Sad news! I’ve trimmed.

•February 25, 2013 • 3 Comments

Yes, it’s true. The beard got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. It looked silly. The beard had gotten pretty thick but the curling was just something I couldn’t get passed. The consensus is that the beard looks better closer to my face. I got nothing but shit about having a massive chin-fro. Anyway, I had fun growing it out but kind of relieved that it is trimmed. It just didn’t feel right. I may grow it back but for now I’m happy having it short.

Happy growing!

The Bearded Bravado

•February 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

JCWhen I was growing up I spent a lot of time in front of the TV. It wasn’t because I had nothing to do it’s just because when you weren’t outside playing (like a normal kid) you just watched the amazing amount of really cool cartoons we had growing up in the 80’s. Yes, I’m that old. The one feature that defined the macho bravado of a man was facial hair. You see it all the time today as well. The big burly man with a mustache so big it is assumed the hair acts as some sort of krill filter to match his whale-like physique.

Today it’s no different. A man is defined by the physical attributes he displays as much as mental aptitude, civility, and the ability to articulate more than two words beyond grunting. That is what I am now noticing as I let this monstrosity continue to grow. People are often impressed by the length. How fast it has grown in the short amount of time I’ve grown it. Some Women have even approached me to let me know they wished their Husbands/Boyfriends could grow something as thick as this beard has gotten.

All of this made me wonder if our society is that shallow that we define people by their appearances. The knee-jerk reaction to this is of course they do. You are instantly taken through this thought process internally when you meet someone. If they have tattoos all over their body they must be a criminal. If they have a hoodie and thick black glasses on they must be a hipster or someone in technology. If they have a beard they must be a manly man!

This little experiment gets more and more interesting as the beard gets longer and longer. Some people who haven’t seen me in a while are taken aback. Some haven’t even recognized me when I see them. I actually kind of like the anonymity that last one provides. Whatever the outcome one thing is certain, we change our appearance for many reasons. It could be that we just want to change things up, but in the end it’s a great way to re-invent yourself. It’s also a great way to show someone how manly you can be. And while I have come REALLY close to chopping this thing off, I realize it’s becoming who I am. This may all change as we get to warmer weather, but for now I’m enjoying having this thing visit for a while. We’ll see what that looks like when it’s not 50 degrees outside but rather 90. Happy growing!

Happy 2013! Lettin it grow!

•January 5, 2013 • 1 Comment

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Happy New Year everyone! It has been a nice relaxing few weeks but I am chomping at the bit to get busy again. I have been trying to book more interviews for theFIVE10 Radio and working on making a bigger impact at my job at Twilio. For the most part I did not do much working out because I knew I would be gaining weight thanks to all of the dinners I was going to this Holiday season. Now that all of the pumpkin pie, roasts, and mashed potatoes have been consumed, by me, I plan on getting back into shape. However, it can be argued that round is indeed a shape.

The beard is going through a growth spurt. I’m finding that I have to trim the mustache a bit because 1) I do not like to eat my mustache with my food and 2) I have grown fond to kissing my Wife. I would like to continue to be allowed to kiss her so the trimming will continue. For some reason my beard is curling. A lot! The sides are curling and no matter what I do to straighten it, there appears to be no stopping the curls. They have a mind of their own. I have tried tea tree oil, hair gel, and even not showering in hopes that the natural oil would help straighten the curls. Nothing has helped.

The thing I have been doing different this time around has been to let my neck hair grow out. Before, when I grew out my beard, I would shave the neck but all it did was make my beard appear less thick. This time there is no mistaking that the beard is thicker. I can feel how thick it is now because I let my neck grow out. I am glad I did.

Well, my NY Giants are out of the Playoffs so I guess I will have a lot of time to get back into shape. Hopefully Spring Training gets here fast. I am going through A’s baseball withdrawls.

My Year in Review

•December 13, 2012 • 1 Comment

meandowenjpgAs 2012 winds down to a close I think back to the beginning of the year and what a crazy ride it has been for me. It has been one of the roughest years I can remember and to top it all off it does not appear 2013 will get much better. I know. That is a very pessimistic view point. I wish I had a better outlook but sadly this year has just been a rough one especially for the pocket book. Every turn seemed to be the result of some very bad decision or lack of planning.

The only bright spot in this entire year has been the job situation. While I was really panicing there for a while this summer, I landed a place I really feel at home. The people here are fantastic, the energy is contagious, and everyone has been very welcoming. It made me realize that my career path, while a little unorthodox, had led me down to the next chapter of my journey. The company itself is growing at a break neck speed and the people are really what is driving that.

Now back to my year. It started looking pretty good. The company I was working for had given me a promotion a few months back to manage a group of Engineers who were supporting their product. It looked as though my plan to make Director within 5 years was in full swing. I had already made Manager within 2 months of being there so working towards being a Director did not seem like a far fetched goal. I enjoyed the people I worked with, my team was great, and the company seemed to be headed in the right direction despite some obvious issues with the product being stable. I felt as though I was really making an impact.

