Consulting 101: Flavor Infused Water

You’ve finally made it. You’ve hit consulting puberty and you’re finally a consultant. How do I know, you ask? Because you have an opinion about your favorite flavor infused water. It’s like your voice cracked and mom started buying deodorant hoping you’d get the hint. Congratulations. You are now a consultant. Soon you’ll be taking dinner orders!

I’ve compiled a list of the my top 3 favorites plus 1 word of advice.

Favorites:

  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Cucumber
  • Strawberry

Word of advice:

  • Don’t fill your water bottle with citrus-y flavors before bed. There’s nothing more shocking to your taste buds at 3am than lemon and lime. Bleh. So gross.

What are your favorite flavors? Let me know in the comments below!

Story Time: Get Your Facts Right

Senior year of high school I took Sociology as a filler class. The teacher played baseball at Vanderbilt to become a baseball coach, hence why he taught high school sociology. The class consisted mostly of watching sports movies and discussing the group dynamics. And by discussing I mean, him reading canned lectures in his best monotone voice.

I tell you this to bore you. Success.

The only interesting assignment in the class was a debate between groups. He picked the groups and we drew straws for what topics we would be arguing in favor of. After two weeks spent in a computer lab “researching” we were ready (to not care). My group’s topic was pro-euthanasia having to argue against an anti-euthanasia group. (Here’s the wiki link to Euthanasia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia) Neither group really had an opinion about the topic so it turned into free time. The debate consisted of both groups reading extremists views found on websites posted in the late 90s. Research in its purist form. At one point during the debate the other group gave this statistic.

“75% of people euthanized regret the decision afterwards.”

And then the debate went on for a few more moments until I called a timeout. I repeated the stat just to make sure I heard it correctly. It made no sense. How do dead people regret something? Where did they get this data from? Is there some sort of SurveyMonkey link you get after you see the white light? Did they not take a second to think about what they were saying? The debate quickly ended after that. I’m not sure who technically won but the sheer fact that I remember this story makes me think my group won.

Consulting 101: The Pack Mule

This is you. You are now a pack mule. Once a week you will identify enough belongings to last you for 4 days. You will then proceed to stuff them in as small a suitcase as possible because overhead space is limited. You’ll put your laptop bag on top of the tiny suitcase and wheel your pack through airports and airplanes, through offices and empires with ninja like reflexes. Pack mule muscles will be stronger than ever. After a few months you’ll feel as if you could sherpa a group of rich executives to the top of  Mount Everest. Expertly packing and schlepping their luggage from peak to peak, you have sculpted your body for this very excursion. It’s a strange routine but you’re not alone. The Diamond flyer next to you may seem as if he’s had his fair share of biscoff cookies but he is truly an expert pack mule.

The Pack Mule

The Pack Mule

Develop Your People

I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m not the most technical nor the most social. I’m not the most athletic nor the most sedentary. But I enjoy helping people learn. Helping people grow.

In my view, there are two types of learning: structured and unstructured. Structured being the classroom setting with a set curriculum and standards which those goals are measured. Unstructured is the learning that happens when the teacher turns their back the smart kid next to you helps you understand a concept. Unstructured learning is equally as or more important than structured learning. Allowing groups to self teach has benefits far greater than the butts-in-seats environment corporations often try to emulate. A sense of community is born out of unstructured learning.

When I formed the Co-Op Community at my college internship I wanted to connect my fellow students and to provide them chances to explore their skills. It was important to me that the community members benefited not only by recognition but through personal growth. With monthly meetings, a co-op could present skills or topics they were passionate about. This allowed the group to learn from a peer and for our peers to practice their presentation skills. I remember one meeting where a programming co-op presented about Linux. This guy could talk Linux all day but he wasn’t comfortable in the spotlight. The presentation went OK. He was a bit shaky but I delighted in it. I understood I had fostered an environment where he felt comfortable to try something new. Now the next time he presents Linux to a group, I know he’ll be more confident and will perform at a higher level.

“Give them enough rope to hang themselves.” What a freaky saying but one I think presents an important message. It’s about fostering an environment which allows people to fail. Through failure we’re taught many lessons and learn more about ourselves than when we succeed. I have a failed plenty of tests – most of which never made it to the kitchen table – and through that I learned how I learned best. The same idea can be applied to the work place. If you never let your employees get into a little trouble every so often then they’ll never grow personally or professionally which means your business will never grow. Where’s the fun in that?

*I’m pretty bad about staying on topic and fully developing my ideas but I’m running out of WiFi on the plane.

Consulting 101: Be a Sponge

I haven’t been at this consulting thing for very long but I can already see huge personal growth in my self. I contribute this to being a “sponge”.

What do I mean?

When I say “be a sponge” I’m not talking about the fry cook from Bikini Bottom. I’m talking about absorbing as much knowledge, experience, information and advice as possible.

Listen.

