Friday, October 25, 2013


Life continually is changing and I think you can take advantage if you have prepared yourself. Luck favors those who are prepared. Recently, I have been trying to redefine my trajectory when it comes to a career. Engineering is great and all. I have experienced a lot and I want to take the things I have learned and use them in the future. I want to go into consulting and the more I am learning about business, the more I want to be able to leverage my knowledge in engineering to be even better. I want to be able to differentiate myself.

One of the main issues I have is I don't have a ton of "work" experience. I have had at least 18 months of internship experience and I have done sales and started my own service company in high school so I have experience. I have seen how businesses run and I have worked in highly technical environments in a wide range of types of companies and industries. Still, if I am going to go into consulting, I want to have more directly relatable companies and exposure on my resume.

I asked around and wanted to see who knew someone in consulting and how they could guide me or mentor me through this change. I found a friend from my childhood and we talked. He gave a lot of advice and of which, told me to apply to the University Venture Fund. By working with them, I could gain some real work experience that is somewhat related and can lead to a career in both management consulting and venture capital. The only issue is that when I started to research it, I was already past the due date for applications. Still, I thought there was no hurt in trying anyways so I put in my application. On the side, I dug around a bit and figured out a way to get involved with the local consulting club on campus and even started its own Facebook page. So from all of that, I became the vice-president of the consulting club.

Meanwhile, I had been trying to do everything I could when it came to talking to my professors and advisors, looking for projects when they came up, networking a ton, etc. I got to know consultants at networking activities. I even met and talked to the Dean of my college at a scholarship luncheon. From that meeting, we discussed my career plans and he was impressed with my passion and interests so he set up a meeting with me in his office. So now that I was a part of the consulting club, I tried to prepare for possible situations that I might discuss with him. I didn't know the purpose of the meeting so I might as well take advantage and create one. So in the end, my plan was to find a project that the club could work on so that we could generate opportunities for experience for students to add to their resumes. The meeting went really well. By the end of the conversation, I had my project. The Dean wanted me personally to be on a project he had been organizing with a fellow colleague on campus. So even though I hadn't found something for the group, I did find an opportunity so I took it.

Going back to the University Venture Fund, I was able to apply late. My friend was an alum of the fund and he sent a note for me to the director. I brought up my predicament to an individual in the Career Management Center and they said they would help my application to be seen as well. The first interview was a video interview on the internet. The second part of the application process was an analysis of a company, in which I could not contact the company directly or mention the fund. I called three of the company's competitors and posed as a potential client, talked to four previous customers, talked to a former potential investor, and talked to the former director of enterprise sales. The last part of the application process was to present the information to the directors of the fund. Honestly, the next step is the final interview with director and principal of the fund and it definitely was a pressure interview. In the end, I thought I totally bombed the interview because of how much I got ran through the ringer but today, I found out that I got that opportunity as well.

The point is that I kept finding new opportunities because I was prepared to work hard, try new things, and go beyond the social boundaries. Again, the idea that my personal brand is "No Boundaries" has come to be a blessing. I had prepared for each interview. I had thought of many different scenarios, networked, asked questions about the process, and then was willing to be myself. Authenticity, vulnerability, willingness to be teachable, desire to learn, strong work ethic, humility, intelligence, adaptability, analytical... This is the kind of consultant I want to try to be.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Million and One Things To Do

"A Million and One Things To Do"
by Time Machine

I know I have talked about having theme songs for life or road trip soundtracks but this song would be perfect background music for me and my work day... smooth jazzy beat, steady and progressive. The song is titled perfectly and there is a great balance of instruments between drums, piano or keyboard, and guitar or bass. Plus, who doesn't love a good graphic!

I wouldn't have found this song if I hadn't finally looked up the song featured in 2 Guns done by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi featuring Jack White called "Two Against One." Another great song.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Intimate Moments

I find human intimacy to be fascinating. It is something that we all need being human. However, we all go about finding it differently depending on the person. There are a lot of people who are scared of it: to think about it, to talk about it, and even some to experience it. And there are some definite and real blessings for waiting for the right time and right person but to let it evade you or avoid it altogether is wrong. Some people have been negatively conditioned to think intimacy is a bad thing. Others have been conditioned to think that intimacy means nothing. And others are taught that it is yours to freely give away when you found "The One."

