Team

Team

Your most important customer is your own team.

Treat your colleagues as though they know everything you do. Wait for them to ask questions if they have them, and if they do, don’t punish them by reverting to a position of condescension. Don’t be the reason someone dreads coming to work, or the reason someone leaves. — The Pastry Box Project: Jan 16

I’ve always gone in to new jobs with this attitude. We were all hired to do a job. That means we all best out others for the job. We are, to some degree, qualified to hold the position and do the work.

I never talk down to my co-workers. They are my team. We are a team. And I gain nothing by being condescending to them. If someone doesn’t understand something and asks, I’ll happily explain what I mean. I love to share what I’ve learned in the course of my work. It makes the team better when I share my knowledge.

We all have strengths and interests. I have been the Mac Guy. But I need the Excel Guy and the Photoshop Woman to be successful. We all have our strengths. And when our knowledge falls short we use the teams’ knowledge.

Working in a team is like the Borg Collective. Resistance is Futile because between us, we can solve any problem.

It appalls me to see people working in support positions put down their teammates.

You see these people everyday. They know you. They can be your biggest strength or your greatest weakness. It’s your decision. But know you’re throwing away a huge asset if you choose to abandon your team.

Cookies and coffee

My Simple Password System

Much has been written about passwords. How to manage them? Is it worth buying an app? How do you keep them all straight?

When people fret about passwords, their anxiety starts when it comes time to change the password. What will I change it to? How will I ever remember when I have so many?

Let me give you a hint about changing passwords I bet no one has ever told you.

You only need to change one character.

Did you know what? If your password is Password1! you can change it to Password2! And it will still work. That’s all. Just change 1 to 2 and move on with your life.

Let me share with you my method for creating passwords for work. At work, since I can’t rely on an app to input my login password to my computer, I need a password I can remember.

I used to work in a place that required two passwords. One for my everyday user account and another password for my administrator account.

The user account had the normal must be at least 8 characters with capital letters, lowercase letters numbers and a special character.

My administrator account *must be at least 16 characters with the same requirements.

Now how was I ever going to keep my passwords in mind when I had to change the first every 90 days and the latter every 60 days?

My Password System

Let me give you my password system that works perfectly for the working world.

  1. Choose a food. Pick one with a few characters in it. I like pizza.
  2. Choose a special character. I always like to start with a ! It gives some pop! to! my! password!
  3. Choose a number. Start with 1. It will make you life easier.
  4. When it comes time to change your password, add 1 to the number.

Now, create your first password by putting them all together.

Enter your food with a leading capital letter.
Pizzas
Now, add your number, starting with 1.
Pizzas1
Finally, add your special character.
Pizzas1!
When it comes time to change your password, just add 1.
Pizzas2!

If that sounds funny, make it 1Pizza!!

Pizza was too short so I added an S to get my 8 characters. You could always use more numbers or special characters.

1Pizza1!
2Pizzas!!
3Pizza?!

Now you have passwords for as many years as you need. Keep adding 1 to your current password and if you don’t remember it, just try the last 3 numbers you remember using. It will be one of them.

And if you need to reset your password because you’ve forgotten what number you were on, add a couple of numbers so it. Instead of 23Pizzas! make it 27Pizzas!

Get tired of pizza? Use another food. Foods are easy because they’re easy to spell and hard to guess. Common passwords are names of children, spouses, parents or pets. Foods are much harder to guess.

And by changing a single number every time, you can reuse the same password forever without running out of options.

No more stressing when it comes time to change passwords. No more frustrating bouts of trial-and-error.

old man sweeping

Play the market, don’t let it play you

Growing up I learned a lot of things. One of them was about how I needed to go out and get a job. I needed to stay at that job for years and I would be taken care of. The company I worked for would invest in me as I invested in them. There would be a mutually beneficial relationship. We would both thrive.

That is a fairy tale. That is a story for another time. Another generation. That is not the reality of today. I learned too late in life the only person looking out for me is me. So I needed to do a better job of looking out for me.

I’m my own best advocate and ally.

I made one huge mistake when I entered the job market. I believed what I’d been told all through growing up. I believed loyalty was rewarded.

