Archive for November, 2017

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Family, work, and school have managed to take up most of my time.  At the time that I’m putting this together, one MBA course wrapped up, and the next one doesn’t start for a few more days. I thought it would be a good idea to transcribe my Toastmasters speech(es) as close as presented – but modified to fit this format.  I gave my first one back in August.  It went something like this…

Why I’m Here

The title of my speech is “Why I’m Here” and in the next few minutes I hope to clarify that point and explain exactly that – why I’m physically here, standing in front of you all, giving my ice breaker speech.  In order to do that, we need to travel back in time about 3.5 years.

So let’s hop into the DeLorean, and adjust our time circuits.  We need to travel back to March 24, 2014.

My First Year


The Good

There were some good things that occurred during my first year.  I got to take part in some really important projects.  There are two that I’ll mention specifically.

The first was the EDC Evaluation project.  This allowed me to meet with a lot of stakeholders from various divisions across the organization and learn more about the industry.  We worked together to detail the difficulties they were experiencing in the current landscape with multiple EDC systems spread across multiple sites, hosted externally.  We defined what an ideal landscape would look like with one system – which would have the effect of giving better control of our data, in addition to significant cost and time savings.  We worked together to develop an RFI and sent it to multiple vendors.  We reviewed and scored the vendor responses, and shortlisted a subset of the vendors for onsite presentations.  The results of this evaluation effort can now be seen in some of the active projects going on today.

A second project I felt positively impacted my learning during my first year was the Data Quality Excellence project.  I worked with an experienced employee on a project that dealt with doing an in-depth end-to-end mapping of existing processes, identifying gaps and potential issues, and recommending possible solutions.  We held various meetings with many stakeholders across the organization and across the globe to complete this project.  This project had a double-benefit.  It provided me with a better understanding of how things are done at our company, as well as in our industry.  Also, by assisting this experienced employee, I learned extremely valuable lessons on how to effectively execute large projects with many stakeholders.

The Not So Good

During my first year, there were also a couple of things I struggled with, or in retrospect, could have done better.


I had a boss that tended to let me be since I was involved on various projects.  Now when you know what you’re doing, that could be a good thing – they leave you alone.  When you’re new and don’t really know what you’re doing, it can be not so good – well, because – they leave you alone.  I felt like I was held back in growth opportunities and wasn’t sure where to go for guidance.  Because of that, I felt I was coasting along – and not really growing.

The Really Not So Good

But then there were some really not so good things that happened during my first year.  The company went through a reorg.  And while everyone in my former department was impacted in one way or another, I was one of the worst ones impacted where there wasn’t a role for me in the new organization.  I was notified that I was going to be put on a wave, which essentially means I will be let go at a future date – to be determined.

The Short-Term Plan: Stay at the Company


I created a short-term goal for myself.  And that was – To stay at the company.  You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would you want to do that?  It doesn’t seem like they care much about you.”  I had a couple of reasons I wanted to stay.

First, I really like the culture at the company.  Everyone seems to get along well with one another.  There isn’t any passing the buck or blaming others like you see in other companies.  For the most part, everyone is genuinely interested in helping one another get things done.

Second, from a personal standpoint, I had concerns with the impact this could have on my resume.  I felt someone reading it might get a negative impression upon seeing that I was at a company for such a short period of time.

I reached out to others within the company for advice.  Some mentioned they’ve been impacted by reorgs in the past.  Interestingly, a few mentioned they had been impacted several times.  They all had the same advice.  It was along the lines of ‘if you want to stay with the company and you act strategically, you’ll find a way to stay.’

I got aggressive in my search.  I wasn’t looking externally yet, as I really hoped to find something internally.  But one of the consulting companies we contract with caught wind of what was going on and reached out to me.  I let them know of my desires to stay with the company, but let them know I would be interested if something internally didn’t work out.  It felt good that they saw me as valuable during this troubling time.

With my internal search, I had a few phone interviews, and one in-person interview.  Unfortunately, I eventually received notification of my wave date.  It was very short-notice, and my date was at the end of the week.  Following the wave date, I entered a ‘warming period’ which can be summed up by saying ‘you get paid as if you are working, but you get to stay home.’  Sounds glorious, right?  In reality, it’s not much fun.  You have a lot of free time, but don’t want to do anything that costs money, because well, your job prospects are unknown.  So you end up doing odd tasks around the house.  The rose bushes looked great that year.

Fortunately, during that warming period I received a phone call.  I got an offer.  Now let’s get back in the time machine and travel again – this time to two years ago.


My Second Year

I had a job…I was safe…for now.  But what did I learn from my experience?  I needed to find ways to increase my value to the company.  I wanted to be seen as someone they wanted to keep around the next time they have a reorg.


I wanted to enhance my existing strengths.  There were things I was good at that I wanted to improve.  I also wanted to build new strengths.  There were things I wasn’t good at at all – that I knew I needed to learn.  How could I accomplish these goals?  I decided to do four separate things.  First, I joined the mentoring program at work. This has been a great opportunity and I think everyone here should look into it.  It’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of someone outside of your department.  Second, I signed up for, studied, and got PMP certified.  My summer vacation last year wasn’t fun as it was spent studying.  Speaking of studying, third, I started my MBA.  I’m in my third and final semester – and I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And finally, I signed up for Toastmasters.  Speaking of that, we need to get into the time machine one last time, and travel back to the present.


This all leads me to why I am standing in front of you today.  I was originally going to say I’m here out of fear.  Fear of, ‘What if this all happens again?’  But I thought that sounded too dark.  So while there may still be some truth to that, I wanted to spin it in a positive light.


I’m here to level up.  I’m not really afraid of public speaking per-se, but I know I have a lot to improve upon.  I need to get better at controlling my speed, and making sure I speak slowly.  I know I could get better at eye contact, mumbling, fidgeting, and ending lists with ‘and things like that…’.  I want to get better at storytelling, and sounding confidant.  But what else am I missing?  What don’t I know, that I need to work on?

So while this is the end of my icebreaker speech, this is not the end of my Toastmaster’s Journey.  Thank you.


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