.

I almost dropped the phone. I started crying. I had accomplished my mission. I went from a troubled kid who had no idea how he would crawl out from a devastating death that gave the family financial woes, to someone who had just landed a full time job with a great company and be financially secure moving forward.

This is my story.

I honestly have no idea where I would be or what I would be doing if my father was still alive. I credit his death and the insurmountable stress and worry it caused which left me with no choice but to succeed or fail entirely.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Please comment, like or share if you found the content valuable 🙂

4 Reasons why having people skills is more important than formal education.

Going to college is an amazing experience. Dedicating a portion of your young life to develop skills and learn how to succeed in the real world is a journey you will never forget.

But what about the things school can’t teach you?

How about dealing with people? Or making a good first impression? Getting people to like you? Working successfully with a stubborn boss or co-worker?

How can we teach this? We can’t. Sure you could locate reading material on the subject but we cannot teach attributes in the same fashion as reading and mathematics.

People skills and “how to deal with people” in general is an ability that must be acquired. Some people learn them, others do not learn as fast, and some don’t learn at all.

Here are some reasons why having people skills can is more important than having formal education.

1. Getting a job will never be an issue.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, the customer service industry had over 2 million open positions in 2013 and over 15.8 million positions in sales. & that number is growing. 

These are industries that do not require college degrees but still have upward mobility. In sales, one has the ability to create a lucrative income by earning commission for all transactions. One could easily rival the pay check of their college educated, degree wielding friends by working in sales. 

2. You will always have connections.

In addition to always having a job, when you have people skills you are able to make connections. When you have connections or “plugs” as I like to call them, you have access to more resources. Knowing the right people can also help you out with finding employment as well as just making life easier.

It’s awesome knowing a bartender or bouncer to help you get drinks or skip lines, but it’s just as awesome to know the CEO of a company. Any resource that can make life easier is a good one and having people skills will help you meet these plugs.

3. Your conversations will never be dull.

Having went to college and graduated I can tell from personal testimonies that you will meet a lot of intelligent people who can ace a test but fail so miserably at the social aspect of life. 

What do I really mean? I’m talking about people who achieve great success in school but have no real social value that accentuates the lives of others.

These are people who struggle with building relationships. People who are not comfortable or have little interest in meeting new people; they care so much about their priorities that they lose sight of the fact that we all need resources from each other to succeed and consequently don’t reach out to others.

When the time comes that they do need to reach out to others or have some sort of social obligation like any of the following:

·         Birthday parties


·         Family get togethers


·         Job interviews


·         Weddings


They have so little experience in building these crucial relationships that they fail to do so in life. By either being awkward or having nothing to exchange, others don’t find their presence valuable and therefore would rather spend their time with other people. 

When you have people skills this will not be the result. People will find you attractive or mentally stimulating in some fashion and choose to spend their time with you in addition to giving you access to any resources they have. These resources could be as simple as a retail discount at your favorite shoe store or a job interview at your dream firm.

4. You will always be preferred over other job candidates.

Here is a very important thing to mention. Looking great on paper with an outstanding resume is good. But more and more companies are putting an emphasis on company culture. “Does this person fit in with our company?” The resume is less important now a days and companies are challenging candidates to have the duality of looking great on paper while also fitting in with the company culture. 

According to an article on usnews.com,(http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/05/20/employers-cultural-fit-not-gpa-most-important-for-job-seekers)

“Most companies surveyed said that “cultural fit” carries the most weight when considering an applicant, while grade-point average mattered least.” 

This means that the emphasis is on you! The resume is the least relevant thing on the table and it’s time for you to show off that human capitol you have inside of you. 

If all you have is a dazzling resume and no ability to show people why you are right for the job…then you might be out of luck.

I do understand that some of these jobs will require further education; however the rules still apply. A doctoral graduate with an amazing personality will always get the job over the precocious Harvard grad who lacks the social piece.

 


4 important qualities that will attract successful people to your life.


