Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Embarrasing Moments at Work

So, one thing I like about blogging is that it's an opportunity for me to 'keep it real' for the on-line world.  Of course, I post the best looking photos of myself that make me look at 'my thinnest' but I do try to let you all know what really goes on and not just post sugar coated pinterest worthy things.  So today's posts is one of those posts!

I used this story in my presentation at the Vendavo Pricing Summit in April 2016 and I also used this story in my webinar for the Professional Pricing Society in July 2016.  It's a good story, well I guess you'll be the judge of that, but regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

When I first started in my current job – contract center manager - I had the opportunity to attend an executive training course on negotiation skills at Harvard University.  I had only been on the job less than a month and was eager to improve my skills in negotiating.     So Harvard is not like most college campus’s.  It’s pretty intense and the people who hang out there are pretty intense.  My college days consisted of classes (in my Frye Boots and Calvin Jeans), studying (mostly at the library) and quite a few evenings downtown or at my sorority house drinking cheap beer and flirting with boys.  Where my son went to school in Clemson SC, it was much the same, only warmer and more sports events to attend.   

Harvard is a little different atmosphere.  Just arriving at the facility was intimidating.  The place reeked of ambition.  No Frisbee playing millennials here.  The courtyard was full of eager, hungry, ambitious 20 somethings all in designer business suits with smart phones and laptops (in briefcases - not backpacks!)  The class I was in had about 300 people.  They all came from different backgrounds, and many different nations.  As I chatted with people during the morning coffee hour I asked people 'What do you do?'  One guy said he negotiated hostage situations.  Another guy (with a foreign accent) said he negotiated border disputes.  The woman at my table said she had gotten her PHD from Harvard several years ago.  And there I was!  Little ole me, new to the job.  Thankfully the most I would ever negotiate was a pricing deal for semiconductor chips and not something where someones life depended upon it, but I felt woefully inadequate at that class.  I can't think of a more intimidating environment, but I was not deterred.  I joined in eagerly, hoping to learn and realizing I had a lot to learn.

So day 1, after lunch, the session was ‘Difficult Tactics and How to Deal with Them.’  I was given a small, quiet man as my partner.  We were the buyers.  We were negotiating against a large man with a booming voice and a slick, polished, sexy man.  They seemed like they knew exactly what they were doing.  My partner and I felt doomed.  Sexy man had on a tight shirt, tight pants and a skinny tie. His hair was perfect.  He was thin and muscular and he had more of a smirk than a smile. Large, booming voice man had a genuine smile and was friendly, but at 280+ pounds, 6 feet 5 inches (maybe more) he was a very intimidating presence.  I know I should not judge these people by their physical appearance, but I have to say, I was intimidated, whether I wanted to feel that way or not.  We did our best, but we knew we got beaten in the negotiation.... basically we caved and we caved often.

After we concluded our mock negotiation, the professor asked the 300 person audience, okay, show of hands how many of the sellers got $300,000 or more?  A handful of hands go up.  I slumped in my seat and hoped to disappear.  Sexy man jumps up eagerly.  The mike is handed to him.  He gleefully says, we got $450,000 with a loud excited voice!  I slumped further in my seat.  Can I tell you?  He wasn't looking so sexy anymore!  The professor says rather baffled, hmmm, I don’t think that has ever happened before, we usually don't get anyone paying more than the asking price of $350,000, please tell me more.  Sexy man goes on to explain how he and his partner achieved such a wild success.  The professor curiously asks, who were you up against? Who were the buyers?   More slumping, but of course, sexy man points to me.  There was no where to hide.  I embarrassingly explained a weak excuse and worked hard to convince the audience that even though he won the negotiation if it was the real world, I would not be a repeat buyer and my awful purchasing experience would cause me to go on YELP and other social media and trash his business.  

But the damage to my ego was done.  I actually thought my career was over as well.   There were 300 people in the class.  Did I tell you that I wasn't the only one from my company there?  Oh no, as luck would have it, there were other people from my company participating in the training.  My boss was there and ‘oh joy’ my bosses boss was there.  I thought for sure I would be fired!  I quickly and quietly exited the room at the end of the day and tended to my wounded ego.  When I got home (thankfully a short 20 minute drive) I grabbed a glass of wine, slumped under a blanket on the couch and called the dogs over.  Of course the dogs didn't want to sit with me, so I felt rejected again!   Bob was sweet and listened to my sad story and gave me a big hug. Some awful reality show must have been on and I watched for a bit and headed to bed early.  

I pulled myself together and went back the second day.  I tried sitting at the other end of the room so no-one would recognize me and thankfully had a much, much better second day at training.  By the third day I was my eager, ambitious old self with pages of notes and a few successful mock negotiations under my belt.  And thankfully I wasn’t fired.  Lucky for me, contract negotiations involve more than just good negotiation skills. Process and pricing savvy are crucial components as well.  I brought a lot of process and pricing expertise to the role, even if I didn't have a lot of negotiation skill at the start of the job. One of the biggest things I brought to the table was an ambitious attitude and I was willing to learn new things.