A few months down the road I was realizing how much of a battle I had to overcome. Management had a vision of how to run the Escalation Group and it didn’t really align with what my plans were for the group. However, I did my best to tow the company line and just focus on what I could control. I had a few bad apples in the bunch but the ones that were dragging down the ship I threw overboard. The others I dealt with but was still having some issues.

Now that I look back on my time there, I realize that it was for the best that I moved on. The company itself is sinking and if I were still there I would blindly sink with it. The company is still having severe stability issues and they are losing talented people left and right. I also now realize how archaic their procedures and policies were.

Like I said, the summer was rough for me. I was out of work for about 4 weeks until I landed the job I’m at now. That may not seem like a long time but when you have a family to support, 1 week is too long to be out of work. I worked really hard to get my resume out to as many people as I could. Early on in my career I realized that sending out resumes and trying to get a job is just a numbers game. Send that thing out to as many people as you can. Eventually it will lead to an interview and those interviews will eventually lead to an offer. Also, I’ve always kept my Monster.com and LinkedIN profiles up to date. While I never think I’m going to leave a company the fact remains you have to plan for the unexpected. If you get laid off or let go, having your resume and profile out there will help you shorten the amount of time you spend out of work. The 4 weeks I spent unemployed is the longest for me. I could easily write a book about the tips and tricks of landing a job quickly. My friends have all admired how quickly I’ve been able to find work. Maybe someday I’ll sit down and write an article or something about it. I’m sure they’re not the only ones curious.

This fall was great. I can’t complain because it led me to where I am now. While the middle of the year was horrible the end has been really something special. I’ve made some new friends, learned some new technology, and have been more creative than I have been in a very very long time. I carry a book around with me now and it is filling up quickly with ideas of things I want to do. However, this has always been my problem. I have so many ideas that I don’t have enough focus to just sit down and start working on one of them before I want to start working on the next one. It’s the same reason my comic book is still not done. It’s the reason the cartoon ideas have never gone beyond simple storyboards. It’s also the reason I never get beyond doing open mic nights at comedy clubs even though I’ve been told I could probably make something of that avenue. In the end I think it is just a matter of making sure I don’t do anything that rocks the boat.

With a family you often take a conservative road. You don’t want to shake the status quo because you want to make sure your family is secure. Right now, they are secure and that’s the way I like it. Maybe 2013 will be the year I focus on one thing and get it done. The problem is, which one do I do first? Oh, and the beard is getting longer. Cheers! – JC

Random Musings of a Bearded White Boy!

•December 6, 2012 • 3 Comments

cool-santa-300x300Wow! It has been some time since my last post. Sorry about that. I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk lately. I am not sure how else to start the blog entries other than “Yup, it’s getting longer.”

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was pretty uneventful other than eating an ungodly amount of food. I mean, seriously. There was more food than I could ever had imagined. We ate at my Mother-in-Law’s on Thanksgiving night and then my Brother’s place on Friday night. My Mother-in-Law has a tendency to overdo things. We had a 7 1/2 lb ham, a full Turkey, several steaks, shrimp, and all the sides you could think of. Every time I belly up to a big meal like that I think of that line in The Simpson’s Movie where that Comic Book Store guy thanks Marge for her Pregnancy pants saying, “Thanks for the Pregnancy pants. I’ve never known comfort like this before.” After a big ass meal like I had at the in-law’s place, I was wishing I would have worn my Pregnancy pants.

My Brother is a little bit more conservative. It was my first time cooking a sweet potato casserole and it came out amazing! I had never had sweet potato casserole but thought it would be easy enough to pull off for the dinner so I went for it. Glad I did because it was so rich and creamy.

So on to the obligatory update about the beard. You know those guys that grow beards but they keep it trimmed close to their face. Yeah, that’s not this anymore. It has grown about 3 inches and is entering what I like to call the “awkward phase.” This is the part where my beard starts to have a mind of its own and no matter what I do to straighten or make it look neat it just does what it wants. This is usually the phase that I get so annoyed that I end up shaving it down or completely off. Next month will be the longest my beard has ever been. I’m actually kind of excited about this phase. I may go to the local beauty shop to see if I can get some straightener or perhaps some more tea tree oil will help.

This is also the phase where I start getting things stuck in places that I didn’t think were possible within the beard. The other day I found a feather from my pillow wedged in the back near my chin. Not sure how it got there but thankfully I caught it before walking out the door.

Not sure if you guys have been tuning in but this season of “Whisker Wars” is so much better than last season. The first season was really focused on setting up the back story to all of the cast of characters who compete in the different facial hair competitions all over the world. This season really starts playing out the rivalries between the Austin Facial Hair Club and Jack Passion.

The thing I don’t like about this season is the Producers seem to be focused on making Jack a real polarizing figure. While I think this may backfire on them it makes for interesting TV. Knowing Jack and how he is I don’t fully agree with this tact since he’s not the vindictive villain they are trying to make him out to be. Hopefully this will change as the season wears on.