Many people, now and in the past have complimented me on my ability to network. While I do consider it a strength of mine, I figured out that there was more to it than being comfortable with approaching strangers and being able to make a good first impression.

After years of shaking hands and introducing myself to strangers I deemed as “successful” I discovered that there were certain qualities those individuals liked to see. Something attracted them to my presence or the topic I was speaking about. 

Here are 4 qualities I believe I believe young people should practice to attract successful people. (If attracting successful people is something that you would like to do).

1.      Be a confident speaker.


According to the institute of national health, 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety.

This means that we may come across as unsure or timid individuals; people who don’t believe in their words or doubt themselves.

Here are some things that may strike the mind of a successful person when conversing with an un-confident speaker.

·         This person doesn’t believe in them self or the words they are saying.


·         This person is intimidated of me.


·         This person sees me as having higher social or socioeconomic status.


·         This conversation has no value to me.


When these conclusions are drawn it can create a lot of deviance. What I mean is, when 2 people are speaking and one can see that they are at different levels of life or success they lose interest in the conversation. They may infer the individual brings no value to the interaction and chose to gather it elsewhere. The more successful of the two might also feel the deviance and believe that they need to be nicer to the person or adapt their speech to resonate with them and limit their abilities all together.

In addition this can really take away from your credibility as a person; sending people a message that the conversation and information discussed may not be legitimate.

Now when you hear a confident speaker, these are some thoughts that may come to mind.

·         This person believes in what they are saying.


·         This person is passionate and able to keep my attention.


·         This person is intelligent.


·         This person has the ability to inspire.


These thoughts are more positive in nature because they are rare. Not everyone is a confident speaker (36% of people, according to the institute of mental health) so when we come across one, their social worth is higher than that of an average person.  If you have ever listened to a TED talk, have any of the presenters ever come across as unsure of their ideas? NO. They are absolutely passionate in what they say and usually invest their lives spreading it; As a result their ideas are considered “worth spreading”. Do you think the delivery of an idea can affect its value to an audience? Tremendously, delivery isn’t everything but it can make or break ones opinion of an idea so it’s best to practice this skill. 


Successful people usually love to learn so if you are able to convey an idea that is new to them and confidently explain it, you are sure to win their attention.


2.      Maintain eye contact.


Eye contact is huge. It is a nonverbal that screams confidence; a desire to be recognized and may also be used for intimidation.


“Giving more eye contact can show that you are in control, charismatic or dominant.”- According to M.Farouk Radwan MSc, and creator of “2knowmyself.com.” Think about the work environment for successful people, most of them are top managers or owners of businesses where nice people get stepped on. Having these qualities make you more important and powerful in their eyes since their superiors probably display similar traits.


 Successful people like certainty, if you are able to demonstrate control of a conversation or come across as dominant they are more likely to find interest in you because you exude these attributes.


3.      Bring something to the table.


You need to bring value. When meeting someone for the first time you are selling yourself to that person. You need to convince the individual that time with you is time spent wisely and there is something to be gained from it; teach them something, discuss their interests or ask them about their story.


The best way to do this is to discuss things that interest them. No one hates to talk about them self, so I often get people to share their stories of success and see where they came from. This eliminates having to discuss a topic that might be way over your head or beyond your experience.


Another great topic to discuss is goals. When young people in particular are confidently able to express their goals, you give off the following impression:


·         You know what you want and how to get there.


·         You are future oriented.


·         You come across as confident and intelligent.


·         You increase your present and future value.


When you speak about your goals you should be passionate and exude the 2 qualities we discussed earlier in order to maximize your conversation. Ability to do this will show that you are goal oriented and driven; the more attributes common to successful people that you can display, the more you’ll be seen as valuable and a person they need to associate with.


It’s always great to bring something to the table but if you can’t, it’s okay; you can always ask for advice. When you acknowledge another’s success and admit your inexperience the person will appreciate that you find their words valuable, making for pleasant conversation. 


