Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lessons In Coaching And People Management

I coached youth basketball for years and have a good feel for it.  However, all the experience coaching youth doesn't prepare you for working with adults.   I've been a captain / coach in various adult leagues for many years.  However, early on, I lacked confidence in dealing with certain players. I was great with the low key folks who just followed my directions.  But on every team, you have guys who are outspoken and want to do things their own way.  

However, in recent years, I've started to tighten up as I know what I like and don't like.  I had an interesting situation tonight where two players were getting into it.  Our team was down 22-13 as well and there was some heated discussions.  I even got into it a bit with a few people because there was just a lot going on. 

Ultimately, I made a choice to sit a couple of players down to let them cool down.  We fell behind 29-13 but somehow came back to win 54-52.  Did my choice to bench people have something to do with it?  I don't know but it was a sacrifice I made.  If we lost the game then so be it. 

Sometimes I don't think people realize that coaching a team is basically like being a manager at a job.   Basically you have to coach people to play a game and work with their "personalities".  I didn't do the best job today but I learned a lesson in how to manage situations for the future. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Funny How Things Work Out

I don't talk much about work on my blog but I'll make a small exception this time.  I'm not really complaining or commenting on the work itself, but just how my career progression has gone in the past few years.  

In mid-2006, after about seven years at a large telecommunications company, I left to take a job at a smaller company.   The official job title I took in 2006 was "Product Support Specialist" which is a fancy title for technical support.  I had done customer support for five out of my seven years at my previous company so doing product / customer support wasn't anything new to me.  

However, I had taken the job to take on some new challenges as a smaller company gives you those opportunities.  Over time, I ended up doing some different things including pre-sales technical support, QA Testing, and manual writing.    

As things progressed into 2007, the smaller company earned some venture capitalist (VC) funding.   With that, the VC's decided to bring in experienced management to help the company grow to the next level.   With that, I got a new manager and subsequently new job titles.  My new manager had studied the work that I did and thought it was reflected Sales support (even if customer / technical support was still an important part of the job).  My manager decided to bless me with a new job title which was "Inside Sales Engineer".   I didn't realize how important the job title would be until later. 

Unfortunately, in mid 2008, I was laid off from the smaller company.   This would be my first ever layoff and I admit it was a bit of a surprise.  However, I took things in stride and just began the process of looking for a new job. 

About a month later, I got a call from a recruiter for a "Sales Engineer".  I guess having my job title as a "Inside Sales Engineer" helped him find me.  Thanks to that recruiter, I landed the job of Sales Engineer at my current company.  

To wrap this post, it had been a small goal of mine to achieve the title of "Senior Sales Engineer" at my current company eventually.  Being a Senior Sales Engineer has different expectations and responsibilities and so I knew it wasn't going to be anytime soon.  

In a bit of a repeat from 2006, the management staff of our Sales Engineering team determined that all of the Sales Engineers on our team were already performing work at the level of "Senior Sales Engineers".   Thus the management decided that all of the Sales Engineers would be granted the title of "Senior Sales Engineer".   The folks that were already "Senior Sales Engineers" would be given a new title of "Principal Sales Engineer".   So while all of us will still be performing our same duties, we have been gifted some new titles.  

So while this isn't technically a promotion, I do appreciate having the title.  It was something that I wanted to achieve from a personal perspective.  Even thought the title will be official at some point, I won't stop trying to improve and will continue to push toward the next level of my position in the future.    However, it's funny how things sometimes work out when you least expect it.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Unlikely Contributor

Last week, my Wednesday Night basketball league wrapped up it's season with the consolation and then championship games.  Fortunately, my team was one of the teams that was playing in the championship game.

My team came out of the gate a little slow but made a big third quarter run and we eventually won 72-63.  It was a sweet moment for the team and for me personally.

After a frustrating fall season where I missed most of the season due to injury, I was able to contribute 9 points (4-7 FG, 1-2 FT) 4 rebounds, and 1 assist in the championship game win.  The points were crucial in keeping my team in the game in the second quarter when we were slumping a bit.

Considering I had not played for over 2 months, the fact that I was shooting well was great!  I had not counted on playing at all this season.  However, my injury had healed enough that I felt good enough to return to brief action the week before and contribute more fully last week.

The championship title was the 5th for me in this particular league and 3rd overall this year.  So while the injury was frustrating, the ending was beautiful and adds another story I can talk about in the years to come!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Many years ago, I started a tradition of "giving thanks" by writing an email to various friends.  With the growth of the Internet, I've taken to posting my thanks on my blog.  So for 2013, here are some things to be thankful for:

Mom and Dad.  There are things going on that my mom has to deal with.  It hasn't been easy for my Dad and I but I am fortunate they are both doing ok for the most part.  We go through ups and downs with our parents but at the end, you still love them because they raised you.

My "Twin Friend"(They know who they are).   My twin and I talk to each other a lot.   Some times we just talk briefly due to time and other things.  Some days are serious and some days are not.  The main thing is we talk to see how the other person is and provide some friendly company to the other.  In this day and age of texting and social media, it's easy to feel disconnected.  My friend and I are far from that.

My "Old College Friend".  Even though things have been busy on my friend's end lately (having a baby does that), we chat via email and text.  When we do see each other, we pick up like nothing's changed.  Just a sign of a great friend when we can do that.

Canon Rebel XSI / EOS 70D / Point and Shoot / iPhone 4 - I've always taken a lot of photographs in the past.  It's been in the past few years that I started learning the art / technique of manual photography.  It took some time, but I am finally grasping a few things.  But even though I am learning a different way of photography, I still do "regular" auto photography as well.  Thanks to my old XSI for being the first DSLR I had.  Even though it's old, I still use it for the majority of my shots.  My new 70D (plus lens) is used for basketball shots at the moment.  My iPhone and Canon Point and Shoot still serve a purpose for quick shots when I don't want to lug my DSLR's around.

