The Marine’s Guide to Negotiating Applicant Tracking Systems

Source: The Marine’s Guide to Negotiating Applicant Tracking Systems


How do you challenge yourself to overcome fear and change your perceptions?

I may very well be the youngest member here, and through all of my adversities, feats, and goals I have learned to appreciate the process of each. The process being a series of tasks completed in pursuit of a desired end. I believe, religiously, that both failure and success are processes; regardless of the end result (failing or succeeding), We all start out with an end result, or goal, in mind. Rarely to we consider our position upon reaching the goal whether we experience satisfaction or disappointment. We simply do not begin at A and end right at B; we transcend through C, D, E, F and sometimes G. However, if you are like me you tend to begin at A, progress through Z, W, S, D, A, A, A, A, A, C, B………Rule # 1 Appreciate the process.

Failure is inevitable; hell, even computers fail and we built them, created the language for them, the programming that tells them what to, and not to, do. Failure is an essential component to Rule #1, appreciate the process. Though failure is never something we are comfortable with, and never an enjoyable experience, re-calibrating our perception of failure as a mystical force expressing self worth to a personal calibration tool is essential. I have never been the President of the United States before, and I am quite positive that if ever I am, I would certainly fail, and hard, the first year. Would I use that failure to define myself? I would not, though many others do. Leading us to rule #2, Anticipate failure. Back to my example, knowing in advance that I have zero Presidential concept albeit my experience as a congressman, representative, or perhaps a state governor; understanding that failure is eminent from lack of experience would alter my success process. I may do more listening and less talking my first year, rely more upon the advisers that have been present through several president’s or consult Google on best presidential practices….I am sure the President has a whole Google department in the White House.

Into my third rule in facing fear and adversity, #3 Review, Review, Review. This process I originally learned through the Marine Corps, the Five Paragraph Order (SMEAC): Situation, Mission, Execute, Asses, Command & Signal, and honed through the Army. Yes, I actually use a concept from the Army, although, the Army is a bit to process oriented to an extent efficiency is not considered in the budget. You have reached your end point, where are you in relation to your beginning? Have you achieved your expectation? Are you experiencing success or failure? Why? If you missed your mark, where along the process did you stray? Rinse and Repeat.

I understand fear as an emotion, like anger, love, joy, hope. As humans we experience all of these emotions. With that said, I consider emotional management a skill, one that we spend our entire lives developing. Moreover, I have never heard an emotion killing someone directly, perhaps indirectly, should an individual lack emotional management skills. Fear typically comes from the unknown. Consider this, I am at the start and I am looking toward my goal which is B, and I start considering all the things that could possibly go wrong? Probably won’t move of my start point because I am to busy considering the unknown. Rule #4, Consider the Converse. If you must consider the negative, be fair, appreciate the converse as well. What if I fail? What if I succeed?! What if I quit before I hit my goal? What if you push beyond your goal?

Let us review:

#1. Appreciate the process
#2. Anticipate failure
#3. Review, review, review
#4. Consider the Converse


Bete Noire: Faux Pas de Jugement-Version Un

So much in life is never guaranteed, however, to those within my inner circle; one guarantee that I can provide, is my 200% effort 100% of the time. I will fall squarely upon my face as the Marine Corps has trained me to do so; I will expose your vulnerability, I will hurt you, let you down, disappoint you, and anger you. Moreover, I will, to my death, protect my right to do each in my own right, though not intentionally however intentional it may seem. Occasionally, I am submersed in my own self-loathing that I am incapable of concerning myself of another’s emotional stability.

I will also pick my dumb ass up and dust off my shit kickers quicker than any other; I will protect your vulnerabilities from others and work to nurture your damaged emotions as long as it takes. I will be quick to apologize, identify my faux pas, and do with what is in my power to emotionally reassure  you; I will be quick to consciously choose to do better before marching toward doing so as to prevent further let downs. And I will make you laugh to cool your burn in effort of reaching a consensus to communicate effectively and efficiently. These are things I can, and will, guarantee.

Where woman often wait for their knight in shining armor to ‘save them’, men often fall swiftly, and die not so quickly, upon the emotional noose. Yet are expected, to rise up and drive on; without the emotional support system so readily available with the majority of women. In my own life, I have endured much of life without such a support system, albeit one brave soul. My trials and tribulations have often left me marred and dirty in a gutter; I have learned to become significantly self-reliant considering the lack of support and direction. What I have learned about emotional management is self-taught; who I want to be, how I want to be remembered in this life, is of direction created, implemented, and managed by yours truly. Good, bad, or indifferent, I can admit to being my own man.

I do not share this to talk so highly of myself, such behavior has never interested me. Furthermore, I have lost more than I have won, and am no more special than the next man. I share this more in my own defense. Through nearly all adversities I have encountered, I alone, have had to make the difficult decisions that ultimately will alter the course of my life. I alone have had to bear the brunt of my mistakes, the hurt, disappointment, alienation, and isolation that comes with. And I alone have picked myself, put back together what I could, and drove on. Not to disregard the help some have provided along my journey, there haven’t been many, but there have been some. To those who were present during my hour of need, it will forever be remembered as a debt that I will spend the rest of my life attempting to repay. But the work itself, I have done, and done alone.

