Better

Election day is upon us and as always we are being over run with political ads, mud-slinging and promises that are sure to be forgotten by our politicians in the months and years to follow. With the rise of social media we are more inundated than ever with political rhetoric and catch phrases like “read my lips, no new taxes.”

As much as I have followed all this and joined in on the debating, I have tried to simplify my feelings and come down to the heart of how I feel and to be honest I am really just tired of watching the economy and the overall quality of life in this country get worse. I don’t like watching our country hated throughout the world. And I hate watching out politicians on both sides of the aisle ignore us and then pretend to care about the people that they represent only when they need ours votes.

But through all of the political debates and fund-raising, one word comes to mind over all of the rest.

Better.

More than anything, I just want things to be better.  I want better education for my children and better job opportunities when they have to go out and make their way in the future. I want a stronger economy so that those who want to work can find good jobs. I hate seeing hard working people resorted to take any job that they can get just to be able to pay their bills, especially those that bought into the belief that the sacrifice and work that it takes to get a college education would provide them better opportunities.

It pains me to see our country take a back seat to other countries. I am proud to be an American. I’m proud of our rich heritage and proud history. I love the stories we here about people coming to this country with nothing but the clothes on their back because they knew that America meant that they would have the opportunity build their lives through hard work and perseverance. These are the people that have made us the greatest country in the world and it’s this spirit that has made this country strong. I hate feeling like this spirit is dying.

Please don’t see the purpose of this blog to spread my politics to anyone. Even though we may not agree on how to do it, I think most of us all want the same thing and we all believe that the candidate that we are backing and voting for will achieve it. We want it better.

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Success

I am not sure if this is some form of mid life crisis or just a wierd phase in my life but I have been struggling with the idea of success. I guess my struggles come down to whether I feel that I have been successful. Most people that know me think that this is a crazy idea. They tell me that I have raised two wonderful sons and gave my wife the opportunity to stay home and help my sons become the people that they are. I know that people will tell me that I have a good job and I have a masters degree and that I am a college professor. And for the most part, I agree that I have had success.

The problem becomes me. I guess I should clarify. The problem is me twenty years ago. I know that I am no different than other people in the sense that when I was young, I was going to take on the world. I was going to let nothing stop me. I was young and full of gusto. And then like many others, life happens. Taking on the world isn’t quite what it was cracked up to be and all of the sudden paying the rent and put food on the table takes center stage and world domination gets put on the back burner and then eventually gets tossed into some cheap imitation tupperware and thrown somewhere in the kitchen to grow mold and eventually be tossed in the trash.

The problem is that Dan Schoedel from 1991 still speaks to me, almost haunting me. I feel sometimes like we are sitting on lawn chairs on the patio of my senior week condo in Ocean City while he berates me for “selling out.” I look at myself in disgust and frustration. I grab myself and ask “How have you become content with where you are? Have you forgotten all of your hopes and dreams? Have you forgotten all of the plans you made, trips you were going to take, the houses that you were going to buy? Have you forgotten about that pompous ass that worked with you at Hardees and told you that you were going to be fast food worker forever because you took some pride in your work, no matter how menial.” Little does the younger me realize that even though I can’t remember who the jerk was, the nasty cutting comment stuck with me and was a driving force every time I thought about quiting.

So there in lies my problem. Have I become content. Probably.Have I been successful. Yes. Am I successful? I don’t know.  But as much as I try to ignore that voice in my head, it haunts me. I wonder if I will ever find peace. Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed. I have a wonderful family, a good job and a loving and supportive wife. And maybe deep down inside, I don’t want that voice to leave. I guess I view it like the pilot light in stove. As soon as I squelch it, it’s over.

Why being a waiter is something that you should put on your resume

Okay, I should amend the title of this blog to “why being a GOOD waiter is something that you should put on your resume.” I remember many years ago I was fresh out of college and interviewing for jobs. I had read that if your resume is not full of experience that you should emphasize what skills that you had developed. Well taking this advice I attempted to convince a hiring manager during an interview that my experience as a waiter during college actually provided me with desirable skills. Needless to say the hiring manager was not impressed and I rarely used my experience as a server in interviews.

That being said, I should point out that I wasn’t trying to blow smoke up the hiring manager’s back side. I really felt that being a good server had helped me develop skills that would help make me successful in the business world. After many years of thought and reflection, I am more determined that this is true. I want to point out a few of the positives skills that I developed as a server that I use to this day.

