New Adventures

Let me (once again) apologize for not writing more frequently. There have been a number of developments that have radically changed my circumstances.

As a refresher, this blog was originally a class project for an undergraduate marketing class. The intention to give everyone in the class a platform to create or expand on a professional online presence. There were other things taught as well such as making sure that you had an updated LinkedIn profile for networking purposes. (My LinkedIn) But mainly it was to make sure that you had something other than what is likely a poorly maintained facebook page for employers to look at, a chance to showcase a portfolio of interests, written communication, and whatever limited technical skills required to update a blog. More and more jobs have online applications and many of them ask for any sort of sites that you might have a profile and having a blog is a great place to include information so that the employer can get to know you without actually meeting you in person first.

This leads me to my current placement.

From my rather gloomy post reviewing paperwork and making calls to dealers/back offices/shareholders in Kansas City, I passed my one year anniversary with my mutual fund services company with little pomp. I was internally very excited though as this meant that I was free to pursue other opportunities within not only the company itself but also the parent company and the many branches that were spread among several industries. Among them, a small but rather successful mutual fund servicing company in Denver, Colorado. I filled out a number of applications and was pleasantly surprised to hear back from Human Resources who, (after verifying I knew the job posting was indeed in Colorado and I did indeed plan on relocating,) set up a phone interview. Long story short, I said the appropriate things and was invited for a day trip out to Denver for a face to face interview. (I must remember to write a post about how neat it was to have a day business trip.) A week or so later I was offered and accepted a position on a projects team. About a month after that, I packed up some belongings and drove myself down I-70 9 or so hours to the mountains.

So far it has been almost everything that I could have asked for. People have been very welcoming and pretty friendly. I live downtown and am enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city (albeit with many more cyclists and beards than I had previously imagined). The view from the office is just fantastic as we have a lovely view of the mountains on the 8th floor. There is a lot for me to learn and I think for a time it will be a struggle to keep my head above water. The main thing the office is focused on is making the transition to the parent company’s technical systems, the systems that I had just left in Kansas City. While that experience is nice, it is hard to make that transition from user to the man behind the curtain, especially when expectations were initially so high. It is suffocating when I have no way to even flash any of my previously celebrated skills. Just a blank slate, starting back at the beginning. But then, I suppose, no one said change was ever easy. And Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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And it is strange, I don’t have to be who I was at all. I knew a handful of people in the entire state before moving out here and thus, I can be someone completely new to all the people that I meet. I can have whatever nickname I choose, I can pick whatever new favourite drink and pretend I’ve been drinking it for years. Anyone who has ever obsessed over an avatar will know how I have been feeling over the past couple of weeks. You can create a whole new person, what little things would you have them do or say? And then that person is representative of you moving forward. I have been filled with excitement, anxiety, fear, and encouragement all at the same time and yet as I sit at my desk, the main feeling is:

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“Sedated” I think is the word. Everyone sitting, quietly, focused on the task at hand, a phone rings, the rat-at-tat of a hundred keyboards which represent the whole of the transfer agency combine with the tick-click of a hundred mice drawing impossibly endless circles on a hundred desks barely separated by short little cubicle walls to make a sad sort of percussion section in the grand orchestra of the office. Every once in awhile there is a mumur of conversation but not the same repetitive security verification and confirmation numbers that tumbled monotonously out of all those mouths in Kansas City. Thankfully there is something more, but only just. A paper cup pops as someone sets down his coffee before returning hands to the work that continues on and on as the shadows grow and fade on the mountains, majestic and tantalizingly close, timeless in their watch over the city.

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Happy to be writing again. Thanks for your patience.

 

Frederick visiting Red Rocks.

Frederick visiting Red Rocks.

In Training

I have been very fortunate to complete another half marathon just a couple of weekends ago. The Hospital Hill Half Marathon went very well, the weather in particular was very cooperative, cool and dry all morning. I was only a couple of minutes off my personal best and given the course (very hilly) I think it was one of the better races that I have ever run. Now before you nod your head gravely and say “I could never do that”, know that you can.* Also I didn’t train quite so vigorously for this race as for previous races just due to general apathy and a bit of exhaustion due to the busy race schedule I set for myself. It does bring up an interesting point on training, however.