Only one individual in my life has ever simply listened, and provided council, without applying judgment. Hence why I can write intelligently about this because I have been fortunate enough to relish communication without alienation of my own emotional vulnerability. He knows who he is and I thank him for being their when so many others turned heel and ran.

One of my highest Bete Noire’s, Judgment. Judgment, not as defined by law; law has no human context to its understanding thereby rendering it an inefficient system of governance. Albeit, a necessary system less our society descends upon anarchy. I refer to the “judging” which occurs between two people, the holding of opinions and assumptions to which neither are ever based on fact.

We are all guilty of it, include myself; though, in my own defense, I have learned to refrain from such practices, or holding myself of such high esteem. I do not hold myself in such high regard as to believe I know better than any other man or woman. Yet, there are those said individuals among us that go about feeling secure in such thinking; “they know better than I, or you.” This particular situation becomes excessively tiresome when the event these “who know better” pass judgment upon another’s life rather than their own. If such a person is not interested in understanding why, or why not, I took action, than to you I say, move the fuck along please, and thank you. Not aloud of course, but you can bet I am screaming such within my head!!

I often reply to such an individual, “How could you, possibly, know my life better than I?” I typically must endure that pompous reply, “because, I have been there.” Again, not an accurate statement. Two people in the same location at the same time could never be in the same place at the same time, so how do you propose to have shared my exact experience?” Often, my reply is met with a look of utter confusion. These individuals will likely never fully understand the merits of this argument.

As a human, we are alone; meaning, we could not possibly share our emotional experiences with even our closest of friends. Less, that friend be Spock with the ability to conduct a mind meld. We may only describe an emotional experience to a friend that would otherwise foster understanding, we call this understanding empathy. The ability to relate to another’s emotional, or other experience, without first hand experiencing the same event themselves. Doubtless, there are many events and similarities two or more people experience. For example, you speed, you get pulled over, get a ticket, and pay that high ass fine. This event could be similar to another, however, the emotions and thoughts are unique only to the one in the moment. Yet, the pompous, all knowing ones, their experiences are paramount to all others which is normally followed by, “this is what you need to do”, or ” this is what you should do” rather than asking “what are you going to do about it, or how can I help you.”

If I were you, that may actually work, but I am not you, and there is excellent probability that the same course of action would not find me so favorable as it would yourself. I am fascinated by how little actual communication occurs between two people. That maybe, if when communicating with another, the receiver actually stop and listen and take what the sender is expressing for value in what it is. I am unable to speak intelligently of how others communicate, but myself, what I say, when I say it is truth. The only time I lie, is when I omit the truth, which I don’t consider as high an infraction as willfully misrepresenting, or distorting, fact. I believe not everyone, all the time, is privy to the truth of who I am as such people I omit truth from typically are judgmental. And I tire of having to justify, or defend, myself from people who are “supposed” to be within my inner circle. Especially, when said individuals have rarely had to endure the harsh realities of failure, emotional evisceration, or vindicating redemption.

My take on lying, or the willful misrepresentation of fact in order to manipulate an individual for a self-serving bias. As I mentioned above, I may omit truth, but I expend considerable effort in not doing things that require me to lie to those within my inner circle; However, occasionally I am confronted with poor decisions of mine that I take ownership of, accept personal responsibility for, by admitting fault, regardless of holding knowledge that my admitting fault will hurt, disappoint, or anger them. That in itself is hard to do; I don’t have many within my inner circle so the plausibility of losing one from an action I took is scary and hurtful to myself. Regardless, I will never be fearful from acting considering an action may, or may not, expose vulnerabilities from those within my inner circle. How else, can we, or I, learn what is good from bad? That, and consciously trying not to repeat similar behavior, is the only responsibility I hold to those within my inner circle in regards to such instances.

Additionally, lying, or misrepresenting truth, is not who I am, nor who I want to be. In fact, I want to be remembered for my god-like ability to preserve, and protect, truth even if it demands my life be laid in consequence. If one within my inner circle, considered myself such an individual, why indeed would I still be a regarded in such close fashion? Unless one enjoys being manipulated and lied to, that is another reason all together.

If we, as humans, have any control over anything, it is with ourselves; and the choices we make, or fail to make. I accept this as a universal truth. Any previous decisions, whether poor our sound; and any future decisions to be made, have been, and will be, guided by this principal. We have all taken actions in life that we may not fully understand; yet, each choice has consequences. I attest to many of my previous choices I may never fully understand. Some have been made simply for the fun of them. Others to remind myself I am not emotionally numb; and still, others to remember what it felt to be special, desired, or important to another.  Simply telling myself I am special, desired, or important somehow fails to hold the same emotional value as it would from another.

