Archive for the 'Personal' Category

Making a Career Change

The career change starts today.  I’m going from the IT industry to the financial services industry.  Many people are asking why I would make the change, and, especially, why go into financial services now.

First, why leave IT.  To be honest, I was never a true “techie.”  I went to work for a startup application development company in 2000 when it was cool to do so.  From there I started a software company because I thought that software application would be a good one.  We migrated that company from IT management software to IT services because the business model was better.  I never learned programming, I didn’t learn how to configure a router or install a server.  I was the running attempting to run the business.  I was determining strategy, marketing, business development, partners, service offerings, employees, benefits, etc.

I decided to get out of the business partly because it was not my calling – I liked the business model, but I was never crazy about running a business where I knew I would never fully understand the services we offered.

I took quite a while to find a new profession, job, career, place to work.  I first thought I would be a small business consultant.  However, between the falling economy and the hurricane in Texas, spending on small business consulting seems to have fallen.

I decided to take a look at what I liked and did not like about running my business.  I loved the business development aspect more than anything.  I enjoyed getting to network, meet new people, identify issues they might have with their business that I can help.  I enjoyed the opportunity to build trust by finding someone in my network that might be able to provide some assistance also.

In the midst of all this soul searching, the economy was hurting and the market falling.  I had just purchased a house, and was going threw some financial budgeting issues while attempting to reconcile the credit cards, insurance, bank accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, etc. that my wife and I both maintained.

I realized I could really use someone to help me make sense of my financial future.  I wanted to know how much to save, invest, and spend.  How much life and disability insurance I should have?  How do certain accounts affect my taxes?

Admittedly, I always a skeptical view of the industry.  There were life insurance salesmen, whom I would avoid at all costs.  Then there were stock brokers who were trying to get me to make more trades.

However, the more I talked to people I TRUSTED in the business, the more I realized they were doing the same things that I ENJOYED about my business.  They were meeting new people, and providing much needed solutions, advice, and guidance that impact people’s lives immensely.  I even have a financial background – it was my major in college, and I spent my first 4 years in financial roles.  Why wasn’t I pursuing this career?

So I started trying to find my way in, even during a downturn in the market.  I interviewed with several companies.  Some I liked, some liked me.  I decided on a place to call home based on the people on my team, the management, the perception of the organization, and the mix of products and services available. I will probably steer more toward investments than insurance, but I know insurance is a HUGE part of managing and protecting one’s family and wealth.

I am excited to start, not only a new job, but a new career.  I am looking forward to helping without being pushy.  I want to make certain my clients know I am always being mindful of their best interests.  I can’t wait to learn the ins and outs of the products and services.  Any advice will be welcome.

I’ll be attempting to document my growth, as regulations allow.  If you’d like to talk, email, meet, chat, etc., please feel free to contact me.

Power Shift

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be on the advisory board for Power Shift, an event series for personal and professional development.  The theme of the series is about harnessing internal power and releasing it on the world.  This leads to a better life – personally and professionally.

I’m fortunate because this series actually comes at a time in my life when I am taking a very introspective look at myself.  I’m understanding what I enjoy, what makes me happy, why I have the life I do, and how to continue in a positive motion.

I am no longer the owner of my own company, and am trying to determine what I will do next.  I’ve gone through my contact list and attempted to meet with as many people as possible.  I’ve tried to learn what I liked and disliked about running my company, and am looking for a way to apply my likes (strengths) to my next endeavor.

I’ve also looked at my personal relationships to identify why I enjoy them.  Why are these my friends?  Why to I hang out with my family?  Why do my wife and I have a great relationship?  It is so comforting to take a long, deep look at the things that are important to you, and realize you’re in the right place.

This series is coming at a time when new research is showing that identifying your strengths and playing to those strengths is far more important, and more efficient, than trying to shore up weaknesses.  This research, and the methods used to identify and utilize those strengths, is highlighted in books by Marcus Buckingham and Flip Flippen.

I’ve already had my mother register, as she is going through a career shift also.  I’m so excited to be a part of this series, but I’m even more excited to see the outcome.

Olympic Withdrawal

I admit I was addicted the Olympics.  I had to watch all swimming, and actually jumped up and cheered at times.  I watched our dissapointing track team and our surprising gymnastics teams.  I was outraged at some of the scoring although I have no idea what I should be looking for.  I am 100% positive that at least 2 of the Chinese gymnasts are under 15. 

After 2 weeks of knowing exactly what I was going to watch, I’m now suffering withdrawal.  The new season of my favorite shows (especially Dexter) has not yet started.  Therefore, I got to thinking about the next Olympics.