Finish Line with PJ @ Hospital Hill

*And I think everyone should complete a half marathon**. One of those “accomplish able goals that will still change your life” type things. If you really think about it, the race isn’t really about the distance as much as the mentality. What better encapsulation of the human spirit that the drive to will yourself through? 

**In a similar vein, everyone should spend a couple of months in the service industry and/or retail. This one is a general one, so people stop being horrible to those respective industries. I mean really. It is not easy. Call centers on the other hand, I don’t wish that upon many people at all. 

Running much more than other things that I have participated in makes very clear the distinction between those who have trained and those who have not. For me it very clearly draws the line when it comes down to a race. I’ll be laboring 7 or 8 miles into the race and wishing I had done a better job preparing myself. Like a test. Unfortunately I’ve found in the corporate world, every day there may be a pop test. But fortunately my current employer is stunningly forgiving and very willing to invest in its assets (like yours truly).

So as the buzz and bustle of tax season rolls into the lull of summer and many financial representatives sneak off for a couple of weeks, it gives our business some moments to reassess assets and evaluate skills. For my corporation, it lends an opportunity to rearrange management and provide annual reviews. Given this general “less than hellishly-busy” schedule, I have been given instructions to bone up on some auxiliary skills that will help me move forward both personally and professionally. We have a rather robust learning management system with classes that appear to be bought from some outside vendor. Classic titles such as:

Taking a Leadership Role: Gaining and Using Influence
Communicating with Tact and Diplomacy
Financial Markets: An Overview

I think it is important to have a set plan for downtime in the workplace. People are generally not going to pay you on the clock to watch silly youtube videos or update your facebook profile.*** So I’ve had the opportunity to take these classes, all structured very similarly, to try to pick up tips and expand on a transcript that will eventually help me move forward (I hope). Would imagine that this sort of secondary training is probably a million dollar industry in itself. Just getting through bullpen would cost the company several thousand dollars I’m sure, but as these other online classes (in tidy 1-4 hour increments) are made available company-wide would imagine that figure ballooning to something around a million dollars or so. In most of these cases, I think it is clear that certain traits can be practiced but there is such thing as a natural speaker or a natural leader. In the corporate environment (as far I have experienced and studied) these natural advantages mean a lot more. More simply put “it is not what you know, it is who you know” and in many cases, it is how well you know yourself.

***Or following European Championships. Where the English national team may surprisingly sneak into the semi-finals under the least expectations in decades. Also I think all outside observers and neutral fans hope to see a rematch of the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain. I actually think everyone would enjoy that match. The Spanish riding out a terrific golden age hoping to add another trophy to the collection and a young and very fun German side that looks set to dominate the next decade in international soccer. Not that I’m following the tournament at work too closely…

This is where I’m trying to find my footing. Due to a strong start with my team, I received a very nice “annual” review but ultimately led to the question: “what do you see yourself doing later on in your career/for this company?” And I was (surprisingly for some) left without a good reply. I am quite sure the next step is to take advantage of company incentives for continuing education (MBA) and then figure out how to leverage that degree and the accumulating experience to springboard into…

…something I suppose. There are a myriad of opportunities not only within my own company but with the ties with our parent company as well. And while it may seem increasingly unlikely I will land that fantasy job**** there still is a strong possibility to land a dream job if I could settle on what exactly it is I want to do.

****test subject in a study of the ability for mid-20 Asian-American males to count tourists on the beaches of Australia whilst intoxicated.

On a more casual note, I am also going to take advantage of a respite in my racing schedule (maybe for the rest of the year) to level up on some video games. Though of a more immediate nature, I will actually be taking a little time off for vacation. Think it is going to be brilliant as it has been a decade since I’ve been to California.

I’ll leave you with a really fun commercial I saw recently for Nike running, see you later, space cowboys.