And for as long as I can remember, the feeling of being important, or special, have been inscribed upon a short list of priorities stashed away in some filing cabinet which happens to be in storage within another universe. Be it the truth, nearly all my engagements with others have been motivated by my desire to feel important, special, and wanted. Here, I sit, writing this, and still those emotional experiences escape my life, outside of my son of course. He still thinks I’m important and special. Maybe that is all that matters.

Politics: What is Desperate America?

During my activism related work within our non governmental organization, many have approached, and asked me this one very important question: “why has America not descended into revolution?” My answer was the same then as it is now. The one central item missing is desperation.

Now I am not refuting the fact things are bad in this country. The unemployment, the substantially unequal distribution of wealth, the increasing police state. Things are bad, but this is different than saying things are desperate.

However, with tomorrow’s vote on this unemployment bill, what lays in the balance is just that; will things remain bad or will they turn desperate? With a nay vote on this bill, that 6.7% unemployment rate, stop paying their bills.

Do the math. 6.7% of 314 million Americans is 210,318,000 million Americans [close approximation]. The median income as of September 2013 was just above $51 thousand. Remove 10% as there is no measurement for median income-unemployed, that being $45,900 median income per household.

$9,653,596,200,000.00 worth of bills not being paid or national debt diminishing; our national debt as of February 2014, $18.2 Trillion dollars. Yes, a Trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeros…..when you’re done counting I will continue. Apparently, half our national debt is paid in unemployment benefits, approximately. This still isn’t desperate though, bad yes.

September 2013 the American poverty rate was 15%. “The poverty rate is the ratio of the number of people who fall below the poverty line and the total population; the poverty line … here [is] taken as half the median household income.”

As of September 2013, the poverty line was [the 10% figured in as well] $22,950. 4,710,000 Americans made $22,950, or below, during 2013….still not desperate.

In an article by Laura Shin that appeared in Forbes Magazine January 2014 she claims that 85 people in the world control $110 Trillion dollars (Shin, 2014). Here are a couple more tidbits from her article taken from the World Economic Forum:

The report states:

-Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

-The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

-In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Still not desperate, bad; really bad, not desperate. A nay vote tomorrow on this employment bill holds the potential of increasing our national poverty count to 68,138,000, that’s 21.7%; an increase of over 5% to our national poverty level in 2014 which is supposed to be a year of rebound. Not even the completion of the first quarter, still not desperate.

The United Kingdom, Ottoman Empire, and Germany [pre-Hitler] all had 20%, or more, national poverty rates….that not a single American congressman asked assistance from just 1 of these 85 richest humans, that is still not desperate.

That not 1 of the 85 richest humans in the world lifts a finger to do anything about half the world living in poverty, even in America.

That is desperate. Not simply an American problem anymore. A global epidemic. Who are these 85 richest humans?

Shin, L. 2014.

Law School: Understanding the LSAT

Phase one of the journey on becoming a lawyer begins with the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. An entry examination that is necessary to enter law school. Those who are familiar with me understand I tend to orient my thinking in terms of battlefield management; thus the first task is to identify  the enemy, the second, know everything there is to know about the enemy. However, I have learned to observe the actual battlefield. I will explain.

As I mentioned within the introduction to this blog segment that pursuing a law degree is a process of three primary areas: the LSAT, Law School, and the Bar. This is the battlefield overview and my first objective is to score a 180 on the LSAT. Scoring a perfect score on the LSAT is rareindeed, but not impossible. And from what I have researched in the last 72 hours is not that LSAT takers are unintelligent or even incapable of scoring so high, where they have failed is in the preparation for the test. Which we will cover that later in this post. One of the many articles I reviewed on LSAT results was that the school year 2014 for an ivy league school held 75% of the students median LSAT score at 177…..I will explain the LSAT test in a second but the range of this class was between 171 and 180 meaning that actual students of this class scored perfectly. Approximately 144,000 LSAT tests were administrated and .01% of those test takers scored a 180; that is 144 test takers scored perfect. So scoring perfectly is a defining factor.

Let’s talk LSAT. The test is comprised of 5 sections, 4 sections of multiple choice questions with the 5th being a writing sample presented to university admissions. The LSAT is a proctored exam, meaning that one must go to a location and have the test administered, and is offered three or four times a year if I have that correct. Typically during the last quarter of the year, July to December. All aspiring lawyers must pass through the Law School Admissions Council, or LSAC, which is the organization that manages the LSAT nationally.

The test score scales your raw score to the LSAT score ranging between 120 and 180. The raw score is developed from how many questions the tester answers correctly. No penalty from incorrect, or unanswered, questions. For example, I took my first LSAT prep test to establish a baseline score and developed a raw score of 41, which is a 140 on the LSAT scale. This is a horrible score and one that will not grant me admission into a law program. However, considering I have never laid eyes upon anything LSAT related, I feel better about not getting a 139!