I went to college and learned in my four years there I did not want to work in Advertising. And I worried. What would people think of my Mass Communications degree?

Absolutely Nothing! And I don’t meant they didn’t like it. It didn’t matter. All my employers were interested in was if I had a degree. Not what the degree said on it.

I had a Bachelor’s degree. That’s all they cared about. Something I quickly learned was that having the degree won’t get me a job but it will keep me from being disqualified.

A college degree won’t land you a job. It will keep you from not being considered for the job.


A little story from the first time I’ve interviewed someone to hire. I was the lead Desktop Support Tech and we were looking for a new technician. The job was posted and we were flooded with resumes. We had well over 1,000 applications for this single job.

How do you think we filtered the list? We started eliminating anyone who didn’t fit the criteria. And one of the criteria was having a college degree.


From my first job working in IT Support I stuck to a simple plan when selecting jobs.

I’m a hired gun. I’m a technical mercenary. I work for the highest bidder.

Want a raise? Get a new job. I started making $12 per hour. Then $17, $19, and eventually $21/hour for the same job title doing the same work. But I’d worked for a different place each time.

While I worked as a contractor, I had no paid time off. That meant if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. Period. I would work through being sick. I didn’t take vacations. I worked. It’s what I did. That was my reality. So I wanted more money to justify the lack of time off. This is not sustainable and it was always my goal to get through it to something better.

And health benefits… Yeah. I had them. Technically. But they were often terrible. Expensive benefits that covered little if anything. It was barely worth the money I paid. And since I didn’t take time off. I didn’t go to the dentist or the doctor unless I absolutely had to.

Then I moved out of the area and landed my first job with benefits. I had time off. I had decent healthcare for the first time since leaving school and I was salaried. That changed everything.

That meant I got paid the same thing every pay check. No overtime but also very little demand for it. But my pay checks were consistent which made budgeting easier. Not that I had any money in savings. But I could pay my bills.

And I had a little on the side so I could enjoy myself and go out to eat some times. I could go see a movie. I could even take time off and enjoy life and visit friends or family out of the area without having to race out-of-town Friday night and return by Sunday. I had freedom.

Sales

Sales

Here’s the thing about sales.

You’re not actually saving any money.

Advertisers are good at what they do. Which is devising new ways to divide you from your money. I should know, I studied advertising in college long enough to realize I didn’t want to work in the field.

NO MONEY DOWN! $2000 CASH BACK!

I like to pick on car commercials because they’re the most absurd. “You can save $10,000 on this car today!” they scream. “Drive it home today!” You know how car ads are always screaming at you? Would you listen to someone who walked up to you and started screaming at you to buy a car in person?

Then why do they do it in the commercials? Urgency. They’re creating the excitement and urgency in your mind. You have to buy this car right now!

Don’t wait. That car won’t be sitting there tomorrow!

They always tell you how much money you’ll get back. Or how good a financing offer they’ll give you. Every time I see a car commercial promising such amazing terms all I can think is or don’t buy the car and save thousands of dollars.

Seriously. That brand new car that’s $30,000 is still $30,000 you have to spend. Maybe a little less. Maybe it only works out to $24,000 after the incentives. But that’s still $24,000 you are giving away.

SALE! TODAY ONLY!

Have you walked through a shopping mall lately? Are most of the stores there having a sale? Yes? Can you think of the last time they were not having a sale? No?

When a store is perpetually having sales, when does it stop being a sale and start being their regular price? And is the sale price a better deal than it was before? Not always.

Stores will often increase the original price on the label so the sale price looks more attractive. When in reality, the original price was much closer to the sale price. But no one, myself included, looks that hard at prices of most things.

Sale Prices

I look at a sale price and think, well, if you can afford to sell it to me for this price, then why would I pay a higher price? Why would I pay full price at your store? Wait for a sale. So I often do.

I’m a large man, standing well over six feel tall and over 300 pounds. When I need clothes, I don’t turn to sales and department sales. They don’t feel anyone with arms as long as mine deserve to shop there anyway.