In addition they will see that you are curious about a particular topic and see them as a resource to be used. Successful people love to contribute and teach others because it makes them feel important. Become someone’s protégée, ask to meet regularly or communicate frequently in the case that you need more information. Natural curiosity demonstrates your thirst to improve and gain knowledge, a quality that the successful admire.


4.      Be attractive in some sort.


You don’t need to be a fashion model, although that would always make life easier, but create some attraction through your appearance. Here are some ways that you can be attractive aside from a physical sense.


·         Dress like a successful person.


·         Regularly hang out or be in locations where successful people tend to be.


·         Take part in some activity or actions that gain the interest of successful people.


 


When you are able to be attractive whether through the way you dress, where you spend our time, or what you do, one thing is certain; you will attract the attention of the ones you emulate.




 

The true meaning of “I don’t have time” & how to make time.

In our society and particularly in America, it has become the norm to never have time. You might also find it common to hear friends and colleagues complain about their lack of time, often wishing for more time in the day to complete all of their tasks.

The point is, we’re all complaining about time. But what are we really saying?

Here’s what we really mean when we say we have no time.

The things you claim to “never have time for” are actually things that are not important to you.

It’s not that we don’t have time to organize that photo album, call that old friend from high school, or clean the ceiling fan; but those things are less important and lack relevance to our immediate lives.

Let’s say your car breaks down. I strongly believe you’ll find time to fix it. Not because you actually have the time, but because it’s extremely important and relevant to how you get other things done. It’s a priority and there will be bigger consequences if you don’t solve the problem immediately, so you do it.

Why don’t you have time to go to the gym? Because it’s clearly not important to you, that’s why.

Time is an intangible object that we consistently use to rationalize things we never want or care to do.

“I don’t have the time for this”
“I can’t find the time to do it”
“I’m already too short on time”
“I’ll never be able to fit that into my schedule”

Translation: it’s not that important to me and I have other things that I need to do.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

Now how can we make time?

1. Don’t hold yourself back.

Sometimes there are things we truly value, things we really want to see ourselves doing or making time for in the day; but we still don’t do them.

Writing this blog is a perfect example. Since beginning my new job I have not been writing as consistently as I was prior to. I blamed my lack of time in addition to a lack of motivation.

I was lying to myself.

There were tons of things I wished to write about. But I held myself back by making excuses.

I started this blog with a spare 15 minutes from today’s lunch break. You’d be surprised at how many small spare time pockets you have in your day that if utilized, could yield higher task completion and productivity.

2. Prioritize and DONT get distracted.

If you want to get something done, tell yourself. Set reminders on your phone, put it in your calendar, and even write it on your hand if you have to. Do whatever it takes to keep it fresh on your mind and high on your priority list.

Reminding yourself of the importance a task bears will be helpful in creating a focus on that task. If we have one thing on our minds all day, one thing that we can’t wait to do, we will most likely do it as soon as possible. You have to get excited about the task and have an actual desire to get it completed or else you will get distracted.

How many of us just randomly begin scrolling through our news feeds when we actually should be getting work done?

I know it happens to me all the time and probably to you too.

I’m not going to suggest turning off your phone because no one would do that. But if you truly remind yourself of the importance level and create excitement around completing that task, your distractions will not pose a threat because the satisfaction received will outweigh the temporary pleasure delivered to us by scrolling through our social media outlets.

3. Find out where those spare pockets of time exist.

Some of the most common overlooked areas where we waste valuable time are:

1. Lunch breaks
2. Weekends
3. During travel
4. Early mornings
5. Late at night

Lunch breaks are usually dedicated to socializing, but if you look at top performers in any organization they don’t take a full hour or even half hour to eat and then chat with buddies. They eat and then get back to work or use the rest of that time to work on personal tasks.