Tier 1 schools, those ivy league heavy hitters like Harvard, scores between 170 and 180 are typical, Tier 2 law schools between 165 and 170, and Tier 3 between 155 and 165 as it is my own interpretation of LSAT score significance. Keep in mind, the LSAT is used only for admissions to a law program so getting a 180 is excellent and will guarantee you access to any law program in America, but acing the LSAT will not pay for law school. You wont see me going to Harvard, not only because I am not a billionaire, but I value practicality over namesake, simply going to Harvard does not make you exceptional at anything. Bill Gates never even went to college and I can’t remember any serious namesakes being developed from Harvard.

The questions range between 100 and 103 on any LSAT  and comprise of three primary question formats: Reading Comprehension, Analytic Reasoning, and Logic Reasoning. All definitions are taken from Wikipedia for simplicity sake, my apologies to all my professors.

  • Analytic reasoning: “…represents judgments made upon statements that are based on the virtue of the statement’s own content. No particular experience, beyond an understanding of the meanings of words used, is necessary for analytic reasoning.”
  • Logical reasoning: “Logical reasoning is the process which uses arguments, statements, premises and axioms to define weather a statement is true or false (Fibonicci, 2014)”. Logic is understood through Deduction and Induction, often syllogisms are used and I have noticed syllogism formats within the LSAT.
  • Reading comprehension: is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning. An individual’s ability to comprehend text is influenced by their traits and skills, one of which is the ability to make inferences.

Law School: Committing to the Pursuit of Law

I will speak often about the process of becoming a lawyer as it aids myself more in appreciating the commitment more, rather than attempting to inform readers. I have researched nearly a week now after making the initial decision to pursue this long time goal of mine in becoming a lawyer. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, pages explaining everything there is to know about the LSAT, the Bar, and law school; however, I have seen very little on what one must do to ready themselves for the journey itself. This post will explain my own process in understanding the commitment and preparing for it.

The process of becoming a lawyer is long and exceptionally expensive. In fact, even the lowest tuition for a three year program is still more expensive than both my undergraduate and graduate degrees combined. I have mentioned this before concerning the LSAT, that scoring high on the test will only grant you access to a law program, it will not pay for your program. So achieving a perfect score on the LSAT is in its own right deserving of accolades, entering a Tier 3 school with 180 LSAT is an eyebrow raiser.

Establish an overview of the commitment with becoming a lawyer: LSAT, law school, and the Bar; nearly a 5 year commitment. Of course, one must already possess an undergraduate degree so in essence we are talking no less than a 9 year commitment. If you have already obtained your undergraduate, great, your half way there and we will focus on the remaining 5 year commitment.

  • 1 year for the LSAT and its preparation,
  • 3 years of law school,
  • and a year for the Bar and its preparation.

Deciding to become a lawyer and actually becoming one, are two very different things. Remember the saying, the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. Before anything else you do, your first objective is preparing yourself for the long haul.  This leads us to the first essential items to becoming a lawyer:

  1. Deciding to become a lawyer
  2. Committing to becoming a lawyer
  3. Self preparation
  4. support system
  5. orientation

As mentioned above, the first step to any long journey begins with the first step (apologies for the cliche), or in this case, the first decision. In fact, if you make that your first action with anything you do, success is already 50% guaranteed. Being conscious of the pre-action such as deciding to do something, or not to do something,  is essential to being successful as is the action itself. Although, we often fail to recognize this as an conscious action. Say the words, “I want to be a lawyer”, and “I am going to be a lawyer”. And take some time to envision yourself as a lawyer. Suit and tie, briefcase, yelling and shaking fists at a jury. Hell envision yourself in front of a court house surrounded by media holding up your hand and saying “I swear I did not inhale!” I am sure we have all been subject to courtrooms, think about what it is like on the other side, your lawyer that you had to hire to defend you in whatever action you were innocent of committing!

Now comes the hard part, committing to becoming a lawyer, and all that is required of one in pursuit thereof becoming a lawyer. Committing to a decision can start easily with learning more about a course of action. For example, I decided to be a lawyer a week ago but had no idea what that decision entailed. So I did some research, and remember, the key to research is framing the appropriate question, and then pursuing the answer. Questions like:

  • How much does the average lawyer make annually?
  • What is the process of becoming a lawyer?
  • What is a LSAT?
  • What is a Bar exam?

Believe it or not, you have just committed to becoming a lawyer; however, simply committing to a decision will not make it so, but it is a start in that direction. Congratulations!! You are on your way!

Self preparation is key. Seriously, becoming a lawyer is no joke. And should be considered a career rather than a simple venture. The time and cost of this decision is life altering, consider it a 20 year investment from becoming a lawyer and then paying off the debt associated with becoming a lawyer. If answering the first, second, and third round of questions still have you optimistic about achieving this goal, the next step is to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Mentally preparing in your self preparation process is essentially understanding what is expected of one in pursuit of becoming a lawyer. The LSAT, law school, and the Bar. What do you have to do for the LSAT? What do you have to do to attend Law school? What do you have to do to take the Bar exam?