First of all, there is no way London can even come close to the opening or closing ceremonies that Beijing put on.  I’m thinking it’s going to be 5 guys drinking beer and fighting over soccer. 

Second, there need to be a few changes to some of the events.

Fencing – there is too much high-tech crap for what is essentially a sword fight.  Make the competitors dress up as Zorro and the Dread Pirate Roberts, and go at it with real swords.  There won’t be quite as many quick points.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – I have no idea how this became an Olympic sport.  It’s dancing around with a ribbon.  It’s something kids do in their rooms when no one is looking (not that I have any experience with this and say…socks).  If it’s going to stay, we need to make it more interesting.  There should be a grab bag of items.  The contestants should have to blindly reach into the bag and pull out their prop.  It could be a ribbon, it could be a machete, it could be a bowling ball.  Enjoy!

Team Handball – I watched this for 10 minutes before I figured out what sport it was.  It bears absolutely no resemblance to individual handball.  Team handball is like indoor soccer, but you use your hands.  It seems like a game you play in elementary school when running the mile gets rained out.  Why not make dodgeball an Olympic sport. 

As long as we’re rewarding medals for kids games, we might as well add a few. 

Spread Eagle – How great would it be to see someone get pegged in the nuts, and lose out on a medal because of it.  Adding insult to injury.

Marco Polo – Wouldn’t this be a great call?  “And that’s it!  It’s over!  The Americans win on a last-second Fish-out-of-water call.  What a great strategy to save their last Fish-out-of-water.  And look at the emotion from Lance Smith, the captain of this American Marco Polo team.  36 years old.  Said this would be his last Olympics, and he finally gets his gold medal.  And Blaine McKaskel.  The youngest member of the team.  Learned to play the game in an above ground pool.  Trained in community pools and lost his hair from chlorine poisoning.  A great story.  The United States takes gold in Marco Polo.”

When does Dexter start again?

My Dog

I wrote a long post last week about my dog, and forgot to post a picture. 

My Friday

My wife and I were staying at a friend’s ranch near Bozeman, Montana.  We arrived Thursday evening (after a full day of travel), and had dinner prepared for us.  We awoke Friday morning and went for breakfast at a small diner in Manhattan, Montana. 

After some digesting time, my wife and took the family’s Suburban to check out the town of Bozeman, and possibly do some hiking.  We saw the beautiful Main Street, and stopped to get some snacks at the local Safeway. 

We set off to find the trailhead for the Sypes Canyon hiking trail.  Our hike started at 1:30 pm – not a smart idea considering it was about 88 degrees and the sun was nearly directly overhead.  The hike is mostly uphill – about 4 miles round trip and rising about 1000 feet during the hike.  Luckily, near the middle of the outbound portion, we were mostly in the shade until reached the top of the mountain for some incredible views.  We rested for about 30 minutes before heading down the mountain.  Downhill is always easier, and there was more shade by this point. 

Near the end of the hike, while taking a short water break, I noticed a call from my mother.  I didn’t answer because I was out of breath, and would call her back when we got to the car.  10 minutes later we were at the car, and my wife told me she had 2 missed calls from my mother.  Just then, my phone rang again.  I answered to hear my mother crying.  I knew something was wrong.

She told me my dog, Ace had had a heart attack.  Luckily, she happened to be at the vet with him when this happened.  At the time, she did not know if he was going to make it.  My legs were weak, but I couldn’t tell if it was the hike, or the news.  I told my mother we were heading back to the ranch, and would immediately try to get home. 

After my mother talked to my wife, I was handed the phone again.  This time I was talking to the vet, who was giving me the update.  Ace had a heart attack, they had done various medical sounding things that I couldn’t process as I sped back toward the ranch, and he was now stable.  The plan was to wait until the after-hours emergency hospital opened, cool my mother’s car, put him in, and take him to the hospital where he would be monitored all night.

Now it was time to try to change my flight, and the frustration really set in.  I dialed 1411 to get the phone number for Delta.  Usually with Verizon information I give the city I’m looking for to an automated voice, then I get a human.  I guess that’s changed.  Here is the exchange:

Verizon automated voice: What city?
Adam: Houston
Verizon automated voice: Are you looking for a business or residence?
Adam: business
Verizon av: What listing?
Adam: Delta Airlines
Verizon av: I heard China Airlines.  Is this correct?
Adam: No
Verizon av: What listing?
Adam: Deeeeeellllllllttttttaaaaaaaaaaa Aiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrlllllllliiiiiiiiines
Verizon: I heard China Airlines.  Is this correct?
Adam: No
Verizon av: What listing?
Adam: If you don’t put a fucking real person on the lone right fucking now I’m going to rip someones fucking head off!!!
Verizon av: I did not understand the response.  Can you please repeat the listing?