From my perspective and being no expert, I first and foremost believe that there isn't "The One." There are certainly individuals with whom we are more compatible or rev the engine better than others. There are people we can converse with freely and whose opinions we value higher than the rest. However, there is not a single individual out there that was designed specifically for you alone and if never found lead to a unfulfilled life or a higher potential unattained. "The One" is not someone you find, but it is a relationship and partnership that can be made. A marriage founded on divine principles of fidelity, trust, honesty, and love can last for decades and it never was easy. It took effort. And the spouses would never be happier than with each other because they were able to become a unified whole. They are interdependent. They are strong as individuals because of each other and they are strong as a unit because they have one another.

When we think about the idea or concept of intimacy, some ideas or thoughts should be left in the gutter where they were first created but intimacy in and of itself is beautiful. To have the kind of trust and love and compassion where you know that the other person is solely focused on you and what you are feeling, want, desire, hope for, and are doing everything they can to bring those things to fruition, is true intimacy. The physical aspects of a relationship like that will only cement and bring greater joy and happiness. And the kind of physicality is also dependent on the couple itself. What is inappropriate for one may be appropriate for another but again the purpose behind those actions is to focus on the partnership through focusing on the other person.

However, it is an universal truth that adding outside individuals will create conflict. I had a wonderful individual in my life for a time and she had never felt more betrayed by me and I had never learned a greater lesson than when I disclosed to her that I had told something that she had shared with me in conversation which she thought was private between us with someone else. Only imagine the greater agony she or I would have felt if that line was not drawn to conversation but physical actions. I have been in that dark place and the pain is beyond words and forgiveness given and received afterwards can be nothing less than freedom. But I must caution and warn that condoning is not the same as forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the same as a stamp of approval or permission.

Still, the thing I have realized lately is that I still struggle to determine mutuality. I had a girl that I took out a few nights ago, hug me goodnight. I realized that this hug was very different than from a girl whom I had been friends with for a few years. The latter was a tight embrace and the other was firm but still lacking. Every interaction we make communicates something. The same that is true for an embrace is true for a kiss. Everything has a meaning. I wish more people would be willing to openly communicate so we didn't have to try to read into so many subtle cues. I can't really talk about it because I still don't know what any of it means. But this I do know, I have two little nieces who love me more than anyone I know of outside of my mother. If only there was some woman in my life about 15 years older than them that I knew, I would be all set. Oh well - here is to wishing!

Dreams and Passion

Tonight I had an interesting realization, outside of the fact that I can't truly judge age. I was over at Kneader's last night for dinner and I was trying to be nice as I always am and I got to talking to the cashier girl. It was a simple conversation where I asked her how her day was going and what her name was. She was cute but the interesting thing was what happened later.

She came down and started to wash tables as I was finishing up at the same time, we started talking again. I asked her a lot of things and we talked about a few things we had in common but in the end the interesting thing happened when we started to talk about what she really wanted to do in life. Obviously not every girl dreams of working for Kneader's... No matter how good the food is there. She said, "What I really want to do is be a drama teacher. Stupid right? Everyone tells me what a waste my life would be and that I need to do more with it." Who tells that to someone? I tell her that I think that is the best thing that she could ever do and that it wasn't stupid.

Something that I learned recently that people who are charismatic have an ability to listen and to support others but only give advice when it is asked for. They stand out because they choose to break what we typically hear. They listen. They understand and ask for the why when it comes to our actions. They are supportive when others have told us that we are stupid or wrong. They tell us we are out of place when we are actually are in the wrong when everyone else is supportive because of society tells them to not oppose us. They are leaders because they are equalizers. I don't know if I am there yet but I would like to be, however the point of all this is Mckenna's dream.

No matter who you are or what your skills may be, life does not have to be dry and boring. Your incentive has to change as you begin to grow up. When we were little, we dreamed of being doctors, astronauts, Top Gun pilots, one of your parents may have been your hero, but whatever it was you knew that was who you were going to be and what you wanted to do. And some of the great doctors and astronauts and pilots in this world were the few of us who stuck it out. Their passion drove them to never give up. What about the rest of us? When did we first let life and circumstance win? When did dreams become nothing more than fairytales and Christmas and Easter lost their magic?