Emotionally, this is probably the hardest part of this process. This process is spread over several years so your emotional management process needs to be developed and maintained throughout. Understand, and accept, that you will have periods of self-doubt, frustration, and fear. Be prepared for them and know how to deal with it when it comes. I have learned, and accepted, that nothing in this life is impossible with the right amount of preparation. I am in the LSAT phase of this journey. Understanding the requirements of the LSAT process, I have to commit myself to at-least 3 months of test preparation, taking thousands of LSAT preparation questions; an LSAT Prep course, anything and everything necessary to be successful on the LSAT. Develop a schedule and then follow it. Doing so, during a period of panic, provides you the opportunity to tell yourself: “ok, its ok, I have taken the time to prepare a study regime, whats next on my schedule” then turn to. There are 4 functions to management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. The first two are no less than the last, spending that extra 5 minuets in planning and organizing could mean the difference between scoring a 140 on the LSAT or 175. Remember that.

The support system is just as important as preparing oneself for this process. Keep in mind, you still need to live your life over the course of becoming a lawyer. 5 years, a lot happens in just a year. You could lose a job, find a job, find a relationship, or even have a child during this period. You will need people in your life to help keep you on task, to help motivate you and push you through those periods of self-doubt. Moreover, if your like me and are already in a long-term relationship, this is not a decision to be made alone. The commitment, both time and financially, is high and your partner will need to help.

Orientation is the culmination of your commitment. The strategy and the plan; and the follow through. Organize anything and everything in your life to this singular pursuit. Set a schedule, a location, and infuse some entertainment to keep things lively. In preparing for whatever phase you are currently in, be thinking about the next phases.

Employment: Wasted

The continuation of “Employment: Identifying the Segment War” posted February 2014. I remain unemployed, and not for the lack of effort. However, there were some elements I did not discuss previously.

Before leaving my last position, I had worked to establish a lead with Amazon. I had researched, as you should when looking to join another organization, that Amazon had made a strong move into New Jersey in 2013. Amazon purchased approximately 900 thousand square foot location from northeast distributor C&S Wholesale based in Bratleboro and Keene New Hampshire. I heard whispers that Amazon was looking to remove their external distribution from UPS, DHL, and FedEx which was the company’s primary distributor. Clearly, Amazon was looking to establish their own distribution. After some research, I learned Amazon was developing a new business model to include distribution and fulfillment centers; I’ll avoid the logistics and operations explanation of how to for time and sanity sake.

At the time I was sure there would be one of each, a fulfillment and distribution center, within New Jersey and had heard the possibility of there being another distribution center possibly. I also came to know that Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgenson, a Scandinavian like myself. His mother divorced while young and remarried a Cuban immigrant Miguel Bezos. I prepared note cards with each of the senior management’s alumni, educative focus, organizational role, and their professional development before getting to Amazon. None of which even presented an opportunity to share during the interviews. How disappointing the wasted time and research. Regardless, the research was done in preparation and to establish a feeling of control that should the opportunity be presented would doubtless provide me  leg up over other potential candidates.

I was interviewing for an operations management position within New Jersey, and clearly felt I was a shoe in for the position. I had exceeded all expectations laid forth within the source description (employment description). I completed my Master in Business Administration; my experience within the eight years of military service was all logistical and operational related. I even moved over $10 million dollars worth of aviation communication equipment from Japan to Thailand and back to Japan without losing, or damaging, even one component. That operation in itself is no mere feat and I was responsible for the entire movement.

I remember, as a young Lance Corporal within 2nd Marine Division being a liaison for a pilot program that infused logistics and operations specialist from a battalion level to a company to enhance the regiment’s overall efficiency; the program was such a success that now there are levels of logistic operations that work between Battalion and Company level supply offices. I was rewarded many times over for this effort to include four certificated of commendation, two (consecutive) Commandant Logistical Excellence awards and several letters of commendation from Company, Battalion, and Regimental Commanders.

I had, at the time of the Amazon interview, over 10 years of experience in working in warehouse environments. Conducted many wall-to-wall inventories, which if you have ever worked within a warehouse would know the exactness requirement of count accuracy. For example, an Amazon distribution facility, some of the larger operations, move over one million pieces daily, imagine trying to account for a standing one million piece inventory let alone a consistently moving inventory. I have loaded many distribution trucks, driven every type of forklift in development; worked budgets, time lines, and production requirements since.

Clearly, I had everything Amazon was looking for and then some. I took the phone interview in December 2013 and new Amazon was not looking to hire ’till mid January 2014, so I was relieved that less than 24 hours after the initial screening that I had been invited back for a second interview and walk-through within one of their distribution centers. Moreover, this knowledge coming after my December dismissal from Aaron’s; no need to panic, I have done what the “experts” have always counseled, target an organization, research, extend interviews, and get hired while still employed! Felt good, felt right, nothing to worry about, I would go less than six weeks of being unemployed.