Well that’s it for now. I will try to update this more frequently. I know you are all dying to hear how long the beard is getting, what’s getting stuck in there, and how my Wife has not stuck gum in it yet. Thankfully she’s been pretty supportive of this whole foolish endeavor. I think she’s just as curious about what this is going to look like as I am. I keep watching “Duck Dynasty” to get inspiration. This is either a brilliant move or will further plunge me into mental deficiencies.

Speaking of brilliant shows, theFIVE10 Radio (my other project) is back with an all new show Monday December 9th with 2012 breakout band Imagine Dragons. Very excited to be back on the airwaves! I am also working on lining up an interview with W. Kamau Bell. He has a brilliant show on FX called “Totally Biased” Hopefully I’ll be able to land that one. His show is a mix between The Daily Show and Tosh.O. Yeah, you gotta watch it.

The Demise of Customer Service and why that’s OK!

•November 13, 2012 • 1 Comment

I know this is a blog about my beard but I wanted to get something out and I felt this was a good place to do it. Don’t worry! I will lament about how thick my beard has gotten and how much food is stuck in there a little later in this article.

I have spent most of my career in some form of Customer Service. Whether it is working on something within their house to get phone service working, or in my current role, ensuring that the business stays up and running using our communications platform. I have spent a lot of that time wondering how I can make the process easier for the Customer. I have always believed that if you can build a tremendous experience for the Customer then you build a loyal Customer. This is true for any industry but especially true in the Service Industry.

There are so many tools that can help you achieve this. In fact, there are entire businesses whose sole purpose is to help other businesses figure out how to create great experiences for their Customers. Companies have spent millions analyzing data and getting feedback from their Customer to find out what they want. I’m here to tell you that all that is now dead. And that’s OK!

Today I decided to venture down the street to our local Specialty’s Sandwich Shop. According to their website they blend “the best of old world food techniques with the advantages of modern technology ordering.” I have tried this place in the past and actually enjoy their Turkey, Apple, Brie sandwich. It’s great! You can tell the ingredients are fresh, they take great care in not just slopping something together, and the prices are reasonable. However, I have never been in the store to order a sandwich until today. In the past, companies that I have worked for have always catered it for lunch so that has been the extent of my interaction with them up to this point.

As I walked into the store I noticed three iPads sitting on a counter about 20 feet from the ordering counter. A large splash screen says “ORDER HERE” as you walk in a bit further. I approached the iPad, swiped my credit card, and began pushing the different screen prompts that eventually led me to the sandwich I wanted to order. It asked me to grab a buzzer which were stacked next to the iPad and enter the number into the screen. Once I did all of that it confirmed that I had placed my order and that the buzzer would let me know when my food is ready. So off to the side I stood awaiting the lunch that my belly so hungrily craved. A few moments later my buzzer went off and a brown bag was there waiting for me on the counter with the number that matched my buzzer. I quickly looked in the bag to ensure everything was there and headed out the door. I had spent roughly 10 minutes in this store and never once interacted with anyone that worked there. And you know what, I didn’t mind.

I didn’t have to ask for extra stuff, napkins, forks, straws, etc. Everything I wanted was right there in that bag courtesy of this interaction I had earlier with the iPad. I listed that I wanted extra napkins and when I opened the bag there was a small tree’s worth of napkins in there. I didn’t want the aioli on my sandwich so imagine my glee when I bit into the sandwich and it was not there.

Technology helped guide me through the ordering process, listened to exactly what I wanted, and flawless execution by Specialty’s magic sandwich making Elves made it possible. This whole interaction laughed in the face of what the traditional Customer Service has always been. Even in the early 50’s when car hops and soda jerks where a way to connect with your Customer the model has been clear. To be successful you need to be able to connect with your Customer in a way that is meaningful. Marketing and branding is all about how we build that relationship and connect it so that there is an emotional vested stake in that brand.

Today I learned that the easiest way to do that is just to get out of the way. The Customer just wants to get his stuff and go about his day. And the less we can get in the way of that, the better we can build brand loyalty.

Oh, and my beard is getting really thick. There. I included something about my beard. Happy now!?!

Happy 2 Month Birthday Beard!

•November 2, 2012 • 2 Comments

The day has come to blow the candles out on the next milestone of my beard. It has been 2 months since I began growing this chin fur and it is already starting to thicken up. My mustache has started to grow over my lip and the hair along my jawline is beginning to get longer and hang about 1/4 inch off of my face. The weather keeps fluctuating here in the San Francisco Bay Area so there are days where the beard feels a bit warm on my face.

I celebrated the milestone by eating some nice hearty red meat and rice. I’m wondering how my diet will effect my beard. I had already planned on beginning a diet after the new year since it is damn near impossible to watch what I eat through the holidays. I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see what it does to the hair when I switch from my red meat eating, egg nog drinking, beer guzzling ways. The other interesting challenge will be when I do Tough Mudder next Summer in Tahoe. We’ll see how the size impares my ability to get through the obstacles. I was supposed to run this year but ended up tweaking my knee right before the race.

Also, just a side note, I wanted to let you guys know that the new season of “Whisker Wars” begins on Nov. 23rd on IFC! Be sure to check out Jack Passion as he battles other beard growers around the world. I love this show.

 
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