Where I Am Today

This is the second part of the three-part series I started  describing Where I Came From, Where I Am Today, and Where I Want to Go.

Sixteen years ago I left North Carolina, my home for about 19 years, and decided to move to California. There are many reasons why I made that decision but at the top was a want to live near my grandparents and extended family while there was still time for me to do so.

Soon after I moved to NorCal two things happened that changed my life. I met my wife and I entered the professional world.

I met Jennifer in October of 2000 and by January of 2001 we were a couple. Four years later we were engaged and in 2005 we married. My life as a husband, and eventually a father of two boys, began.

Professionally, I was lucky to have an aunt that put me in contact with my first employer. I was very green but I realized as I looked for work I wanted to be part of the dot-com world. I didn’t exactly get that wish but my career in IT did begin in September 2000. For nine plus years I worked at the same small business as a document management consultant. Although I had a couple of coworkers that mentored me and shared their IT knowledge the vast majority of my IT skills were self-taught. I did go to specific product trainings but my general IT knowledge was all on the job training. At times I’m amazed I’ve managed to continue a career in this field with no formal certificates or degrees but then again there are many that have gone down the same path.

In 2006 Jennifer and I had our first son and in 2009 our second was born. I was a happy daddy multiplied by two. I always knew I wanted to be a husband and a dad and those dreams finally came true… and soon Jennifer and I will be celebrating 11 years of marriage.

My professional career hit a bump in April of 2010 when I was laid off as the consulting firm slowly closed it’s doors. I remember vividly getting called into my boss’ office and later that day going home to Jennifer to let her know the news. Frustration was among one of the emotions I felt that day, and I’m sure I’ll write one day to explain more, but over time I realized that I was finally free of a job that I had never left out of fear. Although I was appreciative of the job and my employer for letting me enter the door nearly 10 years earlier I probably should have left to seek out new opportunities much sooner. In hindsight, I’m grateful that I was pushed out of my comfort zone.

By August 2010 I found myself commuting to Vacaville, CA to one of my former clients. For the next two years I was able to continue bringing in a steady paycheck thanks to a few individuals that helped put me in a new consulting position. Although I was employed by a Sacramento based network consulting firm, Shandam Consulting, I continued to spend the majority of my time at the Vacaville client.

In time I was able to apply for a position that opened at Solano Irrigation District, the client I had been working for, in September of 2012. I am now approaching my 4th year anniversary as a full-time employee.

In the six years of serving SID my IT knowledge has climbed. I transitioned from a very help desk only orientated role to yet again being a consultant; albeit a consultant on the SID payroll. I now fill the roles of help desk support, document management subject matter expert, and chair of a customer service committee, among others. But if I had to describe my job today it is less IT Administrator as my title states and more business systems analyst as I work with the various user groups and assist with software implementations, integrations, and deployments. Regardless of the role, what I am doing more and more is advising and consulting with many of the software and online media related projects. And although the hats I wear are constantly changing the one constant is that I’m continuously serving others. That is my job. To help my coworkers be successful with their work by making sure they have the IT resources to do so.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that I’m part of a two-person full-time IT team at the District that continues to receive support from Shandam Consulting.

Outside of work and home I’ve managed to be part of the core of a men’s soccer team that has played together for nearly 9 years straight. As a dad, I’ve also enjoyed coaching youth soccer for the past two years giving me a chance to develop as a coach and mentor. And most recently I joined the Roseville Pony Baseball league as Director of Registrar. After seeing how positive of an experience my boys had their first year with the league I decided I would do what I could do to give back and serve on the board.

So today, in 2016, I am a husband, dad, and all-around family man. I am also a youth sports advocate serving as a board member of one league and a coach (x2) in another. And while I fill all those roles I am also seeking out who I really want to be and using this blog and social media to help with that discovery process.

I’ll share a little more of my personal goals and what I want to see in my future in my final post of this series.

I’m also interested in learning more about my community. How did you get to where you are today? What were the major milestones that shaped who you are?

Looking For Inspiration? Search Twitter and Use Hashtags

There is no shortage of places to go online to find inspiration. Start following the right people and your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds will begin to swell with quotes, videos, and images.

