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Holy shit.

 

It’s been over a year since I’ve last posted.  I spent 10-ish minutes re-capping the last year of my life and the big changes I went though, but decided against boring the internet with the details.

Overall, it was my first permanent move away from my family, moving to a foreign city where I didn’t know anyone, starting a job at a company that was way out of my league, and figuring out how to be happy when it felt like everything was just working against me.  Skipping over the bad parts where I cried almost everyday, gained a bunch of weight, treated poor Cody (the only person I knew in the city) like shit – I’m happy now.

I am making significant progress in paying down my student debts.  I am finding balance between work, physical fitness, playing with Charlie, and building/strengthening relationships with Cody and my new friends out here.  I initially started in a role that wasn’t a great fit for me, but am now in a place where I wake up and am actually excited to get up in the morning.  I’ve also secured new mentors who inspire me everyday, and — I have mentees who look up to me as well.  It’s insane.  I have so many reasons to be thankful and I couldn’t feel more blessed with the way things turned out.  The first 10 months in Seattle were quite a struggle, but I’m finally starting to feel things fall into place.  I look forward to what the future will bring. 🙂

European Commission vs. the United States

Today I read an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal about American tech companies, such as Google and Amazon, setting up lobbying organizations in Brussells, Belgium where the European Commission is located.  I already have this sickening fascination with legislative bodies, but I found this particular story interesting because it’s difficult to tell how much of a difference it will make for American companies to lobby a European entity.

The purpose of the European Commission is to propose and implement EU legislation, as well as monitor EU member states’ compliance thereof.  In May 2009, this body imposed a record fine of $1.45 billion on Intel due to alleged anti-competitive behavior.  5 years later, Microsoft experienced a similar fate, but was only subject to a milder fine of $732 million.

When Intel fought its battle with the European Commission, it was penalized for offering rebates to PC manufacturers, such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo, in exchange for an agreement that these companies would purchase all or almost all of their supplies exclusively from Intel.  Further, the EC accused Intel of moving forward with these practices in a deliberate effort to put its major European rival, AWD, at a competitive disadvantage.

I don’t have a huge background in business law, but for some reason I feel that if a smaller company were to engage in the same activities that Intel did, the EC would not even bother to take disciplinary action.  I hate to be cynical, but it almost feels like the EC is going after these large corporations – not only because they feel threatened by them, perhaps – but also because they know these large companies have the ability to pay such a large fine.  The activity in which Intel was engaging is not unusual, and I’ve seen many companies engage in the same type of behavior in order to compete and gain customers.

The European Commission was formed with the purpose of protecting the competitive spirit in the EU, and is comprised of representation from every member state.  I think political bodies like the European Commission play a critical role in decision-making, and I like that the opinions of every member state are considered in the formulation of any EU legislative proposals through this means.

It’s incredible how much power these seemingly outdated, cumbersome, institutions have – since the EC has a monopoly on proposing European Union legislation, companies like Microsoft and Intel that have been levied fines for anti-competitive behavior are faced with a decision: either face the risk of losing the ability to do business in Europe, or pay the giant fine.  At this point, many companies just consider this the cost of doing business abroad because they don’t want to lose the European Market, and certainly don’t want to have their foreign direct investment go to waste.

It will be interesting to see how effective the American companies that are lobbying the EC in Brussells are in shaping international policy.  Are the Europeans taking advantage of large American companies for penalizing them?  Or are practices perceived to be business as usual in the United States considered to be unfair and harmful to competition abroad?  International policy can be complex and difficult to understand because different cultures perceive things in varying ways.  I am hopeful that American corporations can be successful in any country around the world as long as we are mindful of the culture of the country in which we are doing business.  These lobbying efforts can be the beginnings of unprecedented relationship-building with Europe that will benefit business in both nations.

Typical New Years Reflection Post

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This post I made in July, 4 days before my birthday (the most painful day of the year for me), sums up my 2013.  Everyone knows I’m such a worrywart, and I always freak out like the sky is falling, but I truly went through more stress, personal drama, and difficult changes this year than I’ve ever had to deal with before; I felt like my world fell apart multiple times last year.  But in the end, I ended up gaining so much more.  With every loss I suffered, I gained an even more valuable blessing in its place, bringing me another step closer to where I want to be.  I have so many reasons to be happy, and I’m truly so grateful for everything I have.

I went into 2013 just hoping that I would continue to grow.  While I definitely learned so many things about life, love, and the art of happiness, the moments that were most impactful include both the times I felt I hit rock bottom and the best of times.  I will probably never be 100% satisfied with my job, and there will always be times when I feel frustrated, overworked and undervalued… But I am always grateful for every raise and every email from a client praising me for my work with my boss CC’d.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at Cicero that have enabled me to build such a marketable skill set that will allow me to be a strong and valuable asset for my next company.  And though my DWI is a huge, expensive pain in the ass and waste of time, I’m lucky to have such amazing people in my life who didn’t judge me because of it, and helped me understand that it may have actually saved my life.  Also, on a less significant level, I felt so grown up when I finally replaced my 240 with a beautiful Lexus, haha :).

