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5 Professional Things You Need to Do Before Having Kids

by Keith Seiz

23 January, 2014

I am the father of two girls. A beautiful and sweet 4 year old named Stella, and an absolute hell-raiser of an 11 month old named Kate. The girls keep me busy, as does my job at The Arland Group.

There are certain things I accomplished in my career pre-kids, which I’m not sure I would have had the energy or time to tackle now. This post and list is for those young, childless and ambitious professionals that want to make a career mark before starting a family. All of these things are doable with kids, just much more complex and stressful. Get a head start if you can.

1. Bring value to your employer: In the first five years of your career, focus less on what your employer can offer you and more on what you can offer your employer. In the long run, it’s more important to bring value to your employer through new revenue streams and ideas than to worry about bringing value to your own pay check.

2. Be available: All the time, anywhere that is needed. Say yes to every opportunity and every meeting invitation. Spend a lot of time at the office and always offer to help everyone you work with. You don’t have to be the first one in and the last one to leave, but it doesn’t hurt to be close.

3. Network: One of the quickest ways to learn about business and advance your career is to socialize with people, groups and organizations with common interests. Something that is easy-to-do and fun when you don’t have to pick up your kids from daycare and get them in bed by 7:30 p.m.

4. Travel: Travel in general is good, but work travel is key to gaining your employer’s trust. I used to love work travel, but now it’s a nuisance and stress to my wife, kids and myself. If you’re young and childless, volunteer for every business trip you know about. Fight to go. Prove to your boss that it will be a great learning experience. Prove that you can do your boss’ job on the road, allowing him or her to stay home the next trip and send you instead.

5. Fight: Take risks. Fight for the work you believe in, even if your team or bosses don’t believe in it. Don’t give up. Youthful exuberance, even if completely misguided, is a wonderful thing and almost always excusable. I’d much rather see an employee take a wrong risk based on passion and conviction, then to take no risk at all.

Reflecting on Travel Blunders in the New Year

by Deb Andrychuk

10 January, 2014

Keep CalmJanuary. For most of us in sales, January is the month of rebirth. After spending Q4 jumping through fiery hoops to get contracts negotiated and executed, most of us sales folks spend the end of December either in an aura of elation or a state of gloom. It can be an exhilarating high for those who close all of his or her deals in time or a depressing, nail biter until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 for those who don’t make his or her sales goals. Fortunately for all around us, we have January to quietly level us out. For some, the first month of the year is a time to strategize, get refocused on his or her pipelines and to start making calls. For me, it’s a moment to open a good bottle of wine, pour a huge glass for myself and then laugh at all of the dumb things I have done during the year, particularly while traveling. Let me share some of my biggest travel blunders of 2013 with you.

#1 Iron 5, Deb 0

I can’t tell you how many times in my years of traveling I have thought I would outsmart the hotel iron only to be put in my place. I am embarrassed to admit that earlier this year I had yet another massive failure with this utility from hell. Back in the spring, I tried to iron a crease out of the bottom of a 100 percent synthetic camisole with a nuclear hot iron. Not only did a ruin my blouse, but I’m sure I pissed off the maid who had to deal with this black blob of goo on the mini clothes dragon. Now, the downside was this horrible, incessant yearning to scratch my stomach all day. The upside was recognizing I have enormous willpower to endure an unbearably itchy and crispy triangle of material under my suit jacket during a six-hour meeting. Oh, did I mention it was about a zillion degrees in the conference room we met in? I thought I might lose my mind!

#2 Never, EVER Pull the Thread

One of my customers bought me lunch in their corporate cafeteria. Standing at the grilled food station, waiting to order, I was introduced to the CEO of the company. Giddy like a school girl at a Justin Bieber concert, I exchanged niceties with this down to earth fellow. In the midst of chatting, I felt something tickling my leg but I ignored it. As Mr. CEO continued talking and turned to receive his grilled chicken sandwich from the line cook, I took the opportunity to stealthily grab at whatever was dangling on my knee. I gave the found dangling thread a swift yank, not realizing it was attached to my clothing. Unwittingly, I had unraveled the entire hem of my skirt and was standing with a few feet of black thread in my hand and my pencil skirt was now two inches longer than when I arrived. Mr. CEO glanced down at my disaster and then at my face, suppressing a laugh the entire time. Flustered, but trying to maintain my cool, I did the only thing I could think of—I pretended like it never happened and stuffed the thread in my pocket. Goober.