My old guy friends (aka "Downtown Work Guys") - I've known all of these guy friends for years.  Interestingly enough we all work downtown now and we have lunch every now and then.

ABC Basketball League - I've been injured for much of the fall basketball season so i haven't played and haven't been as present during the fall.  However, the league is still a great place to drop by and catch up with people.  It's a basketball league but also a social center for many people from different places.  A very unique league that I am glad to be associated with.

I'm sure there are a lot of other things, but let's stop here for now.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Basketball (Or Sports) Doesn't Define Me

It's been quite a few years since I've had an injury that caused me to miss a significant amount of time playing basketball (or sports in general).  As I blogged last time, the injury itself is annoying but hardly worth complaining about.  I've got a friend who has more things to worry about that my measly injury.

In fact, in some ways, the injury has given me time to "rediscover myself" a little bit.  I definitely love playing basketball, sports and working out in general.   Yet I realize that it has become a "dominant" part of my lifestyle to the point where my name and basketball are nearly tied together.   I believe I blogged about the reason why sports are important to me.  When I was in high school, sports was the thing that I was most "recognized".  Many of my peers were studious, got good grades and worked to attend big name colleges.

On the other hand, I wasn't a great student for most of my high school time until my senior year.  Yet, I was a four time athletic award winner in high school (Most Improved Player, 2 Time Coaches Award Winner, Athlete Of The Year).

Because of this, sports has always been a big part of my life.  It's what I have called "Social Exercise".  I get to get away from things, socialize and have fun a bit.  I've even continued to win awards after high school (Four Most Inspirational Player Awards (1999, 2003, 2011, 2012).

The injury has forced me to change up my habits.  Even with injuries in the past, I have gone to the basketball gym to watch my teams play.  But due to logistical and other issues this past week, I chose not to go to the gym.  I've also had to miss my Saturday basketball with friends.  But it's not like I hole up at home.  I've taken to other activities that are not necessarily active.  I'm pursuing my interest in photography and just enjoying other parts of life.

Don't get me wrong.  I won't suddenly drop playing basketball.  But I'm learning that switching things up occasionally is not really a bad thing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Seeing People Struggle Or Suffer Sucks

At some point this weekend, I was going to blog about how "Basketball Doesn't Define Me".  I may still get to this topic eventually but I am going to talk about something else tonight.

Last week, I blogged about a friend of mine being in the hospital.  Today, three friends and I decided to make another visit to the hospital.   One friend was there an hour and a half ahead of me.  After I arrived, the other two people arrived about 15 minutes afterward.

The good news is our hospitalized friend seemed improved.  As like last time, she was very mentally sharp.  However, she still had a breathing apparatus so speaking was a bit forced.  Overall, she seemed to be in decent spirits.  I'm sure having three people visit was a positive as well.

At some point during the visit, we had a few hospital staff flow through including the attending physician.  The physician was a nice gentleman and greeted us and our friend.  The physician stated that he was happy that our friend had made a lot of improvements in the past few weeks.

However, the physician noted that there were still some things our friend needed to do to get better.  Maybe the thought of the work that lay ahead was daunting and frustrating and our friend started to cry.      I don't know how my other friends were reacting but it was tough to see this.  Even though I was the only guy, I was tempted to cry.

Our friend eventually did settle down and we all chatted for a while longer.  Eventually, we all had to leave and our friend was crying once again.  We all reassured our friend that we would be back.

In the past six months or so, I've learned that I hate seeing people suffer.  From friends to family, I've done my best to help people's struggles.   Though I am reluctant to talk about it publicly, the fact is my mom has had struggles with memory in the past year.  I've taken on a lot of responsibility to try to help her out.

There is another friend of mine that I hang out with every now and then and talk with frequently.  The friend accidentally hurt themselves a few months ago which derailed some of our plans.  I know they were frustrated so I visited the friend once and spent a lot of time talking on the phone.   My friend did the same for me a few years ago so this was not a problem for us.

Unfortunately, there's a not a lot I can do for my hospitalized friend right now except to visit.  My friends and I have bounced some ideas around to get some gifts but not sure if they are practical at this point.

The main point is that seeing people struggle or suffer is not fun.  However, if there is a lesson here, it is that I need to appreciate what I have AND also help others who may not be as fortunate.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Been Thinking About.......

About 2 weeks ago, I played in a softball tournament.  Technically, i played in ONE game of the tournament.  I had a wedding to attend that conflicted so my plan was to play the one game.  As it turned out, I suffered a hand injury anyway so one game was going to be what I played regardless.

The injury hurt but I thought it was a sprain so I iced and rested for the past two weeks or so.  Alas, there was still some pain so I decided to get a check up.  Unfortunately, the x-rays showed a fracture in my hand.  Its not serious but I will be in a removable splint and be away from major physical activities like basketball for a while.

Though the injury is annoying and frustrating (I am typing this with one hand) , I am surprised at how calm I've taken this injury otherwise.  A part of the reason is due to my teams winning two league championships in the spring.  The excitement of the spring was great and not something that can be easily replicated.  Since the spring, I've focused on trying to ENJOY playing basketball and not just focus on winning.

Now that I am out for a while, I plan to enjoy the view from the bench.  In a way, its good to take a break.   I've been playing a lot for the past few years.

Additionally, my injury is nothing compared to something a friend is going through.  The friend is not super close but someone I've known for a while.  This friend had a tough life overall but recently has been dealt with many health issues.  I visited the hospital a few days ago and it was tough to see the friend hooked up to a few machines and unable to speak.

While my injury sucks, I am reminded that there are always people that have it worse.  I'm not entirely sure what I can do for my friend but the least I can do is be there for support.