NAVIGATING DIFFICULTY

NAVIGATING DIFFICULTY

Showing determination in the face of fear makes us extraordinary....

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STARTING FROM SCRATCH

STARTING FROM SCRATCH

In case you were wondering, yes; ever since I was a school boy, I’ve loved to wear button-up shirts, vests, ties, and...

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HANDLING STRESS

HANDLING STRESS

In interviews sometimes I feel like laughing out loud when I’m asked concerning some threshold of stress that I can handle or work under. It’s obviously never the correct response but...

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Homepage / Professional

Have you ever had a headache that others didn’t believe you had? I have. In fact, I’ve had many, because I am a chronic migraine sufferer. It’s difficult to find people who understand that you may have limits while experiencing this condition and it’s not from a lack of trying. People will look at you, create a snap judgement that you’re “faking”, because they do not understand; what is happening is going on under the surface, or better put, literally inside your head. I’ve been challenged by people before regarding whether or not I’m actually “ill” and my default response is to ask them if they’ve ever hit their “funny bone” (which almost all of us have). When they respond yes, I explain to them that science has proven that when you hit your funny bone you are not experiencing pain or any physical condition, just an emotion. They look puzzled and I let them know that basically each time they’ve hit their funny bone they’ve overreacted for the attention of those around them and made a show of the incident because they are dramatic or didn’t want to work. If they don’t get my point (or the fact that I’m maintaining character for the sake of irony and sarcasm), I continue and provide numerous other examples. For instance, science has shown that hitting ones funny bone right before a serious math exam, or in court while you are in the middle of providing a testimony actually enhances your performance and increases your cognitive functionality and ability to focus especially in areas of memory . Let’s face it, things happening inside your body that only you experience, but that doesn’t lessen their impact on your performance. If we’ve gotten this far and you aren’t “relating” to anything I’ve said, it may be a good time to stop reading, because the rest of what I’m going to talk about will land on deaf ears otherwise. As established, a person experiencing the effects of an acute migraine cannot attend a heavy metal concert, or lay out in the sun, because they are experiencing a medical condition. This doesn’t mean they aren’t “cool” by not participating; it means they respect their body and are tending to their medical needs so as not to exacerbate their symptoms. Now, take someone who has PTSD and apply this same logic. Wait, do you know what PTSD is? How about its symptoms or side effects? Not a lot of people do. So, if you did, I tip my hat to you. For those of you who didn’t have the answer, PTSD is complicated like migraines. Migraines manifests differently in people because it effect parts of the brain depending on the location of the headache. PTSD manifests itself different for each sufferer, but there are universal symptoms that provide a causal link, which allows medical professionals to diagnose it. This condition can be as dehabilitating as a migraine or any other internal condition. So, how can you explain to a potential employer that you suffer from PTSD and not incur a snap judgement that you’re milking a make believe condition for favoritism?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Because in my opinion, there’s no way to disclosure this information and maintain the respect of the interviewer. reasonable accommodations means they need to treat you different and act different to avoid liability, which is something every company doesn’t want to accept. So, do we just keep doing what we’ve been doing and pretend it doesn’t exist to avoid the conflict? Are we the “brave” one who discloses it and ends up unemployed and homeless, but has that quiet reassurance that we were honest in that one interview? Would it be worth it? Or should we do the popular thing and suffer and sink further into our symptoms? 

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If you know me, you know that I have my theories about why there is no trust in business. It’s horrible that we’ve gotten this way, but employers greed has created this endless push for numbers; not people. Due to that, employees do not care about their employer, they just don’t. Getting a job up the street for a nominal raise is usually enough to do the trick and this lends more credit to the concept that, “it’s a jungle out there.” From a corporate hiring standpoint, we now have this inflated “want list” of employees. This makes me sick because it’s this narcissistic celebrity syndrome, which is creating an Instagram version of reality. Everyone is exaggerating their qualifications, lying about experience, and no one is being real anymore (on both sides). To put things in perspective for business people, Dale Carnegie tried to teach us that people are your most important asset (not the product you are selling). Why aren’t companies investing in people then? Why is it so popular to treat people terrible, churn and burn through people for the sake of numbers? Working in upper management, I encounter minds (usually young ones), that carry the belief that people are replaceable. This way of thinking comes from highly educated people that have no life experience. I say that because life has a way of refining you through experience. Don’t believe me? Have an in-depth conversation with a toddler about the afterlife and tell me how that goes. Better yet, try following the orders of a boss who doesn’t like an employee so he tells you to fire him. Try terminating a man’s way of life who has seven children. Then, when you terminate him he sobs in your office, explains to you that his wife just got admitted to the hospital, and now you are putting him out on the street with seven children. You didn’t know that’s why his work performance had gone down hill, did you? Just felt like firing him. It’s an at-will state; so why not? It’s about the bottom line, not about a man and wife or their seven children. Still feel like bragging about your quarterly P&L’s? It’s not your problem and now he’s just a scum bag living off the system who should have let his wife die so his performance didn’t suffer at work. I have lived through this experience and it is beyond sobering and yes my employer (boss) actually said he should have let his wife die for the business. Think I’m comparing a 20-something year old to a toddler? Okay, I am; and rightfully so. For the same reason insurance companies decrease their rates in men when they get married. Think about why the risk drops in men aged 24. Honestly, it’s because their brains aren’t done forming yet and they’re not making good choices. Granted they can legally vote and purchase cigarettes, but they haven’t reached maturation. The worst part is, these young men are prancing around in business environments forming the workforce as we know it with these arrogant and unrealistic views of the world. As you age, and your time in society increases, you end up living your life in that thin gray line that exists between the transition from black to white. In fact, almost all of your life is lived in that realm. When you are dealing with children, they need to understand that some things are scary without understanding the “why” just yet; because they cannot handle it and the “why” comes in time. Time is the ultimate teacher, but we need to let it actually do some teaching and we need to play our roles in helping to educate. I say this because, when we allow people to be heartless in professional environments, we take a small something away from ourselves. When we encourage bad behavior in business we change the landscape and make turning the tide back exponentially more difficult. This is not a new concept, in fact, it’s basic human psychology as it pertains to rewards and reinforcement. When you positively reinforce negative behaviors, you increase that behavior. When you continue to pay a heartless boss s/he thinks that behavior is “good” (no matter what the behavior is) and look at where we’ve gotten ourselves. Now, we have businesses who don’t care about people and people who don’t care about businesses. We’ve destroyed the working relationship and now we are all on LinkedIn constantly looking for our next job. Work isn’t work anymore; it’s a way to document how great you are so you can fit the unrealistic requirements of the next place’s untruthful “want” list. I say it’s not too late to stop what we are doing, but this will take some work, and a lot of courage. It will happen in the awkward moments that you weren’t expecting and the word “no” may not always be required. By that I mean, when an employer decides to make a heartless move, don’t simply say, “No!”. Instead, use words such as “exposure” or “liability” to get through their thick skull. This is where life in the “gray” comes in handy because you’re able to use some of that life experience to stop for a moment and consider where under the law this may be a mistake. Maybe your company is small and doesn’t have an HR or legal department to make aware of the behavior; so, do a small bit of research on your own to validate your gut feeling. Do your due diligence to defend the person who is being trampled on by a modern grown-up bully; trust me, you’ll sleep better at night when you know you’ve done everything you can before putting a family out on the street. Explain to the boss how the company would be placing themselves in a disadvantageous legal position by creating unnecessary exposure to liability. Additionally, you can give the employee the “heads up” when you perceive the boss is trying to build a case to fire them. Nothing in this world says you need to be loyal to this jerk boss; so, be willing to make an official statement, sign an affidavit, or testify in a deposition to discourage this bad/inconsiderate behavior. Giving the person a head start may help them to get out [...]

