Friday, February 29, 2008

The Interview and More

I just returned today from Newport News, VA, which is near the city of Norfolk. I was there for an interview with a company I have been in touch with for quite some time. I will receive my feedback sometime next week, so keep your fingers crossed for me and I will provide some additional information soon.

Today, I was supposed to head to Greenville, SC upon my return, but I was unable to get my registration in on time for a 10K run I had planned for tomorrow. Therefore, I am still having pasta for dinner and will go run my own 10K (give or take a K) in the morning. I was hoping to use this race to help get me ready for my 10 miler coming up during the first week of April in DC. Oh well, these things happen. I will

On Thursday next week, my spring break starts. I am headed out to Seattle and Portland for some fun and potential employer shopping. I am looking forward to seeing some friends and enjoying the beauty of the area as well. I know a visit to the wine country in Oregon is in the works. It should be a blast!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

Recently I participated in a short interview about my exercise habits. The assignment was for the student to find a person who performs regular exercise and a person who essentially never performs exercise. Easy enough? The interviewer did tell me that she had a difficult time finding someone who wanted to talk candidly about their "couch-potato" lifestyle.

After giving the interview, we talked about my behavior and how it compared to the other interviewee. This was not a statistically valid test, but some of the results are interesting. First, I am mostly an intrinsically motivated person when it comes to exercise. My number one motivator is my family. My number two reason would be for my health and desire to live a long and high quality life. However, I am also extrinsically motivated, since I rely on goals I set for myself to take me beyond my average fitness level. These would include my race events that make sure I push myself during my fitness routine.

When I do not set goals, I become bored easily and start slacking on my routine. However, when I know I have a race coming up I will take the time to set up a training plan and make sure I allocate enough time in my life to complete the plan. My natural competitiveness probably helps me stick to it too.

The other person taking place in these interviews was extrinsically motivated. Every time he has been in shape, someone was nearby pushing him to go workout or play sports. It didn't really require a big push, but he was not going to make the effort on his own. I know this feeling very well, since I often would like to skip a run or ride, but end up going because I have made an appointment with someone that I will not break.

What can we learn from this? I think a person must first discover how they are motivated. Then, a person can start to make friends with active people, if they are extrinsically motivated. If you are intrinsically motivated, a commitment to yourself and perhaps an ultimate goal to attain too would help. I think we all have our own motivators, but learning what they are makes success in what you are trying to do much easier and that holds true for activities outside of exercise as well.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

President of Shell Speaks

My school often gives me the opportunity to attend speakers from various backgrounds, covering many topics. Mr. Hoffmeister, President of Shell Oil, conducted a fifty-city tour across the US. He stopped by Columbia, SC to speak to the public (if you were willing to pay $25) and to the students at the Moore School of Business. His opening remarks were characterized as "provocative." He said this word several times and some of his remarks were. Best of all, the words he spoke came from an educated voice. It was clear that no one caught him off guard with their questions, but his responses were candid and very unpolitician-like. However, I did catch him saying to his assistant afterwards in the lobby that we were much better with our questions than Texas A&M. Go Cocks!!

I think it is becoming more important for corporations to interact with the public to gain support and educate the consumer. Many people would be appalled for working for a oil giant like Shell, but in reality, this company and other like it are leading the way for alternative fuel technologies. This tour hopefully changed some peoples minds about Shell and the oil industry.

I will admit that I am not the most knowledgeable about where my oil comes from and how it gets to me. I have gotten the chain emails saying that purchasing from one gas station will affect their profits and then the company will crumble to our will, thus bringing prices down. Of course, this doesn't work. I know that the US is currently dependent on foreign oil, but I don't think the World will be running out of oil in the next 50 years either. I also don't worry about global warming too much. I know that we will discover ways to cope with these problems.

What do I think? I actually agree with Mr. Hoffmeister and most of what he is saying (but not all of it). He says that the US consumer does not have a good education around energy. He says that the US has no strategy for the future of energy. He states that this is a problem for national security. He says that we are at the peak production for our current reserves of cheap and readily available oil. Also, he states that the US is hurting the poor and providing a social injustice by prohibiting its own oil production on federal lands.

It is this last point that I disagree with most. This is due to the fact that the amount extracted from these reserves will only equal to a few years supply for the World and will not have a great effect on prices or supply in the long run. Not to mention the possibility of the destruction of pristine habitats. It is hard to think that no oil will drip into the land surrounding the drilling platforms and pipes. Perhaps it is so small, that the habitat won't be affected by it, but to say that none will be introduced is a bit hard to believe.

As for the other statements, something should be done. Should it be the US that develops a strategy for energy consumption? Should we lead this World in this initiative? Is our national security actually threatened by increasingly common blackouts and the importation of foreign oil? I say yes and no. Producing domestically in the name of security seems a bit fishy. We and every other country in the World is not self sufficient. Therefore, trade is a must.