But, if at the end of the day you have exhausted your streams and want to find new content or you’re looking for new sources don’t overlook the power of search.

I’m taking some advice I heard recently and I’m really trying to take more action of what I want to learn and do. So I’m spending more time on Twitter and specifically Twitter search. I decided I wanted to find more conversations about leadership so I searched for #leadership and instantly a never ending list of new quotes and images appeared with inspiring and motivating content.

Sure, you can enter any hashtag and you’ll find all of the related Tweets but if you’re looking for positive and encouraging words and other forms of inspiration in an endless stream head over to search.twitter.com and enter #leadership (or any similar hashtag).

USE SEARCH.TWITTER.COM TO FIND MORE RELEVANT CONTENT, INSTANTLY.

In a world where Google and YouTube continue to dominate the search engine scene I recommend testing out twitter.com/search to find new content that appears immediately for your consumption… not links to other pages. If you really want to start getting involved in the community start engaging with the folks posting the content that you found.

So do you use Twitter’s search to find new content? What was the last thing you searched for?

Where I Came From…

I thought I’d write a three part series, first, on how I got to where I am, who I am today, and who I’d like to become. At some point, someone is going to question why they should invest their time in my content. This series will hopefully be part of the answer to that question.

Here it goes…

Birth to Moving to the East Coast

My parents are originally from Northern California. My roots stem from Mexico although only one of my grandparents was born there. When my dad decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a surgeon he left a few short months after high school to attend medical school in Mexico City. My parents married while he pursued his education and soon after I came along. I was born in a small clinic in Mexico City.

So yes, I’m chilango.

After my dad finished medical school he was obligated to complete years of social service as part of receiving his medical degree in Mexico so my parents moved closer to the U.S. border. It was humble beginnings as my dad worked in Mexico. My parents and I eventually moved north of the border as my dad continued to complete his service. Ultimately, by the time I was 5 years of age my parents moved to the San Diego area and it is there that my earliest memories begin.

Siblings in SoCal

By the summer of 1981 my dad found a residency program. After opting to not move my mom, siblings, and I to a large, urban setting he chose an opening in Wilmington, North Carolina at New Hanover Hospital (now New Hanover Regional Medical Center). I can still remember the cross country drive with my dad driving the U-Haul, my sister, brother, and I crowded in the front seat and my mom enduring the summer heat in the AC-less 1979 Mazda Station wagon.

Elementary School to Traveling Abroad

My family lived in North Carolina from 1980 until we returned to California in the early 2000’s. Although most of that time was in Wilmington we did live in Chapel Hill from 1986-1988.

My education started by my attending private schools through 6th grade. The first four years were at Wilmington Christian Academy and the latter two were Catholic parochial schools split between Wilmington and Chapel Hill. I believe that the elementary schools I attended and my Catholic faith play a big part of who I am today. By going to private faith-based schools in the south I grew up saying yes ma’am, yes sir, and respecting my elders and authority. Integrity, respect, caring for others, and similar character traits became part of me. At an early age, even though I had no idea what it was, ethics and living a life I would be proud to share with my children was just part of who I was and wanted to be.

So yes, I’m a Tar Heel raised with Catholic values and southern virtues.

I completed high school and went to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I entered school thinking that I’d earn my degree in Marine Biology (after visiting Sea World as a kid I thought I wanted to swim with Shamu and get paid to go SCUBA dive). Chemistry 101 derailed me. I struggled as a student and found myself making B’s and C’s as opposed to the high marks I made in high school. I turned to the one thing I knew I enjoyed and that was travel. Between my freshman and sophomore years my parents encouraged and funded my initial study abroad trip. Due to my missing the application deadline for the university’s Costa Rica trip I ended up going to Ecuador which included a few days in the Galapagos. That trip was a pivotal point in my life and is what lead me to my BA in Spanish. Well, it was that and I had no I idea what I wanted to do professionally, I was stinking up my science and math classes, and I figured a degree in Spanish wouldn’t hurt.

By the end of my college career and the few years after I managed to visit Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, UK, and the Canary Islands . I loved Spain so much that after working in Wilmington briefly after graduating I decided to return to Spain. Looking back I never recognized at that time how much I was costing my parents but they agreed to let me go and supported me financially. I spent April ’99 to June 2000 hopping between Santander, Salamanca, and Madrid.