The warehouse walk-through was very interesting and informative. Seeing first hand how the largest online retailer conducted its business; however, logistically and organizationally speaking was not a revelation to the industry. What I observed, and based on personal experience from working distribution operations with other large warehouses like C&S from New Hampshire, Amazon simply removed a significant portion of error that one typically finds within a warehouse. That error being human selection; of course location and a dedicated distribution chain from FedEx, I expected more flare and circumstance to the Amazon operation.

Still, the experience was neat and exciting. The interview process itself was not unlike any before, though not within the civilian world I must admit. Four to five back-to-back interviews. Other candidates where present as well but I felt rather confident about the entire experience; I felt more than qualified and  a shoe-in for the position, at least I would be considered for something if not the Operations Management position. I left after a long day of interviewing relieved the process was over and positive that my future outlook would change!

I wanted to work for Amazon and I pursued the position in every was possible. Prepared and felt, finally a break. I would have a career and a solid opportunity for professional growth and advancement. I felt, professionally speaking, at home. All that remained was to wait for an offer.

A week later, I got my first response from Amazon. I didn’t get the job. Moreover, nothing else was offered. As I read the email, a cold fear ran through me, shock and awe. Anger followed shortly after to which I emailed the recruiter I had worked with for over a month. Unbelievable upset. Several hours went by with me going through everything wondering what the hell went wrong. Did I say something wrong? Provide a wrong reply to a question. Worse yet, when I asked the recruiter what I had done to exclude me from an opportunity, “providing that information is against company policy” was all that I was offered.

WHAT THE FUCK!! was all I remember thinking after that. The disappointment that I felt I had done everything right and still yielded no job; moreover, this was the only opportunity I had available and it didn’t pan out. I was angry!! I went back and reviewed the employment description to see where I was not a viable candidate and grew even angrier that I had exceeded nearly every component within their requirements for the position!

I was wasted, absolutely wasted. The injustice, unfairness, and still no clue on why the hell I was not offered at least something with the company.


My life has never been absent of adventure. Since I can remember, simply living, going about my daily routines, things happen….yes…all on their own things happen….with no assistance from myself. So, occasionally, I will share some of my adventures for good community building. After all, if you can’t laugh at crazy, you might as well be six feet under.

Thanks to Urban Dictionary, Caddywhompus is understood as “crooked, uneven, broken, ass-backwards and sideways,” which explains a recent Sunday I survived. Some back-story includes my seven year old son that I co-parent with his mother in New Hampshire.  Any opportunity presented to have him I travel the distance between New Jersey and New Hampshire; a full eight hour day of driving.

This particular Sunday I was returning to New Hampshire and was half-way through Connecticut, around the Bridgeport area, when I caught a flat. Yes, you catch a flat because life only throws curve-balls when your not looking, and apparently I am never looking. Thank the heavens for my thick skull right! Sitting in the car, my son sharing a puzzled look with me as if to say “I’m hungry, fix the tire so we can get something to eat.”  Feeling relieved, I remembered renewing my AAA membership the week earlier from when my van broke down in Trenton. However, basic membership only covers the first three miles for any tow; the rate for each additional mile after the first three is $4. I located a Pep boys 2.5 miles away which was golden! Tow the car to Pep boys, change the tire, and continue route within an hour! “Hold on son, your daddy’s a genius, just sit there and take some notes!”

I strongly recommend having a AAA membership if you don’t have one already. 15 minutes after making the service call the wrecker arrives. With a smile on my face, hiking up my big boy pants I shake hands with the wrecker driver, then things start going not as planned….He asked for my id. “Sure thing!”, “Right away I have it right he..rrre….errr….ahhh.” Ya, not cool, if you have kids you feel my pain. All the running around in departure readiness, having essential documentation is generally not something thought of when preparing long distance trips. We do think of, however, essentials to pacify the little ones; movies, Ipods, Ipads, kindles….whatever. The driver assures me he needs a photo identification to ensure that I am a AAA member… if another AAA member parked in my exact location, driving the exact make and model of the car that I am driving (which was provided to the AAA service representative with my license plate) had called for a wrecker….

This is where things started to get interesting. After tossing about some solutions to the driver like “hey, simple mistake, however I can assure you I am a AAA member, let me call AAA and verify my membership with you”, and “my seven year old son is in the car and hungry, he must of done something with my license….” that one always works right?! Look at him, he is grinning at you…..”Sorry, if you don’t have an Id I will need to cancel the service call; but! But! if you would like I can install your spare which would cost you $40.”

“I can change a tire myself thank you” I snorted while opening the truck to reveal my spare….with a hole in it, “Do you happen to have a spare, spare laying around?!” With a stupid wrecker driver stare he just stood there, waiting. “So let me understand the situation clearly”, “What do you normally bill AAA for a service charge, $300? Your arguing with me on the side of I-95 as if you don’t need $300 and you are about to leave a Marine Veteran and his seven year old son, stranded, on the side of the road, I have this right?”

