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 🙂

3 Reasons why you have no idea what to do with the rest of your life.

Recently I’ve come across many friends and even acquaintances of other friends who constantly express that they have no idea what they’d like to do with the rest of their lives. 

It’s not an uncommon thing at all. Most of us have shared this feeling at some point in our young lives and some of us still feel it today.

But have you ever thought why? Why don’t you know what you want to do? Why don’t you know what you like? Why aren’t you thinking about turning your hobbies into a career? 

Why isn’t it so simple for me?

Here are the reasons why.

1. You Surround Yourself With The Same People And Make No Effort To Branch Out.

Friends, you need them in life; they can help you out when the going gets tough and they can even help you feel good when you’re down. 

But each person in your life brings you something. In other words, you gain something from hanging out with them; whether it’s the pleasure of their presence or a tangible resource. Nobody has a friend that they hang out with for no reason, there is always an exchange of some sort.

When you don’t surround yourself with new people or you consistently stick with the same people for years and years you’re constantly exposed to the same things, have the same conversations, and do the same things. There’s no growth in that, meaning no long term benefit for you!

Ok great, but how can new people help me figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life? 

EASY. 

They introduce you to new things, people and experiences.

 How much more likely are you to do something when you have the support of a friend? I know some people who need a partner just to go to the gym! 

These new people will open your mind to trying new things that you may have never even thought of before. As creatures of habit, many humans are set in their ways and we think we know the things we like and don’t like. 

WRONG.

Sometimes we need another person to give us a push and then bam we find joy in something we would have never discovered otherwise.

2. You Never Leave Your Comfort Zone.

Like I just mentioned, we are creatures of habit. We enjoy doing the same thing every day, we like our daily routine, it’s perfectly normal to feel that way, no one is wrong for that.

But again, there’s no growth in that.

When was the last time you deviated from your daily routine? When was the last time you went to a new city? When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

If it’s been a long time for you, then you should start thinking about making changes.

If you’ve been working the same job for years and have no opportunity for growth then leave it.

If you’ve been living in the same city for several years and have no plan on how to advance forward in your life, then leave it.

If you’ve been with a significant other that you see no future with who does not add to your personal development and success, then leave them.

If you only think about today, well you better start thinking about tomorrow.

Being comfortable is a trap, you should always be looking for ways to grow and step out of that comfort zone. 

When you do this, you get exposed to new things and will certainly have new experiences. This “newness” will create opportunities for you to see things you’re not used to and be exposed to what could be the passion you never knew you had.

3. It’s not important to you.

Depending on your age and where you are in life, the remainder of your life and what you choose to do with it should be a very important topic.

If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s okay. What’s not okay is settling for that answer. 

If you constantly find yourself saying I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know and you’re not doing anything to figure out the answer to that question then it’s clearly not important to you.

As I said before, degrees of importance will vary depending upon where you are in life and where you plan on going. It’s okay if this topic isn’t important to you today, it eventually will be and when that time comes you will consider answering that question.

But if you lack the curiosity and genuine interest of figuring out what it is you’re passionate about, no advice in this blog or anywhere will help you figure out what it is you want to do. You need to find the motivation and seek out your passion because it is not something that happens overnight.

Make a conscious effort to figure it out. Like I said it’s not easy, but don’t expect it to fall in your lap either. Get out there do something different and see what comes your way. 
Good luck.

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to leave any feedback.

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.

Why Failure is NECESSARY for Success

You Will Fail Before You Succeed Failure is the pre requisite for success. It would be a difficult task to name a few people whose first attempt at anything was a wide glorious success.

  • Michael Jordan didn’t start off being able to slam dunk a basketball let alone make his high school varsity team.
  • I’m sure tiger wood’s first shot was not a hole in one.

For anyone into video games, when u start at level one, how long do you last before your character gets destroyed by a rival? Usually not too long, then you get better as you learn the game.

Why?

Why do we often fail? BECAUSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO.

It’s normal. I wouldn’t expect anyone who drives a car for the first time, to possess the skill of a Nascar driver. That principle applies to any task/profession you can think of.

How We Currently Perceive Failure.

Failure has a negative connotation but it is actually the best thing we can experience, especially while you are young. When you think about failure, you probably think about storm clouds, defeat, and a feeling of inadequacy. Those emotions are okay to experience because they are temporary! However, in order to accept failure, we need to change the way it is perceived.