So yes, I love to travel and, at least at one time, considered myself a citizen of the world.

June 2000 arrived and for various personal reasons, plus my time freeloading off my parents had come to an end, I returned to the USA. Soon after I made the hard decision to leave North Carolina.

Writing Today So That One Day I’ll Have that “Ah ha!” Moment

The past few weeks I’ve been listening a lot to Gary Vaynerchuk through his podcasts, vlogs, and audiobooks. After a few weeks of completely immersing myself in his content I’ve realized one thing and that is I wish I had a little more of his natural entrepreneurial spirit. He just breathes entrepreneurship and confidence in being successful no matter what comes his way.

I, on the other hand, have always struggled at the idea of having to make a sale; especially when it comes to relying on my abilities to sell to earn an income. Where Gary is an experienced practitioner of selling products and services since childhood I am not and that is what causes me to think twice about ever leaving the “security” of employment.

As much as I am appreciative of my job I think a lot about what else I can do to bring in a second income for my family and maybe one day be an entrepreneur myself. For a few years I’ve thought a lot about having a blog that would help me put my thoughts in black and white to help facilitate my discovery process. And that is what I’ve conceded this blog to be until I figure out what I can eventually monetize for that second income or maybe event my family’s primary incoming.

I go back and forth a lot about the idea of this website being a personal technology site sharing my thoughts on the technology and software I use. As an IT professional, I get the typical IT questions from family and friends like, “Is it possible to get my photos from the phone I lost?”, “What kind of computer should I buy?”, “Can you help me get rid of the virus on my computer?”. It seems no matter how many blogs and videos there are online sharing personal technology how to’s there is apparently a need for more.

I’ve also thought about focusing more on my thoughts of leadership, coaching, and personal growth. And yes, there are hundred’s of already established blogs and vlogs discussing the same but maybe my opinion will resonate with others. Or maybe there will be enough who debate my thoughts to also make it worthwhile. I’ll be fine with that… I think.

There is also the idea of just writing about the answers to the most common questions I receive… professionally, as a family member who is asked for an opinion here and there, and just someone that has lived long enough to know a thing or two.

I’m still not sure what my focus will be but I’m working on it and as I commit to writing more I’m hoping that I’ll one day have an “ah ha!” moment.

To those of you that are following along I would be humbled if you shared this with anyone that might be experiencing similar challenges. Even more important, I’d love to hear from you and hope to discuss your thoughts.

 

I’m Tired Of Not DOing

I’ve been working for my current employer for six years… two as a consultant and nearly four as a full-time employee. That means I’ve been driving nearly 100 miles round trip for approximately 260 days a year for six years. In those six years I transitioned from listening to radio shows and news reports to podcasts and now audiobooks and the audio of Periscopes and VLogs while driving an hour or more each way.

It is safe to say that I’ve been a “student” of those podcasts, audiobooks, Periscopes, and vlogs for long enough. I’ve listened to all of the greats… Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, Michael Hyatt, Chalene Johnson, John Maxwell, Gary Vaynerchuk over and over and over again.

If you listen long enough to any of them you’ll eventually learn that they did not get to where they are by listening, absorbing, and consuming for ever and ever. They got to where they are by DOing.

I’m tired of not DOing.

I consider myself an above average employee. I go above and beyond at work because I know that most of my coworkers appreciate my efforts to have the technology they use work when they need it to work or to address the issues as quickly as possible.

As long as I’m employed I will always do what I need to get the work done. I will continue to “spoil my coworkers” as I’ve been told I do because to go above and beyond in everything I do is what I enjoy doing. It is part of my DNA.

Where I struggle is knowing that I want to do more that goes beyond my current day job. I want to inspire others through my work and experience. To help others exceed both in technology and beyond.

Just a few minutes ago I got done listening to Gary Vee’s most compelling video I’ve listened to so far. It prompted this post.

And now I struggle identifying what it is that I can do that will be of value of others, bring in an additional income for my family, and satisfy my entrepreneurial desires.

I don’t know the answer yet. I do know I need to continue DOing.

