Shamrock Run 2012

This last Sunday I participated in my first organized run ever!  I got up bright and early to participate in the Shamrock Run, a run which shares its proceeds with the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  They had 3 different length races; the 5K, 8K, and 15K.  Which race did I choose you may ask?  Well for those who know me “I go big or go home,” thus chose the 15K!

Janna, myself, and Tami

My training didn’t consist of much.  Being busy with work and life in general, two weeks prior to the race I had one of those ‘Oh Sh*t’ moments and convinced myself to go on a run.  It was a run I had been wanting to do ever since moving up here but just hadn’t got around to doing it yet or had any idea how long it was.  Well mid run, I realized it was a bit much due to all the knee pain I had ensued.  After a limp run/walk back to my apartment I realized my training run was a 10K.  Needless to say, I was so sore that I did not have the ability to do any extra training prior to the race; training fail!

By race day I had prepared myself mentally.  I was extremely nervous since I had never ran a 15K (9.32 miles) in my life.  Remembering all the pain from my training run, I made sure to stretch…A LOT!  The run began after a slight delay of an Amtrak train and the ambiance of energy was out of this world.  Here I was among 7,500 people running the 15K (32,000 people in total across all runs).

Matt and I

The run started out a bit slower than I had hoped because there were just so many people around me.  I found myself zigzagging between people who weren’t going quite as fast as I had liked.  After the first mile or so it thinned out a bit and I was able to keep a more appropriate pace.  Now for those that don’t know, the 15K course includes “Pill Hill;” the OHSU hill.  The hill was killer, especially since it’s toward the end of the race, around mile 5.

Pill Hill didn’t start out that well for me.  At the base of the hill there was a water station.  While taking the quick swig, I got some water down the wrong pipe; I thought I would drown.  Luckily after a few dry heaves and deathly chokes it was no longer an issue.  Man was that hill a killer!  My goal was to run the whole race, and the hill definitely tested me.  I really think it was all the people along the route cheering the runners on and the bag pipes I could hear as I approached the summit that kept me going.

Once I hit the summit I was holding back tears of accomplishment.  I hadn’t pushed myself that hard in a long time and felt so proud I tackled the hill.  At the same time though, I still had approximately 2 more miles to the finish line; luckily down hill.

As I finished the last 2 miles, each stride I took was an additional feeling of accomplishment; the greatest feeling hit when the finish line was in sight.  I tell you, the minutes I saw that banner I used every last bit of energy I had and sprinted my way to my goal.  The minutes I crossed that line I was overwhelmed with the feelings of accomplishment and exhaustion. When I saw the clock I felt so proud!

My final time was 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 7 seconds for an average pace of 7 minutes 38 seconds per mile.  I never stopped to walk once!

I’ll be honest, after the run I definitely had no desire to run another race again, but now that it’s been a few days and my body has finally recovered, the idea of improving my 15K time by 9 minutes seems like a pretty good goal! ;)

Shout out to my friend Jana for convincing me to do it and all my other friends who participated as well!

Getting Settled in Portland, OR

Well it’s official I have now been living in Portland, OR just over 3 months now.  Looking back 6 months I think it is crazy how many things have changed.  Here are some updates for you:

  • I am living in a great apartment with an awesome roommate in Northwest Portland.  By far one of the best neighborhoods in the city.  To this day I am still finding new shops and hole-in the wall restaurants.  Turns out there is a French bakery just a stone throw away from me! :)
  • My new job is allowing me the ability to travel.  I have already been to Las Vegas twice and heading to Austin next week!  I had never been to either of these places before.  Best of all, I actually came out a winner in Vegas; yea blackjack! 
  • Lastly I have been keeping pretty loyal to the gym and really working on achieving a few fitness goals.  So far they are going well, even though I succumbed to purchasing a box of Girl Scout Cookies today.  They get me every time!

Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

  • Meeting new friends. Since my old home wasn’t too far from Portland I already have a handful of friends up here but as I grow as a person I look forward to expanding my circle. Hell, maybe I’ll even find a relationship! (fingers crossed)
  • Getting involved with a local organization.  I believe it’s important to be involved with philanthropic activities.  If anyone  knows of some good ones in here Portland let me know!

I feel that Portland will be a great place for me to grow both professionally and personally.  Can’t wait to see what is to come!