Was it the first paycheck? Was it the first time we didn't have a paycheck? Was it when a debt was called in? Was it when we realized that our skills and our intelligence could lead to "better" things or as the world sees it, more powerful and profitable pursuits? When did what we really and truly want to be die and become nothing more than a good story? For me, it was a lot of health related issues to be completely honest. Diabetes ruled out being the next Maverick because who wants a Top Gun pilot that may or may not have a seizure at 13,000 feet and die on impact? There went a perfectly good airplane. What happened to being an entrepreneur and a techy or a programmer like my dad? Well, the first time I tried to write in C or C++ was a living nightmare! That was a good decision in the scheme of things. How about my dream of being an animator or an Imagineer for Disney/Pixar? Well, as I got older I saw how expenses and medical coverage would become a burden. If I didn't have steady coverage, I may loose all coverage and without my supplies and medicine I could simply go bankrupt or die. So the starving artist dream did exactly that, it died.

Then I met a girl and she changed everything. That is usually how the story goes. I rose for greater than just an engineer. Imagineer? Slim to none odds of getting that one. But I thought about getting a dual degree and going after business. And from that choice, I found what I want to do again. I think I once again found a passion. I would come home from classes during my undergrad at BYU and I would have problems and assignments and projects. I didn't always follow what I was being taught in engineering but I had the diligence and intelligence to figure out the puzzles and that was me - a puzzle solver. But I hated the lack of human interaction. I did not want to have the calculator and the cubicle sort of future. It would be a prison. Sure, I would make gobs of money. With my Bachelor's, most predictions for that industry would have had a starting annual salary of around $60k to $80k. With zero college debt and money left over in the bank, it was simple. Graduate, make money, live small, meet another amazing woman, convince her I was a catch, and start a family with a steady occupation. Seemed easy.

But every night I came home from class, I looked forward to something even more than the clear picture my future was. I would think of who could I help that night. I would think through my friends and see who I hadn't talked to in a while or someone that I knew was in a tough spot and I would call or just show up. Stop in to see how they were doing. And even if they weren't there, I would try and stay, listen, and consistently, I would find someone I could help. They would tell me their story as I was an open book and they could relate and trust me. I would wait and for the most part I would give them some advice. This is what brought the greatest satisfaction - feeling that I was helping people. In my spare time, I studied people and I studied psychology. I was passionate about what made people think and do what they chose to do. What motivates people? But how do I turn that into a career? I was too far along in engineering to start over and if you know me I am a finisher. I can but I don't like to walk away from my friends or my goals. I have learned to do that with age. But in the end, I found that I could become a facilitator. I could become a management consultant. I had the drive, the integrity, the willingness to ask the right questions, and dig around for the right answers. I am creative and persuasive. I am a lot of things. And the more I learn, the more this whole idea and future seems to fit me. There isn't a moment that doesn't pass when I don't wish that I had the family part figured out but it will come when it comes. Still, I found something that fits me and what I want to do again.

So can we always have both? Can we find the worldly success and security and the passion and dream? If not, what are we willing to sacrifice? There are so many stories of great and successful men stepping away from a career that lasted decades and had many rewards and recognition but in the end also brought so little satisfaction for them personally and who knows what they sacrificed to obtain it? Relationships? Joy? Time wasted or not wasted? Who lied to us when they said that we need to be what everyone else tells us to be because it would be a better place and we would be happier? Most skills can be learned. Most techniques can be practiced. But real motivation and passion can lite a fire so deep and powerful that it is able to overcome all odds. A sense of reality is important too - there was no way I was going to grow up to be a wolf or a dinosaur. Sorry but that is life. However, there are things we can do that aren't beyond us. What would the world be like if the greatest drama teacher in the history of the world became an accountant just because that was what everyone else expected of her? Men like Shakespeare would have never changed the world or men like Edison never would have been able to bring light to it. Impossible is only an idea that shadows the idea that can change everything. Never let someone tell you that you can't because the only person that can prove and show to them that they were wrong is you. Is your value as a person and what you can contribute defined by others or are you brave enough to determine that by yourself? It is your dream and your passion. Your life is a gift from God. Don't waste it doing something that you do not love.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Opportunity and Productivity

I don't know why all my best thoughts come after watching a movie. Maybe it is euphoric in the sense that whenever my mom and I wanted to talk we would do one of two things when we were together: do the dishes or watch a movie... Maybe three things is more accurate. We would do the dishes AND THEN watch a movie together. Either way, I found myself alone tonight at home after a long week. Not much sleep and eating was sparse and sadly enough I have to stop falling asleep in class. This week is going to be the last time that happens. I am promising myself that. That isn't going to become a common joke with me and I have lost a job over it once before. Either way, I was home alone tonight and I made myself a poor Austrian man's breakfast, watched A Beautiful Mind and then followed that up with Trouble With The Curve.