Weekends. Finally, you don’t have to work and you get some time to relax. Even if you do work on the weekends, you just want to relax when you get home don’t you? Well that’s exactly why you won’t get anything done. Weekends are full of extra time that you can use to get ahead, don’t spend them sleeping away or lounging on the couch, and if you do then you clearly value that relaxation time over completing these tasks that you claim to never have time for.

During travel. Most of the time when you travel, it’s on a road trip or vacation. Well you you are not driving and most certainly if you are flying; bring some work with you. If you’re going to be sitting down for more than 2 hours you might as well make it productive right?

Early mornings. Do. Not. Hit. The. Snooze. Button. It’s a trap. Wake up, go through your morning routine and begin your day. Lounging around or lying in bed contributes nothing to your productivity levels and is a huge hindrance on your ability to execute.

Late at night. There is a clear tradeoff between productivity and sleep. But if you make use of the spare time pockets hidden throughout your day, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice sleep. I go to bed before 10pm every night and still get everything I want done. However, there might be sometimes where you have no choice and need to stay up, in that case you will have to decide what’s most important.

5 things you can do to help get from where you are to where you want to be.

We all wish to be successful according to our own definition of the term.

Some of us may want to reach financial success while others have a less materialistic view; others might just seek to be “happy” or near people they love.

Either way, for the moment we are all in a position. We are not all in the same position because our journeys differ incredibly; however we are all at some current position in the journey to reach our own version of success.

One question we might ask is: “how do I get from my current position to where I want to be in life?” “How can I get closer to reaching my version of success?” Both are great questions.

Here are the answers.

1. Know where you DONT want to be.

We all have a map, but we may not have destinations. Many young people, college students and even graduates still have no idea what they want to do with their life, that’s okay. It’s only one of the most important decisions you can ever make that will also shape the way you live, so it’s a good thing to take your time with it.

But more important than knowing where you want to be is knowing where you DONT want to be. Those guidelines will keep you from moving backwards; and even if you are unaware of your goals & aspirations you need to at least move forward. If you set the goal of “I don’t want to make below this much money, I don’t want to be in a relationship that deals with x,y,z, and I don’t want to ever get any sort of trouble with the police.” Those goals will guide you towards where you want to be since you’re going the opposite direction from where you don’t want to be.

When you use this technique, progress is always made and even without a destination on your map you will always be moving.

Just don’t betray yourself and move backwards. When you move backwards, you create more work for yourself by adding distance from your eventual goal. Knowing where you don’t want to be is the best defense against moving backwards.

2. Starting.
Often at times, the beginning of anything can be the most difficult. It can be so difficult that it discourages some people from ever attempting their journeys. Here are some reasons why the beginning of anything can be difficult for some:

· No plan
· Fear
· Lack of motivation
· Distractions

When people have little or no instruction, they may find it difficult to create solutions or produce results. Not knowing where to begin can put one in an uncomfortable position that may prevent them from starting in the first place.

After you identify where you want to be or where you don’t want to be, find out your starting point or assess your current situation, and GO from there.

3. Realizing that it takes time.

Your success will not occur overnight. KNOW THAT. Realizing that it takes time to reach that “x” on your map will fuel you through the journey.

With the completion of each prerequisite and meeting of each mile stone you will see your success occur gradually.

That gradual movement on your map is success.

4. Remembering where you came from.

Performance over time is a great bench marking tool used by many in the business world. It is equally great at allowing us to compare our present situation with our past.

Knowing where you are and where you have been allows you to recognize your success with a tangible product; yourself. If you can say “man, I can’t believe I used to be a “blank” and now I’m a “blank”. I really have come a long way in this company.” Or any similar statement that applies the comparison of your past with your present situation, you actually see and realize the progress that has been made.

5. Celebrating tiny victories.

When you reach part of your goal or deviate from where you don’t want to be, celebrate! Commend yourself, compliment and congratulate yourself on how well disciplined you’ve been and for all the milestones in between.

Celebrate your progress and recognize the advancements that have been made.

You are your own biggest supporter and without the support of yourself it’s unlikely you’ll get support from others.