Failure doesn’t mean you lose, that you can never be great at anything. What it means is that you have eliminated a possibility. You are now one step closer to finding the answer. There are many ways to skin a cat and by failing, we eliminate one of those possibilities. So failure is actually an exciting thing because guess what? WERE CLOSER TO THE CORRECT ANSWER.

If there was a map with a circle that represented your starting point and an “x” identifying the destination. All of the space in between represents failure. Failure is what you must do In order to learn the correct way. In order to reach a finish line.

So without this “failure” we never learn. You can read about someone’s success and you might hear a great story but what will you learn? Now if you read an individual’s tale about failure, I can guarantee there will be a lesson to be absorbed.

Reacting To Failure

But There is more to failure than the act itself. More important than failure is HOW WE REACT TO IT. After you fall, (because you will at some point) will you stay down? Will you blame your environment or your circumstances for your position or will you own your failure, absorb all that it has to teach you and get back up to try again?

Too often people let their failures create a fear of failing again and again. It is often this fear that holds us back. Instead of fearing the same mistakes, recognize where they were made and how they helped you (or can help you) achieve what it is your seeking out to do, the correct way.

Don’t let failure hold you back, use failure to pave your way to success because each time you fail, by the process of elimination, you narrow down the possibilities of selecting a correct answer and get that much closer to success.

The importance of asking your self “Whats Next.”

Asking yourself “What’s next?”

As humans, we are creatures of habit. But we must understand that habits are highly poisonous. Did he just say poisonous?” Hold on, relax. I know what you’re probably thinking, “what about my morning routine?” “Or going to church with my family on Sunday’s? Are those habits poisonous too?” Let me explain before you exit this window. When I say, “Habits are poisonous” what I mean is that habits make us comfortable.

I am not saying that you should stop brushing your teeth every morning or quit the job you have been working at for 2 years now. That would be silly. What I want people to do is to ask themselves one question. “What’s next?” This habit will allow you to make changes in your routine life and achieve the goals you have, faster. In order to do this, it’s best to set up short and long term goals. Once you reach them you ask, “What’s next?” You can see how this forces you to make a choice on what to do, your next move has to differ from what you did to get there because your past moves have already been made and you can’t repeat them.

The same principle can be applied to working out. If a person is doing the same series of exercises month after month, there is no new challenge and with no new challenge comes no new results.

Never settle for “Just good enough.”

These habits that we form are the same as settling at just being “Good enough” and most of the time we even get praise for it. We have a job to be our worst critics because we are the only ones who know what we are capable of and only we know when we can do more.

As a student I have always done well in school, networked my way into jobs/internships and even secured a full time offer before graduation. I did this by always asking myself “What’s next”. I can’t tell you the amount of praise I get for my “Successful endeavors” from family and friends but I simply look at those accomplishments as things I “was supposed to do”. Isn’t that the point of college essentially, to secure a job afterwards?  I hadn’t done anything extraordinary and I knew that I could do more!

We have another responsibility of not letting the comments of others inflate our egos in such a way that we get comfortable and feel as though we have accomplished enough to cease the challenging of ourselves. Knowing that there is always room for improvement and new ways to challenge yourself is the key at never settling, this is why asking the question of “What’s next” is so vital.

The stepping stone concept

I have a picture that I like to paint for people when I illustrate this concept verbally and this it’s called “The stepping stone concept”. Hopefully this will make it clear for anyone who is in question on how to follow this methodology.

Picture a series of stepping stones; these stones are close enough to where you can walk from one to the other without much difficulty. The stones start off being rather large in size but as you progress and each task gets more difficult, the stones become smaller and smaller, requiring more strategy and planning for how exactly you will make your next move. You carefully travel from one stone to the next but you can never go backwards because as you leap from one to the other, the previous stone disappears. Now this leaves you with one option, to move forward and keep going on to the next goal or challenge. This way you keep growing, you get exposed to new things and people, you evolve as a person and this, my friends is how you accentuate your life. It is when people stay on a stone that they have found comfort on or when they feel as though they have crossed many stones and have no need to continue jumping that they feel this comfort; consequently becoming stagnant in every aspect of your life.

Not only will this accentuate your life by consistently sharpening your mind and body, but you will be able to help others get past the same stones that you once had to leap on. So in turn while you accentuate your life, you return the favor to another; and trust me when you’re able to give advice as a person who has been in their shoes you will notice that they will place more value on your words. So imagine if we all asked ourselves “What’s Next” and never settled, we would constantly go forward, always help others move forward and progress together. We need leaders in this world and if you can get through all of the stones that’s great, but you minimize your impact if you can’t teach another individual how to get to the same place as you.

-Danilo Vuk Capric.