So what's the lesson I want you to take away from this? Don't be afraid to learn new things.  Don't be afraid if while you learn something new you make mistakes.  I learned a lot from those mock-sessions and the humiliation of discussing what worked and didn't work in a large audience of people in very different backgrounds.  Don't convince yourself that you are of lesser worth than others with fancier titles or better degrees.  Don't let someones physical attributes or dress intimidate you. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, even if they are designer pants or extra large (or worse extra small) pants.  Talk to yourself with kindness and know that your training and experience are valuable - even if they are quite different from others.  Learn, grow and never be afraid to try something new.  And like me, if it doesn't go so well, keep trying!

So, I hope you enjoyed my 'embarrassing moments at work' story.   Make it a great day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Leaving and Cleaving

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.  Genesis 2:24

Hello friends,

Maybe I should say, hello stranger!  I realize it's been quite a long time since I've posted anything in my blog.  Have you missed me?  I have fond memories of blogging, but have found myself with a few life changes that have put blogging (and often crafting) at a lower priority level in my life.

No worries though... it's all good!  So, without telling you everything about my life today, let's just sum it up with this statement.... I had put my career on hold for the last 15 years as I raised my family and am happily now pursuing a career in pricing and finance.  I went back to work full-time a few years ago and for the last 18 months have been in a pretty exciting and demanding job.  What do I do?  Well, here is my elevator pitch.  I manage and provide strategic direction for pricing for strategic customers.  I have a small team and together we help the global sales and business unit managers succeed in pricing negotiations with a lot of pricing analytics and con-calls! My favorite thing to do at work is present and communicate and lately I've had lots of opportunity to do presentations at all levels of my organization  - from presenting to the c-suite, to presenting to the people who answer the quotes and process the orders.  I also have had a few opportunities to present to the pricing community.  Just last week I presented '5 ingredients for successful deal negotiations' for the professional pricing society on a webinar.  It takes a lot of preparation, but I love it!

I'm happy to focus most of my attention to my work and when I'm not working, I am trying to spend my free time not in front of a screen, thus the blog has gone unattended.

But today seems like a good day to update my blog post about a topic many of you, my blog readers, will face someday.  Today's topic is - 'How to beautifully and loving releasing your son to his wife.'

So my baby, my adorable and beloved youngest son Eric, got married in early June.   We adore his wife Jessa and have known her since she was 16 years old.  We had a glorious day celebrating their marriage and a few weeks ago we drove them to the airport (at 4am) and kissed them goodbye as they started their new life across the country in northern California.
On their way!  CA here we come!

We've known they were moving to CA since April, when Eric told us her was pursuing a job opportunity there.  For the last few weeks and months, many people have asked me how I feel about this move and while I must confess I am a little sad about it, the mature part of me knows it is a healthy and natural thing to happen.  When the sadness creeps in, I hold firm to the goodness of God and the wisdom of all those who have faced this transition before me.  So what does God's word say about this?  It clearly says that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.   I think we all know what leave means but what the heck does cleave really mean? Here is what Merriam Webster says
  1. 'to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly

So basically, what God's word says about this topic is that the wise thing to do is for a young couple to leave behind their lives as single people and join together with their spouse in a solidly new relationship.
I do's are done..... now onto the party!  Mr. and Mrs Eric Monroe...

They are so stinking adorable.   Love them both sooo much!
Part of me is sad that they are so far away (and in a different time zone) but it's fun to talk to them and hear all their new grown up adventures.  And it will be fun to visit them when we go this fall!  Since they only have each other and are starting out with new jobs, new apartment, new friends, it will actually be easier for them to leave behind their old single lives.  What won't be easy will be navigating through all the challenges of being young and poor and learning how to love each other and live together!  I have faith that they'll make it.  They are both wonderful people and solidly committed to loving each other with a real sacrificial love.  It won't be easy, but if they work at it, it will be worth it!  I pray for them and know God will meet their needs if they seek Him.

So what's next for my blog?  Well, I'm not planning to abandon it!!!!  Instead, I'll probably post once a month or so, so please do stay as a follower and leave me comments!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Cards

Hello friends,

Well, I did it.  I got all my Christmas cards finished and in the mail.  Every year I tell myself I'll start earlier, but every year I find myself scrambling at the last minute.  Hopefully all of them will arrive by the day after Christmas, maybe some will get there Christmas eve!

Speaking of Christmas eve, what are your plans?  We are heading up to Little Bear Lodge.  In the town of Bradford they are having a Christmas Pageant.  I do not know if I've ever been to a Christmas pageant, but I'm going to try to talk the family into going.  Its outside and involves kids, caroling, hot chocolate and animals.  I'll be sure to take pictures.  I'm guessing it's going to be adorably small town.

Since we'll be away for Christmas, we went to Christmas eve service last night (12/22.)  I know, isn't that crazy that they offer Christmas eve service on Christmas eve, eve, eve?  It was really nice.   There is a lovely church in Lexington, Grace Chapel, that I've been checking out.  They did a very nice service, lots of traditional music and an uplifting message.  I counted over 50 musicians - it sounded awesome as they led us all in traditional and modern Christmas hymns and carols.  Of course it was a candlelight service and of course we ended with silent night.  It was really nice.  I wish I could go back Christmas eve!!!  I'll be definitely going back in the New Year.

