About Me

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Damascus, Oregon, United States
I absolutely love anything that plugs in! My iPhone may just be an extension of my body. Networking, business, Christ, serving the community, husbandry, fatherhood, friends, and my amazing family are all that keep me ticking!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011

This year has been...interesting.  Most years previous can be summed up with a few, or even one word.  This one, not even close.  In-fact, I don't know if this blog will hold such a massive load of ups and downs, personal development, friendships developed, and the blessings poured onto me and my family.  This year started out with a new baby, the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.  I've seen some real ET lookin' newborns so believe me when I say that this child of mine was gorgeous.  I can't say that my sleep was too drastically affected because my wife went into superhuman mode and just took care of things.  I felt like my job just got easier.  She amazes me to this day.

I battled through challenges at Sterling that I never could have foreseen.  I can handle losing accounts or getting the phone slammed down on me but these challenges were that of a different realm.  I was blindsided by the need to change up my sales game.  Not by brushing up on product or sales tactics, but to adopt theories that completely flew in the face of everything I had understood in sales the six years before.  Without using the next fifteen pages to describe it in detail, I had to toss my pitch out there, as weak as it may have been at the time, and simply trust God to deliver it or not.  It drove me nuts.  I'm still a work in progress but when I do trust, all my worry seems to go away and the sales roll in.

As far as family goes, I'm blessed with the most amazing wife and the most adorable baby boy.  That boy is turning one in a few days and I cannot believe it!

Other than that, my blog today, which is the first in many months, will remain short.  My life is as complex as I've chosen to make it.  I've chosen to live a very simple existence and that may be my best advice to those who want to hear God's voice and receive his blessings.  So here's to 2012!

-Andy

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vaccinations

Just a quick snapshot at what Graham's suggested immunization schedule looks like. Below is our "slow-vax" alternative. I'm told by doctors that 18 vaccines at 27 different doses are perfectly safe. Guess we can just pray that God guides us on this decision. See below for the spreadsheet I've made to organize such a daunting schedule.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Dance - A Customer's Guide

Today I am finally talking about the process in which I subject myself to every day. I'm talking about that good ol' sales process. I have been doing what I'm doing as a career for almost six years now and my best customers have been those who I've not needed to 'sell'. These were more negotiations, some even quite stressful. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of a squeeze to keep me on my toes as an account manager. This 'dance' that I am about to talk about is more than painful. In fact, I'd go as far as to match it to some forms of psychological torture.

It seems in this fledgling economy, potential customers find it necessary to wage virtual war with their vendors. What makes it worse is that I don't really understand why. You see, what starts out as a potential give-and-take, turns quickly into a game of ignored phone calls, unrealistic requests, and a decision to either attempt to execute the proposed solution themselves, or to choose the least expensive due to budget constraints they failed to inform the vendor of in the beginning.

The fatal flaw in this whole journey is that the customer enters into it without the understanding of three important facts: They are the ones in need of something and the salesman is the one who has it, the salesman and the customer are equals, and the salesman is the expert when it comes to the proposed solution.

When a customer engages a salesman, he needs something. This puts him in a vulnerable place. The salesman can either choose to respect that and meet the exact needs or to take advantage of his need, lack of understanding, and potential budgetary fears. The latter is what the average customer expects and sadly in a way, desires. They enter into the process expecting to be taken advantage of. This immediately builds a wall that may be impossible to break down as they both continue through the process. These preconceived notions are what will eventually hurt the sale from happening and keep the customer from benefitting in any way. Rule #1 Mr. Customer, take down your guard. Open up to a potential relationship that will benefit you and your business greatly. Don't be afraid to give the salesman the keys. Be smart, but not skeptical. Be open and communicate with your potential vendor. When you inform them of possible alternative solutions you're looking at, it starts an invaluable dialogue that will likely help educate you on your needs. A salesman knows you are entertaining other options, he's not a child. Don't lie to him, don't tell him you can't tell him the competition, or even what the price will look like. You are not a secret agent, why act as if you are sworn to secrecy?

Second, if you feel you are in a position of higher authority than your vendor, you're playing a losing game and you'll draw the short straw every time. It is imperative you understand that you are equals in this process. If you play games with your vendor, it will cause you to close yourself off to valuable information, create a frantic situation of your salesman worrying more about your loyalty and less about your well-being, and even if you choose that vendor in the end, will create a strained relationship between the two of you from then on. Entering into the sales process thinking that you hold all the cards is a ridiculous way to do business. Neither party enjoys this and nothing positive can come from this.