While walking a way he throws back a quick “yup”, hops in his wrecker and drives off. Myself still holding the spare tire with a what-the-hell-just-happened look on my face. “Buddy, you see that, he just drove off!” Seven year olds are precious, my son is now in the back seat looking at me through the rear windshield with one of the biggest grins I have ever seen grace his face. All I can do is nod with pursed lips at what just transpired.

What would you do in this situation?! Stranded on the side of an interstate, cars whizzing by you, no spare, no wrecker. Do what I do, sip your Red bull, throw the hazards on, reverse and hit the next exit! Through the off ramp into the next stop light, to my right I notice another driver looking at me perplexed. I wave and drive on through the next several lights sipping my Red bull, blasting Miranda Lambert’s Gunpowder & Lead driving caddywhompus through the streets of Bridgeport looking for a tire repair shop; both myself and my son with full on grins.

If you have never been to Bridgeport, the demographic is predominately African-American. Imagine a white guy driving around the streets of your city with his hazards on, a flat tire, sipping Red bull through a straw and blasting country music; what would you think is going on?! Several finger-pointings’, bewildered looks, and a couple of laughs later I come upon a small shanty like gas station where none of the attendants spoke English. No problem, like the citizens of Bridgeport had shown me, I point to the guy in overalls and then point to the tire. The attendant nods and even tosses a thumbs up. 15 minutes later and $40 dollars poorer we are back on the road to New Hampshire without further incident.

Employment: Identifying the Segment War

I am unemployed. Being unemployed is not a self-defining event, though, to those going through the experience it feels like a definition. Unemployed. Un-…unhinged, unshaven, unclean, un-caffeinated. Unemployment doesn’t need to be as nasty as it sounds! Embrace your unemployed self, become one with unemployment! Shake fists and jeer; enjoy having the excuse to not shower or shave for weeks; hell with laundry and dishes I’m unemployed!! and I like it!

Truth is, unemployment is fun for about a week. Till you actually start trying to become un-unemployed. This is when you feel the real unemployed self and if you pay attention you may learn a thing or two about yourself. And have fun in the process!

The unemployed typically start off being positive, “I just need to get another job, simple!” So we dust off our resume, make some calls. A week passes, crickets……”I’ve been here before, just need to be more aggressive”, or “I haven’t been that proactive in my employment search.” Sprinkle on some self-doubt and turn to….Second week, still more crickets…… this time if you have done it right you tell yourself you have seriously near 500 applications out there but in reality maybe 50; if your crazy you could hit 100. Possibly have some response, even a couple of phone interviews, maybe even an actual person-2-person but nothing serious. By the third week its full on panic mode…..”oh god, I will never work again”. “what is wrong with me that I can’t even get a call back?!” Do what I do, increase productivity, I am up to 4 20 oz Red bulls a day. Shave half your face, spike half your hair; put on your best looking button down shirt (starched of course) and a blazer but no slacks!! Walk around in your skivvies. Being unemployed is all about attitude and conviction right? I’ve always wanted to work half-dressed! ….

After the first month of raw unadulterated shotgunning my resume across the digital universe I figure something has to stick right? One can not possibly dole out that much data and it not even have one accidentally land upon the right desk in front of the right hiring manager, the universe isn’t that cruel! Yet two months in, here I sit; still in that same button down shirt (now wrinkled and stained), same blazer, and my face hair resembling half of ZZ Top. With my coffee in one hand and a Red bull in the other, I remind myself a lesson is about to enter stage right, and that excites me!

Whenever I find the opportunity to learn, I seize it. I have found that this makes most people uncomfortable because to learn requires one to embrace change. I remember a quote from a book by Richard Bach: “In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom.” If I wasn’t completely bored and loathing my last job I would still be employed…understanding this makes me feel a bit better about myself and my situation; I am not helpless or incompetent,  I simply want change. Knowing this is empowering! With all the self-doubt and confusion that comes with being unemployed, going back to what you know gives the necessary footing to endure the change and all the wonderful turbulence that comes with!

Let’s explore this concept a bit more. I truly believe that  whenever one experiences loss, change is right around the corner. Some loss is big, and some small; and the same applies to the size of change. Fair to say that loss and change are interrelated, so where does gain come into play? Back-burner that question for now. Accept that change is a constant in life, some change is by choice, as in my choice to get fired and some choice is not;  thrust upon us seemingly out of nowhere. What we do with the change is a defining aspect of ourselves. Understand that the change is an opportunity to enhance your quality of life, to embrace a better version of yourself, but not before enduring the nasty uncomfortable experience of change. Seriously, who enjoys walking around half-dressed, half shaved, and half caffeinated? Life is to be experienced fully!

Revisit the question, where does gain come into play? The gain comes from the work you do in changing. Consider that you hate your job so you quit, or in my case, get fired but you don’t do the work and you don’t change but you get another job. I am willing to bet my left toe that the job you just were hired for is no different from the job you just left. Doubtless, you will enjoy the same miserable experiences but this time ask yourself, “why in hell did I leave my last job for this job?” A profound and relevant question, why did you do that to yourself? One could accurately define this behavior insane, repeating the same miserable cycle; worse yet, you have wasted precious time. Time, and what we do with it, is all we have in life. Don’t wast it with being unhappy. The gain is equatable to happiness, but happiness never comes without hard work, sweat, some tears, and maybe a little blood. Own it, this is your life we are talking about.