And while I went through the biggest heartbreak I’ve ever suffered this year, I ended up capturing the interest of someone I have always been attracted to, but never even thought was attainable.  When we started dating, I had to make a conscious effort to stop myself from falling because it was just too good to be true.  But it’s been so easy to trust him over time, and for me to see more ways in which we match.  Conversation just flows naturally between us, not only because we share similar interests, but also because we both love having engaging discussions and keeping our minds stimulated.  I admire his passion for the things he loves and the people he looks up to.  He works hard in everything he does, and is enthusiastic about succeeding and continuously improving himself.  There hasn’t been a single day that’s gone by since we’ve been dating that he hasn’t told me that I’m beautiful…  Not to mention that he has Brad Pitt’s face and Jesus’s abs.  He’s perfect.  This kind of amazing shit only happens in movies, I swear… Brian is my greatest gift of 2013.

There is one thing that stayed constant, though – in spite of all the mistakes I made this year, I never lost the support and love of my family. I could never feel lost knowing they’ll always be there for me no matter what.  I am so lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful family.

In a nutshell, I wouldn’t have had 2013 go any other way.  I suffered losses, and made costly mistakes, but in the end, I would re-live it all over again just to be in this very moment, writing this post while taking a break from my segmentation report, with the sound of my family doing fireworks in the background and my puppy sitting in my lap.  I truly have so much to be grateful for, and I have been armed with so much potential to achieve anything I set my mind to.  These challenges I faced this year have only given me perspective that has strengthened my ability to love and show compassion to others.  2014 is MY year – the year of the horse.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings, because it just keeps getting better and better.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Core Values & Purpose

Today I read a short blurb by my woman-crush, Angela Ahrendts, which really resonated with me

She discussed the importance of identifying your vision and the steps you will take to make it a reality.  Now, I’ve never known and probably never really will figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I know what kind of legacy I want to leave behind.  Whatever I end up doing with the years I have left, I want it to be awesome, inspiring, and meaningful. 

Like Ms. Ahrendts, I think a lot of my values were introduced to me by my parents.  

First, I was always told to do what I know in my heart to be the right thing.  By this, I mean to avoid hurting people as much as possible, no matter how badly they have hurt me.  I was raised by the two most kind-hearted people in the whole world – I know damn well the difference between right and wrong.  Sometimes it’s hard to take the more righteous path, when it’s so much less painful to follow the crowd.  But I’ve made selfish mistakes in an effort to take the easy way out enough times to know that in the end, it really isn’t worth it. 

Second, I was taught the virtue of hard work, and earning things by merit.  Over the last year, I know there have been times when I felt like I went to hell and back, but I know that even the times I felt I hit rock bottom were nothing compared to what my parents endured in trying to build a bright future for my sisters and I.  I’m so lucky to have been raised by such strong-willed and persistent people.  I believe that I acquired their work ethic, but I can only hope to reap the benefits of my hard work just as my parents did.  They deserve this great life they built for themselves and my siblings – I look up to them, and hope I can do the same for myself and my future family someday.

Third, I was taught to be honest.  There were so many times in my life where I would have the opportunity to cut corners or take shortcuts that I did not rightfully earn.  It’s always so tempting to take advantage of situations like these just knowing that it would make my life a little bit easier.  However, I’ve always been the kind of person whose conscience always gets the best of me.  Whenever I gave in to temptation and tried to game the system, my mind always ended up haunting me and I can’t function.  I’m a terrible liar.  So I’ve always needed to own up to my mistakes and deal with the ramifications of my bad choices…  Honesty in the first place would have saved me a hell of a lot of trouble.

As much as I like to pretend I’m capable of being damn near perfect, I know I’m the complete opposite.  I am flawed in a million ways.  But, especially lately, I have taken every day as an opportunity to improve.  I know that the kind of leader I want to become someday can’t afford to make the same mistakes I’ve made over the last few years.  I’m glad I stumbled upon Ms. Ahrendts’ article because it gave me the opportunity to identify and remind myself of what my core values really are, and how they’re going to guide me in becoming who I want to be.  

Venting

I’m usually pretty good about keeping rude comments to myself, but I find it rather amusing that the people who call Barack Obama a liar & believe the lies against him cite quotes from people who don’t matter, & seem to get most of their information from forwarded false emails, YouTube, Fox News, & stupid “political” memes on Facebook.