Last, and most important in my opinion, is don't try to reverse-engineer, break down pricing, or attempt to gather as much information so that you can build the proposed solution for a lesser up-front cost. How many times have you walked into a restaurant an asked the chef where he got all his ingredients and to write down the recipe? If your business is to consult, don't try to be a phone company. If you are in IT, don't try to build a network from scratch on a shoe-string budget to support the services you desperately need but aren't willing to pay for, just because you know a thing or two about IT! Let me spell it out to those who still choose ignorance; the vendor likely has a countless amount of experience in his field with an entire company of resources behind him who have sent decades making their proposed solution work. Your on-the-job training, tiny budget, and frustration with your meager salary will do nothing to deliver even close to the solution you're desperate for. This may even require you to pick yourself out of that chair, walk to your boss' office, and demand a better way of doing things.

Well I hope someone who is in the role of the customer stumbles upon this and has a bit of a breakthrough. The simplest thing to take from this is that acting like the typical 'customer' will only end up hurting you. The vendor has plenty more prospects on his list, many of whom are doing business differently and benefitting greatly in the end.

-Andy

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tax the Bicycles!

Other states are proposing registration fees for bicycles. I completely agree with this. If we are to throw money at the ever-increasing need to develop bike paths, especially paths that play music, there must be a way to pay for it. $25/year is nothing. I mean, these "hipsters" pay $2k for their MacBooks. Surely they can squeeze $25 a year from their skinny jeans. Before all the hipsters start protesting my opinion, keep in mind that you are still avoiding the price of gas that is exponentially increasing with each sensationalized Middle East report the media tosses our way.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Back, back, back it up!

Recently I have been working to back up all of our data that my wife and I have. From pictures to videos, copies of bills, and school documents, it seems that more of our valuables reside in digital form than on paper. I have a special hard drive that I replicate our entire of life onto. It seems we have taken more pictures (new baby) in the past two months than we have in the last few years. It's more important than ever to back these important documents up.

A few days ago I thought that maybe I was going overboard with backing our data up. One thing I focused on in particular was my phone. I live and die by that thing. I send emails, tweet, store/take photos and videos, and even blog from it! I make it a regular practice to plug it in and send my photos and data to multiple places a few times a week.

Today my security blanket (phone) crashed. Yes it's possible for the wonderful iPhone 4 to crash folks! Even with my obsessive backing up, I still managed to lose a fee texts, pictures, and songs. This just goes to show that you can't ever be too careful!

So make it a regular part of your life. Back up your data with inexpensive programs like iTunes and Carbonite. It may not seem worth it at the time, but you'll thank yourself when, and I do mean when, your hardware crashes.




-Andy

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using a Mac in a Windows Environment

Ok I did it. I went against all who do business (other than graphic design and music) and purchased a Mac. Not only did I make this leap some months ago, I pitched all that is Microsoft in my home. Those of you who know me and what I do in business may be asking, "How are you doing this?" Well, with the incorporation of Intel processors in Macs these days, it is virtually effortless to use Windows on a Mac. And no, I'm not just talking about running the parallels application. I
Taking about running a full blown virtual desktop that sits within my beautiful Mac GUII. I run ShoreTel Call Manager and all those pesky MS dependent apps that won't be caught dead on a Mac! Granted, I'm doing this with a Citrix back end and tons of engineering time behind it. But in today's market, it's becoming more and more feasible to deploy this type of environment.


-Andy

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

His Master Plan

God Is putting something big together, I just know it. Lately I have been going through a lot of challenges and refining in my patience. I also have had many spiritually strong friends come into my life and I cannot wait to see what He has in store. I will keep you all posted!


-Andy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Criends/Frustomers

Customers who turn into good friends are rare. So rare in fact, I only have a couple of them. What's the secret? Not too sure yet, only been doin' this for half a decade. My guess is that it is based on a foundation of mutual respect. Most of my customers I have little in common with. Come to think of it, most of my friends I have little in common with. I try to keep a diverse group of loyal companions whom I trust and respect for their own skills, strengths, beliefs, and yes...flaws. So here's to you Mr. Customer-Friend, you know who you are and I'm blessed to have you as one of the few!