Close your mouth and open your ears. Listening and observing are the keys to absorbing as much as you can. As consultants and employees we’re paid to have opinions and sometimes we’re all too anxious to share them. Be patient and let the other half of your conversation express their views. And listen. Instead of assuming you know what they’re going to say and then be seen as rude, let the other party tell you what they think needs to be said. This is important for two reasons: 1. the speaker feels listened to and understood before you begin to construct your response; 2. you can observe a lot subtleties in how a person presents their point of view.

Be inquisitive.

And ask more questions. The more questions you ask, the better you get. You’ll begin to start asking the “right” questions and learn more.  I don’t think college grads ask enough questions. They’re too intimidated or scared. They don’t want to seem unintelligent or uniformed. But in my experience, it’s the opposite. When new employees, especially college grads, don’t ask any questions it’s concerning for managers. It is your responsibility to get clarification when you’re unsure of some aspect of your work. When you begin to ask better questions, you become more informed.

So be a sponge. Eat some sponge cake. And welcome to the club.

Getting Lost: A Brief Introspection

There’s something about getting lost on a drive that feels right. Not knowing where you are almost feels dangerous. We could all use a little more danger in our lives. That’s what I love about Atlanta. I’ve had to use a GPS two miles from my apartment in an area I’ve been driving through the past four years. I’m like the Evil Knievel of joy rides. Next I’ll be jumping over buses.

I tend to get lost in thought when I write my blog posts. It doesn’t help that House Hunters is on. I don’t get HGTV at my apartment so I have to watch it while I am on the road for work.

Traveling every week has been interesting. The key to consistent travel is routine. The first week back on the road is always hard. About midway through the second week the routine begins to set in. I’ve got my packing routine together. My body begins to adjust to the time change quicker including my stomach. As I stay up later (going East to West), I have more time to kill, ideally becoming more productive.

Driving around and learning the new city is strangely rewarding. I feel like Lewis of Lewis and Clark the great explorers. Or maybe I feel like Clark? One dies early and the other one goes crazy. I should find new explorer role models.

During these explorations my goal is to get lost just so I can have feeling of danger again. That’s why Walter White really sold meth: the danger. He should try getting lost on a joy ride.

My Left Blank Tile: Life of My Android Screen

When I got my Moto X in August, I quickly devoured apps which Windows Phone 8 lacked. Even though I missed some of the functionality from WP8, I was very content with my switch to Android. Each tile was filled with apps and widgets, meticulously grouped and placed for maximum performance. Life was good. Then I dropped my phone.

The screen cracked leaving nothing but a dark void where apps used to illuminate my life. The cost of replacing the screen was almost the price of the phone off contract (which is how I initially purchased the phone). The worst part was the phone still worked. I would have been happy to be the guy from the T-Mobile commercial but no such luck.

Long story short, after buying a lemon of a phone off Craigslist and reverting back to my Lumia 920 for a week, I was gifted the Moto G. The Moto G is the Moto X’s slightly underweight little brother. He can do most of what the Moto X can but just isn’t tall enough yet to live up to his older brother. I’ve done by best to refill the tiles of my screen but the far left one has stumped me. It’s blank. There’s nothing there and I don’t know why. I’m having some sort of mental block. Please help. What should I use this side for?

* I tried to put the screenshots side-by-side. Depending which medium you’re using to view this will affect how you see the images.

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NikFuller.com: 2013 in review

WordPress sent me a nice little email summarizing my blog in 2013. They also gave me the option to quickly create a post out of it. What you see below was created by them. I have no graphics skills as evident by all the high school band t-shirts I designed that were denied by the director. Enjoy the post!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Consulting 101 – The Intro

The views expressed in this post do not reflect those of my employer. Unless they match, then they do. Not sure if I really need this but I figured whynatte.

So. I’ve been a consultant for two months exactly. And I’ve learned a lot. A whole lot. This series will help explain some of the life lessons I’ve learned.

How to Fly The Window Seat

The Window Seat is the holy grail of airplane seats – besides the aisle seat. So really it’s the Stanley Cup. I mean it’s cool you won the Stanley Cup but it’s still hockey. The Window Seat holds a lot of power that many travelers do not realize and therefore should read this blog post on how to avoid any costly mistakes in the future. Below are a few tips and tricks to fully exercise your newly found power.

  • The Window
    • The namesake of this section. I’ll make this brief. Leave the window open unless there’s a painful glare and there’s a real fear of blinding your fellow passengers. Sit back in your seat as to not hog the view real estate. Many of us like to see where we might plummet to our deaths instead of it being a surprise, so be kind and grant us our last wish.
  • The Pillow
    • You have a built-in pillow – the wall. We know. You don’t need to curl up against your pillow and act like you’re the King of Sudan. Your row mates are not your oppressed citizens who should be subjected to your gloating. Save that for your friends.
  • The Bathroom Break
    • If you know ahead of time that you have The Window Seat, please use the restroom before boarding the plane. A lady on my flight last night got up twice to use the restroom disrupting the Social Fabric of the row. But if you don’t know ahead of time and you’re pleasantly surprised by the fact that you have the window seat, just hold it. Think of the Social Fabric before displacing two strangers. Or Karma.