So to my followers I continue to ask you for your encouragement and inspiration by continuing to do what you do to serve others. I’m watching. I’m paying attention because through you I get motivated to DO.

 

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 5

Today I’m thankful for my commute.

It may be an odd thing to be thankful for something that most people dread dealing with. I too never look forward to my navigation app telling me I have an hour or more to work in the morning or home in the evening. I especially cringe on Thursday and Friday afternoons when I see “heavy traffic ahead” or my estimated commute time being over an hour and fifteen minutes.

So why am I grateful for my commute? Well, some time ago I got smart and turned off the morning talk show and turned on the podcasts and audio books. I don’t recall exactly why or how I transitioned from the mindless nonsense that I listened to on the radio to being more proactive about what I consume during my drive but if I had to guess I’d guess it started with listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast. Then, over time, I eventually listened to more and more podcasts and eventually subscribed to Audible to “read” books.

I eventually became a Zig Ziglar student and learned that there is a name for my style of commute. I’m guessing Zig coined the term himself but somehow it just made sense when I first heard it. He called it, “Automobile University”. As I cruise down the highway I continue to feed my brain with worthwhile content. Content that I wish I would have learned while in school.

To this day, after nearly 4 years of commuting 55 miles each way, I continue to spend the majority of the time listening to great speakers, authors, and leaders like Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin, Daniel Lapin, Joel Osteen, Chalene Johnson, and Crystal Paine. Thankfully, with each of their podcasts or books, I get exposed to more and more experts in the world of leadership, entrepreneurship, personal growth, social media, etc. I learn and think while I drive helping make a time that could easily go to waste become one or two of the most productive hours of my day.

Of course, I have to admit there have been many Friday afternoons where my brain is saturated. By that time I’m ready to just listen to my comedy station on Pandora and laugh with Robin Williams, Jeff Foxworthy, George Lopez, Carlos Mencia, as well as Jeff Dunham and his friends Walter, Peanut, and Achmed.

“Silence!”

“I kill you!”

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 4

As I have in the past I again lost momentum with my blogging. Earlier today I jumped back on the train as I was inspired by Seth Godin after listening to his most recent interview on the EntreLeadership podcast. I can’t promise I won’t loose steam in the future but I hope as time moves forward I’ll be more consistent.

So to continue… today I’m grateful for the work I get to do.

I purposely chose the words “work I get to do” because I’ve never really liked the word “job”. Ever since I started reading more and listening to more of the modern day influencers and leaders the word “job” just seems temporary or something people have to do M-F 8-5 (or whatever schedule their job dictates). I prefer to think of what I do professionally is work that “I get to do”. Not what “I have to do”. I believe there is a difference. The former is a mentality of appreciating what you do to earn an income by serving others. The latter is what you do from the time you punch in to the time you punch out.

Sure, there are days I get frustrated at work or where something causes me to stress but by choosing a certain vernacular when describing my work, my “job”, I believe it helps me mentally appreciate what I do at work even more.

And why am I grateful for the work I get to do? Well, there are many reasons and it may sound cliché but I truly enjoy helping others succeed with their work. As an IT professional, I provide services from network administration to help desk support. Regardless of the actual IT function I complete the work I do really boils down to helping my coworkers succeed. My coworkers are my customers and to see them succeed means I’m succeeding at work.

Of course, there are also the relationships I’ve formed at work that extend beyond the workplace as well as the small wins I’ve made professionally as I improve my skill set in my trade. Learning new technology and resolving a technical issue for someone that has kept them from succeeding gratifies me. It also helps keep the flame burning for the inner geek.

#LIFE

Earlier today I was watching a video from Evernote’s Tips & Stories blog series. The post, How Six Amazing Women Get More Done with Evernote, included a video about Shaa Wasmund, an entrepreneur that uses Evernote to help run her business.

I’m always intrigued how successful entrepreneurs run their business and especially enjoy learning how they incorporate Evernote. So this morning I watched the video and in one scene I saw a wall hanging, that of course caught my eye, and I immediately paused the video to grab a screen clip of the wall hanging that spoke about LIFE.

Motivational quotes about life.