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The root of all thought stems primarily from one simple mental function, which is to compare and contrast. It’s the old game, “one of these is not like the other,” and as we get older our abilities to do this become more refined.  Popular culture trends with things like memes (which I am a huge fan of), but it all goes back to the same sets of base thoughts and processes. It all seems very simple, and as I work at my wife’s day care, I see young minds working on this idea at their varying levels. Working with children, ranging from infants to school agers, keeps me recognizing human nature at this very basic levels, because children just haven’t developed the skills of concealment that often attends adulthood.  Today, one child relieved himself by evacuating the excess trapped gas in his bowels and all the other children exploded with laugher. It didn’t strike me as humorous, instead it was another “teachable moment”, where I had to tell the little boy to say “excuse me” and use his manners. All of the children kept looking back and forth at one another, searching for approval from each other, to continue roaring with laugher. With great effort, I was finally able to quell the violent storm of laughter, but it got me thinking. Humor seems to be very relative to surroundings and a social association stemming from a strong desire for acceptance (hence the children looking at each other).  This piqued my curiosity about whether I would have a sense of humor, or even sarcasm, if I was stranded alone on a desert island (or other such remote location). Honestly, I’m not sure if I would. Without the encouragement of people in a society, I’m not confident that there would be much need. I think sarcasm and humor are a social construct stemming from a strong sense to belong. During my time as a corporate trainer, I would mold the management teams and through that grooming process the tone of the entire company was solidified in their mind. If I acted unprofessional, by making fun of our clients, or letting the phone ring off the hook, this would be the attitude and practices that they would emulate. This is because I was the representative of the company to them, the liaison between upper management, and they wanted to conform to that social structure.  In personal situations, I demonstrate to my own children how we are to behave on a daily basis. I teach that we always do our chores and get our work done before we play and keep a sober disposition about ourselves regarding most all things. Then, in professional situations, I switch hats and am the friend, the confidant, who never gossips and holds things in confidence when asked to. I remember birthdays, use my manners, and work hard to meet deadlines. I laugh when socially acceptable and comfort those in need, but above all I try to remain constantly respectful.  I understand that we need release from stress and humor is a great way to do that. Laughter is healthy, and acts as the lubercation that oils the gears of our social machine. We need humor and modern clever sarcasm, but we also need limits. Without a teacher at daycare, a corporate trainer who takes the work serious, we could easily lose ourselves in a mocking reduction of harmful laughter. There are many protections, under the law (which is another social construct), that helps us to stay in line, so, we aren’t perceived as picking on others for things that “don’t look like the other.” So, humor is ever-evolving and takes constant effort in order to appeal to the target audience. This is why comedians are constantly working on their material; one bad joke can cause irreparable harm to their reputation and social career.  The conclusion I reached was to use humor as sparingly as possible when you’re working. I’ve never seen someone get fired for failing to laugh at a raunchy joke at the office. On the flip side, I have seen people get terminated for participating in an inappropriate joke, and that is no laughing matter. 

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After reading stories about how the latest hacks are holding people ransom, I’m forced to ask, are we relying on our computers too much? Think about how smoothly your life would run if you suddenly lost all access to your computer.

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I’m always coding and programming random things in various languages. However, one of the main languages I’ve ended up using is HTML, eh-hem, HTML5. For fun, I’ve programmed an HTML editor on this page so you can play around with the language. I encourage you to practice with the language by typing code in the above window as you watch the display window (below) update live:

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