-Andy

Monday, February 14, 2011

Random Thought

When God is changing your character, let him. It means the one you have is defective.


-Andy

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Diet

Yesterday I started the first diet that I have ever done. Yeah I know, if you know me you'll probably say what I've been hearing since I committed to this diet; "You don't need to diet! You have nothing to lose!" the truth is, I don't have a lot to lose so let me explain...

My wife and I just welcomed the biggest blessing into our lives. Six weeks ago we had a healthy baby boy, Graham Andrew. One of my Christmas gifts to my wife was to get her the meal plan for the Medifast diet. We had not met a person who did it and lost less than 40 lbs. It is virtually a miracle diet.

A few months back I started having trouble fitting into my work/dress pants and shirts. Now I am a very active person, run frequently, and am very conscious of what I eat. I am convinced it was just a combination of my age/metabolism and my newly sedentary lifestyle with a new baby.

This being said, I decided to go on the diet with my wife. This is of course a dual purpose endeavor. Aside from wanting to shed some Christmas weight, I am a firm believer in the proactive support of your spouse. Saying you support someone is not supporting them, it is just saying you do. The best way for us to succeed at this diet is for US to both do it together. This way, she won't be eating her "lean and green" dinner while I eat a whole plate of tacos!

So men, or women, when your spouse comes to you and says they need your support through something, work on putting yourself in their shoes and bearing the burden along side them. You might just end up a better person, with a smaller waistline.

Random Thought

If you don't remember the last time you apologized, you have some serious work to do in the character development department.


-Andy

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Appreciation

Have you ever wished you were a sports star, famous musician, or something that takes years and years to prepare for?  That seams logical to me, if you want to be great at something you must prepare, train, and practice for years.  Well how 'bout parenting?

Lately, I've been blown away at how much of a professional my wife has been as a parent.  She has had no training, little instruction, and even less practice.  I have been really working to offer my fatherly support where I see I'm needed, but it just amazes me at how much a woman has these instincts built right in once their baby arrives.  So my hat's off to those mothers who take these gifts and apply them to raising children correctly and with all of the love that they have.  It doesn't go unnoticed at all!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Swindled!

Ok so it has been so long since I blogged.  My eventual goal is to move from the occasional rant, then disappear back into my private life.  Since I have blogged, I have experienced one of the most amazing times of my life...fatherhood.  It is everything and more, an absolutely incredible experience.

Well it's time to take Graham's first pictures.  Yep, that means we get to take him to some foreign place, set him on an un-disinfected blanket that hundreds of other babies have drooled on, put him in positions that no infant would ever sit in, flash lights in his eyes and watch him squint through each shot, then pick out each shot that we think we love yet don't quite know until we get them home.  Notice how I didn't include the step of going over pricing, packages, etc.  That is because it almost doesn't happen!

Now picture this; You walk into a supermarket, someone shoves a piece of food in your mouth, tells you all about how great it is, explains the different ways you can prepare that food, you walk up to the counter with it, go through the entire checkout process, and have to pull your card out before you know the price.  Does that sound like how you want to grocery shop?  NO WAY!  Then why in the world do we allow this process with baby pictures??  Not once did someone talk about packages, prices, coupons, or anything else that would allow us to get an idea of what kind of investment we were about to make.

My wife and I are pretty into the teachings of Dave Ramsey lately.  He would absolutely be floored at this process of throwing money at an emotional sale after getting through the entire process.  It seems to me that these companies would have more guaranteed sales if they walked customers through the entire shopping process prior to snapping one photo.  This would also keep them from expending any resources (labor) at the risk that someone (me) walks out halfway through the process because all they can think of is the $400 that the photographer mumbled under his breath during the shoot.  Now I don't mind putting down some scratch on memories of my child, but is that $400 somewhere to start?  Does it include all the photos I want or do I have to pay hundreds more to get those?

My point in all this is to empower those parents out there to not be afraid to ask, "What am I spending at the end of this process?"  Granted, some high schooler will look at you like you have a foot growing out of your face, but you are making the right decision.  You are the better husband/wife/parent for getting these things in place before someone reaches into your bank account and takes your kids' college fund in the spirit of making memories.