The Emotional Roller-Coaster of a Layoff

I would have to say that the last five months of my life have been some of the hardest. At the end of May my company did a 20% layoff and I was the last one to get cut. While I enjoyed my career and a number of the people I worked with, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. Why a blessing? Well, I grew up in a small town and after graduating college I always envisioned that I would be living or working in a larger place.  A city such as Portland; a city more conducive to my lifestyle.  Corvallis, OR was not that.

Moving on from my lay-off with this mindset, I kept telling myself “keep your chin up.” I decided this would be appropriate as I have both witnessed and heard of people who took their lay-offs really hard. Most of these people did not have a college education, were older, and/or had families. Myself being college educated, young, now having over three years of professional work experience, and no family, made me feel as though this layoff wouldn’t be too bad after-all, but really wanted to keep this motto in the back in my head just in case.

Thankfully I did just that. Even though I was young, had great experience, etc… the job search was so much harder than I thought and the emotional roller-coaster that ensued was more than I could have ever expected.

I began my job search by updating my profiles on LinkedIn and Monster.com, telling close friends and industry colleagues about my layoff, and really just diving into job postings online to see what was out there. Ultimately, I really wanted to take a step forward rather than a lateral move or step back. With this in mind, I began pursuing marketing agencies and other technology companies. The huge shock came when I started following up with some of the opportunities I applied for.

Knowing that the job market was tough, by no means did I have any idea how tough it actually was! I remember following up with one company and they told me that while I met the minimum qualifications for the job, I wasn’t the most qualified. He continued to explain that for the particular position I had applied for (an associate level marketing position) he had ex VP’s of Marketing applying for the same job. I’m pretty sure you could have heard my jaw hit the floor.

This news was hard to take, and the rejection came very frequently. My dad kept reminding me that it was a numbers game. He is totally right, but I wanted to speed up the game with a bit of strategy. What I was doing was not enough.

I continued giving my 110% with my job search and while rejection kept coming through, I really started connecting with recruiters online or in person. I avoided this strategy earlier in my job search because I just didn’t feel it was completely appropriate to go around them through behind-the-scenes connections to essentially stalk and hit these people up. I just didn’t want to be THAT GUY, the nuisance. That in mind, I was very careful about how I made my approach.

After being completely disregarded by many recruiters, I finally started getting some action! Interviews were getting lined up and not just with marketing agencies but huge companies. I was so excited!

Being a people person, I do very well at phone interviews and have known this for a LONG time. Knowing this made my emotional roller-coaster even worse when I would hear back, “well Steve, you did GREAT in your phone interview,however, we have decided to pursue candidates with a few more years of experience than you.” While this is literally the most positive way anyone could give this type of feedback, it was so hard to take! I obviously start thinking ‘well what if I would have said ABC instead of XYZ,’ or ‘what if I would have followed up on this day, with this method, versus on that day, with that other method.’ Great questions to ask myself to improve my interviewing strategies but, at the end of the day, detrimental to my self-esteem and was terrified that interviewers would notice.

There were literally some days when I would get an interview setup, be high on life, and then two hours later hear back that I wasn’t selected to continue the process for a different position and have an emotional crash. These ups and downs were what I never expected. I mean I have letters of recommendation from my last direct supervisor AND CEO for goodness sake!

Luckily, after five months of ups and downs, countless days of the waiting game, life decided to lay my cards on the table, and I found a new career in the technology field; just where I wanted to be. While I don’t wish a layoff on anyone, it will leave its mark on me as one of my most life changing events; it really made me sit down and figure out who I was, what I want in life, and taught me the determination to achieve the goals I desire.

I would like to dedicate this post to everyone who stayed right there by my side and supported me in this process. I love you all!

The Pendleton Round-Up 2011

Steer roping as part of the Pendleton Round-Up.

Being a native of Pendleton, I try to make it back to my original stomping grounds each year for the Pendleton Round-Up.  While I am home it’s great to meet up with a select group of friends and get all caught up.