So, back to the cards.  Below are all the various designs I made.  For those that know me, I do not like make 'assembly line' cards, so I pick a few designs and make 4 or 5 of each.  Which is your favorite?

I'll be back with two more Christmas cards and a project to show you on Saturday December 26th for the papertrey ink blog hop.  

I wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Create along with us Papertrey ink

So one of the first Christmas cards I worked on this weekend was a card that was inspired by Papertrey Ink's December release.  Here is the card I made.

Below is my inspiration from Amy Scheffer.  You can see the details of her card on her blog.

I hope you are enjoying pre-Christmas festivities.  We had a fun weekend up in NH at Little Bear Lodge, our little cabin in the woods.  Sarah, Ivan, Eric and Jessa all joined us.  We found a great tree (at a nice last minute price) and did some very simple decorations on the tree.  We have a pile of pinecones still to add, once they dry and open.  We can do that when we are up later this week.  The lights are on and some red berry garland. We also added a bunch of white crochet snowflakes.  It looks rustic and pretty with the burlap and fleece tree skirt.

Sarah decorated this adorable sled she found at a yard sale this summer and it looks great under the sign Bob had made for us.  Even though there is no snow (and no expectation for snow this week) Little Bear Lodge is all festive.

After decorating, I got busy making cards.  I'll post them over the next few days.  Today we got to go for our traditional long walk.  To go to the top of the hill and down to the road again is 4.2 miles. Today we didn't go all the way, we turned around early, but it was a good 3.5 miles.  We don't bring Joey, he's not up for those long walks anymore, but Tank enjoyed the brisk winter air.  Don't you love the New England stone walls that are just out in the woods?  It's kind of a neat and unique feature of a walk in the woods in these parts.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Preparing for Christmas

Hi friends,

Well, Christmas is one week away and I have lots to do.  I still haven't made my Christmas cards, much less got them ready for the mail and I have not started holiday baking yet either.  Thankfully I have all of next week off from work, so if I get busy, I still can do these things - but the cards may not get mailed till Tuesday.  Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

I made a few Christmas themed cards a few weeks ago.  Let me show you those.

This first one is quite retro and fun.  I actually really like it and plan to make several more.

This one is a fun new image I found at a stamping store in NH.  There are two versions of this image on a card.  The first is a 'flat' image where I just color her outfit and face.

The second version is with the button.  In the store this looked super cool and fun, but now that I have the card in front of me, it looks weird to me.  It is a fun technique to add the 3 day element, but somehow I'm not a huge fan.  What do you think?
So, in addition to having some cards to make, I also have some baking to do.  I found the following fun Christmas food on pinterest.  I love chocolate covered pretzels, so I'm sure these will be delicious.  I also love that they are super easy.  

How do you make these?  Super easy.  I used Snyders butter pretzel squares.  Layer your cookie sheet with the pretzel squares.  Unwrap the rolos (this was the most time consuming part of the whole process) and put a rolo on top of each pretzel square.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes (250 degrees) then take them out and put your other pretzel square.  Smoosh it down.  After it's cooled, melt some white chocolate and dip the corner in.  Dip again in colored sprinkles.  Yum.

What else am I baking?  Betty Crocker Christmas cut-out cookies.  These will take much more time to make.  Make the dough, refrigerate it, bake the cookies, then frost them.  I usually set aside 2 days to finish these and every year I wonder if they are worth it, but I love them.  Best Christmas Cookies around.

If you want the recipe for these, here is the link.

Hopefully I'll get my cards & cookies made and my gifts all wrapped by Tuesday.  Then the rest of next week I can start reading some of the many books I've recently checked out of the library and relax a bit to start the Christmas vacation.  I have two work books ('Multipliers' and 'the Challenger Sale'), one social justice book ('Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria') and one self help book ('Thanks for the feedback') all on my shelf to read.  Oh and I have a few movies as well.   How about you?  What does your week before Christmas look like?

Stop back next week, if all goes as planned I'll have some cards and cookies to show you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Another Blue and Green Christmas Card

I was inspired to make two cards for the Papertrey Ink challenge so here is the second one.

This card uses soft stone card stock with white and shimmering white card stock with just an accent of Hawaiian Shores and Simply Chartreuse.  The stamps and dies are from Dawn McVey for PTI. This set is called Spruce and Sprigs.  At the bottom of the blogis the inspiration photo for the blog hop.

Thanks for visiting today.  Make it a great day.

Blue & Green Christmas Cards

Good morning friends,

I have two quick posts this morning to join the fun with Papertrey Ink and the November blog hop.

No time to chat today, I have visitors today (my mom and her husband Peter are with us this morning) and I have some pies to make for Thanksgiving.

My first card uses Betsy Veldmans Petite Places Holiday Lane.  What an adorable set of images in this set.

Below is the inspiration image I worked with.

Thanks for visiting today.  Make it a great day.