#3 Medication Experimentation

My good friends know that I have chronic sinus issues. Back in the summer, my ENT decided that I should try a different antibiotic because I had a really bad sinus infection. He wrote the script late in the day, I stopped to get it filled on the ride home and then popped one before I went to bed late that night. The next morning, I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to make my 6 a.m. flight to Kansas City, where I would make my connection to Houston. When I got to the airport, I groggily caught my reflection in a mirror and thought to myself, “Wow, you look a little puffy” and I chalked it up to no sleep. I grabbed a coffee and popped another antibiotic before boarding my flight. By the time I got to KC, I realized something was wrong because my eyelids were twice their normal size and I was starting to feel itchy. A few hours later when my connecting flight landed in Houston, I was in serious trouble. I had angry red hives the size of quarters all over my body including my face and now everything was puffed up. My throat was dry and starting to close. After a trip to the emergency room, some steroids, antihistamines and a nap, I didn’t itch anymore, but still looked like a freak. It was one of the worst days of my life—I had to go to my meeting/dinner looking like I had a horrible disease and my customers were wary of touching me or breathing the same air. It was agony.

#4 Travel Toiletry Twins

Like many frequent travelers, I have tried to quit buying mini toiletries just to throw out more plastic into the environment. On a trip to Cleveland I washed and conditioned my hair and then styled it using some newly filled toiletry bottles. As I blow-dried my hair, I started to realize that something was just not quite right with my wig. My hair wasn’t shiny and bouncy like it normally was but instead looked like it had dust on it and it was stringy and slightly greasy. Normally, I would have started over and rewashed my hair, but on this day I was running late. So unfortunately for my clients, I attended three meetings with what I discovered later was Nivea Body Lotion in my hair. Note to self: styling lotion and body lotion look and smell the same at 5 a.m.

So, there’s my list of PG-rated travel gaffes I have committed. There are some HR folks I know who might mention a tasty cheeseburger accident in the halls of the Hard Rock Vegas, but that’s another blog post. How about you? Any travel mistakes you want to share?

Wishing you a blooper-less 2014!

Disney Disappointment

by Keith Seiz

30 October, 2012

Fresh off the heels of a wonderful, five-day excursion to Disney World with wife and child in tow, I thought I would share a few observations about the vacation and my impressions of the Walt Disney World Empire:

1. Personally, the trip was a smashing success. The Seiz Family all had a wonderful time, and like the Olympics, I assume it will become a quadrennial tradition for my soon to be family of four.

2. From a work perspective, the trip did not disappoint either. I didn’t look at one email or take one business call for the five days I was gone.

3. My last trip to Disney was when I was 14 years old, and honestly, nothing has changed. Sure, there are a few new attractions, but the bread and butter of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM/Hollywood Studios is still the same.

4. The sameness of Walt Disneyworld disappointed me. In many aspects, the parks almost seemed irrelevant. Where was the new technology? How do they plan to continue appealing to kids growing up with technology when everything seemed so dated and old?

5. Tomorrowland should be renamed 1980sville. What’s supposed to be a vision of the future looks like August 14, 1987 in Akron, Ohio.

6. You’re really highlighting astronaut ice cream? Really? That novelty was wearing thin when I was a kid.

I understand the “Disney Charm” and to make the place look like a video game would detract from this charm. Still, a rejuvenation is needed, and a comprehensive one at that, spanning from the uniforms the employees wear to the point of sale processes to updating the cars in Tomorrowland’s Speedway so they are not insanely noisy, gas guzzling engines.

Businesses, regardless of how big or small, must always keep innovating. Disney needs to step up its innovation or face challenging times ahead.