Not only is the meetup with friends great, but let’s be honest, the Round-Up is a great opportunity to people watch.  City slickers one week, “cowboys” and “buckle bunnies” the next!  So you’re probably asking how I can spot these people?  Well, the “cowboys” are the ones wearing the brand new Wrangler jeans, boots without a scratch, and western shirt with the packaging folds still visible.  The “buckle bunnies” anybody could spot.  They are the ones wearing the little jean skirts, a shirt that doesn’t cover her midriff, and one of those plastic pink cowgirl hats.  You can usually find all of them staggering out of the Let’er Buck Room or The Rainbow (a local STRAIGHT bar on main street; yes, straight).

Now don’t get me wrong, while I may have painted a pretty bad picture in your mind of these people, I am really glad they are there.  After all, without the faux cowboys and buckle bunnies there wouldn’t be sufficient people watching for my taste.  These people make the Round-Up fun.

This year I wasn’t actually planning on attending the rodeo, but turned out I had some friends that had an extra ticket.  The ticket was for Saturday, the finals.  It was a great time; great company, great weather, and great beer!  I even ran into some people from Seattle that I met a few years ago.  They were the kind of people you would never expect to see at a rodeo, but that is just another reason why the Round-Up can be so much fun!

Check out some the videos of some of my favorite events!

Wild Cow Milking!

Indian Relay Race!

Not an event, but NIGHTLIFE!

All in all, I had a good time at the Round-Up this year.  Being a marketing person I was slightly upset that the bucking horse logo is starting to get replaced by “PRU” or just “RU.”  We will have to see how that works out.  :p

Pendleton Round-Up, if you haven’t been, GO!

Horse Race and a Hurricane!

A few weeks ago I traveled up to Saratoga Springs, NY to visit a good friend from college.  While I was up there I got to experience my first “real” horse race.  The horse race just so happened to be the biggest one of the season; Travers Day!

The horse race was a great time and unbelievably cheap!  For $5 I was able to enter the track and get seating on benches right in front of the fence.  Clubhouse seating is $10 and is within the covered stadium.  The nice part about the benches up front is that you can bring coolers full of your own favorite beverage at no cost!  Pretty good deal, and cheap entertainment, if you ask me!

Friends in Saratoga

While I didn’t bet on a horse (I mean, I don’t know anything about horse racing) I still had a great time!  In addition to the horse race it was a great time visiting Saratoga Springs as the downtown is pretty historic.  Lots of cool buildings to see, especially for someone like myself who grew up on the West coast.  Lots of great bars too!

The day following Travers I also got to weather the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene.  While originally hoping to make it into NYC the following Sunday and Monday, all of the public train lines were flooded and thus we stayed in Upstate NY.  Overall a great trip with a great friend!

Euro-Dance is My Muse

One thing I have noticed the past couple years is how much I am addicted to Euro-Dance music.  I really don’t know why I am, but there is just something about that constant beat.  I have told many of my friends how obsessed I am with it, but I really don’t think they truly understand.

For me, dance music is an asset whether I am working out, getting ready for my day, having a party, traveling, or even zoning out while traveling.  When I listen to dance basically everything around me goes dark and I am engulfed in this place where all things  are great.  I mean, I am pretty sure this is a healthy addiction right?

I really think it is these moments that my mind is most creative.  Hearing how one beat can be mixed with many different songs across one track is just downright awesome and gets my mind thinking out of the box.  To me, dance music isn’t just something to listen to while throwing back a few beers, it is a work of art.

For those of you who may not be familiar with that much dance music, check out the videos below.  Some of these videos are pretty old but still awesome!

Alexandra Burke – “All Night Long”

DJ Visage – “The Return”

Erika – “I Don’t Know”

 

I would DIE without music; seriously!  Leave your favorite Euro-Dance tracks in a comment below please!

Kim Kardashian’s Wedding

Are you kidding me!?

I think it’s great and all that Kim Kardashian has found “love,” but her wedding is absolutely ridiculous.  Reports are out that say her wedding cost approximately $10 million.  Better yet is the fact that due to exclusive photo coverage, announcements, and media coverage, the Kardashian Empire is expected to make over $17 million.

While I think it’s important for every bride out there to have a memorable experience, I feel this is just another example out of what is wrong with society.  I mean 50% of marriages fail; so assuming this marriage fails, the only thing gained is some economic activity for certain businesses.  In my opinion, instead of buying one cake for $15,000 they could have provided so much food for those starving in Libya… and that is only $15,000.  Just imagine what they could have done with $10 million, or even the $7 million+ NET GAIN they are getting off all this.