Consulting Dictionary

This past two months has taught me a whole new dialect hidden in the depths of the English language. By using the phrases below, you can almost guarantee yourself a spot at any consulting firm. I’m also compiling a list of terms that I think should be in everyday use.

*Warning – strong language below disguised with strategically placed symbols

  • Current Terms
    • Swivel Chair – To utilize two disconnected systems to perform a single task.
      • “Will this be a swivel chair process on day 1?” – Yes, don’t be lazy.
    • Heartburn – To cause internal strife.
      • “Does doing it like this cause you heartburn?” – No, that was my lunch.
    • Futureproof – To allow a system to be adaptable to the future
      • “Will this be futureproof?” – I don’t know. Come find me tomorrow and I’ll check.
    • Clusterf~ck – A big mess.
      • “Day 1 is going to be a clusterf~ck.” – So I’ve heard.
    • Sh!tshow – A big mess
      • “Day 1 is going to be a sh!tshow.” – So I’ve heard.
  • Proposed Terms
    • #RiseUp – General term acceptable in any situation
      • “Time to go. Let’s #RiseUp.” – You too. #RiseUp

The Time Paradox

For the past two months, I’ve been traveling to and from Utah. On Mondays, I catch the 8:15am flight out of Atlanta to Salt Lake City and on Thursdays I catch the 4:50pm flight out of Salt Lake City to Atlanta. Let’s get lunch Monday morning at gate A at Chick-Fil-A if you’re around. Oh yeah, the Time Paradox is when you travel across multiple time zones at least twice a week and lose track of the time zone you’re currently in. I constantly add and subtract hours to figure out what time I’m really in and by the time I get back to my apartment I can’t break the habit. So, if I’m late by two hours this will be my excuse. “Sorry, thought I was still in Utah.”

And that concludes this brief introduction, you may return to your regularly scheduled programming.

ZocDoc: OpenTable for the medical field

I am a big fan of the video work done over the The Verge. They recently released a new series titled “Small Empires” where the founder of Reddit and fellow entrepreneur interviews tech startups in New York city. The series serves two purposes in my mind: 1. Gain insight into what small businesses are doing and how they are helping shape the world (especially with Fitocracy). And 2. Give exposure to these small businesses so that those of us not in-the-know become in-the-know.

The first episode of Small Empires features this neat company called ZodDoc.

In short, ZocDoc acts as the Open Table for the medical field. ZocDoc has compiled a healthy (see what I did there?) database of doctors and specialists of all kinds. You access the site and specify what kind of doctor you’re looking for and what kind of insurance you have. ZocDoc filters down by address or zip code and presents them with a list. This list displays all the doctors and their profiles. Where they went to school, how long they’ve been practicing, what kind of insurance they accept, etc. But the real value add is the reviews. Just like OpenTable you can read reviews about this doctor and rate them with a 5-star rating system. This easy to consume kind of data is awesome. Once you find a doctor to fit your medical needs, you then register an appointment with them through ZocDoc’s website. It provides a list of available times and sends you notifications of when your appointment is scheduled. And the best part, it’s all free for patients! Who needs Angie’s List when you can use ZocDoc to find the best local neighborhood podiatrist?

ZocDoc makes their money by providing a subscription-based scheduling system to the doctors listed. When a patient books their appointment through the website, it goes automatically into that doctors schedule. You can see real-time what’s available and what’s not. No more playing the “How’s Tuesday at 3:22pm in 4 weeks?” game. There’s a reason why that game hasn’t played well with consumers. And ZocDoc is aiming to fix that.

Story time:

I write this post as not just a fan but as a user. I needed a dentist appointment before there was a gap in my insurance from starting a new job. I went immediately to ZocDoc and found a nice enough looking dentist. I ended up at Dr. David McNay’s dental practice. He has 5 stars for a reason. I made sure to leave a glowing review for him. I went in for a cleaning and he found two cavities which he was able to fill that day. He made appropriate jokes the whole time and was very personable.

I convinced my girlfriend to find her new dentist through ZocDoc. She scheduled the appointment and was good to go. Then that dentist’s office called her and said the time she chose was unavailable and offered her a new time which she accepted. Here’s the good part of the story. ZocDoc called her 10 minutes later and asked why she was rescheduled. ZocDoc apologized for the inconvenience and for her troubles sent her a $10 Amazon gift card. Now that’s customer service!

I would highly recommend anyone looking for a doctor to check out ZocDoc.

I was not paid to write this but I’m happy to write fake reviews about your company if you pay me. I’m very reasonably priced :P

Have you used ZocDoc before? What’s your experience with them? Let me know in the comments below.