I do like how optimistic Mr. Hoffmeister is and I am right there with him. I think the World is going to see some awesome changes in the next few decades as we shift to alternative forms of energy. Also, I think Shell will continue to be a major player in the energy market. The company currently has the 3rd largest revenue of any corporation, but its profits are only a little above 7% of revenues at the end of the day. This is not considered fast growth by wallstreet and if I was a shareholder I would be demanding more. Since oil is a commodity and is not made a public good like water, prices are subject to wild fluctuations due to consumer perception and many other factors. Until other sources of energy are readily adopted and implemented, the price increases we see at the pump will continue. If it makes you feel any better, Europeans are paying close to $8/gallon at the pump at the moment. Will Americans pay this much? Would you pay this much? Europeans approve increases in gas taxes readily and the US hasn't had one since the Clinton administration and it only passed because of his popularity.

Lastly, Mr. Hoffmeister stated that the World will never run out of oil. Can you believe that? The media would have us believe differently, but I agree most strongly with this statement. The World has other sources of oil all over. At the moment it is too expensive to harvest these reserves. I am hoping that the World will change its ways and learn before we start eating away at these enormous reserves. Until then, I will continue to do my part by biking everywhere that is within a couple of miles of my home, recycling, and just being conscious of my purchase choices. Hopefully you will too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Rediscovered My Smile Today

I consider myself a smiley person. I just like to smile a lot.

I have often used smiling when I am traveling, since keeping a smile on my face helps other people feel non-threatened by the "outsider." This is especially useful while bargaining or when you can't communicate with someone very well, due to language barriers or other reasons.

Lately I have been training for a run that is coming up the first week of April. I did not work out consistently while I was abroad last year, therefore, it has been quite a challenge getting back to where I was a year ago. (I have made a mental note of this and do not expect it to happen again.) Anyway, I have started to see some results after five weeks or so of consitent running, biking, and hitting the weights at the gym.

Today I went out for a run and was feeling good. I knew I was doing well when I finished the first couple of miles and was still feeling fresh. However, a little bit past the halfway mark, I noticed myself slowing down. During the past month, I had been feeling that my biggest obstacle is my endurance, not my strength and this was definitive proof. Then it hit me! I put on a big smile and sped up. I will admit I like a certain level of pain, because I know that pushing myself is a great way to release some endorphins and become stronger in the process. Instead of feeling pain this time, when I smiled I started feeling relief and a lightness in my step.

At this point, I remembered that I have always smiled when things get tough. It somehow relaxes me and makes things go a bit more smoothly. I know when I am climbing a hill on my bike I often have a big grin on my face. So, for the remainder of my run, I concentrated on my breathing and kept a smile on my face. It really does make things easier.

Have you experienced this before? If not, make sure to try it out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Changes have come

Change is inevitable. I am sure some famous person said this at some point in time.

If you haven't noticed the last couple of times you have visited my site, I have put in a picture at the top. It is from my trip to Ireland's Giant Causeway in the north. Also, I have changed the location of my blog to This will help people find it on Google, when searching for my name, as well as those who don't like to type out the long blogspot address. If your bookmarks or RSS feeder is set up with the old address, it will continue to work the same way it has always been working.

I have also added in a slide show of my Picasa pictures and a side-bar with links to my most recent You-Tube videos. Fun stuff!

Now it is back to simulations, annual reports, inventory management, and international patent laws.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wilmington, NC

Recently I took an overnight trip to Wilmington, NC. Since I will be leaving SC soon, I have written down several places I want to visit before I leave the area. It wasn't too hard to convince Natalie to come along, since she has been wanting to get to the beach.

So off we went, for a beautiful day for the beach! As we drove into town, we were treated to the immaculately maintained historic district. This area, along the waterfront, is full of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. After finding a parking spot and a shop owner that didn't mind giving change for the meters, we jumped on a horse carriage for a tour of the town. The horses name was Ned and he knew exactly where to go. As we moseyed along the bricked streets, we were entertained by the drivers stories and knowledge of the area. It was a very relaxing way to start out the day.

The remainder of the morning was spent walking around checking out shops, looking at the Battleship North Carolina across the river, and eating lunch outside on a deck over looking the river.

After all this activity, we headed to the beach! The Eastern US coast is not exactly known for its beautiful beaches, but Wrightsville, NC has a pretty nice beach when compared with other east coast beaches. It was about 70 degrees outside, so it felt good to be outside and soak up the sun. As for the water, only my foot made it was freezing!

At night we checked out a local bar that served Magic Hat beer. The band that played was called, Yesterday's Gravy. The group had a couple of good moments, but overall I was just happy drinking a great beer and chatting away.