I sure hope right now the media is only focusing on the absurd amount of money involved with this wedding, and I hope that behind all of this there is some kind of charity involved.  After all, Will & Kate asked that instead of gifts all guests give to a charitable organization instead.

If the Kardashian Empire decided to give a substantial donation to some charity organization, at least they would be famous for something!  Right now the only good thing about the wedding is this video clip:

My Views on Spotify

Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...

So the news that Spotify is available here in the United States is old, however I still thought I would share what my views on the service is.  About 1.5 months ago I was invited to join Spotify prior to it being available to everyone.  I really like the fact that it is very similar to iTunes in the page layout and functionality.  It is also good because you can find just about any artist on there and you can listen to an artist’s entire album for free!  There are obviously ads associated with the free service and it does limit you to 10 hours per month.  If you wish to listen to it more than that you’ll need to pay for a monthly subscription.

For me, I will never purchase a monthly subscription to Spotify.  While I am a huge music fan I honestly do not purchase enough music to justify the monthly subscription price. For me it is easiest to just preview all the songs using Spotify, GrooveShark, or YouTube, and then if I really like them I buy them on iTunes.  Call me thrifty….  :)

On the other hand, a Spotify subscription is great for those who purchase a lot of music on a monthly basis.  For these types you just have a monthly fee and can access your music from anywhere.  One thing I am skeptical of though is after you have paid your monthly subscription, for let’s say a year, and you then cancel your membership, I am pretty sure you will have nothing to show for it.  While you will still have your playlists, you will not have any downloaded music with which you can do as you wish.  If someone knows more about this, please leave a comment!

Overall, I think Spotify is the music version of Netflix, a premium subscription is great if you listen to a ton of music and can justify the monthly cost; not that it is very expensive, but still.

Effective Music Marketing

Music is something that most of us have been listening to ever since we were a child.  There are certain songs that bring back certain memories every time we hear them.  Maybe these memories can be something as simple as the person who introduced you to the song, or even a song that describes the bond you have with someone else.  For these reasons, music is very important to many people and can actually be a very important piece of an effective marketing campaign.

A very common music marketing method is in retail stores.  You know those stores that play obnoxiously loud music?  Well, there is a reason for it.  They want you to hear it.  The reasoning goes as follows.  If you hear a song while having some kind of experience or in a certain atmosphere (either good or bad), when you hear that song later down the road, whether you actually realize it or not, you can actually have a mental recall of the first time you heard that song and thus bringing you back to that experience in the store, and hopefully increasing the chance of “brand recall.”

The same idea goes for Christmas carols.  When you hear your favorites, it most likely brings back memories of the holiday season from your childhood.  Feelings that are yours, often emotional, that you relate to.  If this Christmas carol is playing in a store, you may actually be more willing to buy something because inside you feel the store can now “relate” to you.

The power of music is incredible and with the 2012 Olympics less than one year away I would like to share a very effective piece of music marketing.  The 1984 Olympic Theme by John Williams.  This particular piece is so great because it stirs personal feelings of national pride, strengths, motivation, and achievement.  And the best part, there aren’t even lyrics!

Why I Love & Hate Twitter’s Trending Topics

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

For those of you who are non-Tweeters, Twitter has a feature that lists the most frequent words or #hashtags at a given time.  These so-called  Trending Topics can be quite useful but can often times harmful.  Let’s break it down.

Let’s begin with the good things:

  1. Provide a snapshot view of the current things going on
  2. You can select which geographic area’s topics you would like to view (Worldwide, Your country, & City Specific)
  3. Provide an excellent way to find out breaking news before the media can even report it (This is actually how I found out about the death of (Amy Winehouse)
  4. Is an excellent way for marketers to promote their product or service
Now, the ugly side of Trending Topics:
  1. The best way for rumors to be spread (i.e. false celebrity deaths or other news)
  2. Trending prejudice (i.e. #PearlHarbor when Japan was defeating the US team during the women’s World Cup)
  3. People adding a trending topic to their tweet that isn’t relevant – SO ANNOYING!
While I enjoy Trending Topics, I feel like there many misguided people in the Twitterverse that just do not understand when it’s appropriate to use #hashtags.  For those you who are guilty of this, let’s keep it classy people!  Leave the spam, prejudice, and rumors in your mind!