Before I get into my thoughts, I am going to talk about my week. Long nights full of assignments, one night of which I didn't sleep at all. I also had my first engineering test which was stressful as anything. Still, I was able to stay on top of things for the most part and today I had what feels like my first big break. Nothing solid as of yet but it was still an opportunity. A week or two ago, I went to a scholarship luncheon and while I was there I randomly ran into someone. The situation was that I saw someone I didn't know so I introduced myself, only to realize before they could respond that this particular individual happened to be the Dean of my college. He had a few laughs over that but once acquainted we talked and I commented on the keynote speaker's address and how I disagreed.

The speaker had cracked a joke that I felt inappropriately portrayed the University as not belonging or being in league with a few other MBA programs. I felt that the speaker's experience showed the exact opposite. He had been given him an opportunity supplied because of the school and he showed that he not only had to compete with Ivy Leagues but because of his success that the Ivy Leagues had to compete with us. We are transforming our school and to do that the institution realized that it had to really invest in its students. That reason alone is why I decided to come here and with that stance, the Dean asked me what my career goals were, I responded that I was interested in management consulting, and then he asked for me to send him my resume and told me that we should schedule a meeting. Today was that meeting and the long and short of it was that before I entered his office I think he had already found a project that he wanted me to work on for him. All I had to do was be myself and ask the right questions and I did. I might get that experience I need after all.

So I came home and did exactly what I said before: veg'd. And it was wonderful. Sometimes productivity doesn't always come in the form of reports and getting ahead in assignments. Sometimes, it comes by relaxing. Go for a walk. Life is serious enough as it is. Slowing down isn't a bad thing when you can center yourself. But I don't want to go through life alone as peaceful as it can be sometimes.

As I watched those movies tonight and I saw the conflict and character development play out, like typical me, I began to insert myself into the story. With all of my logic and analytical thinking, sometimes I feel like I live in the fairytale of my own mind. I have to stop dreaming sometimes and come back to a harsh reality only to realize that the only reason I live here is because I hope for someone that will have the ability to ground me.

First off, I thought I was a nerd. Secondly, she is a babe. The real point here is she is preparing to marry the love of her life and she has yet to realize that he is a schizophrenic. This incredibly brilliant man is going to literally pull her through hell and they will overcome it all because they truly do love each other. At one point when she questions to stay with him or not, he gives her an honest answer to leave him, it is for the best, and she takes the other road and stays. And she says,
"I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible."

In the movie Trouble With The Curve, the opposite gender has commitment issues. The beautiful Amy Adams has serious daddy issues and with that she continues to push people away, focus on job, and literally makes herself unavailable. And the reason is because to be that way is safe. She won't get hurt like she did in the past. She feels that sometimes it is better to be alone and yet she knows it isn't true. So the question is what is really worth the risk? Why do we feel like we need to believe in something?

God is amazing. He teaches us that we need to act in faith to grow. So there are times where we will be placed in complete darkness with only our own judgment and experiences to guide our choices. We want to wait for confirmation. We want his guidance. We want to be told what to do. However the real reason is that we are afraid. Faith and fear cannot occur together and until we act and choose, we will not grow. It doesn't matter if the choice is right or wrong because we can learn but it is when we cannot decide in the darkness that we are left there. There is a difference though between being paralyzed with fear and having the patience for the best choice to come along. Sometimes fear does not propel us to inaction but to act in misdirection. The hardest part is realizing that at times I am acting out of fear when I feel like I no longer have faith but I know that God does have my best interest in mind and that He will not leave me alone. He believes in us too much. He knows us too well to give up on us. He can see the perfection in the midst of all our imperfection. He knows that the extraordinary is possible.