Change would be less scary if one knew how to navigate the unpleasantness I would think. Where others run screaming from any possible sniff of change, there is me, running in like toward change. Why is that? I  can attest, first, to having an unwavering commitment to never being bored, or miserable, or insane because I have the understanding, power, and ability  to change, and so does everyone else, including you. It begins with embracing the loss and understanding of one-self, than commit to the change that is about to come.

Understanding that change is an opportunity to learn more about life, our environment, and our-self, doesn’t sound so bad, right? And the guarantee that on the back side of change there is new and exciting and the real potential for happiness; at least a happiness we have yet to enjoy.

Consider this change management. Like everything else in life change is a process. True that we may not always see the change coming but we can all identify being in the middle of the storm cloud. If you have trouble envisioning the storm cloud, think of me in all my half-clothed, half-shaved, and half-caffeinated wonderfulness! Segment the change experience: pre-change, mid-change, and post-change.

The pre-change segment is where you quickly pass through relief (if what you are coming from is that bad, and it often is), freedom, and relaxation; into panic, fear, and doubt. Accept that the you are on the brink of something new and ready yourself by remembering your core-self. What you value, what you believe in, where you have come from and what you have done. I like reading, writing and consuming caffeine. I believe in courage, honor, integrity. I survived five years in the Marines to endure another three in the Army. I have achieved both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. This change segment is necessary to give you direction during the mid-change segment. Accept the fact your life is about to change, remind yourself what makes you, you; and consider your achievements that have undoubtedly been awarded through other difficult life changes. And lastly, commit to the experience of change.

The mid-change segment is the “storm” so many refer to. Here is where we lose our old self and find our new self. Messy and uncomfortable because; raw emotional chaos is intense. Embrace the crazy! You will have something to look back on and laugh at! The work is in reflection of the change event. In my particular change event, my job. Each change management process is unique to the situation and to the individual so start by presenting yourself appropriate questions to pursue answers for. Review the questions I laid out for my own change management session:

  • What made the change necessary?
  • Why was the old job so miserable?
  • Why was I so miserable doing the job?
  • What was my employer doing to make a miserable experience?
  • What did I feel was missing from the professional experience?

Process each question to you feel you have a solid understanding. What made my change necessary? I hated everything about what I was doing. I was angry, and increasingly so. I was hostile, edgy, occasionally disrespectful. My performance trailed off and I developed a healthy dose of I don’t care. I learned that I do not want to be angry, especially at my work. I don’t want to be hostile or edgy. That I want to exceed performance expectations and of course, treat others with respect. The new me will emulate these things in the next opportunity.

Why was the old job so miserable? This is a critical question and don’t hold back! Here is where you rant and rave and get those emotions out so that you can identify them and work them to their origins. I worked as a collections guy so having difficult discussions all day long was the job. Getting cursed at, threatened, hung-up on not only from the customer but from my supervisors! My job is to get people to pay, if they didn’t pay, I failed at the job, no excuses. Long hours, 50 or more a week. Sitting for long periods of time just calling people to get them to pay. Justifying why people aren’t paying to my supervisors without sounding incompetent. Lack of leadership and integrity among colleagues and supervisors. Lack of self-respect and the receiving of respect from colleagues and supervisors. Lack of recognition for hard work, dedication, and superior performance is necessary for professional enjoyment. Take a break. Good hard work here. You just made a list for all the things you do want in your next opportunity.

I want in my next opportunity:

  • Not to work more than 40 hours a week
  • Not to be cursed at, threatened, or hung-up on by customers
  • To be respected by my colleagues and supervisors
  • To not sit for hours calling people for money
  • To receive respect from my colleagues and supervisors
  • To be recognized for my hard work, dedication, and superior performance
  • To be compensated fairly based upon my professional value to the organization
  • To have solid leadership and direction from my supervisors

I meshed some of the questions together for time sake, but it is a process. Work the process till you feel 1) better about the situation and yourself, and 2) a plausible direction to pursue. This is a skill, to process information, means that you need to learn how to process the process……it takes time and you will get better with practice.

Welcome to post-change, where you can begin to enjoy the gain! Though I am still without work, I know that I will not be unemployed forever. I also know that my next job will be far more fulfilling than my last because I understand what made the last so horrible. I will remain vigilant to the things that made the last job turn into a nightmare and what my reactions were. Already I feel much better about my situation, I feel empowered, I feel positive, I feel assured that my next opportunity will fulfill me greater than all previous opportunities. I feel relieved and with more focus and less panic which will help in opportunity selection.

Understanding change is a war with the self; navigate the war zone  through change management by identifying your segments and your chances for personal growth will become a reality; so to will your happiness.

And remember above all else, stay frosty.

Semper Fidelis,

LA Ogren