I eventually returned to the video to learn more about Shaa, her business, and her use of Evernote but what intrigued me even more is how much I’m in tune with inspirational content and looking for ways to include that content in my social media streams. So now I’m not just reading, listening, and watching for personal growth and self-improvement but I’m continuously on the look out for content to share.

As I work on generating my own content I’ll continue to be a content curator sharing content that I find of value and believe others will enjoy as well. And as a side note, that photo is generated 14 likes in less than an hour. That’s quite the hit of likes for one of my Instagram posts considering it wasn’t a personal photo liked by family and friends.

Oh, and you can thank Seth Godin for inspiring me to worry less about the final product of my blog posts and more on just getting new content on my blog. If you’d like to learn what I mean by that be sure to check out the EntreLeadership Podcast: Seth Godin – Dealing with Change. It is by far one of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to, ever.

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 3

A couple of days ago I started a 21 Days of Gratitude series. After watching a TED talk that spoke of how it is possible to condition one’s brain to be happy (if not happier). The example exercise given was to spend at least 21 days being grateful and so I thought I’d share what I’m grateful for as I reflect for over the next 3 weeks.

Today is day 3 and today I’m grateful that I’m still able to call my Grandpa Pete and speak to him and visit him. In fact, on Tuesday I had called him to make arrangements to get together on Thursday evening. Initially he agreed and said he was free… but then later in the evening he called and said that the driver taking the group to Reno for a day trip to the casinos called him to reminded him of his trip. My grandpa was apologetic that he had forgotten that he already had plans, I certainly can’t get upset at my grandfather, so I just chuckled on the phone and told him to win lots and that I’d call to stop by and see him over the weekend.

It wasn’t too long ago that I also had my two grandmothers only a phone call away and even my other grandfather passed away less than 10 years ago. I consider myself lucky. Even though I didn’t get to live in close proximity to my grandparents as a child I did get to spend 10-15 years with three of my grandparents and hopefully much longer with my Grandpa Pete.

So today I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with my grandparents. The four pillars of my foundation.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you are grateful for today.

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 2

Day 2 of my 21 Days of Gratitude series happens to fall on February, 2nd which is also my birthday. Want to guess my favorite number?

Since today is my birthday I thought I’d share my thoughts on a few of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

1, My Loved One’s Good News

I’m going to be vague on this one as the person that was receiving the medical treatment has a right to privacy but like each and every one of us we all have a loved one that is dealing with something. Yesterday I learned that (s)he received confirmation that the treatment they had been receiving did its job. All signs point in a positive direction and for that I’m beyond relieved. I’m happy for that person and for all those that love that person.

I’m grateful for the good news I received last night after their final day of treatment.

2. My Older Son Triztan

It was exactly 10 years ago today that my wife, Jennifer, handed me a birthday card with the best surprise ever hidden inside. It was a card letting me know that I was going to be a dad. I’ve received many wonderful gifts over the years but to learn that you’re going to be a dad on your birthday is quite the gift.

Triztan is a wonderful young man that truly has the kindest heart. He amazes me in so many ways but what comes to mind first and foremost is how much he cares for others.

As I watched Triztan at his recent competitive soccer tryouts he ran to chase down a stray ball. The ball went in the direction of the water bottles and knocked one over. Triztan not only retrieved the ball but took the extra seconds that were required to stand the water bottle (owner unknown) upright. When the water bottle fell again he corrected it again.

I’m not sure how many of the 40 plus boys that were out there would have done the same but as I watched him from the stands I couldn’t have been more proud. He shows signs of a serving heart and I believe that will take him far.

The list is long of what I love about Triztan but his kind soul is at the top. He makes me proud on a daily basis.

3. My Younger Son Lucaz

Nearly four years Triztan’s junior Lucaz is a free spirit that beats to his own drum. I love him for that. He is everything I wasn’t as a kid. Where I was timid and intimidated Lucaz is confident and won’t think twice about dancing to a good beat if he hears a song that he likes.

On the other hand, while he loves to run off on his own at times Lucaz adores his mom and will stop to no end to snuggle with her every single night. He even fights me off if I attempt to steal Jen’s attention. I never have to worry about Jen lacking a protector.

Triztan and Lucaz

I’m a very proud father and love my sons. I’m blessed to have them in my life. My life is richer because of them and for that I’m grateful.