Finally, we have a president who has the guts to do something about our horrible healthcare system in spite of all the unsound opposition & uninformed opinions out there. The Roman Empire wasn’t built in one day – just as the implementation of groundbreaking policies such as social security were not seamless, the new solution is not at all perfect.  These initial weeks of implementation have not been without their challenges, and there are tons of unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences – but criticizing the administration on the Internet isn’t going to do anything to fix the problem.  If you really hate Obamacare that much, take your negative energy and use it to call your representatives in Congress, raise money, and do what you can to get rid of it.  Stop spamming my feed with or personally sending me unreliable, erroneous, deceiving content that I really don’t care about.  You’re not helping anyone or yourself by causing unnecessary drama on the internet just because you hate a piece of legislation that honestly doesn’t really concern you or impact you directly.

[deep breath]

Nonetheless, I commend Obama’s courage in leading this effort toward facilitating change to improve the health & well-being of all Americans.

[commence political debate]

Ragnar

14 pounds ago, I originally signed up for Ragnar as motivation to build a healthier lifestyle.  By the time it rolled around, I didn’t feel ready at all.  I was so nervous before my first leg, and my team could detect my worry in the way I was acting.  Once I started running, I could already tell I wasn’t going to finish the run at my optimal speed.  The heat made the hill feel steeper than it was, and I couldn’t breathe as I climbed the hill.  But once I reached the top, I looked out into Cache Valley, and admired God’s masterpiece.  Though I didn’t finish the run as fast as I wanted to, my team cheered for me along the entire way, motivating me to finish my first 7.7-mile leg.

Participating in Ragnar was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  It wasn’t easy at all–there were multiple instances where my mind was clouded with self-defeating thoughts and I just wanted to walk so badly.  But everytime I approached a hill, I would look up at the sky, whether it was the sunset as I started running down Snow Basin or the full moon and sea of stars when I finished, and keep telling myself that I could do it.  At the top of the hill I’d feel both a relief of tension in my legs along with a huge sense of accomplishment in knowing I had just pushed myself further than I ever thought I could.

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I think Ragnar changed my life.  I’m definitely encountering a lot of “hills.”  I’m being pushed to the point where giving up sounds like such an attractive option, and life is just a silly race everyone else is running anyway.  Rather than letting this negativity control me and drag me down, I’m going to keep pushing.  I’m going to feed off of the support of the people who do care about me and support me.  I’m going to finish this race, and I’m going to end up exactly where I want to be by finding the extra strength to conquer all these hills.  I’m so blessed.  I really am.  I’m NOT petty.  And I can do anything I set my mind to.  I’m going to make it to the top someday look out into the world at all the hills I already overcame, with the same gratification I had this weekend.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings, and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to create my own future. 🙂

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Fun Projects

Some of my favorite projects to work on are for cities, counties or the State.  The Dan Jones side of the company does a lot of work for government entities, and it really amazes me how much research they put into taxpayer-funded projects.  I know sometimes people wonder whether or not their opinions are being considered when a new road is built, when a new park is put into place, or even when a new form of government is enacted.  Well, I am impressed with how much research is actually done prior to the execution of a project.  Of course plans are made based on opinions seen in aggregate, but I actually appreciate that they utilize the time and resources to explore public opinion a bit to make sure they’re creating a plan that is widely accepted or the most beneficial for the majority. 

It’s so neat to be involved with the actual research, but I think it’s especially neat to see our recommendations actually implemented.

Everything will be okay.

My life is quite a mess right now.  I can’t help but blame myself, and feel that the challenges I’m currently facing are self-inflicted, regardless of how long ago the poor choices were made.  I’m struggling to stay focused at work, as mid-year reviews are coming up and I’m trying my best to prove I deserve a pretty hefty raise.  Though Branden and I broke up about six weeks ago, I’m still having a difficult time trying to figure out what to do next, having no idea losing him would impact me this much.  And my recent predicament with the law tops the freaking cake.

  • I’m stressed because my future is a priority to me.  I know this is a stepping stone toward my true passion, but working my ass off in a field other than what I truly desire is hard.  Really hard.
  • I’m hurt because I truly was in love.  It’s not that I didn’t realize how lucky I was until everything was taken away from me – It’s just that giving up was never an option, I thought he felt the same, and I never expected him to betray me.
  • I’m feeling guilty because I know I’m not irresponsible or careless.  It was a mistake driven by how overwhelmed and damaged I am internally.

I wonder if I will ever look back at this point in my life and feel thankful I ever experienced all these problems.  It’s comforting to believe “things happen for a reason,” but ultimately I can’t resist thinking that I am where I am now because of what I’ve done in the past.  But, I know there is no point in sulking about it – The only thing I can do is move forward with a positive attitude in order to mitigate any additional damage and facilitate the best possible outcomes for myself and for those who care about me.  I’m definitely being tested right now, but I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

Humanity

My heart goes out to those who are affected by the incident at the Boston Marathon.  I can’t even imagine the worry and anguish experienced by the loved ones of the injured.

I’m both curious and scared to find out the source of the incident… I don’t know which is  worse: a foreign threat or a domestic one.

But what I think is so amazing as I watch these images of the explosion on TV is the eagerness of people to help – everyday people rushing into the smoke to save others.  Incredible.

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