The first habit I developed was to always approach people with a smile. I learned this skill early on in my serving days and I can not tell you how effective that this simple concept has been over the years. To this day, when I enter into a conversation, I try and always lead in with a smile. It sets a positive tone for the conversation and helps people let down their guard.

The next skills I developed was to maintain open communication with my customers. When trying to enjoy a meal with your family, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find your server when you need something like a napkin or condiments. A simple stop by to check on a table does the job. “How is everything? Can I get you anything?” In the business world, failure to communicate can cause many issues. Taking a minute to drop an email makes all the difference. “Just wanted to let you know that I haven’t heard from the vendor regarding the meeting tomorrow.” Just be careful not to overdue it. We all know the server that drives their tables crazy checking on their tables too much or the person that can’t go to the bathroom with out emailing the whole world.

The next trait I picked up that I think is applicable is setting realistic expectations. A classic rookie server’s mistake is to tell their table that their food will be right up when they know that the kitchen is backed up. A veteran server finds a way to communicate to their customers that there will be a delay tactfully such as “I apologize but there is a back up in the kitchen but it shouldn’t be too long for your food. Can I get you some more rolls or any drink refills?” Setting realistic expectations in the professional ranks is also important. As hard as we try to meet all of our deadlines, things happen and deadlines get missed, sometimes to our own fault, sometimes not. Regardless as to who is at fault, communication is again the key. No one wants to hear that there will be a delay on what they are waiting for, but their frustration will be greater when then deadline is missed and they are blindsided. This can cause a domino effect in regards to other issues. If a person is aware of a delay before it occurs, it gives them a chance to plan accordingly.

The final skill that I acquired waiting tables that has been incredibly useful for my career in the IT field is the ability to answer for problems that I am not responsible for. As a server, you are constantly apologizing for problems with the kitchen or seating issues. Over my years of being a server, I became very accustomed to getting grief for other people’s mistakes. Though I don’t see this as a skill that all professionals will need, years of providing IT support this skill has come to use many times. “I am so sorry that the application that you need isn’t supported in Windows 7.” or “I know that you think that you need a high speed color printer at your desk but it wasn’t approved by my boss.”

Other positive skills that I picked up were listening, taking good notes and multitasking. But what all of my blog comes down to is that being a good waiter means developing excellent customer service skills and  people skills. Applying these skills in a professional business environment has helped me in my professional career as well.

A Stereotype I am getting sick of…..

I was recently listening to the radio when a commercial came on for a work boot. I don’t recall what boot it was for but after listening to it I was over come with the desire to call the maker of the boot and tell them to bite me. That’s right, bite me.  I should clarify why this thirty-second spot upset me so much. Though I don’t exact wording the gist of the commercial was that their boots were made for real men that don’t sit in a cubicle or work in an office building. Now I may sound like I am being silly but to be honest, I hear this notion that working in an office makes you weak or less manly and I am sorry but that is one hundred percent hokum.  I don’t mean to disparage any one for their career choice because I believe that all jobs are important and that no one should be looked down for what they do. But it should go both ways. Just because I have a college education and wear khakis and a polo shirt to work doesn’t mean that I don’t the ability to work with my hands. I made a choice to get my education so that I would have the option to do the kind of work that I choose.  Don’t get me wrong. Rugged boot manufacturer isn’t the only place that portrays this idea. You see it on sitcoms and movies and in music, especially in country music, where it is almost a sin to have worked hard and gotten a college education.  Hey Hollywood, hey rugged boot manufacturer, Hey Nashville… bite me. Working with my mind instead of my hands does not make me any less manly or any less rugged. It means that I have made a choice.

TheProfessor Dan

One hundred plus channels and there is nothing to watch

First off, this is my first blog. Yippee!!! Okay so that is out of the way so let me give you my thoughts on television. For some reason, television has been a hot topic or least what to watch has been a hot topic. I have always teased my wife because we tend to like different types TV shows. I like comedies. She likes reality television. And to be honest, until recently, I never gave this much thought until I started to talk to others about what kind of shows that they liked. When I did, I was floored. People watched shows that I never expected to them. But the conclusion that I came up to is that people choose to watch shows that meet a need in their life. Sometimes you need to laugh so you turn on the Big Bang Theory. Maybe you want  something to mentally challenge or enlighten you so you turn on the discovery channel. Maybe you need someone to validate or challenge your thoughts on politics or sports so you turn on CNN or ESPN. What ever it is I realized that I need to respect other peoples decisions to watch what they watch. I have teased my wife more times that I should about what she likes to watch and to be honest, that was wrong.  I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

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