The next morning we woke up with an awesome view of the ocean from the balcony. Soon thereafter we got hungry. So, we packed up, walked out on the beach for a few minutes and headed back to the car and started our way back to Columbia, SC.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday School, Bowling, and More

I must say that having class on Saturday's is not that much fun. These classes are for Professional MBA (PMBA) classes, which means about 40% of the students are distance learning students and many must drive one to two hours to school. On Tuesday nights, during our regular class time, the lecture is taped and posted on the web. On Saturday's, the class is not taped and starts at 8:30am. This means that if you are in Greenville, SC, you must leave your home at 6:50am to make it to the school. If you are coming from Charleston, SC, the drive is an additional thirty minutes away. I would find this very frustrating, if I had to drive this far so early in the morning. Why does the school ask the students to come to class? The information provided in these classes could easily be broadcasted on the web just like the Tuesday night classes. Today I heard one of the teachers say she was going to move the start time to 9am or 10am next semester, since her students always have complained of having to get up so early. These Saturday classes are a classic case of not listening to the voice of the customer.

I just wanted to rant on that for a minute.

Team "Da Jesus" was pitted against the other IMBA team, "Logjammin" in the bowling league's first week. We wanted our friends to do well during the season, but after playing against us they have a long way to go to reach second place overall. Before bowling, I attended a wine society meeting where I got to taste and learn about scotch. It was a lot of fun, but it isn't the best activity to do before three games of bowling. Luckily, my team is very good and my score of 106 in the first game didn't hurt us too much. By the last game I had sobered up and my score improved to a 202, which is awesome for me on any night of the year. So in one night I probably had my lowest score of the year and possibly my highest (hopefully not).

The rest of the week has been great. I filled it with dinners with friends, my first baby shower (not for my baby), some running, and lots of school work. I only have about 7 weeks left till I am done with my classes and graduation is less than 10 weeks away. It is very exciting! Maybe I will even have a job after school finishes. haha

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bowling is Back

Today, my team, Da Jesus, starts another run to defend our USC intramural championship title in bowling. This time around the IMBA students have put together a second team, Log Jammin, which will be a another force to be reckoned with on the USC intramural bowling circuit.

Last night, practice took place during dollar mania at the bowling alley. A former teammate is leaving town today and a ceremony involving a toast and a bowling pin was performed. The rest of the details are a bit fuzzy to me this morning. Good luck in Australia!

I don't like to dwell on the past too much, therefore, I will jump right in and introduce you to the newest member of our team....

Remember, "Don't f*$& with the Jesus!"

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Squirrel Is Gone

Most people don't know this, but a squirrel has been camping out in our house for a month or so. The landlords first attempt at catching it did not work. Luckily, when he was visiting the house at a later date, an entry way into the house was found. Traps were set and within 24 hrs we had the culprit! Now we can only hope that it was only one squirrel in there and not the whole family.

Friday, February 08, 2008

STS9 on

One of my favorite bands for the last few years has been Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9). I have had the pleasure to enjoy more than a dozen of their shows (maybe more), since I first saw them open up for the String Cheese Incident (SCI) during the summer of 2000 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. My most recent experience was shortly before the new year on December 29 in Atlanta.

Check out a four minute video on CNN about the band's charity work. I did not realize the full extent of their work. My own experience has been limited to donating food at their shows, since at every show they collect canned food for that city. This is done for at many of the shows I attend and is coordinated with Conscious Alliance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

In the midst of Super Tuesday, I am going about my usual routine. I have already done my part by voting in South Carolina's primary, therefore, I will check out the results tonight or in the morning. However, if you are a political junky, you have the opportunity to sit plop down in front of the TV or computer for the entire day and watch as the candidates are scrutinized and the votes roll in from the 24 states participating.

One thing I have been enjoying this semester is the opportunity to workout on a regular basis. As we all know, life can easily get in the way or become an excuse for not working out. (This happened to me last semester.) I always have more energy and get more things done when I am regularly hitting the gym. I am sure I could plot a graph showing my productivity vs. the amount of hours I work out. The R-squared value is very high!

My parents are traveling to Florida this week and mentioned to me that they will miss working out while they are gone. If life seems to get in the way, traveling complicates things further. When I travel, I try to do a few things to avoid getting out of shape while I am gone.

First, if it is just a weekend trip, I will make sure to exercise extra hard on Friday and letting my body recover over the weekend, while I am traveling. If I am traveling for more than a few days and I have my car with me, I will bring my bike along and make sure to schedule in some time to hit the streets for a few hours. I like doing this a lot. It allows me to get a better feel for the place I am visiting and I just like biking in places I never have before. If you can't bring your bike, bring your running shoes. Everywhere you go, you can find a road to run or walk on. If it is raining or cold and you are in a hotel, you can usually find a treadmill to hop on. If you prefer taking classes or lifting weights, I suggest looking up a few gyms before you leave town and call them for their class schedules and daily visitor fees. Most gyms will charge between $5-$10 per visit. Try to pick a gym close to where you are staying or pick a hotel close to the gym. This will prevent excuses for being to far away or even allow you to walk over to the gym, instead of driving. That is good for you and the environment!

Do you do something different when you travel? I would love to know.

More on the job front...
I have set up an interview later this week with a consulting company, Keane Inc., based out of California, but with offices all over the US and World. I don't know much more about them than what is displayed on their website, but I will be meeting a couple of consultants, before my interview, that are visiting the school tomorrow. Should be fun!