I turn to Big & Tall stores. Which are notoriously expensive because they can be. My choices are limited so I always shop at the same place for all of my business casual attire for work.

But I always wait for a sale. Always.

I know eventually there will be 30% or 60% off sales. I know sooner or later I can save a pile of money. So I wait.

Save 100%!

Don’t buy what you don’t need. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you’re required to buy it. Yes, that app just went on sale. Sure, that new game just saw a price drop. Do you need it? Will you use it? Will you play it?

Before spending your hard-earned money on something decide if it’s worth it. There are piles of games out there I’d love to play. And they often go on sale, or I see a cheap used version and I’m tempted. The same with apps. I love a good app sale as much as anyone. But I don’t need them all. I don’t use much of what I download and pay for.

I’m getting better at this but I still struggle. But I’m getting better at saying no to sales and spending money I don’t need to.

Violence Problem

In the wake of 20 students being stabbed at a Pennsylvania high school, much has been said about it. But I’ve read nothing better than what Chief Oliver from the Brimfield Police Department posted to the police department’s Facebook wall. I have included it in full below:

Good Afternoon,

A little while ago, I posted about the tragic stabbings of students at a high school in Pennsylvania. We post info like that incident (and also officers being killed) as a notice for mourning and reflection. Soon after, the insults and innuendos started, with words like “conservative” “liberal,” “it wasn’t a gun” and “arm the teachers.” Here is some unsolicited advice. Do with it what you will. If it does not apply to you, then ignore it.
Until we, as adults, learn to stop being angry, insulting each other and picking fights every chance we get, how in heck can we expect our kids to behave any differently? I guarantee, if you are an Internet troll, generally angry and surly and by all appearances hate the human race, the children around you will act no better than what you are modeling. We have to be the examples for those who are still growing.
If you want another opinion, here you go. Until adults start leading and acting like adults, we are just spinning our wheels. There is no perfect political party, no perfect way to peel a banana, and no perfect person. Adults insulting each other and cramming political views in our ears in a constant barrage of “the world is ending,” is only making the kids in our society more stressed and angry.
In a case like this awful stabbing incident at a HIGH SCHOOL….pipe down and let the people mourn. Be there for them, but be quiet unless there is something helpful to say.
My apologies for being direct. It’s sort of my thing.
Carry on….Chief Oliver.

Take a moment to read his words. We need to come together and stop blaming each other. It’s not the violent video games or loud music turning our kids violent.

Adults insulting each other and cramming political views in our ears in a constant barrage of “the world is ending,” is only making the kids in our society more stressed and angry.

Maybe it’s us. Kids look at how we treat one another and reflect that. Look around you. Everyone is screaming at everyone else over everything. How are kids supposed to learn to deal with their problems when we’re so quick to scream and threaten. So what’s what our children do.

Despite a personal policy of never reading the comments. I did wade into the muck since I saw the Chief was responding to a couple of them.

Greg Aydt RhymesWith Right writes:

Chief – you should still think twice before you use official department resources to spout your personal opinions and tell Americans what they should and should not say. Get your own blog or own facebook account if you want to do that.\

And the Cheif replies with:

Greg….All I want, simply, is for everyone to stop fighting and solve problems. We don’t have a gun or knife problem…we have a violence problem. We also have a problem involving everyone being angry and spouting politics constantly. It is getting old. You are attacking a person who likely shares many of the views you have….which is troubling….Chief Oliver.

He’s right. We have a violence problem. And until we start addressing that we’re not going to get anywhere.

But Carl. That’s such a huge problem how do we even start?

The first step is to start treating each other as human beings with feelings. Start talking to each other instead of at each other. Stop being so quick to anger. Stop shouting. Take a second. Think before we speak. As the Cheif said, you are attacking a person who likely shares many of the views you have…which is troubling…

And it is troubling. It doesn’t matter how we got here. We’re here now. And we need to step back.

I’ve got a task for you today. Instead of replying to someone in anger. Take a second. Think before you speak or hit post. Respond with kindness. Respond with peace. Respond from a place of level-headed thought instead of reactionary vitriol.

The world could use some more positivity in it.