At this point my wife took the phone from me and tried to get the listing for Delta.  It took her 5 tries to not get China Airlines. 

Question #1 from this adventure: How can companies in good conscience think the voice recognition customer service systems even resemble something close to acceptable customer service?

I finally got a hold of Delta, and tried to explain what I needed.  Of course, since I had purchased a non-refundable ticket, there was a $100 per ticket fee, in addition to the difference in the airfare.  For my first option – flying to Salt Lake City Friday evening, and from SLC to Houston early Saturday morning, it was going to cost $100 each, plus $400 each for the changing one flight, plus some other amount for changing the second leg of the trip.  I couldn’t get a clear answer as to what the total was.  I hung up and frustration, thinking I could just make the change online.

More frustration.  Apparently, I cannot use my Continental OnePass miles for one-way tickets.  I think this is to disuade terrorists.  I guess the airlines think the terrorists are especially loyal to one airline…enough to plan their missions around when they have enough miles to purchase a ticket.  It makes me wonder if a terrorist were to purchase a ticket using miles, if they also get to cut in the security line, and hang out in the President’s Club.  I think they should…maybe they’ll realize they actually like America.  (side note – who thinks I’m going to be contacted by the Department of Homeland Security for having the words “terrorist” “airlines” and “President” in the same paragraph?)

Question #2 – at what point are airlines going to alter those cryptic, antiquated algorithms they have for assigning prices to certain seats on certain flights based on the time of day, date, wind speed, oil price, etc.?

Question #3 – when are airfares going to stop increasing?  At some point, the price will grind vacation travel to a halt.  Later, it will end business travel.  With new alternatives to business travel, like online meetings, conference calls, emails, etc., somewhere, business travel is going to be inefficient.  This goes teo Question 2 and the need to re-work the algortihms.

Finally, my mother assured me that my dog was relatively fine, and that we could wait until Saturday to come back.  It was “only” $600 to change and come back Saturday afternoon.  We went straight to the animal hospital and picked up Ace.  He was so happy to see us, and is currently lying down next to me, sleeping. 

I’m not sure why I decided to write all this, other than the fact that my vacation was cut short, and I have time today to do so.

What to do

I have now officially sold my clients to one of my employees.  It just made more sense for the company to be headquartered in Baton Rouge, since that is where most of our clients were.  However, I was not about to move to Baton Rouge. 

So now what?

For a while I thought “I just want a job.  I want to go to work, do my job, and come home.”  Now I’m not so sure.  I think I have something to offer smaller, growing companies.  I think I would like to be a consultant.  I feel my experience can help small companies not only with strategy and obtaining finance, but with the really difficult factors in acually running a business.  I feel I can provide expertise and advice in the operations.  I want my clients to be able to continue to run the business from the friends and family round, to the angel round, to the 2nd and 3rd rounds of funding. 

I’m not sure just yet if my work will be on a consulting or a contract basis, or if I will end up working full time for a small company. 

So now I’m out there.  I’m filling my days with coffee and lunch meetings to try to meet as many people as I can.  I’m keeping my options open for the time being, because that’s the only way I’m going to recognize when the right opportunity (ies) comes along.

Back Once Again

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted here.  I have moved into a new house, which is phenomenal.  I have had some family business issues, and I am at a crossroads with my own company.  I can’t remember sleeping more than 4 or 5 hours in a night without the aid of liquor.  I’ve lost 13 lbs. without attempting diet or exercise.  I definitely have not been as mentally involved in my relationships (particularly with my wife) as I should be.

I had a terrible Friday.  I found out we lost the bid for a large state agency contract because we got our bid to the office 2 minutes late.  2 minutes lost us $200,000.  I was angry at the state office for not allowing our bid over 2 minutes.  I was angry with us for not getting the bid done earlier.  I couldn’t even talk Friday night or Saturday morning.

I was in the shower Saturday morning, and had an epiphany.  I know how to, at the very least, save my investment, and at best, save my company.  I was so excited, I couldn’t stop talking.  I got the wheels in motion immediately.  I’m not sure if it was the hot water, the time I needed to think, a divine presence, or a combination of all of these.  I don’t know why, at dark moments, answers come.  I like to think I’m a good, moral, person, and I deserve good things to happen. 

I also like to think that I was given some level of intelligence to put myself in situations that will benefit me, and that I can see the answers that many would not see.

I don’t know how it will all turn out.  I have learned in the last few months that a bit of prayer can put me at ease, and that I should trust my own thoughts.